Ezra, (10) paddled over to me, ready to listen.
Arayla (13) sat perched on the other side of the tub. She said, “So, you were like 41 when you figured this out?” I smiled: “Exactly.”
I continued, “There is something incredibly powerful about getting into the habit of saying to yourself, ‘I love myself.’ Not casually either; but in a way that you know you truly mean it.”
The kids were quiet. Ezra said, “Like, so… when do you say that to yourself?”
I answered, “All the time. I say it when I’m on a walk with myself, and sometimes when I’m driving. Sometimes when I get triggered I’ll say it to myself. When I feel alone, or when I’m feeling some shame or grief arising, or when I feel disappointment or longing.”
The kids shifted their spots in the hot tub. Ezra pushed himself out to cool off on the side, and Arayla swam over closer, snuggling into me in the tub.
I continued sharing, “The time I say it most consistently is right before I go to sleep at night. I started doing this years ago, after I’d been single for a long time, and had gotten used to just crawling into my bed alone. I found out that telling myself I love myself helps me to feel the truth of being my own Beloved.”
Ezra repeated, “Being your own Beloved.”
I nodded to him.
I said, “And now again, and still, it’s usually the last thing I say to myself, before I go to sleep. I nestle into the darkness, put both of my hands on my heart, feel the depth of my being, and say to myself, ‘I love you.’”
I could tell by the quality of their listening that they were feeling my sincerity, and taking in the deep intimacy of this sharing.
I added, “It’s quite an amazing love-affair, you know, this whole self-love thing.”
Arayla squirmed a bit in my arms in the water.
She looked up at me, and said, “But why do you have to SAY it? Why can’t you just KNOW it? Saying it feels embarrassing to me.”
I said, “Knowing it is definitely the most important part, you’re right. But when you can SAY it, especially in the moments that you really need to hear it, that’s when you feel the gift of your acknowledgment of your love for yourself. That’s when you realize that your relationship with yourself is the only one you can totally and completely count on, throughout your life. That no matter what else is happening, you’ve got YOU. You’ve got your own love, holding you up, believing in you. And even if self-loathing arises, or self-doubt or self-judgment, you know that your love for yourself is bigger. It can handle all those things.”
We were all totally quiet and still, basking in the light of the moon and stars.
After a few minutes, Ezra, who is almost always game for anything, said thoughtfully, “I’m gonna try it out, Mom. I’m gonna try it tonight when I go to sleep.”
This made me chuckle with immense fondness.
Arayla sat up and looked at me shyly, nodding quietly in my direction.
She said, “Maybe. Maybe I could whisper it.”