Thus far in my adult life, I've spent a lot of time searching for love outside of myself. While channeling most of my energy into nurturing and fostering relationships with others, I've subconsciously put myself through toxic situations. I've been in, what I’ve believed to be love, twice and both times I was completely consumed and later crushed by it. I’d put all that I could give into relationship, after relationship; bending over backwards, spreading myself thin, making exceptions, excuses, giving my heart, soul, and body to be left feeling empty inside, 75% of the time. I didn't grow up seeing much displays or exchanges of affection in my home environment, yet I knew...I still know that my family loves me. As natural and comforting as affection comes to me, I thought it was a measurement of love and felt it was the way I needed to be loved by others.
Throughout my life, I’d been under the impression that love was something you "fall into" or instantly know, feel (a spark if you will), and exchange with another; for your life to then be completely validated and spent finding new ways to share it. I knew love to be something that could be shared, though until recently I had not learned how crucial it was for me to first love myself. Spending most of life so caught up in other people's lives, I seemed to have lost perspective of self. I only saw my significance as measured by the way others would treat me...or rather, the way I allowed them to treat me.
In the most recent years, I've discovered the value in giving myself the kind of love that I wish to receive. What that looks like for me, varies from day-to-day. I'm still learning. When I think about what makes me happy, I now also think about ways to achieve that happiness. For instance, the color yellow (or more specifically, goldenrod yellow) has been my favorite color since childhood. It brings a smile to my face whenever I see it. I make it a point to keep goldenrod yellow around me at all times, whether it be the screensaver on my phone or buying myself yellow flowers. I find that I'm happiest near water. Another act of self-love is spending as much free time as I allow myself near bodies of water; whether it be sitting near a a lake, sticking my feet in the ocean, swimming in a pool, or submerging myself in warm bathwater. These are things that mean love, to me.