I’m having a tough week emotionally. A lot of grief is coming up. A lot of pain. I’m processing a lot of feelings, digging deep, unearthing stuff that’s buried far down.
What’s it all about?
On the surface, it’s about my relationship with work and money. It’s about my difficulties managing my time, money and workload. It’s about my deep resistance to visibility, to putting my services out there. It’s about my reluctance to follow my passion at the same time as earning good money from some very marketable skills. It’s about the realisation that I’m struggling to find motivation – to write my book, to rebuild my websites, to professionalise what I offer, to run workshops, get clients, and so forth. It’s about the fear I feel when I can’t find that motivation, when I have no idea what motivates me or what I can find to motivate me going forward.
But what’s it really about? What’s it really about?
I asked myself that question this morning as I scrolled through some meditations, trying to find one that resonated (I use The Meditation Podcast as an app on my phone). There were meditations on money, prosperity and abundance, on gratitude and emotional clearing. I skipped over those. But when I saw one called, ‘Healing from Heartbreak’, tears arrived in my eyes and I got that familiar lump in my throat.
That’s the meditation I needed to do today.
Heartbreak, you may ask. But you’re in love, happy and content in a beautiful relationship. And that’s true. Thank God that’s true. No, the heartbreak I needed to look at goes way back.
I closed my eyes and travelled back in time, to some moments as a child when I felt terribly lost and alone, when I felt abandoned, rejected, unloved and unloveable (the moment Dad moved out when I was small springs to mind). I felt the pain of my little girl. I cried. But then I remembered the good times, the times I felt loved, the times I felt safe, the times we laughed. Yes, there was love there too. There was both.
Consistency. That’s the word that popped into my head. Consistency. To me, as a child, as a sensitive, vulnerable, little girl, the love coming my way didn’t feel consistent.
So that’s why I struggle with consistency, I thought. That’s why I struggle to consistently write my book (stopping and starting, meaning I need tonnes of energy to start again after I’ve abandoned it for a while); to consistently stay on top of my finances; to consistently post on my Facebook business page; to consistently declutter my clothes and the papers and magazines in my office; to consistently keep a clear space around me so my mind stays clear; to consistently go through my tax return until it’s completed (I’ve started but not finished, meaning it’ll take me ages to understand where I left off when I pick it up again); to consistently build mailing lists for my services … the list goes on.
Looking back over the years since I went self-employed, there have been big bursts of energy followed by periods when I kind of gave up on it all – bursting onto the blogging scene, bursting onto Twitter, rapidly building a community, writing my book, getting an agent, getting on Newsnight and then … nothing for a long while … low energy … low motivation … what’s the point; throwing my heart and soul into a workshop on ‘Own Your Own PR’ or into a talk on ‘The Inspire’d Stage‘ (which I’ve linked to below in case you’d like to see it) then a big energy dip once again. Not building on what I’ve achieved. Not consistently following through.
And there, at the root of it all, the underlying problem: not consistently loving myself.
It’s like I don’t know how. It’s like I can only give to myself what I was given as a child. It’s like I can only replicate the childhood memories of inconsistent love – sometimes wonderful, sometimes not – that are deeply entrenched in my limbic brain.
But I know from experience that’s not true. I know I can challenge that. I know I can learn to be consistent. I know I can because I’ve done it.
I did it with food. I did it with eating – one of the most basic, human, daily rituals. I undid decades and decades of inconsistent craziness, of starving then bingeing then avoiding then running then bingeing then starving. I changed the way I ate and the way I viewed food. It took years and at the beginning, I didn’t have a clue how to eat healthily and no idea how I was going to change, but I did it. I learned to consistently nurture my body with healthy food, three times a day. I learned to eat foods that used to be ‘banned’ unless I was on a binge, without feeling guilty and without forcing myself to run 10 miles afterwards. I learned to make soup and to cook (still learning!). I did it. I turned it around. I could still be doing those behaviours, even at 45, but I intervened, with the help of fellow eating disorder sufferers, therapy and faith. I learned to eat well and nourish my body every day. It’s not perfect but it’s pretty consistent. It’s become routine.
I also did it with loving my partner. It’s an absolute miracle that I can love him consistently after so many years of push-pull in my romantic relationships, of ‘I want you; I don’t want you’, of ‘I think you’re great; ah, get away from me’. It’s a miracle I can love him enough to maintain a loving, growing, developing, blossoming relationship. It’s a miracle that I can stop myself whenever I want to blame him for my pain or hurt, for my frustration, for my procrastination, for my grumpiness. It’s a miracle that I can apologise quickly when I feel I’ve done that. It’s a miracle that I can catch myself whenever I’m finding fault and focus on all the amazing stuff. Miracle is a big word but I don’t use it lightly. I use it intentionally, knowing my past, knowing the transformation that’s occurred.
Do I have any other examples of consistency I can draw on to prove I can do it? Well, I’ve stayed with this blog for five years, despite some breaks. And I’ve been in recovery for an eating disorder and dysfunctional relationship behaviours for 13 years, consistently.
So I can do it. I can consistently feed and nourish myself. I can consistently love another. I can stick with some things. So I can learn to consistently love myself.
Loving myself, unfortunately, doesn’t mean spending every day at the beach. Loving myself means re-parenting myself, setting loving and healthy boundaries for myself around my work and leisure time, around my book writing time, around my earning and spending. It’s about taking time for self-care, health and wellbeing, balanced with a solid commitment to my work goals. It’s about knowing my worth and being bold enough to ask for what I deserve. It’s about being visible, about daring to be seen, despite fear of judgement, criticism and ridicule. It’s about showing up for myself, consistently.
So today and this week, I promise to consistently love myself. I’ll start there and see how I go.
I’ll say a bit more about my talk on The Inspire’d Stage in my next post. In the meantime, you can watch it here.