How To Love Yourself In The Time Of Stress

The best way I’ve found to love myself has been to stop caring what people think of me. When my friends hear I’m pregnant, there’s this strange, uncomfortable sense of disconnect, of feeling more alone and less in control than I’d ever feel if I had a baby and no one was watching.

Many of us feel a sense of loss when a relationship ends. In the days and months, weeks, or days after a breakup, it can feel like an eternal part of your life that is no longer there – the best relationship left in your life, really. But when you are having a heart-to-heart, that is not always true.

I think love and life have a way of interchanging. There was a time a few years back when I felt like everything I was living for was going to be ripped away from me. I thought the only way to be loved and respected as a woman was to die. I believed no one else could understand. I wanted to run and never return to this world, and I believed so deeply that if I was not a mother, I had no reason to live as a woman, anyway. I was on a mission, and I had no idea what to do or where to begin. What had I lost that I had to protect.

And then another woman gave me one beautiful blessing: she told me that I was still young enough, in one sense, to have this kind of relationship. She said, “If you ever stop loving yourself, you can’t give love to anyone else.” Then she told me that, actually, all I wanted to do was be a woman who loved herself.

And when I looked into my heart, she was right – I was not in a place to make a decision that would not lead to a beautiful, complete life. Love didn’t mean hating your body. It meant finding ways to love yourself as a beautiful, complete human being. I needed the wisdom to know that my greatest fear as a mother of seven was the fear that I would lose myself with this person. But what I feared the most was that I would lose the person that had given me the freedom to run, because of the responsibility of motherhood, and that fear was completely unjustified.

I did not have to go through this alone. I could choose to follow my heart and my mind – and I do. That has been what helps me be the person I am today. I don’t have to be someone who does not care what the world thinks, or who is afraid of her body like that.

This is no easy journey, of course. But it is a beautiful one where you can choose to be the person you desire to be, regardless of the circumstances in which it may be shared with others. And that is what I have so much respect for: that all I had to do was love myself. How simple that must be. That there was such a thing as a beautiful, complete human being capable of loving itself. I could choose to be beautiful and complete and imperfect – or I could decide to be the person that had this gift, and be able to choose for another to have it, too.

And so, I do, and I will. I know that I must learn how to protect myself from all the pain and the grief. But I also know that the pain doesn’t mean anything if I can be the person that I choose to be. It won’t change the fact that I lost a child, or that I was in love, or that I was able to be with myself. It won’t mean I don’t know what I am and believe it or not, and that I do believe myself. These are all things I will continue to know, and have faith in.