LOVED // Story of the T-shirt Vol One

 What does it mean to be loved? The dictionary describes the word 'Loved" as feeling a deep affection for someone. It goes on to say, "to take great pleasure in, to cherish, to be passionate about". 

Is that something, a feeling, an emotion you can say you feel about yourself? That you take great pleasure in being you, that you cherish and are passionate about yourself? How about your dreams? 

I believe that the journey to feeling loved, to feeling fully known, begins when we can start to love ourselves. To honour ourselves and our dreams, to stop beating ourselves up, or listening to the voices that seem to vie for our attention that tell us we are stupid, ugly, fat, not capable or (fill your word here.....).

A few years ago, when I was passing through a dark valley in my life, a friend gave me a book all about self-compassion. I remember thinking that it would be a load of rubbish - wasn't self compassion for people who navel-gazed all day? The ones caught up in nothing but me, myself and I?

But my friend encouraged me to read it, as he had found it moving and helpful for getting out of his valley of despair. So, I started to read. A lot of what the writer said, started to make sense to me. In particular, I remember reading about the power of self-talk. Now I know I am sounding a bit 'out there' but bear with me! The idea is that if one of your good friends, or your partner was going through a tough time, the way you would speak to them, most likely, would be lovingly and compassionately. But for some reason, when we speak to ourselves, we are negative and damning towards ourselves, with thoughts like "What's wrong with me?" "why can't you get over X" "you're such a loser" or how about this one "no one likes me". 

She suggested speaking to your reflection in the mirror. Speaking kindly to yourself, telling yourself that you were loved, that you were ok, that you could face the challenges. I do remember being a bit cynical about this part, that is, until one morning I found myself in front of the bathroom mirror feeling hopeless. I started to talk to my reflection. I remember saying "Deb, it's ok, your ok, you've been through a hard time, go easy on yourself, be gentle with yourself. You are loved and you are cherished"

Suddenly, like a wave, a feeling of comfort and kindness, and dare I say, hope rose up in me and I started to cry. It was as if I had been waiting for years to hear those words, and when I finally did and they had been uttered by my very mouth, well, in that moment, something deep took place.

I knew I was loved and I knew that while the journey may be hard and the road long, I knew that if I could love myself and let the love of God in, I would be ok. And one day at a time, it came to pass.

Friends, I can't stress to you enough how important loving yourself is. It is the beginning of being able to love others fully too. Why can't we fully love others, if our constant stance to ourselves is one of criticism and rejection and full of the "if-only's". We view the world through glasses that first of all, reflect our inner life. Make peace with yourself. You are loved. You are wonderful, just as you are.

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