Self love

Some love enters your life by the tug of a hand, ready to test and challenge every part of your notion just to raise and grow you. Some love arrives on a grateful whisper, content with floating calmly downstream beside you. Others grip you firmly by the shoulders and shake you! While others follow you quietly, planting flowers in your footsteps.. Some love warmly breathes into your ear and completely fills you to a point where you feel you could explode.. And sometimes you do.

And some love leaves you raw. It hits you like a tree in a thunderstorm.. Stripping you of every trace of green and ripping you from your roots, leaving but a hole in the ground to mark where you once stood so strong. You find yourself thinking, ‘nothing could be worth the risk of feeling this again’. You plot all of the ways that you could lock your heart away and guard it fiercely. All of the heartache that you could avoid, all of the fear and frustration.. It sounds great in theory - if love weren’t the very essence that makes a lifetime bloom and smell so sweetly.

000099610016-3.jpg

Apply this to friendships, partners, family, careers what you will - love is the centre of the world - at least it is for me. Maybe it’s naive or hopelessly romantic to believe that life should be filled with exhilarating love that tingles your veins from your heart to the tips of your toes.. But there is an intensity I crave that can’t be met with half measures, prescribed activities or herded thoughts. At the heart of every authentic gesture, mind bubbling experience, life enriching moment comes the raw and potent pleasure of love. The driving force behind every ‘just because’ and ‘that came from somewhere deep inside me that I can’t quite explain’… Is love. It’s this feeling, this intoxication, this extremely heightened state of mind that I chase in every purposeful breathe and step forward and feel as though I’m starving without.. 

000099600008-2.jpg

We are raised to believe that this deep yearning could ever be resolved by another human being. And it’s wrong - or at least partly. 

So, looking at the hole in the ground where I’d allowed false expectations to rip my roots from beneath me and start again, I thought.. There’s one place I have left to search for this love… Inside of me.

The clouds parted and the sun peaked its nose above the horizon. I picked myself up, ankles first, and walked over to the hole in the ground. I took a seed from the deepest parts of my breathe and sewed it into fresh soil. As it grew it oozed sweet nectar that flowed and I drank and we grew together. Days passed, weeks, months, and as I sat against the trunk under the shade of my new tree, I saw and felt how everything around me was alive and strong, irrelevant of the change in weather or obstacles that came my way. The words ‘self love’ covered the tree like bark and with each new routine and self service that formed, the tree grew larger. It was everything I searched for in everything else, but it was mine and dropping fruits faster than I could devour them. So before I took a bite, I took the time to sit with my roots and admire the hard work required to get here. Upon the roots I saw the tales of my past that no longer scared me, but showed how each experience and heartache dug deep into the ground and allowed the tree to stand so strong.

000099600028-3.jpg

I used to be terrified to start again. To plant a new seed. To water it again and let it grow, only to be ripped apart once the weather turned on me once more. I used to hold onto relationships - friends, family, partners, jobs.. For much longer than they needed to and quite frankly deserved. My fear of abandonment formed in the womb when I heard my fathers footsteps leave the room. For years I let the fear of feeling that once more or worse - making someone else feel that way. I was deathly scared of feeding what I thought was my ego saying ‘I deserve better than this’. So I’d hold on. I’d let myself be mistreated and taken for granted. I’d take on others insecurities and convince myself that I could love them better. The more they’d pull away, the more I’d give. I thought this was how to lead with compassion. I’d take it upon myself. Make it my fault. Forgive others knowing they’d do it again because that was easier to try to understand than admit that sometimes, people just do bad things and it has nothing to do with you.. And I just didn’t want anyone to leave. Because change is scary. 

Change is scary. But it’s also constant. It leaves room for something new, for something more. It leaves room for you.

I have ran around in what seems like circles, waiting for someone to fix me - to soothe my pains and make them go away. And for a while, that works. But at the heart of every woman, every soul, there is an itch that can’t be scratched by another’s hand.. And it’s self love.

Self love wrapped its arms around me and picked my broken body up from the hospital floor when I was sick and could not walk. Self love caressed my stomach after surgery and told me that it would all be fine once more. Self love drew animations on the white walls of my bedroom while I stared into them and feared that I may never feel better. It wrapped its vines around my ankles and pushed me to walk outside when I had lost the will to smile. It opened my heart and built a nest so full and vivid that I could never feel the lack of another again. It made me feel whole.

000099610027.jpg

Soon enough, every crack that remained when someone left was filled with sweet honey. And the more I loved myself, the more the nectar flowed. Until eventually, the cracks were overflowing. And finally I realised, I never needed to be loved, to be love. I looked before me and had so much love that I could give it away to others freely. With no expectation of return, entrapment or fear. 

Suddenly it didn’t matter whether the love was returned or not or in what way. It no longer mattered who or for how long people chose to stay. The honey still flowed. On and on. Over every bump, crack and bridge. Ready to be replenished by my own heart and strong will if ever it began to run low.

000099590005.jpg

So what has self love taught me? 

External love comes and goes. People can make you feel special. They help you grow. They always have something to teach you - whether it be good or bad. Relationships have their ups and downs, trials and tribulations.. But at the end of the day, if something isn’t making you happy, and hasn’t for a while - let it go. Trust in the universe and its plan for you. Trust that every decision made with pure intentions is blessed.

Trust in yourself. 

000099610012-2.jpg

I can’t promise you the storms will stop. From my experience they wait just until your roots are settled, then hit you with everything they’ve got. But if you love yourself, you realise you are the tree - but you’re also the earth beneath it. You are every flower that blossoms. Every bird that sings. You can’t be torn - because this is your world. And like all worlds - the seasons change, the weather harshens.. But it’s all beautiful. Every last heart wrenching, filling, bursting bit of it. And with every change, we become more resilient. More knowing. Wiser. Stronger. More aware. Of ourselves, what we want, what we deserve. 

No one can love you like you love you. Know that deeply.
Let everything else be a bonus. 

Only once your cup is full can you even attempt to flow onto someone else.. And when two full cups come together… That’s where the real magic happens. 

000099610005.jpg

Jewels: @easternsoul
Clothing: @chasing__unicorns
Captured on film by: @brydiewatson_