No one teaches you how to love yourself. There is no class. There is no definitive manual (though many self help books claim to be). In theory I suppose you are supposed to learn by example from your parents and how they love you. But what if your parents didn’t have the ability or desire to love you the way you needed to be loved? What then? You go through life begging for other people to love you hoping that they get it right, that they succeed where your family, for all their good intentions, failed. The problem is they don’t know how to love you either. They don’t have an example to follow. They look to you to show them how to love you.
And yet we think that when we have our own children we will know better…that we will do better than our parents did. I can’t count the number of times I told myself “I will never say “fill in the blank” to my daughter”, or “My daughter will have this.” Or “I will make sure my daughter knows that” and I have felt filled with love and conviction for this person that doesn’t exist yet, and probably wont for years. I believe myself when I say these things. I know that I will do everything I can to protect this as yet unnamed little soul and give her every beautiful experience and feeling that life has to offer and that I will do everything I can to make her strong enough to face the not so beautiful experiences and feelings. I will make sure that she survives. This moves me to tears. But how do I know this when I know that I don’t really know how to love myself?
I think that the answer is that is easy to love children. It feels natural to want to protect and care for someone so amazing and so full of possibility. If it is so easy to love children why is it so difficult to love ourselves? Why doesn’t the survival instinct translate the same way the maternal or paternal one does? I have no answer for this. What I can say is that from now on I will endeavor to love myself the way I would my child. I will take care of myself the way I would my child. I will be the mother that my mother wasn’t however hard she tried. I will tell myself everyday that I am beautiful inside and out. I will tell myself everyday that I am proud of myself, that I have faith in myself that the world is full of possibilities for me. I will tell myself that I am gifted and able. I will tell myself that it is my responsibility to develop these gifts. I will tell myself that asking for what I need is not selfish as long as you listen when others ask. I will tell myself that the world needs strong gifted people and that it is a disservice to myself and to humanity every time I take and action or affirm a belief that says that I am otherwise. I would not tell my daughter less. And hopefully when I do welcome that wonderful little girl soul ( or boy-soul ) into the world they will be better off because Mommy has practiced and has already successfully raised herself.
I expect child rearing to be hard...but at least this way I get to skip the terrible twos right?
02-25-2007, 05:25 PM
LOL about the terrible two's!
You know, I think you're on to something there. You are "parenting yourself." And it sounds like you know a lot about what you need. Indeed, why not be nurturing to yourself! Why not be patient? Why not be kind? Why not be encouraging? And why not be firm when firmness is needed? You wouldn't let a child run amok in a candy store, after all.
So good for you to come to this realization. Thanks so much for sharing it.
02-25-2007, 06:50 PM
Something to think about. Thanks.
02-25-2007, 08:47 PM
Not sappy at all - thanks for posting it. :hug:
02-25-2007, 10:20 PM
That is one reason why I want to lose the weight before I have kids. I never want my kids to know me with a weight problem and I never want them to have a weight problem. I want to be able to love myself fully and to love my children fully and to set a good example for them to follow, as both a parent and a person. :)
I'm right with ya. ;)
02-26-2007, 12:27 AM
I could not agree with you more. Although I know my mother loves me, but she never tells me, and I cannot remember her being very affectionate when I was a child. Maybe some people are just not able to show affection, I don't know. Maybe she was affectionate before I started school, age 5, and we were together all the time, I don't remember much.
Anyway, I swear, when I have a child, I will let him / her know every day that I love him / her and that they are beautiful and special to me. I don't feel like I got enough of that growing up, and though I think mom did a decent job in raising us alone, a single mom, I feel like I wouldn't have such self-esteem issues if I had been told these things when I was young, and still now. See, growing up, I was not the pretty one, my sister was. Everyone doted on her beauty, and though I was a beautiful younger child, by the time I hit 8 years old, I was a little chubby and awkward looking, I had big ears and slightly bucky teeth. That's about the time I began feeling ugly, and not liking myself. As I became a teen, I became a very pretty girl, but still not so much as my sister. And she, being almost 5 years older, had boyfriends out the wazoo... and, of coarse, I didn't. It does something to a girl's self esteem when you feel like you cannot compare with a more attractive sibling. I think that's probably the root of this weight problem, I never felt like I measured up. So I ate to make myself as ugly as I felt.
Now, in our 30's, my sister is still tiny, 120 lb. soaking wet, and now, I am overweight, just under 200 lbs. I want what I haven't known in a long time, to feel good about myself, and to feel equal to my sister...
