Tag Archives: Self Love

Blue, not true.

Photo © T.Nikic 2016

Photo © T.Nikic 2016

“FEED YOURSELF.” – Mike D.

I heard those words a few weeks ago and they truly were the most poetic thing I had heard that day. In the context of the conversation to which they were offered, perhaps it was a reference to food, but they resonated much deeper. See, in all things we choose to do, the people we interact with, the time we spend doing things which make us happy, the foods with which we nourish our bodies, I recognize that we do in fact feed ourselves on different levels. Spiritual, mental, emotional, physical states of being are deeply interconnected, in my experience and opinion. It’s not so much that one aspect of our being feeds the other, it’s that all feed and depend on each other for its wellbeing. It’s deep, right?

The state of our world is a concern for myself and many others – the way that we hurt each other and the reasons with which we excuse hurting each other, is simply wrong. The words we speak and the acts we commit, make me think about what it is that we, as human beings, reflect in those behaviours. Are we actually saying that we truly hate another, or do we hate ourselves so much that we don’t have the capacity for acceptance or love of another? I do not think that I have an answer to that question that doesn’t require pages of discussion involving psychology, history, philosophy, spirituality, emotional and mental health, our societal norms and pressures, in the hopes of even touching on a plausible explanation, although I will say that I believe that our lack of love for our own Selves has been the root of much of the chaos reported on the internet, newspapers, radio and news channels as of late.

But in all the ways that we intentionally hurt another, we also mark others with scars. We may think that we don’t, but we do. And those scars affect not just the person who bears them, but all the people they interact with. How I understand scars is a reflection of my personal experience and knowledge, although it may resonate with you.

Scars are not erasable. They may look less noticeable with time, care and healing, but a scar will never be exactly like the space it inhabited. The scar will tug at certain parts of your being you’ve tried to put aside or forget, a memory often triggered unintentionally by a song, a word, a photo you come across, which brings back the feelings, ALL the feelings, interwoven in the scar. Maybe those feelings no longer take you on an emotional rollercoaster ride like they once did, but you still FEEL it. That’s hard for anyone to fully accept or make peace with – for the ones bearing the scar and the one seeing it, trying to understand it. Because you cannot possibly explain or articulate why that scar is there, who scarred you, why it still affects you although you’ve forgiven and let go, that doesn’t take both people there. And that scar could have many names – death, rape, verbal/physical/mental abuse, racism, sexism, murder… – all translating to one thing: p a i n . You may not acknowledge it as that, but it is how we, human beings, process it.

 

 

Photo © T.Nikic 2016

Photo © T.Nikic 2016

Be mindful of what you feed your Self with, what you feed others, and what you accept from others. Scars run deep.

 

Love,
T

Advertisements

Maybe it’s just me….

I was in my first ‘relationship’ when I was eighteen years old. It was a late summer romance that lasted until about the following spring. He was a handsome, nice, hard-working guy who was close with his parents and did his best to balance full-time school work and a part-time job. During my holiday visit of him and his family, I vividly recall one interaction. We were out the night prior and got up late. His mom was home and we were discussing breakfast. I remember one minute he was looking at me like I was sunshine, smiling at me and then, just before he got up to grab something from the coffee table, he turned to his mom and said these seven life-changing words: “Show her how I like my eggs.” I am not sure what prompted him to say this and if he felt that in some weird way I would find it endearing, but something felt ‘off’ about that to my eighteen-year-old Self, who did not have the language to articulate or even understand how she truly felt. Perhaps then, this blog post was born, when I was eighteen years old.

 

A single woman living alone in a big metropolitan city, with a stable job, hobbies and close friends, in today’s day and age, is, frankly, common. It has not always been this way, as noted in the workforce composition/proportion of men vs women, in the last century. Perhaps it is somewhat of a recent trend, of say the last three or four decades, that women have gained the courage to be even more independent from their ‘home base’ where they were raised.

