the dark secret about self-love no one ever told me


Pretty much every self-help book I’ve ever read points to or directly states, “You can never fully love anyone else until you fully love yourself.”  That sounds good, but what does it actually mean?

When I was 20 years old I asked the Universe, “What’s my purpose?”

“To love” came back instantly. "There has to be something more important than that? That’s too simple,” I thought.

But these past decades have proven that loving is the most powerful practice and force of change that could ever be. Granted, I’ve directed my love outward for the majority of that time. Focusing on reminding people who they are beyond the mind’s chatter.

Letting myself dive into relationships and situations with such abandon that I forget about my own needs and desires because I wanted to be loved so badly.

I bypassed myself.

I hid when I felt unpresentable and waited for the next inspiration to come for me. 

And then there was nothing pulling my attention. No new person or situation that I felt compelled to lose myself in. That’s where the true work of love began. In that dark and still place.

What I’ve learned is that self-love means meeting that darkness and mess with kindness instead of ridicule and comparing. It means letting that love be in charge, to feel what surrender means when it’s uncomfortable.

It means being seen when I don’t want to be.

And allowing myself to be seen when I do.

It’s loving the chafing on a hot sweaty day between my thighs.

It’s forgiving myself for all the suffering I’ve caused.

Self-love is softening to the things I don’t like about myself and bringing compassion.

It means being willing to be where I am as I am.

This is my longest term relationship. The one I can’t break up with or run from with any success. It’s the roommate that never leaves.

All the distractions are just postponing the inevitable meeting that love has in store for me. Love is the great healer that brings to the surface everything that is unlike itself.

As my attention and care for myself increases, all the dark crevices reveal themselves. 

All the neediness and gripping.

All the ways I’ve been looking to be saved.

All the identities that I have worn to “look good” and “be enough”–they all want my attention and love.

I thought it would be romantic like the whoosh and electricity of a new lover and all of the sudden I would be in love with myself. But this a long courtship with, at times, a non-responsive partner. 

So, I remind myself with small actions and disruptive thoughts like “I love myself.”

My commitment keeps deepening and sometimes I want to run and look for another self to love. But the darkness is where the real power of my life lives.

My deepest work with my clients is in the dark, blind spots where even a tiny nudge of intuition will connect the conscious and the unconscious for immediate resolution and return of the power hidden there.

My own deepest and most powerful work with myself is the reminder, “I will not leave you. No matter what you do or don’t do, I’m right here.”

Valerie Kausen1 Comment