In a few conversations I’ve had recently the concept of self-Love has surfaced, and it’s held my attention. I’ve worked through some deprogramming to get to the point where I can say I love my Self, and I’ve been saddened by conversations recently with people I Love who do not Love themselves. I’m reminded of a quote from one of my favorite books, Strands of Starlight by Gael Baudino, in which Terrill points out to Miriam, If I do not love myself I am saying that I am not worthy of the love of others. He also aptly comments on how the Church (and in my opinion, modern patriarchal society) does not encourage self-love.
When I examine the culture in which I live – Western society – I see two extremes as far as the possibility of love is concerned. On the one extreme is ego – a far cry from Love. Ego is centered all around doing and is therefore, from the offset, very conditional. It focuses on only receiving – or demanding – praise based on what one can accomplish. Ego is about power. It manipulates everything and everyone around it in order to feel better because in its deepest crevices, Ego knows it has no substance. It is empty and meaningless, leading away from wholeness and completion – two things that Love embodies and is.
On the other end of the spectrum is self-deprecation. I see self-deprecation as an illusory injury inflicted by the Church. Illusory because though the injury itself is real, what it is based on is not. I never understood why so much time I spent in church was dedicated to reminding god of how much I sucked. I figured, if god really was all powerful and all knowing, god didn’t need to be continually reminded of the fact that I wasn’t perfect. And why was lack of perfection synonymous with worthless? Where was the in-between? The middle ground? But no, the Church operates utilizing dichotomous thinking – there is no middle ground. All is black and white. Ironically, self-deprecation is all about doing as well, whether it’s not doing enough or doing things or having had experienced things that prevent receiving Love. So how are we supposed to love ourselves when we’ve been ingrained to think that if we’re not perfect, if we do not DO enough for others, or if we believe we have done, are doing things, or have experienced things that (incorrectly) lead us to believing we are undeserving of Love?
I think the idea that humans are incapable of Loving unconditionally is a myth handed down and regenerated year after year by the patriarchal society in which we live. I think we all have the potential to Love unconditionally, but I think that we will never truly be able to Love others fully if we cannot first Love ourselves. I do not Love myself because of what I can do or withhold Love from myself because of what I cannot do. Through the de-programming work I have worked hard to accomplish, I am able to say – without ego – I come from the Goddess, what is there not to Love? I am not perfect, I am not worthless. I am not done growing and changing and evolving, but I honor where I am, and I honor from where I have come. I am as I am.