Of course, not every woman who completes school and/or secures a job which provides her financial independence, acts on it by leaving her parental home, solo. Be it for cultural reasons or to save money so that she can become a homeowner on her own, some independent women stay home and I pass no judgement on them. I, however, live alone in an apartment with a view of the lake, that is walking distance to work. Okay, my entire life is within a 15 minute walking radius. I’ve worked really hard over the years to make my world an oyster, and I am extremely grateful for it.

Perhaps due to my strong independence gains, I’ve become less tolerant for interactions with others, and notably men, which simply do not nurture MY personal growth, but often leave me feeling….kinda motherly. I’ll admit, I have that motherly, nurturing thing inside my Self that comes out naturally, whether I am aware of it or not. I’d like to think I’ve become more aware and mindful of it, but it’s hard to be someone you’re not. And I like me. Unfortunately, I think that attribute of mine has played a role in the kinds of men I’ve attracted over the years. I’m not saying ALL of them, but there have been a few interactions I’ve looked back on which somehow illicit a feeling of nauseating panic and…a shudder that seems to always be paired with an involuntary ‘Ugh!’. Some were good people, but it was my allowing of some of the interactions which took place, the length of time I stayed in IT, how much precious energy I expended on these men, which lead to these internal reactions of my Self. I’m going to share a few of these stories because, well, there are lessons in them for every man and woman. And also, I am not the same woman who went through those experiences so my shame has turned into forgiveness, wisdom and love for my Self. You may relate to some of these….be it as the guy or the girl.

 

 

Mott Haven, Bronx. August 1979. From The Faces in the Rubble, by David Gonzalez.

Mott Haven, Bronx. August 1979.
From The Faces in the Rubble, by David Gonzalez.
Confession: I posted this photograph because it represents what I’d love to experience: the two of us (the man I’ve yet to meet who will choose to be a part of US) dancing together, to a common beat…it’s one of my dreams. 😉

 

 

I’ll start with a choreographer who I met through a social network. He was charming, funny, sexy as hell, cool. We spent hours talking about life and seemed to have a lot in common in terms of our values and views of relationships. He had done a lot in his life already, as had I. He intrigued me. It was a long distance connection, and although based on previous personal experience I did not believe in long distance romance, I really liked this guy. He was exciting to me. He took an interest in me. He even flew countries on short notice to spend a few days with me, despite the fact that we had not spoken in almost a year at that point (back story: I had created a distance between us about six months into IT because of, let’s call it, a woman’s intuition). It felt like something too good to be true but I convinced my Self that this must be love. The time we spent together was magical and beautiful, but it felt to me that there existed a lack of something in his Self which he battled silently most of the time. And I found his silence to be loud and suspicious. A few months later, during our following, and ironically, last encounter, he acted out one of my deal breakers and made me end IT, for good. So at this point, this interaction had lasted over eighteen months and although I had learned so much from IT, I was exhausted. I had gone out of my way to welcome him with a home cooked meal anytime he made time to visit me. I allowed him to use my credit card to book his flight to come see me. I tried to please him and make him laugh because I wanted to see him happy. But he wasn’t. From the last time I had seen him, until he had paid me back for that flight, more than a few months had passed. And despite his emotional distance and unavailability, I wasn’t completely over this man at that point. It wasn’t that I felt he was the right guy for me – I had convinced my Self that he was. When I was finally over him, and this took a long while, I randomly came across a post on another social network (you never know who’s going to ‘like’ what, thereby showing up on your feed), of him and his girlfriend, dated around the same time he had flown out to see me. Suddenly, it all made sense. His distance. His moods. His unavailability. And I realized, I did not love this man. I just loved the excitement, I thought, he brought to my life.

