Depression. Click at Own Risk.

Depression. Click at Own Risk.

When you are a creator and your outlet, therapy, and primary coping mechanisms revolved around your relationship with the creative process… things can become incredibly challenging when your ability to create is gone.

I lost my voice for nearly a year and a half. I couldn’t sing. When I can’t sing – it makes it incredibly difficult to write music. Writing music is my therapy. It’s my sanity (or as close as I get to sanity…). And the most beautiful aspect of that therapy for me is letting the sound escape my mouth and vocal cords. THAT part is the therapy. When the words are tied into a melody that vibrates from my soul… That’s when I can let go, that’s when I can heal. 

And that’s exactly what was taken away. 

The cause is still unknown, even after multiple specialists and ENTs… but my voice was gone, and with it, my creative outlet. 

I couldn’t release my traumas, hurts, feelings, anxieties, emotions… I had no channel. It was like someone turned on a tap and plugged up the drain. I felt like I was drowning in my life and experiences. 

Ironically, 2018 was a year of really incredible things for me. And it was also the deepest state of depression that I have visited so far in my life. 

I have never felt so empty, alone, meaningless, devalued, worthless… I didn’t understand my impact on this earth. Why bother. Why be here? I make no difference. I am a parasite. I feel hollow. 

The conversations I would have… felt like someone was wearing my skin and having them on my behalf. I wasn’t in them. I wasn’t there. I wasn’t invested. My laughter was contrived. My smile was painted on. Every movement felt robotic and unnatural. 

I felt like such an imposter. I used to be Tanya Ryan. She was nice, and fun. I mean, shit jokes, but who has it all?? Her friends talk to me like I’m her… but I’m not her. I don’t know where she went… and I want so badly to find her. She would take this in stride. She is a master problem solver and eternal optimist. She’d know exactly what to do. Where is she? I shouldn’t be here. 

My poor husband dealt with me. He kept resuscitating me when I’d emotionally drown… I didn’t want him to though. I just wanted him to go away. She’s not in here! She’s gone. You fell in love with someone else and she’s GONE. Don’t keep saving me. Just leave me here. It’s fine. 

I was in a massage appointment with my incredibly intuitive and compassionate friend Christine. I told her about my feelings of drowning. The image that would replay in my mind was that of being underwater in a black coloured lake. My nose, mouth and lungs filled with water. I kept trying to fight my way up to the surface for air… but it was incredibly futile. 

She suggested in the most beautiful, gentle way…  to just let that feeling be. To just be in the lake. 

I used my imagination to fall back into the imagery of my cold, dark coloured lake… the incredibly awful sensation of my nose and throat full of water. And for the first time, I just let myself be there. No fight. No push. No reach for the surface. No gasp for air. 

It was strange and foreign for me to do. I’m a fighter. No one can take me! I was built to persevere, to push through… I am good at it. I will rise no matter how much I’ve been pushed down. So to be here, not resisting, not fighting… it was so alien. 

I stayed still, committed to my surrender. Moments passed… and then, a shift. Slowly, but certain. I watched as my body floated slowly upwards. My face broke the surface of the water. My lungs began to fill with air and not water… My body remained in the dark lake, fully enveloped. But my face was above… I could breathe. 

This never occurred to me… to just be. I didn’t want to be this new version of me. I wanted the bright, vibrance of my old self. I wanted the naivety and the glow. I wanted to sing loud and big. I didn’t ever consider just being this me. Who would want her? She’s pensive, quiet… joyless. 

When I decided to just be her… to surrender into this darker version of myself. I accepted that I might never be the bright version of me again. I began to adjust to what this looked like, felt like. I let myself be okay with it. 

Slowly I noticed the most subtle changes. I felt more present and less robotic. I had the occasional authentic smile. My voice became subtly stronger.

I am in a much better place now. But I am not who I was. I won’t ever be again. There’s a certain dark place that you go and you won’t return unchanged… but the error in our perception of this is that we were greater before we were stained by the dark. That only those of untouched brightness can light the world. 

