From a young age, we are influenced by so many things when it comes to relationships. We may have healthy parents to look up to or not so much. Personally, I was addicted to Disney movies and thought that (in the words of Snow White) “someday my prince will come.” I played dress-up and thought that every woman grows up to meet their prince and live happily-ever-after. However, amongst the dreams and fantasies, I was also learning a valuable lesson. I was always encouraged to focus on my number one relationship – the one I had with myself.
What does that mean? It means that I was encouraged to grow and flourish as an individual. I took interest in hobbies, personal development, and started down the path of truly knowing myself. Sure, the prince would come, but before I could love another I needed to learn how to love myself. How can we give love and receive love if we don’t even truly know what love is?
It’s not easy to know…
As I grew and developed as a child, I was beyond independent. I was self-sufficient, could cook for myself, and provided my own transportation around town. I babysat at a really young age (my first job was four kids at the age of 11). And while I may have been a bit indecisive on what the future might hold, I felt I had really established my self-worth.
That was until I started truly dating in my youth. The attempts to find my prince were feeble. Some were gems (like my high school sweetheart and my “fit” boyfriend) and some were much more challenging (like the blue scarf), but these guys all taught me something. Something beyond what I write in the Silver Linings series on my blog.
These men taught me that I was definitely not secure in who I was or what I wanted in life. I needed standards and I needed to realize that until I put myself first, I would never be able to share my life completely with someone. Sadly, I was hunting for the person to complete me, not the person to which I could share my whole-heartedness with and keep my individuality (which is so important). This meant one thing – my number one relationship had to become myself.
And so started the journey of love
Meeting one of my best friends showed me how true this was. The more I invest in my self-love, the more I know exactly who I am, the closer we have become. It’s not perfect, (because what is perfect?) but it is wonderful. We don’t fight about pointless shit, we both have our individuality and interests, and yet we can come together and lift each other up. It is a relationship of true growth, and as much as it “started with him” it actually started with me.
Nowadays, he’s just had the opportunity to truly enjoy the growth. My ability to stand up for something when I know I need to, and my ability to walk away when something doesn’t feel right. We discuss we don’t fight. We don’t “need” each other, we just want each other in our lives. Is he a prince? Am I suddenly a Disney princess? Um, no. Far from. However, it works because we balance. It works because, regardless of what anyone says, I put myself first.
Self-love: Where does one start?
Surprisingly, it’s not an easy task to love one’s self. To say, “you are important to me, but I am more important to me” seems selfish
My journey began in investing in the things that made me happy. It involved being active (riding my horse, playing golf, attempting hockey). I dove into reading books (and took a special interest in self-help books that spoke to me). My days start with meditation with the Calm app, and I journal regularly (through my blog and in my much more personal hand-written journal). At first, I didn’t know if it was paying off. I was still dating the odd bad decision and sometimes felt myself drifting like I was “losing myself.” Then, one day, it clicked.
My number one relationship began…
I can’t tell you exactly when it clicked, but I can tell you it clicked. As my guy (mentioned above) would attest to, I became more difficult to pick a fight with. My head remained level and I was much more in-tune with my emotions. I knew when I needed a hot bath and a journalling session, or to hit the gym and whack a bucket of golf balls. By putting myself first, I was able to support not just that relationship, but all my relationships in my life.
Self-love isn’t selfish, it is necessary. Without self-identity, we lose ourselves in things/people that aren’t healthy for us. If we don’t have individuality, then we lose ourselves in the needs of the other person, and it can become a scary thought to be alone. We don’t have the ability to realize when the fight isn’t necessary or that we deserve people in our lives that tell us “I love you” (and definitely not “I hate you”)
Thankfully, I’m there. Finally. After many years and many mistakes, I love me. And I’m really okay with saying it, because while I love others, my number one relationship is me.