 

I’ll skip to the lawyer, because this IT was short-lived. We met on the train platform on a hot summer day. Tall, dark hair, and handsome, he threw me some cheesy line I found cute. I found his mannerism boyish yet mature at the same time. He seemed like the no-nonsense type, so I gave him my number. And I was right – he contacted me later that same day. We met and had a great date on yet another hot, sticky, summer day. Over the course of his courtship, we went to the movies, the beach, went on excursions, he wrote me poems, discussed the future, how we’d deal with our cultural differences, our individual family relationships…it seemed mature. The first red flag was his initial suggestion he cook dinner for me at my place on our second date and have a sleepover. I wasn’t feeling his self-invite and simply told him that it’s too soon for me and I will inform him when I feel comfortable with having him enter my home. Had he not brought it up again, I may have been able to work through it. But the third time he asked, over our sushi dinner date, if he can come over ‘just to sleep next to me while cuddling and nothing else’, I snapped. I told him that it’s not his place to keep inviting himself over, but for me to extend that invitation should I so choose. (Of course each time he had done so, a seed of doubt that was initially planted by his first self-invitation, grew.) I did not expect nor anticipate his actual reaction, but it had ended THAT. This intelligent lawyer who took on human rights cases pro bono and was very convincing of his belief in gender equality, sent me a slew of emotionally charged messages in one of which he stated that my ‘rejection’ of his self-invitation to MY home, made him ‘feel emasculated’. In that one sentence, he ended IT…although he didn’t see it that way. I clarified it for him politely initially, and ultimately silently.

 

Now, the lawyer wasn’t the only one who had extended a self-invitation to my home, but I found his reaction most honest. There was this one guy who I went out with on less than a handful of platonic ‘dates’, who, on top of extending a self-invitation to my home, that seems to always come with dinner (which, in retrospect, I think I would have financed in his case), also thought that it would be fair if he did his laundry while at my place. And when I pointed out that he was trying to take advantage of me, decided that it was ok for him to continue IT without an apology or an acknowledgement that he overstepped his boundary with me. It took a long while for him to stop sending me messages despite my lack of response. At one point, I was concerned that this one may turn out to be a stalker, but I was fortunate he didn’t. I think….

 

There was also the artist, who I felt was a soul mate. We had this incredible connection. He made time for me. We did things together. He professed his love to me. He taught me a lot. We had deep conversations about life and shared secretes with one another that we hadn’t told a soul prior. We discussed the future. He told his mother about me and brought me around his child, whom I loved. It wasn’t until I felt emotionally invested in IT, that I found out he had a substance abuse problem. I had cooked for him, and paid for most outing expenses, because that’s what you do when you care for someone, right?? Besides, he was pretty much a single parent, as he had his kid for most of the week, so I thought that was right… Except it rarely made sense. Looking back on it now, I realize that he was someone who was so lost in his self-denied substance abuse, that I almost lost my Self in IT. And in all the ways it seemed like L-O-V-E, at the core of IT was a slew of justifications for self-destructive behaviour that had hurt me. To this day, I’m not sure he fully understood that but I did not stick around to make sure he got it. (When someone compares their chosen substance of abusive consumption to what coffee does for other people, it raises a huge red flag. And, despite your repeatedly expressed concern that it sounds like a serious problem they need to deal with, they not only continue their use more heavily but attempt to feed you words to try to convince you otherwise, you stop banging your head against that wall. It only hurts you.)

 

The last one I’ll mention is the student who was actually really sweet. And he came into my life at a time when I was finally ready to end my almost five-year ‘singlehood’  stretch. When I met him, he had a job, ambition, he was going to school, and had interesting perspectives. He was there whenever I needed him and he did his best to play the role of a mature man despite our age gap (I was older). As time went on, he quit his job and started hanging out at my place a lot. (Towards the end of it, even when I was not home.) Initially, I understood it as his attempt to spend time with me, but he didn’t exactly contribute to my home financially or domestically, and I came to resent it. Our parting was amicable but I was a little surprised when he called me a few months later, confused about why I had ended it. While we were in IT, I was too frustrated and annoyed with the situation to clearly express my feelings but when he had called me I was able to articulate my stance clearly: he made me feel like I was his mother. In fact I remember this one argument we had towards the end of IT, when I was at my limit of tolerance for his lack of ambition and motivation, where he wanted to add his boxer shorts to my laundry load and I refused it. It made me feel like I was in IT with a child instead of an adult and it completely turned me off. I have zero romantic inclinations towards children….which is how I ended up feeling towards the end of IT with him, towards him. And that was THAT.