I think it’s exactly the opposite… I think it’s in our darkness we become more aware of the dimensions and vastness of the world. We become aware that we are of greater depth, capacity, strength, courage… 

We become the ocean as well as the sky. Our darkness shows us the truest expression of our potential by introducing us to the actual diameter of our capacity to expand. Growth isn’t linear… it’s not up or down. It’s spherical… and growing in this way means the exploration of not only our light, but our dark. 

Let the dark show you that you’re more. To feel hollow is still feeling. Empty is feeling. Alone is feeling. 

Let this be our awakening to compassion, patience, understanding… 

The dark still scares me… but I will now allow myself to venture there – to be there – with trust that I will navigate myself into balance with the compass of my heart. I trust myself, and my ability to be with every version of who I learn I am capable of being. 

First Year of Marriage. SO HARD.

First Year of Marriage. SO HARD.

Just kidding. No it’s not. That was click bait. Did it work? I’m practicing. My next blog titles are: 

How to Make a $100k with Just Your Toe Nail!
The Everyday Guide to Never Aging EVER!
Justin Bieber’s Selfless Act!

The exclamation points really help to sell it, don’t you think? 

Yeah, okay. More practice needed. I’ll work on it. Thanks for reading this far and not leaving yet. 

I’ve been trying to figure out why people say the first year of marriage is the hardest. I mean, that’s sort of a slap in the face to anyone that’s been in a relationship for 10, 20, 30+ years right? 

You want to try to tell these people that the year in which your marriage is the newest and most honey-moon-y is the most  difficult? Not the year when the kids come into the mix, or when someone loses a family member or close friend, or the year someone makes that really unnecessary and expensive purchase, or any other list of potential possibilities that one would have to go through that would be far more challenging than a first year of simply being legally wed to someone?… 

My most recent hypothesis on why people say this is because the first year of marriage is new – and maybe that makes it the most ‘scary’ year of marriage because there’s a lot of uncharted territory. Every argument is new. You have no coping strategies. There’s no rhythm to the argument. You don’t know how long you’ll stay mad or how long he will; or if you’re ever going to come to some sort of resolve… or if maybe you were just stupid and you shouldn’t have gotten married in the first place. 

It’s kind of like sitting really close to the emergency exit. If shit goes sideways your impulse is going to be to reach for the handle on that emergency exit. Versus when you’re a few rows away, you might reach for the oxygen mask or the floatation device first – just to see if it helps – before you consider jumping ship.  

Brin and I haven’t been together very long, in the grand scheme of it all. About 2 and half years total. We also kinda don’t really fight much. Sometimes he’s a butthole and I tell him not to be – and other times I am, and he has to tell me not to be…  but an actual fight? Like, where someone is authentically upset and there’s no apparent and immediate solution? That’s new for us. 

Brin and I got in our first solid scuffle just recently. And it made me have a glimmer of understanding on why people say that the first year of marriage is the hardest. (For the record, I still don’t think the first year of marriage IS the hardest… I just now have an appreciation for why someone might have made this suggestion.)

Because my initial thought was “OH MY GOD. WHAT DO WE DO? We’re MARRIED!! Did we f*ck up? Was this a huge mistake? DO WE GET DIVORCED NOW???”

But it’s not like I’m dramatic or anything. 

Okay, so sue me. I’m a worst-case thinker. I am innately anxious, it’s basically a talent, and occasionally this causes me to jump to slightly dramatic conclusions. (But hey, on the upside, this has made me an excellent problem solver. My brain will automatically start processing the most likely pitfalls and negative outcomes – and immediately start calculating their relative solutions. It’s magical.) 

I also tend to assume that my husband will simply just stop loving me because we’re arguing; and the thought of that makes my left eye twitch, my stomach turn, and it’s around this point in my meltdown I acknowledge that the apocalypse would be a welcomed distraction. So if I’m at lease 2% emotionally prepared for this outcome, I feel I can handle it a bit more smoothly. And so it is: Worry-Wart to the rescue! 

Sometimes I take comfort in knowing people actually spend an abnormally large amounts of time in unhappy and unfulfilling relationships. So even he is kind of miserable, maybe he’ll still stick around for a while, ya know? 

