Self-love is the way to achieve your goals. This statement is broad, perhaps too general to understand. Here’s an illustration from my life where self-love opened the door to better health.
Self-love is the Way Forward
When life is stressful with work, family, grief, or health concerns, we find coping mechanisms that pull us through the pain. Some of these paths are very healthy and life-affirming. For instance, a friend discovered her artistic talent through an art therapy program during her cancer treatment. Her painting is the dancer in red, top center.
An integral ingredient in any forward movement is self-love.
For some, self-love bloomed early in their life. As babies, toddlers, and in early childhood, they received the affirming affection, praise, and happiness from people integral in their life that built the confidence of self-love.
For others, myself included, we were missing an essential ingredient that led us to believe we weren’t good enough to receive the love and affection we desperately desired. Early childhood is a unique situation for each of us, affected by personalities, intrinsic values, and perhaps the contract we made with our Creator before entering the world.
Forgiveness is an element of self-love. You might find it easier to forgive others than yourself. That’s a great place to start. But ultimately, forgiving yourself is key to self-love.
Grief Plays a Role
For me, I’ve used emotional eating as a tool to soothe hurt. But, unfortunately, it became a dramatic example as I put on twenty-four pounds over the last five months.
I was wrapping up the initial frantic probate actions in early April following my husband’s death. The payoff was returning to the peace of the North Carolina Blue Ridge Mountains.
Although I was still the caregiver for my 93-year-old mother, she had adjusted well to her assisted living home. Driving the twenty-one miles to visit her, I drank in the peaceful pace and scenery of the Blue Ridge Parkway.
But I was still in my perfectionist mode, using the trip home to shop in Boone. My self-loathing kept me from simply returning home along the same route.
Suddenly Everything Changes
A routine developed. I added personal training at the Wellness Center in Boone before visiting Mom. But the allure of Publix, my favorite grocery store in Boone, brought me back through the traffic. It was more important to serve my masculine nature of doing than surrender to my feminine side of appreciation of nature. My lack of self-love won over the calming effects of the Blue Ridge Parkway’s meandering 45 mph route.
Suddenly, Mom’s health plummeted. Her dehydration set up a dramatic series of events. Infection and discomfort were severe. Surgery was not an option as her blood pressure fell.
The doctors and I chose to keep her comfortable as her life force left her in under a week. Such a quick change is shocking, even for a woman in her 90s. But, unfortunately, June 4th marked another significant change. And another period of heightened anxiety began.
My Attention Wavered
Although I noticed my clothes tightening, it was easy to ignore. But the numbers on the bathroom scale continued to climb. Finally, I succumbed to the easy route of eating sandwiches, nachos, and ice cream. In addition to a load of carbohydrates, my digestive system balked from gluten, coffee, dairy products, processed food, and sugar. Sadly, I ignored my gluten intolerance and the inflammatory effect of dairy and sugar on my body.
A Nice Day in Nature
On the afternoon of Saturday, August 27th, I thoroughly enjoyed my lunch at The Bluffs, a restaurant along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Earlier, I joined a fern identification walk with the local chapter of the North Carolina Native Plant Society. But, not wishing to hold up the other hikers, I saved my photography for this native monarda, where I met a fellow botany enthusiast. Overall, it was a rewarding day.
The Sh*t Hits the Fan
After arising Sunday morning, I drank my 12-oz coffee with cream and sugar, followed by a one-half gluten-free bagel, cream cheese, and preserves. Within minutes, a burning sensation began in my stomach.
I soldiered on, working on a pre-session health questionnaire for an upcoming Zoom. My weight gain needed attention, and I took the first step toward solving the problem.
Before I could finish the questionnaire, my stomach pain demanded attention. So I popped an acid reduction pill and frantically looked for food to absorb the acid.
My body continued to balk. The dreaded, violent release of my stomach contents followed. All I could think about was whether it looked like coffee grounds. I had seen that phenomenon from a patient with a bleeding ulcer while working as a nurse’s aide in high school. What a relief. No coffee grounds!
The Reason Becomes Clear
As I continued moving from one position to another, I finally lay down on the bed and had a loving conversation.
“You have everything you need to get through this pain. It will pass. Allow sleep to come, and the pain will be gone when you awake.”
Twenty minutes later, I woke up. The pain was gone.
As I lay still, it became clear that the pain was a wake-up call to get serious about taking care of my body. I imagined the unseen trauma of my digestive system fighting the inflammatory effects of sugar, gluten, milk proteins, and milk sugar.
Self-love is the way to improve my health. With this new self-awareness, I began searching for knowledge about my system and the journey back to health.
Sharing with tenderness,