 

I take full responsibility for the decisions I had made during those interactions, for my reactions and choices of words (or lack thereof). I also took many lessons with me from each of those situations (which, by-the-way, are NOT in chronological order), and have applied those lessons to interactions with men I connected with thereafter. I find many of those situations humorous now. I mean how else do you look back at someone you just met extending a self-invitation to your place for a sleep over AND to do their laundry during their ‘visit’??

You’re probably wondering why I’m even bothering sharing these stories on such a public platform, right? I see a lot of my old self in so many single, independent folks. And it’s not that they’re bad or interacting with bad people, it’s just that they’ve not fully understood or come to grips with THEIR self-worth. A person who understands and has complete knowledge of what they bring-to-the-table in any type of relationship – be it professional, friendship, platonic or non-platonic interaction – has developed an ability to not only listen to their intuition, but honour it and stand in his/her own integrity.

While recalling aforementioned stories, I remember my old Self; a generous young woman with a big heart, lacking a sense of her Self-Worth, with an underdeveloped emotional maturity, and a shortage of courage to uphold her Self-Love. I’ve not changed my Self, my integrity, honesty, transparency of who I am and what I stand for, but I have grown up. Everything I identified as something I lacked (such as emotional maturity) which I also want in a partner, I worked on developing in my Self. Sure, it took time and without a doubt there is always room for growth and improvement, but this has enabled me to make decisions with respect to my interactions with other people, much easier. It has also allowed me to articulate how I truly feel with not just a lack of fear, but mature confidence. And I’m feeling good (Nina Simone voice). 😀

I’d like to honour my eighteen-year-old Self with these important words:

I like MY eggs mostly two ways – sunny-side up or soft-boiled. 😉

Love,

T


Heart Back!!!

February 16th, 2013 was one of the best days I’ve had personally, in maybe all of my adult life.

If you follow or read my blog at all, you may have read the poem I posted last, titled Frozen Heart. And as the title suggests, my heart was frozen. Well I actually not only froze it with the help of past hurts and disappointments, but I also buried it and hid it behind some super high walls. And on top of all that, not only were these walls high, but they were solid, very thick and backed up against one another like vertical layers. Simply not penetrable. It’s a sad existence of one’s heart, I admit, but I actually didn’t realize I had done all this! I mean I knew that I was guarded and all but I did not know the conditions in which I left my heart. *insert a few spoonfuls of Self forgiveness here*

Now my close friends know that I’ve been through a lot of personal growth and I’ve done A LOT of Self work in the last three and a half years. Trust me when I say, I’ve come a loooooong way! As we go through life, people will pass through, some will stay a little while and some will stay for a lifetime and this is true for me as well. The thing I’ve really focused on a lot in the last few years was my internal reaction to people who I have interacted with personally. I would be lying to say that I always followed my internal reactions to others – because let’s face it sometimes we think we know better than our instinct – but nevertheless it was there. In my opinion, it is important to isolate how another person makes us feel because it adds to the weight of our decisions that have to do with that person, but holding on to feelings/internal reactions that one person made you feel (be it negative or positive) and extrapolating it to another is bad. It is actually really bad to do that because we use our egos and not our head, for one; and two, we extrapolate our experiences with one individual to another but the two have no connection or similarity except for the capacity in which we’ve allowed them to be in our life. Which is why Self work is important – it helps us identify unhealthy behaviours which impact our relationships with others and with our own Self. So basically to make a long-story short, I did this. I know! I know! It’s not right and it’s ego based, it’s totally childish and not mindful at all, but I think when we get hurt really badly in a relationship, even once, it becomes almost a self-defence practice we do but it’s not conscious or deliberate. In my case I didn’t even know I did it until someone came along and ACTUALLY pointed it out to me. Okay, so maybe in my case it was a group effort…of different ways…at different times…but I finally got it, and that’s important! *insert extreme gratitude here*