I find it to be such a shame that we hide our pitfalls as humans. I mean, of course we want to. They are ugly and the entire measure of our success is built around a convincing masquerade of appearing to having our shit together. But is it really worth it? Doesn’t it sort of create this social trend of separatism, which in my humble opinion is becoming so passé. Like, we are all messed up. Can’t we just admit it already? We’re all essentially just very large children that have no idea what in the world we’re doing. So maybe just throwing it out there sometimes and airing the laundry in a contrast to all the experts and know-it-alls (hey, no judgement. I am annoyingly know-it-all-y too) would be a welcomed alternative in the literary consumption of the general public. 

I’ve been making the solid effort lately to be more transparent. In effort to unify those of us that are going through something – even the little things. 

[Side note: I’ve also been making a solid effort not to lie EVER. Not even white lies. Try it. It’s harder than you think.
Oh sorry I’m late, I couldn’t find my-
Yes, your hair is am-
Your baby is so c-  … is a baby!]

I wanted to share this because I can’t count how many times people have commented on how amazing Brinley and I’s relationship is. How perfect we are for each other. How awesome we are together. And I think we are! I’m grateful for the relationship I’m in, and I’m happy; and I’m honoured that other people see in us what we feel for each other.   

AND it’s also important to me that people are aware that we have bumps. Because they’re there and they’re real and they HAPPEN. Because even though something appears as sunshine and rainbows, does not necessarily indicate that underlying shadows are non-existent. AKA happiness and strife are not mutually exclusive. 

I would be happy to give you a more detailed account of our argument a little later. It’s still fresh for us, so I want to respect my husband and our relationship by not completely unearthing the details our first shitty fight on the internet. That said. When this wave has passed and we’re both safely and confidently back in the groove with our surf boards in tact – I’ll totally fill you in on all the nitty-gritty.  

Thanks for making room on your internet today for me to air a bit of our dirty laundry. 

My favourite conversations are the ones that jump right into the deep-end of life’s garbage, so if you ever need someone to talk to, feel welcome to call anytime.

P.S We’re not even actually down the first year yet. 10 months and going strong. WHOOOO!

Namaste Muthafugga.

Namaste Muthafugga.

When I first started practicing yoga, I learned something really important. Something that I go back to again and again – and again. 

Keep your eyes on your own mat. 

When you’re the brand newbie in a yoga class, you are the furthest thing from the graceful expression of physicality that you wish you could be. Everything feels entirely foreign. Like, this abnormally calm, spandex-clad, namaste-muthafugga is asking you to put certain body parts near other body parts – that in no other context of life would ever be near one another. There’s an entirely different language they’re spouting off (that’s about as practical to learn as Latin btw) – and quite honestly, even when they say the names of the poses in English, you’re forced to look around to understand what is being asked of you. It’s not a feat to be faced without some serious cajones. 

Why oh why did I keep going back? Two reasons. One, in a short time, I found it was noticeably easier to bend over to put the towel on my head after a shower. And two, I had one amazing instructor, early in my yoga-journey tell me that it wasn’t important how close my fingertips came to my toes – but it was important to notice the tone of my inner-dialogue when I attempted to do so. So I went back. And I attempted to manage the deafening cries of my inner-critic when I twisted myself into unfamiliar shapes. 

Life and yoga have had such incredible and relevant parallels for me – it’s what keeps me going back. I go to yoga to have better tools to understand how to manage my life. To be reminded that my eyes don’t belong on someone else’s mat. 

I always used to look around in yoga. I watched the beautiful woman beside me gracefully lay her forehead against her shins. I watched as she floated through each pose like she was born to move this way. Her whole body appeared buoyant and moved like a silk sheet on a clothes line. I envied her. I was like a non-metallic version of the tin man – dangling my fingertips hoping to one day reach past my knee caps. I envied her ease; my whole body ached and squealed with every movement. I huffed and sweated. I was clunky. And usually one step behind everyone else. She had it so easy! I could look like her if my body was like that. 

