I can’t help feeling that if I loved myself, it would be like breathing, not something that needed to be thought about or sought out, it would just be present. Actually, there are many ways in which we breathe that can add to or distract from our wellbeing. So maybe self-love is a variable as well. Maybe it’s not all or nothing.
If one does not have self-love, and yet one has led a successful life, then this must surely mean that self-love is not strictly necessary for human existence. Does this mean I can call off the search? Maybe it is an add on, some sort of bonus? A form of insurance against breakdown or poorer outcomes? Why should we love ourselves? Is it not more important to love others? And love your chosen higher power? I am not the only one. Maybe we should re frame for the non-self-lovers? Say swop self-love for self-knowledge, self-awareness, self-acceptance or self-worth. I think self-worth comes closest as it implies something of value which is what I am after. I said it. Something of value. Up until now I had told few of my quest. The friends I told were supportive but genuinely surprised. I could sense they thought something was wrong with me. They say – “but what about all of your achievements”, “you are a good person, don’t let anyone say otherwise” - nice things. They say “why are you doing this”? It’s a job to explain what I am after, but it’s not to do with achievements or having friends and loved ones, it’s not even close. And then I had a dream. A pregnancy dream. I thought I might be pregnant. I had a scan and they told me it was “alright“ (my husband says this about almost everything) I didn’t know what “alright“ meant, baby intact or no baby? Feeling stupid I rang the doctor who kindly offered to see me briefly and then I could go into a ‘group‘. A group! I had no idea what sort of group I would be placed in. An antenatal group? Or some pregnancy related group, maybe a support group for ladies who thought they might be pregnant but were not able to find out the truth. So, I went and babbled inarticulately in front of the doctor, felt like an idiot and didn’t learn anything. Then I was directed to my group. I felt I had no choice. I entered the room where I would find out my destiny, the layout of the next stage of my life. The group was already assembled. They were all women. I felt awkward. Were we all pregnant? We looked a bit too old for that. They looked more relaxed than me. They were not unfriendly. Just normal women. I took a seat. The group was a training group. We were being trained to fulfil various roles at the health centre. My expectation of being shown something life altering had been cut down to size. My role was to help others and stop moaning. It was a deflation; I have to admit. But it was also a kind of relief that I was not missing out on anything novel. My role was unchanged, consistent with my former life. I was no more special, complex or unsolvable than anyone else. My barely coherent attempt at expression of something more ungraspable was transparent and easily compartmentalised. It was a faintly disappointing feeling that left me short-changed and somehow ‘missed’. But most of all, it was a familiar feeling. And I have to confess, it did make me smile. My dream about a potential child, not yet in focus, a hint of something that might be there made me think that before you can love someone or something, you need to know who or what it is. How can you love someone you don’t know? How can you love yourself if you’ve never seen yourself or allowed yourself to be seen? And the ridiculousness of being pregnant /finding yourself at the age of 57. And the fear of such a discovery. Synonymous for me of allowing your inner child to be seen and heard. The part of you that existed before you were told how to behave. Undamaged, unworn unadulterated you. Because you are too afraid of what you are doing and possible outcomes, you self-sabotage your search by babbling and making yourself look and feel stupid. By talking to the doctor. By joining a group. By writing. 24 months until I am sixty. Will it be long enough?