02-26-2007, 12:37 AM
PS... I love my sister very much, and I do not blame her being more attractive than me. She had no control over that at all. I kinda resent my mother and other people we know for making me feel like I didn't measure up, even if they didn't do it intentionally. I wanted to be equal to her, I wanted alot of friends (and I did have a few) and I wanted for the boys to line up at the door for ME, and they didn't. It was always said that she was "the pretty one" and I was "the smart one" and "the good one" (becuase I gave mama very little trouble, and she gave mama ****.....). Now, I'm just "the fat one". I would like to feel pretty too... and right now, I just don't.
02-26-2007, 10:53 AM
My heart goes out to you. :hug:
I realize I've never met you, but, in so many ways I so understand what you've written. It's like you've taken a page from my journal. I had to re-read what you'd written because I had tears in my eyes (which isn't good because it's Monday am and I'm at work!).
I've worked very hard to come to peace with the fact that my parents couldn't give what they didn't have.
But I've been blessed, despite the fact that the doctors said that I'd never have a child (it broke my heart), I did in fact concieve and I have a daughter, now (believe it or not) two. And the twos are not terrible.
My point is: This incredible miracle gift from God (my daughter), has taught me how to love myself.
I know it sounds weird. But the way I love her, that's the way I'm supposed to love myself - unconditionally. I'm supposed to forgivemyself (even when I eat sweets). I'm supposed to respect myself so I work out.
I'm not saying I've got it right. I'm saying, I'm learning. I've been learning for just two years.
What I can tell you - with absolute assurance is that YOU WILL BE A FANTASTIC PARENT. The desire to provide a loving peaceful home is one of the basic tenants to bringing happy healthy children into adulthood. That doesn't mean we don't give them restrictions, consequences, or responsibilities. In fact, those are more ways that they feel included as part of the family. Its how YOU chose to impart YOUR love. It will overflow.
You are gifted; You are able; and yes, you've made your own way, but you're stronger for it, having found more possiblities than the average person...because you're much much more than the average.
And yes, you will be sucessful as a parent, as in your other endeavors.
Wow, just from your posts, any of us can read what an incredible person you are.
I really hope you look in the mirror and see it.
02-26-2007, 04:52 PM
Wow Great Response Guys (gals?). I didn't expect this...it was such an Oprahesque entry...
JayEll - Very nice of you to think of my lame line as funny...and yes Im hoping to learn how to be patient and firm. I can promise however that I wont run amok in a candy store, I don't actually like candy a whole lot...I make no promises about bakeries though.
shrinkingchica- me too. There are alot of things I want to accomplish before I have children...losing weight is up there but I actually also want to learn sign language and how to crochet...things I want to pass on to children. The best thing I can do for them though is make sure they have a happy well adjusted Mommy...Im working on it.
chick_in_the_hat and ChadsMate - Thanks! btw chick_in_the_hat...Im a huge fan. I love your lighten up posts...
cajungal328- I totally understand. I have an older brother that Im convinced was loved better than I was and its natural to want to feel as important as your siblings, people who are your equals...but I guess what I'm learning is that I can give myself the validation my Mami couldn't. I hope you can too. I know that what your family thinks matters alot, but hopefully we can get to a point where what we think matters more.
ShyCammie- Boy am I glad you weren't too shy to reply. Thank you so much for sharing your story and your kind words. Im glad you were able to work through parental dissapointment and I hope to follow your example. Your unbelivably warm response to a perfect stranger shows me that you are the kind of person I envisioned creating when I wrote the initial post. Thank you so much!(#1 sign that a writer is overwhelmed? she repeats herself...and overuses exclamation points...)
I wish Love, Happiness and every good thing that the world has to offer to you and your daughter. But from your words I know that you make sure that she gets all those things. I know you make sure that your lives are extraordinary.
04-20-2007, 07:53 PM
Tear here too!...A true revelation for me...struggling for years with abandonment issues from childhood which equaled feeling unloved...I have printed this and will try and read it and journal some emotions as I plan on starting Bob Greene's new book which talks about dealing with emotions to finally get the weight off.
Also I am struggling with infertility (currently on my first injectibles meds cycle)...so I dream and long to me a mommy so much...I think I will also heal by giving my child more love than I received.
Also I try to give to my parents "MORE than what they could give me." I feel this is self-healing...although it is beyond extremely hard to give to someone who expects more than they would give...but that is what true love is really all about...Giving the love.
Thanks Mirth...I will practice self-love on a higher degree all because of YOU!:hug: