True Story: I almost titled this “Radical Self Love” but then part of my brain that has the humor of a 10yo boy in me giggled too much and so now I’m having to replace the phrase “self love” so that I don’t make jokes about…well…self love.
BACK TO THE SERIOUS STUFF.
I wanted to write more about the whole “A Better Me” resistance I mentioned on the previous post…how it started sitting bad with me that I’m constantly in a state of “improvement” and why this all falls under language I’ve started resisting.
Language is a funny thing because words have power we don’t always mean to give them. I had a conversation with a friend one time about the word “beauty” and how she even hates the part of the body positivity movement that demands we see ourselves as “beautiful” because why is that the goal? Why is “beauty” something we need to be able to see in the mirror?
And that’s when I learned how differently some of us see the word “beauty” because for me – it’s not synonymous with “pretty.” To me, pretty is cosmetic. I know people who aren’t traditionally “pretty” but who are – to me – beautiful. Beauty – to me – encompasses spirit and heart and love and kindness, but to her is a construct created by the BEAUTY INDUSTRY which we both agree is the root of a lot of societal pressures to unreasonable standards.
So I’ve been trying to thing of other words and better language to say exactly what I want to say. I now try to use the word beauty as a base descriptor for spirit and love and kindness. She is full of a beautiful energy that I want to emulate. Her heart is beautiful.
When it comes to self-improvement, obviously there are things we all want to be better at. I want to yell less. I want to cook more. And all of this feels easily categorized as betterment, but the more I think about it the more I realized that the reason I resist that language is because it’s…(god I hate to use this word)…triggering.
I have deep issues around self-hatred and so I have to erase all language that frames my perception of myself too negatively. Just like an addict doesn’t want to take pain medicine…even if they need it…I don’t want to use language that frames one version of myself as better/worse than another…even if it’s fitting.
I mean…truthfully speaking, Kim of 44 is a way better human than Kim of age 19-24. I inflicted a lot of pain on myself and on others those years.
But to frame that version of me as worse is not something I want to keep doing because I want to change the language around how I talk about myself drastically and completely. Because it turns out I can’t use language around self-improvement logically, just like people newly sober can’t have just one beer.
Now, there are people who find a point in recovery where they can drink casually again, or take pain medicine after surgery. And maybe some day I can use language around self-improvement better and isolate it in situations where it really applies. But for now? I trying to flood my brain with positive discussions of all versions of myself so that I can can build a foundation of self love (hee) that never existed before.
I like the language around Radical Love I’ve been hearing lately:
“Individuals who choose to love can and do alter our lives in ways that honor the primacy of a love ethic. We do this by choosing to work with individuals we admire and respect; by committing to give our all to relationships; by embracing a global vision wherein we see our lives and our fate as intimately connected to those of everyone else on the planet. Commitment to a love ethic transforms our lives by offering us a different set of values to live by. In large and small ways, we make choices based on a belief that honesty, openness, and personal integrity need to be expressed in public and private decisions.”Doubling Down On Love
(Yes. I posted someone else’s quote from someone else’s article but I didn’t want to pretend I knew who bell hooks was before I read Brown’s article.)
I actually am very free with the love I give others. When I unexpectedly see a friend sitting at a table at the bagel place I just walked into…my heart is filled with love. I do not restrict that as I share it with others. And so I am currently in the middle of trying to direct that radical love inward.
I’m finding ways to frame changes I’ve made or changes I’m trying to make with language founded in love of ALL versions of myself. The Kim of yesteryear navigated life through twisted narcissism and self-loathing which led to ripples of pain all around her, but she was (and is) still worthy of love.
I went to a therapist once made me spend some time talking to Young Kim and as silly as it felt, it is something I return to more and more lately. Young Kim had serious abandonment issues and I had to really take brave steps to turn inward to talk to her about that so that I didn’t project those same issues onto my children. (I tend to overcompensate with my kids because I assign my childhood fears onto them.) I am trying to do that more even with present-day Kim. I’m trying to turn inward and talk to myself (as weird as it may sound) and tell myself how much I love myself.
(Now I sound supes-kooky.)
Anyway…I just wanted to dig into that a little more. I didn’t want to leave it like I was assigning negativity for all people over phrases like “A better me” or language around “self-improvement” – it’s mainly just for me right now. I am having to really immerse myself in language of love to try to undo the damage done by decades of self-hatred.