Be Kind to Myself

Madness and love and kindness and ravaging, beautifully aching horror of it all. Sometimes life is just like this. With my fingers clenched around the steering wheel, often with tears rolling down my face, it is with this realization that I find myself thinking how incredibly unfair, yet oddly noble, life can be. The ache of not fully knowing, and the knowledge that perhaps somehow this is okay, can only be described as confusing and beautiful.

In the moments when I am at my worst, shame and terror cross the deepest, most inconsolable parts of my being. I am not good. I am not well. I am forsaken and should be forgotten. And then as if that isn’t enough, here comes the meta-shame. I should not feel this way. I am not good for feeling not good. I should be more compassionate, and kind to myself.

Did you know that research has found that in order to teach your children the act of compassion and empathy, in order to make it a habit for them in their daily living, you must be kind and compassionate to yourself? Did you know that if they see you be kind to yourself, they are more likely to be kind to the world? This baffles me. All this time I have had it wrong. And yet this makes so much sense. Why didn’t I see it sooner? Why wasn’t this incredibly transparent way of thinking and being apparent to me before now? Why did it need to “click” now, after I’ve got two children and one feels like she is as old as time itself? Why didn’t this click for me sooner, while I was trying to live to be perfect all the time? Sometimes cruelty takes not the form of living in shame, but the form of the realization that you did so for no apparent good reason at all. All those years shaming and blaspheming myself to the bitter core of the darkest, deepest places inside me. Were they all for naught?

That to teach my girls to be kind to each other, to be kind to the world, to be kind to themselves, I must start with myself? Why couldn’t it be easier? I can be kind to so many people. I can be good to so many people. I can take care of so many. I can do so much. I can always do more. But to give reason to be all those things to myself — well, that is just too much. Self love often comes with the price of guilt and a collective sigh of arrogance. The path towards humility I thought was the path opposite of self love. In actuality, all this time, it is simply the same path to the same place after all.

I must be kind. To myself.

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