I quickly figured out that envying her practice didn’t actually make mine any more enjoyable. In fact, it was quite the opposite. The more I watched her, the more I longed to be her and to have what she had… the more I noticed my inner critic grow louder and more obnoxious. Like it’s livelihood was sustained on getting regular hits from my envy. It made my practice less and less pleasant. And with my ridged, immobile body, it wasn’t the greatest experience to start to begin with. 

One day, I stopped watching. I would love to think that I had this enlightened moment and I came to this conclusion on my own; but probably one of my yoga teachers made some insightful comment about putting more focus on our own, individual practice. I’m a keen student, so I listened. 

I began to enjoy my practice. The practice itself didn’t become easier, but I took more pleasure in it. I enjoyed challenging myself to create these smoother, fluid movements. I became connected and enveloped in being in relationship with my own physical body. Rhythmically connected to breath, and translating the rhythm into movement… it got to a point that I stopped even noticing that anyone else was in the room.

I started noticing small changes in my body. My hand reaching a new place on the front of my shin. Feeling my spine lengthen. And silly little things like my bum finally touching my feet in Child’s Pose. The changes were so small that no one else would see them, but I celebrated internally. These were milestones for me. Some of them I remember so vividly but were so small I can’t bring myself to describe them here. I’m not sure it makes any sense to anyone else and it will probably (definitely) sound ridiculous. 

One day, years later, I walked out of yoga practice and into a conversation between two women. One of them had clearly talked the other into coming, perhaps for her first time. 

“That was ridiculous. It was SO HARD. I don’t know if this yoga thing is for me.

“Yoga was made for people like this” She referenced to me. “These beautiful, flexible, graceful women.” 

Probably the best thing to do here would’ve been to explain to this woman my humble and cumbersome beginnings… but the whole thing kind of made me feel bashful and uncomfortable so I just sort of grabbed my coat and scuttled off awkwardly. 

I probably don’t have to spell it out for you that I, quite ironically, found myself in the new role as ‘the picturesque yoga-woman’. The one I used to watch and envy myself not very long ago. And that’s great, but it wasn’t the highlight of the light bulb moment I got from that encounter.

I became her. I did. I became the beautiful, graceful, yoga-woman. And you would think that I’d be overjoyed – but it didn’t feel like I thought it would. I just felt like myself. Just now my bum touched my feet in Childs Pose, which was cool, but definitely not life changing. Yoga was still challenging for me, it wasn’t easy. I still really struggled in a lot of poses. It still took effort, focus and mindfulness to hold certain (most) postures. 

I had this new perspective on the yoga-woman now though. I mean, I thought that she was built for yoga! I thought that she was this amazing, yogic super-human. Strong and flexible. And I also made a naive assumption. An assumption that the way she moved was an indication of how it had always been for her. That her fluid movements meant that the same practice that was so difficult for me, was so easy for her. I made this judgement on seeing her – not being her. I never thought to ask her if she thought it was difficult. I just thought it looked easy for her, so it must be easy for her. I measured her movement and abilities against my own without knowing where she came from or how she got to be where she was. I never asked her about her beginning or her challenges. 

How often do we do this in life? Measure our accomplishments, our achievements against someone else’s when we don’t have the full story. We assume all sorts of things about people – that certain things must come naturally or easily. That our journey is more difficult with more obstacles to overcome. That because someone makes something look easy, that it must actually be easy for them. 

I think that our buying into this falsehood feeds the part of our mentality that pits us against each other – that leads us to compare and compete – when we could instead reach out to one another for camaraderie, compassion, and guidance. 

There is a tremendous amount of isolation and heartache we could save ourselves from experiencing if we were all to remind ourselves and each other that the assumptions we make based on the optics of someone else’s life, body, relationship, backbend, glorious mane of shiny hair… [insert any desirable quality here] are not constructed from a comprehensive story. Even our own lives need some perspective shifts and re-evaluations at times. We insert these unrealistic deadlines on ourselves (or others) – like time is the only factor that should be accounted for when creating our list of goals. When really, we ought to factor in so many other potential variables: effort, dedication, diligence, timing (not to be confused with time), opportunities, choices, obstacles – good  grief, even luck!

