Three words alone can make us feel wonderful.
“I love you”.
In just a few days we have a whole day dedicated to celebrating our love. Flowers, chocolates, diamonds, wine (and if your sweetheart isn’t into wine, lemme know….I’ll send you my delivery address).
Does one day of spoiling your significant other make up for a year of….not? Maybe it’s just me (and keep in mind that I am single as a freaking pringle….so my opinion may be of little value), BUT I’d rather 365 days of knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was loved to one day of material crap. That feeling of knowing that even on your worst, bitchy, PMS-ey days that someone still thinks you’re the bomb is way better than a dozen roses or a box of chocolates (It would be a seriously close tie if it were a bottle of Pinot Noir…..).
Those three words can make or break a person. My children grew up being very annoyed at how often they were told that I loved them. As teenagers I was met with eye rolls almost daily. It’s not that they didn’t love me back or were unaffectionate little beings, it’s just that I told them so often they tended to automatically respond with an “I know!” (Which was then followed by the aforementioned eye roll. If you don’t have teenagers yet….oh, just wait. It’s so fun!). Their responses to this never irritated me and made me chuckle. THIS was exactly what I wanted, for them to know just how much I loved them every moment of every day. Teenagers get down on themselves enough as it is. The world beats you up and spits you out. I wanted to be that voice in their head reminding them of this and if it annoyed them, I could care less. I needed to know that voice was in their head always.
My youngest was a two sport athlete. Being a lacrosse goalie and a wrestler he had to rely on himself and his instinct in the game at every moment. I would often tell him how great he was (even on his bad days). I encouraged his cockiness about it (while ensuring he stayed humble, of course). He needed to be on his game every second while being in goal or on that mat, because if for one second he doubted himself a ball would get by or his opponent would get that ankle sweep and bring him down. Facing a tough opponent feeds your mind with enough doubt and he didn’t need that self-criticism added to the heap. Was I the reason for his athletic success? My gosh, NO! He had amazing coaches (and still does as he is wrestling in college these days) and he is a very hard working kid (ugh…..he’s almost 21 so really….hard working man these days), but I know I played a part in helping to build his confidence. And I did it because I know what it feels like when a child doesn’t have that. It kinda sucks.
Self-doubt has played a huge role in my life. I would never say that I have a self-esteem issue. I come off slightly cocky at times. If you know me you’re probably actually laughing at this statement because I hide it well. Unless you truly know me or have just seen me in a very atypical melt down moment then you would never know that I tend to doubt myself and my actions often. The voice inside my head that was instilled from a young age is “selfish”. I remember being told I was selfish more times in my life than I was “I love you” (other than from my children…..). This includes my eleven year marriage as well. My parents were not affectionate people. The years leading up to and after their divorce were filled with fighting and they did not shield my sister and I from it. Childhood, for me, was not all fun and games and resulted in my turning into a fairly distant and unaffectionate teenager. If you didn’t bother to learn why I was this way I probably did come off like a selfish brat. Friends of my parents often made comments on this while I was within hearing distance. From a young age I had built an impenetrable shell around myself that kept out the crap, but also kept the good from seeping in too. It wasn’t selfish, it was a defense mechanism. I wish I had been able to express these feelings then. I wish that they had tried to get them out of me. They didn’t and I grew up doubting what love was and if it really, truly even exists. And then I had children.
I never wanted my children to EVER feel this way, so I was the annoying mom. I became that voice in their head that tells them every day how awesome they are and how much they are loved. If I never do another thing in my life and this is the legacy I leave behind, that would be enough.
To know you are loved.
To believe you are lovable.
I think this right here is the secret to a good life. It has been a hard lesson for me to learn, but I’ve learned it. A lot of it was the love I received back from my children and a lot of it has been the love I’ve learned to give myself. I’ve learned how to take care of myself and not just in the I-pay-my-own-bills kind of way. I care for myself. I take my kayak out on the water when I’m feeling down because it ALWAYS makes me feel better. I hit the trails for some quiet time. I spend time with my children and their families and my siblings and their families and am surrounded by love. I go to dinner and drinks and laugh and hang out with my friends. This is how I care for myself and I know that now. I didn’t know myself or what I needed for a good forty years of my life. I finally took the time (was forced into it, really) to realize who I am and what it is about me that makes me amazing.
I am Smart. Tough. Loving.
Those are my three words. This is what I’ve learned that I am. This is what I believe myself to be, even when the voices in my head are saying I’m selfish or unworthy. This is what I tell myself when I’m feeling frustrated.
Being loved by someone else is a wonderful feeling, but there is nothing more important than loving yourself. I don’t think we are allowed the freedom to embrace this without feeling ashamed of being egotistical or cocky.
But come on, people!
It is OK to love yourself.
It is OK to put yourself first sometimes.
It is OK to think we are amazing.
We should not have to feel ashamed or embarrassed to think this. You freaking ROCK! Go ahead, try it.
Today’s pop quiz:
I want you to think…..really, really THINK about who you are and embrace why you are the awesome person that you are.
So share this post (or just comment if you’re feeling bashful) and tell me and SHOUT IT TO THE WORLD –
In three words – what do you love most about you?