Happy Valentine’s Day!  It is a holiday I have never really understood and rarely participate in to much extent.  I am not into jewelry, flowers are overpriced during this holiday and will just die anyhow, and I see no need to feel forced into “showing” my loved ones I care about them on this one day.  I’d like to think I do this every day.  I do get a little something for the kids so that they do not feel in some way slighted (heavens forbid!).  I love you obnoxious, ungrateful teenagers – have some chocolate!  That is good enough, right?

But in the spirit of all things love, I want to talk this month about the struggle to love.  And no, I do not mean our partners who act like a$$holes sometimes, or to love thy neighbor who never shovels their walkway when it snows, or to love your enemy so that you can gain inner peace.  Blah, Blah, Blah.  None of that!  Let’s talk about what is quite frankly, the most important love of your life. Yourself. That on-again, off-again, on-again, off-again relationship that is Self-love (no, not that… stop chuckling).  I mean the relationship between the inner you and the outer you.  I mean loving who you are, who you have been, and who you are yet to become.   

I am always promoting self-love to others.  In fact, I am really, really good at it.  My focus and awareness is generally on women in particular.  Primarily because in my opinion, most men I know love themselves enough for all of us already.  And if they don’t, they are doing a much better job at hiding it.  They don’t feel the same constant pressure to look a certain way, be a certain way, talk, walk, or act a certain way.  I am the first one to tell a woman to love herself as she is.  No matter the stage of life she’s in, mistakes she has or thinks she has made, no matter her size, her beliefs, her abilities.  I go out of my way to tell them to be gentle with themselves.  To be kind, speak kinder to themselves and to recognize that to err is human, and we do not have to be perfect.  I encourage them to embrace the curves of their body, and to stop comparing themselves to others because there is NO ONE like them, and they are exactly as they should be.  Perfectly imperfect.  Sounds great, right?  My goal always is to build them up and try to counteract the societal messages constantly telling them they are not, skinny enough, pretty enough, young enough, old enough… that they are not enough ENOUGH!  Because society sucks.  We as women are scrutinized, sexualized, compared, judged and held down every damn day, and I just want to feed something positive back into them.  Why?  The main reason might surprise you.  Because I do not believe a word of what I say to them about myself, and it feels pretty awful. 

There have been times when I fought and won the battle against my aversion to self-love.  Proud, albeit temporary victories. I have climbed the mountain and reached the peak, even if just for a moment.  I have drank from that fountain of confidence and it feels amazing to have that confidence in all that you are running through your veins.  It is incredible to not be constantly comparing yourself to others.  It is empowering to look in the mirror and say, “Hello beautiful, you are fucking fabulous!”.  But somewhere along the way, like most relationships, things went awry. 

Relationships take work and I have gotten lazy about wooing that fucking fabulous woman. I have become apathetic about communicating with her.  I have come to resent her a little, no, a lot, and quite frankly I judge her when I see her in the mirror. Harshly.  And I frequently use very unkind, sometimes downright cruel words to describe her. Right to her face.  Long gone is the young, confident, thin, beautiful woman I fell in love with once upon a time.  Now she is older, overweight, with too many lines and wrinkles.  She is lazy and complains she is tired all the time.  She is a terrible partner and sometimes a lousy mom.  But it is me… I have become the worst partner to her, to my beautiful inner self.  So much so that she has been left feeling defeated, and like she doesn’t deserve any better than this.  And that is awful. I have bullied her and I have abused her and worn her down to a shred of who she was, held her back from becoming the incredible her that she could, and should be.  I did that. Not solely, I know this. It takes a village to destroy a woman, but that said, I own my role in diminishing her.  And I am ashamed.  I want her to forgive me, but I do not know where to begin to ask for it. I want to love her again, because I know she is the most remarkable gift I have ever been given, and she deserves all of my love, my devotion and so much more.  And because I know first hand, that when she is whole, she shares that glory, and herself, with every single person she meets.  She is a gift to those who cross her path, and I am keeping her from sharing that and that is a tragedy.  Because through all of this, she has never stopped giving of herself.  She always wants to love back, even when she is not loved.  She never gives up on love, not even for a moment. Her resilience is inspiring. 

So for this month of love, I am going to pledge my devotion to her. To my remarkable self.  I am going to seek her forgiveness and try to right my wrongs. I will work my hardest towards freeing her from the prison of self-doubt and self-deprecating behaviors that I have created in her.  I vow to spend time with her, to listen to her silently and without judgment when she tries to speak to me.  I am going to make time to date her, woo her, and spend time with her doing what she wants, and not what everyone else needs.  I am going to encourage her to grow, and to speak, and to love herself.  Because she deserves to be the strongest, best version of herself that she can be.  I will reassure her that she is beautiful, and listen when she tells me what she needs… and give it to her.  All of it. No matter if it is as simple as more sleep, or more water, or a kind word, or a moment away from all the crazy of the world.  I will not let her rely on receiving any of these things from the world around her but instead, will spend time with her, learning how to give her what she needs right here, in me. In me, she lies, and she is perfectly imperfect.  Beautiful in her flaws.  And deep down, I love her more than she will ever know.  And I think it’s long overdue that she knows it.

Joan Poirier

Joan Poirier is an Empath, a goddess, a woman, a wife, a mother, a sister, a friend. She is you, and she is me. Just a real woman, embracing her age and her wisdom, and not afraid of opening the dam and making some waves during her short time on the wild ride of life. She is on an ever-growing quest to live better, do better, be better and taking all the lumps that go with it.

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