We forget that the most important relationship we have during our time on earth is the one with ourselves.
This past year, I've gone through hell. Graduating is supposed to be one of those amazing things in life — and it is — but it's also a huge change, and I've never been someone who dealt with change very gracefully. I went through a bit of an identity crisis during the time leading up to and following graduation, simultaneously dealing with a floundering relationship for over a year.
The only thing that got me through was self-compassion.
When my professor, boyfriend, or clients failed to meet my expectations and left me feeling disappointed, the only person I had to turn to was myself. I was forced to learn how to accept and love myself as I was, even if all these other people in my life didn't. It wasn't always pretty, but it was a learning process — and I'm still learning every day.
In the midst of it all, I started writing poetry.
Poetry helped me sit with and analyze my thoughts, giving me the opportunity to be compassionate towards myself in the process. Writing is a very intuitive process for me, and I would just write whatever I felt or came to mind, then sit back and examine what those words meant and where they were coming from.
In the midst of all my turmoil, I found that the thing I was most unhappy with was myself. Once I realized it, I started working through those emotions through my poetry, which essentially took on the form of writing love letters to myself.
This is the love letter I wrote to myself today, after completing the 10-Day #SelfCareShare.
It starts with a question, "Why aren't you listening?"
I'm going to be honest. My self-care needs suffered immensely during this campaign. I was up at all kinds of odd hours, failing to take the time to eat, etc. My mom threatened me numerous times, saying that she was going to go rat me out to all you followers out there about what my self-care was really looking like. This is why you didn't see some of the posts until the afternoon; my body had forced me to succumb to sleep, and they simply weren't done.
You also didn't see the consuming anxiety I went through every time I geared up for a Facebook Live video. I would practice those damn things 20 times before I hit record, and yet, I was never satisfied with their outcome. I would ridicule myself for messing up something I had mastered perfectly so many times before. There was one day that I got so worked up about it, I couldn't even sleep.
My body tried to make me listen with its splitting headaches and tight shoulders, but I was on a mission.
I am one of those people who will put a lot of pressure on myself to be "perfect," and this was a project I was so incredibly passionate about. But plans never go how you think they will, and this #SelfCareShare looked absolutely nothing like I had originally imagined. Of course, did you know that? No. But I knew it, and I was tearing myself up inside for not pulling off that perfect vision.
As the 10th day drew nearer, I started having a little more compassion for myself. I realized that I had again done that "don't eat don't sleep" Kristen thing I can sometimes do, and I started being a little nicer. I didn't get quite as upset when my post didn't get as many likes as I'd hoped, and when I started yelling at myself for messing up a video, I would acknowledge it and then comfort myself. "You've never done these before. You did a great job. You'll only continue to get better." Then I'd give myself a hug and move on.
But when I sat down to write this love letter last night, I had a lot of trouble coming up with what to say (hence, I'm writing this post at 4:20 pm). What do I need to say to myself?
I stepped back and started looking at myself like I would a partner. What would I tell my best friend, brother, or significant other if they had just gone through my past month?
The biggest thing, I realized, was that I would want them to know that I loved them. No matter how hard they failed at their mission, no matter how big their f*ck up, I would always love them. So I started writing. You see above what came out.
The line "be by you every night" actually is in reference to another one of my poems, where I say, "What if my thighs were smooth, my faith curved in. The callous on my feet removed, would you love me then? If I scrubbed my arms raw, and brought new form to light, would you sit just beside me then, adoring day and night?" (see full poem and analysis below) This line is talking about how I am withholding my love for myself until I achieve my idea of perfection, but that bar of perfection is always raising; even if I make it down to that size 6, I immediately want to be a size 4. Nothing is ever good enough. This was written over a year ago.
So in today's poem, after becoming a little more compassionate towards myself, I am telling myself that no matter what, I will always be there to adore me. I am perfect just the way I am, and I will love myself no matter what happens.
I believe one of the greatest fears in life is that we will be left alone.
It's a fear I've dealt with, and I'm sure you have too. But you're not alone. Not if you love yourself. Not if you become your own best friend and learn how to enjoy your own company, comfort your own self, and do things in life that make you happy. Learn how to love yourself, and the rest of life will take care of itself.
Check out some of my other poems that talk about self-compassion below!
Copyright © 2016 Kristen Williams, All Rights Reserved