What Being Post-Love Taught Me About Self-Love
I first heard the phrase ‘post-love’ from watching an episode of Elemental. Sherlock said he was ‘post-love’ and can now be free to ‘pursue a life of meaning’ and that resonated with me. I remember thinking, Wow, that is exactly where I am right now.
I was post-love, and I felt ‘liberated’ as Sherlock had said.
But I wasn’t completely without love, I had begun a journey of self-love and self-acceptance.
I spent years and years of my life wanting someone to love me and fill the emptiness I felt inside — I wish I realized sooner that the emptiness I felt could only be filled by loving myself.
The love I found belittled me, hurt me, and slowly destroyed me but it kept me coming back and begging for more because that’s what I thought I deserved. Because I didn’t love myself, I didn’t know what it meant to be loved — I didn’t know love was supposed to be kind and compassionate.
It’s true what they say, you can’t truly love until you learn to love yourself.
Although I thought I knew how to love — I realized there is such a thing as loving too much and giving too much but expecting so little.
I was low maintenance and easy going — Valentine’s Day? No, thank you. I thought it was just a commercialized holiday and it is, but occasionally it could also be romantic and sweet. I almost felt as though caring for me would be burdensome, and I didn’t want to be a burden. But I realized when I set the bar as low as I did, I gave people permission to hurt me and disrespect me.
I was unintentionally telling people that I was less than. I was telling people that I wasn’t worth enough, so they were free to take advantage of what I had to give.
I am an all or nothing kind of person; I will give away my entire heart for a kind word but when the kind words stopped and the loving actions never came — I stayed.
I stayed because I didn’t know love but above all, I didn’t know self-love.
Some people may argue that I can’t let a few bad experiences taint the chance of a future love, but I have gone through enough of life being told what is good for me. I’ve been told what I like and don’t like, what I will grow out of and what I will grow to love.
I have finally reached a point in my life where I trust myself and believe in myself, and I know myself. I still love the color black… I mean who doesn’t? I love Wednesday Addams! And I take pride in my quirky weirdness.
Here are some steps you can take to find self-love:
1. Stop saying yes.
I have always been a people pleaser and that caused me to become my own worst enemy. I never wanted to hurt someone else’s feelings or even cause an ounce of disappointment, regardless of my own happiness or displeasure in conforming.
When I went wedding dress shopping, there was a dress I loved so much but I was told it didn’t suit me even though I thought I looked really good. I ended up picking the dress that was preferred by someone who was strongly opinionated — I just plastered a smile on my face while internally hating it.
My people-pleasing just ended up making me miserable and the people who had such a strong input didn’t live with the repercussions of those decisions.
If I could give my younger self advice, I would say to stop caring so much about pleasing everyone else while not taking care of yourself.
Once you stop saying yes, you will feel a sense of freedom and peace because you will finally be released from the prison that is human expectation. People will always have expectations and someone will always be disappointed, and as hard as it is to accept it, not everyone is going to like you and you’ll never be able to make everyone happy.
2. Trust your own opinion.
I could always be swayed by other people’s opinions, simply because I didn’t trust or value my own. My opinions weren’t loud enough and I didn’t argue my points enough so I thought maybe they weren’t good enough.
My failed marriage taught me that when you know, you know. And I knew that my marriage was over long before anyone believed it was. Everyone told me it was possible to feel love again and fix my marriage, but I knew it was over. However, I stayed because I didn’t trust my gut.
It never got better, and I knew it wouldn’t, but I failed to believe in myself.
As cliche as it is, if you don’t believe in yourself, no one else will. Once you internalize the fact that you are important and what you have to say is important, your self-esteem will increase and you will be less influenced by other people’s opinions.
3. Prioritize your mental health.
I think people worry about putting themselves first because it may appear selfish. But there is nothing selfish about taking care of your mental health.
I spent a lot of my life worrying about everyone else’s happiness and trying to avoid confrontation and conflict. As a result, I placed my happiness on a shelf that was almost out of reach, and it just gathered dust. I only noticed its absence when the dust was so thickly matted on, I could barely recognize it.
Discovering self-love can be a treacherous journey — it may be difficult to truly follow these steps but it results in the feeling of freedom and tranquility.
There is never a better time to start this journey than right now; personal happiness and mental health should always be at the top of your priority list.
On my own journey, I have tried to implement these steps. My path consisted of getting to know myself again and discovering my likes and dislikes. This led to me falling in love with writing again and especially creative writing which was my first love. By ensuring I was my own priority, I allowed myself the freedom to grow into a more fulfilled version.
This wasn’t and still isn’t an easy journey and sometimes I do find myself reverting into the same destructive tendencies and have to make a conscious effort to stop myself from being a people pleaser.
The first step may seem simplest but it is also the hardest and that is realizing your worth and affirming the value you add to the world.
Thank you for reading. If you enjoyed this, please have a look at some of my other stories.