I don’t know when exactly my life changed from a carefree girl to someone who did not like herself very much. I grew up in the 1970s in USA. No one talked about learning to love yourself back then, so I never thought about it. As I began to hear people talk of not loving themselves, I realized that I too didn’t love myself.
I was born into a very loving family in eastern Alabama. That part of the country was rightly known as “The Bible Belt.” We went to church every Sunday morning, Sunday evening, and Wednesday evening. You could say I cut my teeth on the church pews. I don’t remember a time I was not in church when the doors were opened except when I was in the hospital having surgery over my tenth birthday.
After I had surgery I walked with a very bad limp. One day after surgery, as I was leaving the office, I heard my doctor dictating into my medical chart that I had a “very grotesque walk.” This was around the time that the word “gross” was used a lot. I didn’t know what grotesque meant, but I did know what gross meant and grotesque sounded a lot like gross to me. I assumed that it meant my walk was gross – that I was gross. I never said anything to anyone about it, but I was crushed. Looking back, I think that is when I first began to see myself as unlovable and I began not to even love myself.
During my adolescence, my family went to charismatic, non-denominational churches. We believed in divine healing and I was dragged from church service to church service to be prayed over for my healing. I would get prayed over and walk away the same; not healed, but the same.
I was told I did not get healed because I had sin in my life, or I just didn’t have enough faith. I did not know of any sin in my life and I knew I had faith the size of a mustard seed. That was all the faith that the bible said I would need to move a mountain and walking with a limp was a big mountain in my life. I began to feel that God didn’t love me because he did not heal me.
In my late teens I started to use alcohol to help me feel better about myself and to see myself as someone who was lovable. I drank for a total of five years not knowing where the first drink would lead. I didn’t know if I would stop at one or not stop until I fell into bed with everything spinning all around me. I drank until I reached the point of wanting to die on a daily basis.
I planned my suicide in vivid detail. Those plans were of how I would call 911 and tell them where I was and what I was going to do. (Since I lived alone, I wanted someone to find me quickly.) I would then do it knowing that they would not be able to get me to the hospital before I bled out. The only thing that kept me from killing myself that day was that I looked down and saw the white carpet and I knew my mom would not get back my $100 deposit. Yes, a hundred dollars saved my life. Two weeks later I was walking into the doors of Alcoholics Anonymous asking for help.
That was the beginning of my life of sober living. It was in AA that I began to hear talk of learning to love yourself. They would say things like, “Let us love you until you can learn to love yourself.” It made no sense to me at all. I genuinely thought I loved myself, but if I did, would I drink the way I did and want to die on a daily basis?
During my first five years of recovery, I began to use affirmations. I would stand at my bathroom mirror, look myself in the eye and say, “I love you. You are lovable.” The whole time I was doing this, my mind was saying, “Bullshit! This is all Bullshit!” I kept at the affirmations and over time I seemed to get better, but I still had problems with seeing myself as lovable; I did not believe it and I did not love myself. I didn’t want people to know what I really felt so I continued to live my life acting as if everything was ok and I really did love myself.
The Master Key Experience and Learning That Kindness Comes from Learning to Love Yourself
When I was 56, I discovered the Master Key Experience. During that experience we had a whole week called “Kindness Week.” This was a week where we looked for kindness being shared with people. We also practiced kindness during that week trying not to get caught. I began to realize being kind means that I am kind to myself as well as others. There is no way to be kind to myself if I don’t love myself.
I have to learn to love myself. I have to be kind to myself. I have to treat myself as good as I treat others. I am learning to love myself and treat myself better. When I love myself I treat myself with kindness! I truly believe that kindness comes when I am learning to love myself.
I don’t know where you are with learning to love yourself, but I hope while you are practicing kindness you are learning to love yourself more and more.
To read more that I am learning in the Master Key Experience, click here.
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