I struggled to figure out how I wanted to tackle my first blog post after a year away from the page. I decided that after avoiding it for a couple months, and then obstinately putting it on my to-do list, only to be ignored, it was time to *finally* rip the bandaid off. So, here we go. Rusty, but honest.
The nature of this handmade business is to be driven by capitalist sales events like particular holidays, seasonal highlights and trends. It’s something I have learned to lean into, and even enjoy a little bit. There is a rhythm to it; A certain kind of flow as you settle into a particular theme. I suppose in my mind it’s not all that much unlike getting an assignment as an art student. You might prickle at the limitations, but that structure immediately gives you something to work with, and sometimes even something to work against.
Despite my previous adaptations to this flow of holidays and sales, I have to admit, much like blogging, I have been having a difficult time gearing up for Valentines Day this year. Maybe it’s because I’m still embroiled in an increasingly horrible divorce, maybe it’s because I appear to be chronically exhausted and stressed. But, Valentine's Day isn’t really sparking a lot of joy for me right now, and you know what Marie Condo has to say about that, right?
Ooph. Just kidding. I’m not ready to toss Valentine's Day into the cold icy slush rimming my street curb right now.
Alternating angst and antipathy aside, I am actually doing my darnedest to engage with the season of love through my usual focus point: self love.
Unfortunately, 2022 was kind of a shit show and a mean bitch rolled into one. 2023 has not shown any indications of a more kind or considerate disposition. Case in point: I just signed a contract to sell my house, the one I worked so hard to buy… That’s an intense and difficult experience, even if it marks significant progress in achieving my freedom.
I have been dealing with a lot of shit, and some of it isn’t even current shit, rather it’s the processing of 12 years of a deeply unhealthy relationship. This processing happens in bits and spurts, through the course of harried nightly journal entries, weekly therapy sessions and nightmares.
I feel like on almost a daily basis I am learning something new about myself, or my relationships or my past relationships, and that process of discovery is both beautiful and ugly and almost always overwhelming. Growth is uncomfortable and sometimes painful, it turns out.
So, what does it mean to foster self love in a time of crisis? Here’s a letter to myself on the topic:
When it comes to loving yourself, the first thing that comes to mind for me is patience. Be patient with yourself. But also the people around you, because you’re most likely asking a lot of them. Be patient with your capacity. You’re handing so much right now. Things are going to slip through the cracks, you are going to make mistakes. You are going to be triggered. Hurt. Have heightened emotions. You are learning about your panic attacks, your central nervous system, your vegus nerve, the connections between all of your physical being and your mental health. And you are learning what it means to have c-ptsd, for you.
That is a lot to handle. All the unlearning and relearning, while coping with one really big thing after the next… it’s almost too much for anyone to cope with. Yet you are doing it. Day in and day out. Good job. Just by managing, you are doing a beautiful and amazing job. Kindness matters, including kindness to yourself.
The other thing that only just occurred to me as a formalized idea was to commit to a magical, peaceful and joyful life. That means asking yourself what brings you peace and joy, and then actively working to build it in your life. If you are building it for yourself, then you are not expecting others to manufacture it for you.
So, Callie, what does it mean to love yourself? To prioritize your own personhood and to center your own experience and feelings, rather than the experiences and feelings of others?
- Notice and pay attention to the ways in which you are doing these things.
- I wrote in my journal every day this week.
- I went for a walk without my phone.
- I set boundaries in a relationship.
- I learned something new about myself.
- I dedicated 20 minutes today to making art just for me.
- I finished reading a novel.
- I’m in weekly therapy sessions and I’m committed to the therapeutic process.
- I am practicing noticing my feelings and emotions and not judging or intellectualizing them.
- I chose to invest money in things that bring me joy in my environment.
- I prioritized tasks that would bring me peace and security.
- I said yes to the things I really wanted to do, but maybe thought were selfish or self-centered.
- I said no when I meant no.
You’re doing great, my darling.
I kinda like this Valentine's Day letter to myself. Maybe it’s a practice I will embrace and continue every year. I could even see doing this with my partner’s kids as a great self-love activity.
Whichever way you are celebrating, or not celebrating Valentine’s Day, I hope you are taking some time to love and take care of yourself. I’m so proud of the work you are doing.
PS: Something I have been thinking about a lot lately is the absolute vital importance of friend love. I know I would not be here right now without the love and support of my friends. And I think that’s worth focusing on and celebrating.