Yoga has been a reliable medium for me to keep reminding myself to take things day-by-day. That every day is different and there are invisible variables that might need to be adapted to. That by forcing things to occur, I only end up hurting myself. Yoga reminds me to accept the natural rhythms of my body and the challenges that are presented to me. It reminds me that if I show up as a willing and open student, I will always walk away with some new insight. It reiterates that allowing and resting are just as important as creating and striving; and that there is no space for something new without releasing something old. 

And for the love of Pete. Keep your eyes on your own damn mat. 

MasterDebater

MasterDebater

I love to debate. I truly do.

My favourite debate partner is my dad. Because it’s always safe. Meaning, I know that we’re both going to walk away from the conversation with more expanded perspectives and a healthy readjustment to our mental reflexes – and not with sore spots, resentment and emotional wounds. 

I can be a pretty passionate debater. A lot of people are threatened by my enthusiasm and misinterpret it for defensiveness, an elevated emotional state, or anger. Which isn’t the case at all! I just figure, if you’re going to argue for what you believe, then you better put skin in the game.  

Another reason my dad is my favourite debate partner is because he’s always truly interested in my point of view. He asks stimulating questions with the intention of truly listening to my answer before processing it and making his retort. I feel I (really try to) reciprocate that.

The worst debates are ones in which the opposing party has no intention or interest in the other side of the debate and simply wishes to reiterate their own belief. The whole reason debates are fun is because you still can walk away with your initial belief – but through the debate, you’ve had a healthy dose of banter to expand even your own opinions on why you hold that belief. If you’re not willing to explore the other side, then I kind of think your faith in that belief must be sort of limited if you’re avoiding the exposure to some inquiry.

When I’m not debating with my dad, I have to cool my jets a little. Most people aren’t prepared to take a heartily enthusiastic (too enthusiastic) jump into contrasting opinions. And it’s a semi-bummer. But I get over it. Because some people just aren’t ready to be as excited as I am, and that’s okay.  

However, the one debate I have had a number of times with various ‘opponents’ – I feel needs to be addressed in full-on Tanya-Ryan-debate-mode.

I have had a handful of people try to tell me that vulnerability is synonymous with weakness; and I couldn’t disagree more. Naturally, in each particular circumstance I retorted in debate and it wasn’t very well received, which is totally cool! But I really feel the need to get into this.

The argument that I’ve heard is that exposing your self in such a way that makes you vulnerable, is to appear weak; and perhaps that’s the case if you’re solely considering this from the perspective that would indicate your extensive participation in war-strategizing themed video games. But if we’re looking at vulnerability from the whole day-to-day experience perspective. Vulnerability is an absolute indication of strength, integrity, honesty and humility.

If you were someone who decided consciously or unconsciously that you would never be vulnerable, it’s sort of a ticket down easy street. It means you will never have to put yourself on the line. You never have to face the unknown. You don’t have to develop a relationship with courage or bravery. Being invulnerable is easy. It’s impersonal and safe. It means never having to face rejection or criticism. You’d never ask someone on a date. Or say I love you. You wouldn’t do any form of public-speaking; or share any kind of personal information or art. You wouldn’t share your beliefs, opinions and personal expressions. You wouldn’t ever have to apologize or admit you’re wrong.

I mean, technically some of the listed examples would vary from person to person on how vulnerable each item was perceived by that unique individual. But essentially, I’m aiming to conclude that vulnerability is a form of facing fear. I’ll use my own examples.

I have never said I love you first (except ONE time). Because it was safer to wait for someone else to say it first. Then the ball was in my court. I could decide what’s what and I’d be safe not having to deal with the crippling rejection that comes from an empty “You’re okay too.” (That’s a slight inside joke for my dad, but it doesn’t impact the understanding of this story without knowing the joke. So we’re good.) The time I did say I Love You first hardly even counts because I knew my words would be reciprocated. The day prior to my confession of love, I had basically cornered him when he was drunk and skillfully and not-so-subtly beat around the bush to the point that I had enough evidence to conclude that my feelings would be returned. So I totally dodged vulnerability in this particular case. (BUT HE STILL MARRIED ME. WIN.)

