“To love others you must first love yourself” Leo Buscaglia
Cliches are common, I have been known to repeat a few, a good cliche used correctly can help you to drive home a point and change the direction of a conversation. Some cliche’s however, like the one highlighted above for me, just never took. I have tried to rationalize these words, wondering to myself if this was meant to be a general statement inclusive of all, or was it only meant to be used in certain circumstance, scenarios or instances? Does this statement only reflect romantic and non-romantic relationships? Was it made or based off the perceptions of a few, was it psychologically tested and majority approved? I really don’t know. And if this remark was indeed studied then what were the precursors, better yet who and what defines or determines the love in which Mr. Leo Buscaglia is making reference to?
“To love others you must first love yourself” I get the concept – For one to love sparingly/unconditionally you must first have some idea of self-love and or self-actualization thus requiring/knowing what to readily and willingly accept and or attract to your life, for in loving and respecting yourself you know what you will and won’t tolerate. That I get, HOWEVER it doesn’t negate the fact that one can love genuinely/authentically from a broken place. I loved in a broken state, I loved immensely through self-loathing while harboring self-hate. In fact, it was my love for others that pulled me back from the brink of suicide, and it was through my love for others why I slowly began experiencing love and appreciation for self.
Call me naive, call me crazy, call me crazy naive or maybe I lack understanding, but according to this statement, I have never loved, well, have I or haven’t I? In my humble opinion this statement does not apply to all. I will readily agree because of self-hatred, I gave too much of myself in hopes of receiving validation and acceptance in return, but I loved nonetheless. It was love not out of obligation or responsibility that made me determined to fight for my siblings after my parents migrated. Love made me a protector, a provider, a confidant, a nurse and a caretaker long before I could love me. I was always caring and supportive, and rather protective even when I didn’t understand what the definition of those words were and what actions constituted. It was love that made me push through excruciating pain to ensure my sister wasn’t left unguarded for too long, and my brothers wouldn’t suffer physical or verbal abuse. Love and sheer will to live because of love, would have me repeatedly call their names when I got to the point of giving up, the fear of causing them pain wouldn’t let me give in, though my own suffering became so unbearable at times it was agonizing to even take a breath, but there was something stronger and more powerful. Love made me fight when both my babies lives were threatened both in utero and out, the same overwhelming, unexplainable feeling I felt then for my younger siblings was intensified with the conception of my sons. I had to dig deep summoning what I never knew I had because their survival depended on it. I even managed to fall in love a few times, I did all this while utterly despising myself.
For years I hated myself, the hatred was so intense. I was judgmental and disparagingly critical. At times I could barely look in a mirror, my sense of style and the way I carried myself often reflected my self-hate. I couldn’t manage or muster the strength or energy to do for self a mere fraction of what I gave. Love for others kept me afloat. I rarely felt loved as a child and, after being, sexually, emotionally and mentally abused self-hatred grew. Some days I still struggle with love’s concepts, definitions and the many ways love is defined and expressed. I can say assuredly at this point I am more understanding, accepting, forgiving and compassionate to myself. I also know I am less tolerant of the mistreatment of others and I’m more aware of what I will and won’t accept but, I question, what does my being more self-aware and learning to love myself have to do with what I felt in my heart for others and how I showed up for them even in ways I couldn’t show up for myself? I loved without knowing love, I loved even in the midst of hatred, so is it then safe to assume this statement does not apply to all, or is it that we need to tweak that cliche’s definition to reflect romantic involvement and relationships only, which still wouldn’t justify my reasons for loving boyfriends in the past. Whatever the case, I will say, loving yourself helps to cultivate more meaningful relationships and increases your ability to view others less critically and judgmentally. They are copious amounts of advantages to self-love I do agree BUT, love and loving others while not loving yourself is indeed, I know it was for me. Journey with me as I/we journey 2 free, from my heart to yours. Love Rizzy.