December 31

LOVE MONTH: DAY 31: “To love is to accept a soul entirely, not wishing that the person was otherwise, nor hoping for change, nor clinging to some ideal past. To love is to cherish the individual standing before you presently―charms, quirks, and all. To love is to give someone a piece of your heart that you will never, ever reclaim.” ― Richelle E. Goodrich

So, when we say we “love” ourselves, is this what we speak about? If not, it ain’t really love. It may be self-indulgence, self-adoration, and many other forms of being all kinds of self-interested, but it ain’t love.

Then, we cannot possibly offer others anything other than our toxic love. This is a key to the dysfunction of the world in which we live. What we call “love” is truly SO many other things; manipulation, justification, neediness, greed, gluttony, lust (oh yeah, that one!).

How do we “love” ourselves. That is all we can offer others. Most of us are self-obsessed and self-indulgent. This ain’t love. To  love myself is not to take a bubble bath. It is to become absolutely honest with who and what I am. To accept that at face value, whether I like it or not. And then to work toward becoming a better version of that.

To give that same kind of love to another human means that I will accept you completely, but never will I love you more than I love me. I may accept your way of thinking and being, but if it is damaging to me, I will NOT allow it to be a part of my life.

So, when people believe that unconditional love and acceptance mean that you get to be whoever and whatever you want, and I have to cosign it; that is NOT what unconditional love is. It means that if you are not going to honor me, I will.

That means that your toxic treatment of me or others is not going to be tolerated. You can go right on being you, but I won’t be around for that. THAT is what I mean when I say I have to love me first or I do not know how to love you.

We can build a bridge back to relationship with this, but it must be a bridge built from both sides. This is the concept so many people have trouble with. I do NOT have to be the only one who makes concessions or has to practice acceptance of those things you are not going to change.

It means I may have to step away from you completely; but NOT in anger or pain. In total and complete acceptance that loving ME means I must only bring into my life the things that feel healthy and loving. That is MY job, not yours.

You get to be here on my terms. That is the power of my life. Everyone is here on my terms, take it or leave it. It really does feel so much better than the way it is when I let YOU drive the truck. I really, really hate that.

You may get that piece of my heart, but if you are toxic to me, then it will be from another place. I will always wish you well and love your being, but not at the expense of my own.

Published by: Kelly

I am a therapist and counselor with long-term recovery from addictions and personal trauma. My writing reflects these experiences and the road I have traveled in 12-Step recovery settings, along with the work I have done for over 30 years in the field. My love of dolphins includes the stories of them being healers in places all over the world. I long to offer every broken spirit and body the experience of a healing hug. May my words and stories inform, uplift and delight your spirit and soothe your weary heart.

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