You Are Not Alone

Happy Love Yourself Month. It is almost over.

Part of loving yourself, madly, truly, and deeply (see what I did there) is being okay with your own company and realizing your strength.

Everyone seeks external validation and confirmation of their greatness and worthiness.

For many reasons, most people find it difficult to see the best in themselves. Instead, they wait for it to be recognized by others. Weaknesses, however, are written in red on the walls of our hearts. We need no validation of our weaknesses and often resent those who point them out.

If I need a hero, I got my mirror. 

Leona Lewis – Don’t Let Me Down

Yet we wait to find the one who will tell us we deserve the promotion, devotion, happiness, peace, and love.  We wait for validation because it is not real until someone says it. And so, it goes. Even those who say they deserve to have it all often do not believe they can because knowing and believing are very different entities.

As a kid, I had a healthy sense of self and a ton of confidence. When I was seven, I learned the word intellectual and knew it described me perfectly. I told my aunt that I was an intellectual when she called me smart. I liked the word better. Intellectuals are not just smart, they are thinkers.

“I ain’t nobody’s sidekick. I AM Batman and Robin, minus the mask, plus the vagina.”

Casey Renee Kiser, It’s Getting Harder and Harder To Tell the Two of You Apart

For a while, my mother wasn’t sure if my confidence wasn’t just an over-inflated ego with pre-narcissistic tendencies. She would always try to, gently, pop my balloon. Until one day, she just stopped. She asked, “You sure do love yourself, don’t you?” Grinning like the smart ass I am, I agreed. She took a long assessing look at me and said, “Good.”

From that point on, she let me continue to sing my own praises, which I did infrequently and only at home. I guess she figured she’d ingrained compassion and kindness into me enough, so my confidence was genuine and not ego. Soon after that came another lesson after a so-called friend broke my heart by ditching me for a rowdier crowd. It was then that mom taught me a few of the harsher lessons in life.

The only person you can ever truly rely on is you. Money will come and go. Family members will die. Love will come and go, and even true love may end in death. In the end, all you will ever have is yourself, so you might as well get comfortable.

I have looked outside of myself to be saved twice in my life. Both times were during a bout of depression. The first was in middle school when I believed I loved a drummer who liked computers, even though he had a girlfriend. The second was when I assumed my depression would pull my husband out of his own depression so he could save me from my dark abyss. I drowned both times.

Both times, I had to find the strength to call my situation what it was and ask for help. The first time, my mother threw me the life vest. The second time it was my therapist.

When I am at my worst, lost in my own maze of dark thoughts and emotions, I search for a Knight in Shining Armor. I need Prince Charming to kiss me and make it better. I desperately want to be saved. Somehow, I truly believe that if someone else sees that something is wrong with me, the clouds will part and the sky will clear. Or maybe they will take care of me and let me be broken for just a little while. I don’t think I am abnormal in this; it is simply out of character for me.

The truth is, in those moments, all you have is you. And while none of us want to hear it, all you need is you. Only you know what you need. Only you know your limits and where your weaknesses lie. You have to save yourself if by doing nothing other than saying enough is enough.

Mental health illnesses are a terrible example of saving yourself. There is this meme on Facebook and Twitter that says people who are depressed often can’t reach out, so others should do the reaching. I agree. I do. However, a lot of factors may prevent that from happening.

I know someone who I have reached out to multiple times over the years, and I know of others who have too. This person is clearly suffering from depression and anxiety and has been for years. They know they are suffering, and they know it gets worse every year. However, they only believe in the power of medicine and they have learned to gain attention and power from their situation. So, little by little, people have stopped reaching out.

I have hidden my depression during every episode, all the while praying someone would give me a lifeline and permission to not be okay.

Permission, no matter what you need permission for, can only come from you, and so will the strength to move forward. Others may very well you give you permission, encouragement, and boundless love, but until it comes from you, it is basically just lovely background music. Heard but not acknowledged. The permission HAS to come from within, as does resolve.

In my three decades on Earth, no person has ever told me to work harder. It is quite the opposite. At least once a month, someone tells me to rest, relax, delegate, outsource, take a break or a day off. The flu notwithstanding, Valentine’s Day was the first day of my life in which I gave myself permission to just lay in bed and do nothing…and then did it. It’s a silly thing, but it is significant.

The key factor is mindset, not ability. You are not expected to have every skill you need to attain your goals, heal yourself, establish yourself, etc. However, it is 1000% up to you how you progress through life. It is all on you. Others are there to teach, guide and support, but every action and step is yours to own.

Your ability to sort out what belongs on your path and what doesn’t is perhaps the most important ability you have.

Frederic Hudson and Pamela McLean Life Launch: A Passionate Guide to the Rest of your Life

You are not alone, though sometimes you may get lonely. You are not damaged, even though you may be a bit chipped. You are not alone, though sometimes you will feel like the black sheep. You can’t possibly be alone when you have your will and a mirror. You have yourself.

First and foremost, that has to be enough. You have to be enough. You are enough.

As we close out Love Yourself Month, my prayer is that more people move into March, really recognizing their own strength and beauty and gain the ability to call those things to the forefront.

Photo by Daria Shevtsova