Needless to say, when I finally understood the magnitude of my issue along with the issue itself, I got in a serious funk. I didn’t want to have a frozen heart – I knew it was damaged a little but it was a GOOD heart. Yes my heart experienced hurt in the past but it also experienced love and projected a lot of warmth towards others. And I came to a point in my life where I did NOT want to cast heavy shadows on my heart by walls built by past hurts, lies and disappointments which carried fears, insecurities and old ‘negative’ feelings. I just wanted more for my heart and for me. *insert start of ego death here*

So, back to February 16th, 2013… The last month was challenging for me because my walls had finally come down, the rubble was cleared and my heart started ‘thawing out’. (I must say, I have a couple of science degrees and as I read this I think that this is a great place for me to state that my actual, physical heart is at a normal basal body temperature and has been doing a great job at pumping blood through my body for the last thirty one years. I’ve taken very good care of it and continue to do so. Ok back to my other ‘heart’ now…) At first, I HATED the feelings that started to surface from the ‘thawing out’. I couldn’t believe that after doing ALL this Self work over these years, I had fears and insecurities that were completely irrational in the context of where I am in my life and the people who are in my life. I shed many tears, I had many serious conversations with my Self, I simply felt like all the personal growth I’ve gained was in vain…until that morning. The morning of the 16th I woke up and felt a warmth, a calmness, serenity and beauty within. And yes I cried again but these were tears of joy. I felt like I reached my bedrock of truth. It was the most beautiful feeling I’ve felt and I felt beautiful. I laid in my bed, staring up at the ceiling as I smiled inside and out and as I laid there I felt my heart. *insert a lotta Self love here*

I decided that I wanted to go to a hot yoga class in the afternoon. I went there knowing that it was going to be a completely different practice from the last three years I’ve practiced Bikram hot yoga. I positioned my mat and towel in the front row, directly in front of the mirrors. As with every class, you’re supposed to use the mirrors to help you get into your postures, which I did but I focused my gaze on looking directly into my own eyes. And I saw a woman I love, respect, admire, and LIKE! Looking into my own reflection, I felt like I FINALLY saw ME. It was powerful. Liberating. Humbling. Beautiful. It was during that yoga class that I realized I got my heart back. Sure it had some dents and small holes, there were few bits missing but it was warm, beautiful and it worked! It was all worth it. EVERYTHING. *insert reaffirmation of Self strength and Self Love here*

To some, this may have been waaay too much information, but  I shared all this to let you know that if I was able to, I KNOW that you can do it too. If your heart is hidden behind some thick walls and a little cold, go get it back. Give it a chance to love again. You owe that to yourself. Trust me when I tell you this – you are are so much more beautiful than you know.

Much Love,

T


Learn To Love…

I was off from work today. It took me some time to get myself organized and leave my place to run the errands I needed to complete.

But eventually I got myself together – I put my hair up in a bun, put some large hoops in my ears, opted for a dark pair of jeans and my white Marilyn Monroe print tee to go with my new grey jacket I bought in Chicago a few weeks ago. I left my house with the feeling that I looked as good as I felt (and I felt good!)…which is a great feeling as we all know.

My first stop was the nail shop. I walked in and there were no other customers so it was nice and quiet. My nails were made beautiful again and as I was waiting for my toes to dry, this LOUD ‘female’ walked in. I didn’t get a good look at her until she sat in the chair beside me. (I’d say she was around my age.) She was probably a few inches taller than me, minus the curves. She must have had 3-4 layers of extra long fake lashes glued onto her lids. Her lips looked like they’ve gone through one too many collagen injections, and I actually thought that they looked kind of painful to move or touch. Her hair was not combed well so you could see where the extra long extensions were glued on. But the most elaborate thing on her ‘body’ were in fact, her breasts. Imagine two basketballs, side-by-side on a long board. Except these basketballs are so heavy that they’re not only starting to sag a little, not only are the covering half of her torso, but they’re actually bending her back forward and exaggerating her kyphosis.

