You probably read the title of this and thought, “Oh, she’s going to regale us with tales of romance.” Or, “She’s going to rhapsodize about choosing love for others over all else.” Oh, you weren’t thinking that? I’m the only one who uses words like regale and rhapsodize on the regular? It’s cool. I’m at peace with my nerdiness.
Anyway, I do want to talk about love, but not totally in the traditional sense or expected way. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the idea of love and commitment. What does it look like? Can you have one without the other? And which one comes first?
Concrete answers elude me, but what I’ve managed to figure out is that the two go hand in hand. I can’t think of a single instance of love that doesn’t involve commitment and vice versa. The love a parent has for a child is cemented by the parent’s commitment to care and provide for the child. Later in life, hopefully the child does the same for the parent. Two people choose to do life together and perform a ceremony before friends and family, sign legal documents and share a mutual last name to celebrate their love by showing commitment. My faith dictates that God so loved me that He gave His only begotten Son for my sins. He’s so committed to me that He made the ultimate sacrifice.
All of these observations have led me to a revelation of sorts: If I love myself, why aren’t I committed to doing what I know is good for me? Or is it that I have to commit to doing what’s good for me as an action of love? Isn’t love in its simplest form merely a series of choices made over and over again? A choice to do what’s best for the one you love?
This whole summation may seem basic enough, but the truth of it all settled into me slowly, like rays of sun on a Spring day. The coldness of neglect, putting me last, not acknowledging my worth, were absorbed by the warmth of this knowledge. I’m worth committing to. I’m worth choosing. I’m worth the action of better choices each day.
What does this mean practically? It means going to bed at a decent hour, despite how much is left on my to-do list. It means going to Zumba class twice a week because I love shaking my rump-shaker. It means taking a walk even when I don’t feel like it, because it’s what’s best for me. It means taking time to cook delicious nutritious food. It means watching a movie and letting myself get swept away in the fantasy, because I need a mental break every once in a while as much as the next person.
I don’t know where we learned the lesson that self-care is optional. And it seems like women are determined to ace this unnecessary class, for whatever asinine reason. But whatever is erroneously learned can be re-taught in a more enlightened and compassionate way. I’m learning to love me more and more. It’s manifesting itself by my commitment to treating myself well. I’m really starting to think that’s way it’s supposed to be.
If you’re already on your own journey of self-care, I commend you. On the other hand, if you’ve allowed yourself to fall by the wayside in a misguided belief that you’re supposed to be last on your list, I implore you to start with one small act of kindness for yourself. Don’t allow anything to distract you from it. Make a pledge to yourself not to neglect it. Once you see that the world keeps right on turning, add another act of kindness, and another one. Commit to it. You deserve it. You’re worth it.
Have you ever fallen into the trap of neglecting yourself? How do you deal with unwarranted guilt when you take time to do things that only benefit you? In what ways do you regularly commit to showing yourself love through action?