When you have lost yourself beyond recognition, how do you even begin to love yourself?
I am learning a lot about self love right now. Or, at least, I’m attempting to learn. It sounds simple enough, but no one addresses how to go about falling in love with a total stranger. Recently I didn’t even like myself – how is it possibly feasible that I could love a person that I don’t even know?
I don’t have the answers, and that very well could be the hardest part of everything right now. It’s not fear of incorrect answers, it’s the fact that there are actually no answers at all. The playbook doesn’t exist. Everyone lives a different life, with different feelings and qualities and priorities and flaws. No one in the history of the planet has ever dealt with what I am going through from my shoes. I can seek advice and guidance from everyone from professional therapists to complete strangers – and I have – but nobody makes my decisions. You can’t feel the way I feel. No one can live my life for me.
I’ve determined that the only thing I can focus on consistently and permanently is myself. Seems obvious, but apparently for most of my adult life I have chose to neglect me in more ways than one. I have to love myself, and take care of myself, and strive to be my best me – regardless of the opinions of others. I haven’t done that in a long time, or maybe ever. So where does one start?
Spoiler alert: I have no idea what I’m doing.
For the most part, I’m throwing stuff at the wall to see what sticks. I’m trying new things, and prioritizing things that have long fallen off my radar, just to see what creates that spark within me again. Where do I best see the best version of Samantha?
If you have not read “The 5 Love Languages,” that should be your first step. I read this book last year relating to my marriage and quickly identified that I best receive love through quality time. How does one love a stranger? You learn what sets their soul on fire. For self love purposes, this has meant prioritizing time with friends.
You know how women, and especially those who are mothers, reach out to other women on social media and say, “Oh my gosh! We should get dinner sometime!” or “Ah! I miss you! Let’s plan to get together soon!” and somehow that soon turns into never?
Yeah, about that. I’m queen of that.
Recently I have unapologetically made plans for myself. Third wheeling a date night? Did it. A long overdue girl’s night that ended in an impromptu slumber party? Yep. Last-minute long weekend to Colorado with my sisters and cousin to hike mountains and get a tattoo? I couldn’t get on that plane fast enough. Making time for me, prioritizing my tribe, and re-connecting with old friends has been refreshing. I have found that I get a new energy from sharing conversation and new experiences with people I love.
The lesson here? Don’t wait the better part of a year to grab a glass of wine with your best girlfriends. You aren’t doing anyone any favors.
I’ve discovered that I like loud music. In particular, the loud anthems of strong women from the 90’s.
Have you ever played LeAnn Rimes at top volume on repeat? Call me insane, but I just felt BETTER after listening to “Right Kind of Wrong” and dancing it out in my car the other day. I had a damn near spiritual moment when Celine Dion came on during my Peloton workout. I can’t even begin to tell you what Alanis Morissette and The Chicks are doing for me right now.
Listen to what speaks to you, and turn it up. No matter how terrible your taste in music.
RIDE THE BIKE
I wrote recently about my commitment to exercise. I started that journey months before my life was sent into crisis mode, and I’m so thankful I did. Exercise, eating healthier, and drinking far less became the foundation of my self care simply because I was already in the habit (mostly).
For the number of you who have asked me if the Peloton bike is worth the investment, the answer is a 1,000 percent yes. I credit Cody Rigsby with getting me through some of my toughest days recently. I have found myself on the bike many times, simply riding until I feel better, and “fixing my wig” to take on the world (or my life). Both tasks feel equally as daunting right now.
I’ve completed over 150 rides, finished the 500 mile Indy Virtual Challenge three months early, and lost almost 30 lbs.
I never in one million years thought I would write that sentence. You can do it too.
I have spent a lot of time alone recently. Intentionally. Maybe consider this quality time with myself, where I schedule time to say no to everyone else.
Being alone to write – everything from blogs, to journaling, to typing random notes on my phone – has given me more clarity than I thought possible right now. I have been taking an extra 20 minutes in the morning after dropping the girls off at school to go get Starbucks. If I’m feeling sad or uncomfortable or overwhelmed with my thoughts, I go for a drive with the windows down. I’m reading books, and watching new television shows. I got my nails done during lunch. I go for walks at work when I can physically feel myself losing the strength to be okay.
I’m sitting alone in bed with a single glass of wine and allowing myself to feel.
Sure, being alone is giving me time to do things I want to do. But it’s also forcing me to address my wounds and begin to heal. I’m allowed to have time to cry and grieve, just like I’m allowed to have time to laugh at meaningless TikTok videos.
There are no rules. Do what you want, not what you’re expected.
SEE THE DOCTOR
I scheduled a wellness visit with my nurse practitioner. I simply wanted to check in with her on my basic mental and physical health. I have been diagnosed with anxiety and depression in the past, but I wanted to revisit those conversations with myself as the priority this time.
That appointment spiraled.
I walked out with a blood draw for possible thyroid issues, anemia, and vitamin D deficiency. Great. Then I received an EKG that came back irregular, and now I have a referral for a cardiologist. I’m 32 years old. Oh, and then I went to the chiropractor for the first time ever to get x-rays because (as I now know) my C7 vertebrae is rotated and my neck is not curved correctly which is causing me a lot of neck and upper back pain. The chiropractor actually asked me if he had been in a car accident recently.
SPIRALED, I tell you.
As frustrating and scary as that day was, that was self love. I went to the doctor, and I advocated for myself. I had a list of pre-planned questions to ask on my phone. I was honest with her, and upfront with her about how I got to where I am now.
Make the appointment. You only get one body.
This is my start. As cliche as all of this sounds, this is the best I can do right now. I’m not going to be ashamed of that, but I am going to continue to build this foundation. I’m going to bloom from here.
How do you love yourself? What things do you do for yourself regularly to make you important? No matter how big or small the gesture, please. I beg you.
Remember to love yourself.