Every Valentine’s Day there’s the debate: shouldn’t we show love more than one day? It’s just a Hallmark holiday. Yes that may be true but what’s wrong with showing a little extra love on one day.
I do remember my single days and hating this holiday which I called Singles Awareness Day. But that was before I reached a stage of acceptance and love of myself.
We have to love ourselves before somebody else can love us. I was single for a long time, wondering if I would ever meet someone but for many of those single years I was struggling to love and accept myself. If I wasn’t even good enough for myself how could I be good enough for someone else?
My problems started in college when I transferred after my first year away. I left the school my dad wanted me to attend and transferred to the school five minutes from my house and felt that wasn’t good enough. Turns out it was the best decision I ever made and I loved TCNJ. But at the time I felt like a failure for leaving a top liberal arts college in Maine.
Then I struggled with my body. I wasn’t thin enough. I battled an eating disorder for years as I could not accept the body I had which to me wasn’t thin enough especially for a distance runner. And the disorder continued to mask the struggles I had with myself.
Then I struggled with my first job. It wasn’t in my field but it was a job out of grad school. I toughed it out but wasn’t really happy until I landed at MCCC.
Then I was finally in a job I liked. I was working in Athletics and in a field I majored in. I was also in a better place with myself. I was going out more with friends and being more social. I was finally comfortable with who I was and didn’t worry that I was still single.
It was about a year and a half into the new job that I got an email from Chris that changed everything. We got back in touch and went on our first of many dates following this email exchange.
I’m not surprised I finally found someone because I was finally in a good place with myself. I was finally comfortable with who I was and where I was at in my life. I was finally good enough for myself. I could finally be loved by someone else. I could finally let love in.
While the focus of Valentine’s Day is on romance and love of significant others, it should also be a reminder to love ourselves. Even if you are single, take the time to love yourself and find happiness and acceptance of yourself. If you don’t have that self-love, you won’t be able to let love from anyone else in.
I know how isolated I was when my eating disorder was bad. I didn’t have time for anyone but me and the disorder. I wish I could have realized I needed to let love in so I could have healed much sooner than I did.
But as with every experience or challenge we go through in life, we learn and grow from it. I learned acceptance and self-love after years of denial of this. I learned that I don’t need to be perfect to be accepted by others, I just need to be happy with myself and my life which was never as bad as I thought it was.
As I wrote this I am reminded of one of my favorite songs by The Goo Goo Dolls, Let Love In. “The end of fear is when we begin, the moment we decided to let love in.” All the fear of not being good enough or not meeting someone ended when I finally let love in. That love I let in started with love and acceptance of myself which thankfully became a loving relationship with my husband.
So be sure to love yourself, not just on Valentine’s Day but every day. Whether you are single or in a relationship, you need self-love in order to let love in from others and give love back in return.
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