Because she was sitting beside me, AND was very loud, I heard everything that came out of her mouth while I was there. One thing that stood out was her story about the fact that she phoned the shop yesterday, only to get the nail shop lady’s husband on the phone. When she was trying to make the appointment she said “I’m the one who comes there all the time. You know, the one with the big boobs?” and laughed after that punchline. (That made me think of three things: 1. she was actually proud of her two basketballs, 2. she identifies herself as her basketballs, or 3. she hides her true self behind her basketballs.)

I was grateful when my nails were dry and I could go about the rest of my day. I can’t lie – I found it extremely hard NOT to stare and wonder how bad she must have felt about herself before she took such extremes to plasticize her body.

I made my way over to Kensington market where my first order of business was lunch – AND I ate dessert too, for I also remembered the loud ‘female’ at the nail shop saying how she ‘forgot to eat today’. SIDE NOTE: Natural curves on a female, are a must!

After lunch and dessert, and after completing my intended food shopping, I was making my way out of Kensington when I read a statement on a banner of sorts, which actually inspired this blog post:

“If you desire love,

learn to love.”

It’s so simple, yet so lovely, isn’t it? If you want to have love in your life, you must then learn how to love. And who better to start with, than YOU?! I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “Love yourself first”. Well, that’s the key to overcoming almost every fear, every struggle, any pain or sorrow you’re holding onto in life.  For some of you, you’re reading something that is obvious to you, and that’s because you’ve probably done the work you needed to do on your Self and you understand it as the truth.  But for others, however, you may be asking “HOW DO I GET THERE? HOW DO I DO THAT? HOW DO I LEARN TO LOVE?” which is great because you’ve recognized that you have some work to do AND that you’re ready to do it!

So I’ll be honest, although I’ve reached a place of love for my Self that’s deep, vast, accepting, joyful and has brought me a deep sense of peace, I am not an expert or a doctor. However, I do have a few things I can share with you that I learned during my journey which may be helpful to you, in yours.

1. DO NOT put off doing the work you’re now aware you need to do.

2. Spend time with yourself. Write to yourself, talk to yourself, listen to your own thoughts and feelings. Pay attention to your inner reactions.

3. Deal with ALL of your baggage – NOTHING should be swept under the carpet . This may involve crying, laughter, grief, periods of highs and lows. There is nothing wrong with going to a professional (counsellor or therapist) for guidance.

4. FORGIVE YOURSELF.

5. Take ownership of your actions, reactions and words of the past, which still seem to follow you. Understand their consequences and take note of their lessons.

6. FORGIVE YOURSELF.

7. Look in the mirror and point out all the things you like and dislike about your body. Work towards loving those areas EXACTLY as they are. I bet as you start to really love your Self, your body will start to change and look better. NOTE: Everything we feel manifests itself physically – our bodies reflect what we feel. Often this shows as a noticeable outwards physical change to others and ourselves (NO, I am not talking about silicone breast implants the size of basketballs here!), and sometimes it’s an inward physical or physiological change that only we can feel (you have pain everywhere and there is no explanation that your doctor can find for it through any tests he or she has run). It’s important to become aware of our Self – body, mind, spirit, emotions are all interconnected.

8. Be honest with yourself. The truth may not be very pretty but until you face it, you won’t make any progress.

9. FORGIVE YOURSELF.

10. Embrace the change this journey will bring to your life. Know that not everyone will stay with you, and that’s okay. Be aware that there are no shortcuts and sometimes you’ll feel like you’ve reached a plateau but that’s just a small ‘break’ until you have to move on to the next part.

Last few things I need to point out are important.

Remember how you got to where you are right now. Recognize what or whom you allowed to help you lose you. We’re all only human so forgive yourself.

Know that our work on our Self is never really over. And it’s not supposed to be. We’re meant to make mistakes and learn from them in order to grow and become better. But also know that once you love yourself, it doesn’t mean that’s it and you can sign off on journey as ‘completed’. It doesn’t work like that. As long as you’re breathing, you have a choice of living. And you’re not completely living unless you’re loving. And you can’t love anyone else until you love yourself FIRST, AT ALL TIMES, ALWAYS.

One Love,

T


%d bloggers like this: