Higher love for oneself : I consider myself an empath. It’s something that I somehow never realized until one of my medical assistants pointed it out to me during clinic earlier this year. It made sense all of a sudden. Empaths deeply feel other’s emotions, especially pain and sadness. The definition of an empath according to The Mariam Webster Dictionary is: one who experiences the emotions of others. I always joked about being a weakling because my husband would send me news articles and clips of tragedies linked to important safety concerns and I could never get myself to watch or read them to completion. The scenes or the even images of the words that I would conjure up in my mind would just play repeatedly in my head . Talking about self-love is all the rage now. Yet one rarely thinks about empathy towards themselves. Is it not a part of self-love? An integral part of it, in fact? This year has undoubtedly been one of the hardest years for most of us. Some have suffered so much more loss than I could ever imagine. I found myself struggling through the uncertainty, confinement and social isolation. Initial financial losses at work necessitated revving up of an already busy schedule to the point of myself overshooting targets and gaining validation of sorts but losing the “ work life balance “ or dynamic, as I prefer. Sick family and friends and a few close felt losses made the fear worse . Initially, I dove into my buried creative side. I expanded my culinary capabilities and started writing because that’s what gave me steadiness and joy. Heck, I even joined Tik Tok! But amidst all of this , the struggle was bound to surface in one or more forms. Today, I was watching a video. Don’t ask me why I decided to videotape myself doing a dance workout when I felt less than confident. I noticed all the rolls and lumps. I noticed the dark circles, the double chin and the extra fat. In the past, I would cringe and entertain self-hatred. I would delete the pictures or videos swiftly . But today I sat there and I watched the whole video again and again. I looked deeper at my image. Tears welled up. I could see why and how all of the “quarantine 15 ( pounds)” happened. The stress and distress had already creeping up on me at least a year to six months prior to this pandemic itself. We experienced a lot of life changes- although many were good and chosen . Today, I looked at myself with tenderness.Without judgment. I know how strong that body has been... bearing, nursing, and caring for the kids, pets, family, friends and patients . I saw the toll that the lack of sleep for nearly 3 years had taken while continuing to work essentially full time. It was the stress, worries and guilt of adulting, mothering, the tantrums, job changes, struggling with childcare and other major/ minor ups and downs that are a part and parcel of life. I know that I always want to strive to be better but I need to stop punishing myself voluntarily and subconsciously. I don’t want to loathe myself. I don’t deserve it. Not even in the tiniest bit . Not even one pudgy part of my body. She is all me. I know her deep down inside ... all the struggles and heartaches that she has powered through, her deepest fears, her strengths ...her heart. I will love her and honor her.
Sure, there is a time to be aggressive and run head-first towards your life’s dreams ( God knows I have ) and to excel and explore. But in reality, there are other times that just require more stillness and gratitude for what you already have. I wanted to write a gratitude post for Thanksgiving. It’s one of my favorite holidays. This was the first time in nearly a decade that we did not host family/friends. Somehow, I just couldn’t feel it or get the words out then. It wouldn’t have been genuine. But today, I know that besides being grateful for the obvious; good health, a wealth of opportunities and loved ones, I am also thankful for my imperfect self.
I urge you my friends, even though you may not (ever) be where you want to be at 100% , personally, professionally, physically or emotionally, don’t ever stop loving yourself. That would essentially be giving up. You deserve your own empathy, understanding and forgiveness. You are enough. Sending you love!