22 July 2014

Love Me Until I Can Love Myself

The pain that comes with life can eat away at our self-esteem. We make mistakes, we hurt others, we're in physical distress, our actions cause unintended effects. A loved one dies, a tragedy far away affects us personally for some reason, news programs follow one disaster or war or crime after another. We stop feeling -- if we ever did -- adequate to the task of living.

Not all of life is like this, of course. But there are times when what is negative can overwhelm our sense of self and our confidence in our ability to navigate our world.

When I worked at Miriam's House (a residence for homeless women living with AIDS, now connected to N Street Village), all of the residents came to us in this kind of pain. Most of the staff had a similar experience at least once during their time with us. In addition to this commonality of experience breaking down barriers between us and helping to make us more compassionate with one another, we learned one of the most important components of getting through times of great pain and low self-esteem.

It's something one of the residents said after a year of real struggle to remain clean and sober. Looking back over the pain of those long months, she said to me, "You loved me until I could love myself."

Take a moment to let the spaciousness of that fill and calm you.

Photo by William Marsh

There are at least three more posts in this theme. But for now, because I like to keep my posts short, I'll just say that letting someone love us when we cannot love ourselves is an act of courage and trust. As is the reverse. And on such acts are we brought to the place where healing is possible.

Thanks to my brother, Will, for inspiring this post.

NOTE: I am trying to get Disqus (a service that enables better conversations on websites and blogs) for my blog, though it's taking me a while to figure out how to do it. In the meanwhile, you can leave a comment through Google+ or email me at carold.marsh@gmail.com.

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