I remember the first time I went to publicly perform a song that I had written based on very intimate and personal experience. I was mortified at the idea of singing this diary entry in front of people. WTF. I can’t do that! To get myself to do it, I pretended in my mind that it wasn’t about me. It was about someone else. It was like reciting fiction. No problem.

I am an expert vulnerability dodger.

I have hidden my opinions, experiences, beliefs – because I don’t want to face the potential criticism that might come with outing them. (Slowly coming out of the proverbial closet here, one blog at a time.) I have hidden tears, defeat, and struggle. I have avoided conversations, been passive aggressive and found my way around undesirable subject matter. And boy oh boy have I been effective in my ability to wiggle myself out of some conflicts I didn’t want to have.

And sure, I sing on stage. And that’s pretty vulnerable … but it has taken me years (and years) to practice NOT pretending my songs are about someone else. To own them as mine. My own story. That might actually have been one of my major movements forward in vulnerability – and it’s only been happening in the last 3 years. It’s probably unrealistic to think you can get through life without everhaving to be vulnerable. But I definitely think living with intentional vulnerability on a regular basis is a really powerful experience.

That’s the thing about being an expert vulnerability-dodger… you start to see how you’re really limiting your depth. The deepest human connections happen through vulnerability. Some of the most amazing performances, speeches, relationships, and acts of bravery came from an individuals ability to be entirely and unequivocally vulnerable. Anytime something or someone has truly moved you, I guarantee vulnerability was apart of the equation. That person let you into their story, their heart and their life for a period of time. That’s some seriously powerful shit.

You can try to convince me all the live long day that holding it together and toughing it out is braver – and I will simply not agree with you because I’ve BEEN the person that toughs it out. I’ve ‘held it together’. And all it is, is a form of hiding. It’s the ability to avoid appearing helpless or needing help. It’s entirely egocentric. It’s not even real. You are simply wanting people to believe this is who you are. But it’s not. You are hiding. And that is so not brave.

Hey man. I’m not criticizing you. I AM you. Takes an invulnerable to know one.  

I’m just saying I know that if I’m being truly brave – and any time I’ve been truly brave – I’ve exposed something. I have opened myself up in a new way.  Which is terrifying. And when you intentionally do something terrifying. You chose to pursue an action that honours your heart and your soul – knowing potential consequences of this action – and you do it anyway? That is BRAVE AF.

So if you want another word for vulnerability, I’m afraid that ‘weakness’ just won’t cut it.

It’s seriously brave.

@ me. I dare you.

Go L*ve Yourself.

Go L*ve Yourself.

Have you weighed in on the debate? The one that says you can’t love someone else unless you love yourself first. It’s a conversation that can get pretty heated on peoples’ different opinions on the matter. 

I am totally ‘that guy’ because I will be the first to say I understand what both sides of the fence are saying… not sure if I can fully commit to either side just yet. 

On the one hand, I think you can absolutely love someone else regardless about your feelings toward yourself. And on the other, I think the reason people will argue the contrasting point is because loving yourself offers you a much different loving experience with others that is arguably deeper and more connected. 

Here’s the thing though. The reason that this debate becomes so heated is because A) SO MANY people struggle with loving themselves and B) no one wants to feel that they are incapable of love. Therefore, this would leave a greater sum of the population believing that they aren’t showing up for the people in their lives that they obviously cherish greatly. And that sucks, right? 

In my regularly and weirdly keen observation of humans… I’ve noticed the love parents have for their children. This fascinates me so greatly because it’s such a unique experience and you can’t have it until you have it. So I do my best to collect whatever data I can through observation – and leave room in my imagination to fill in some of the gaps that I know are missing by my lack of personal experience. 

From what I can assess so far there are few, if any, forms of love that are as deep as a parent’s love for their children. What’s even more interesting is that the love is constant. It doesn’t matter how old the parent or the child become. The love is unchanged. Perhaps the expression of that love changes. But the volume of love itself is the same. 

I was talking to a friend a while ago, he was expressing that he had more concern for others’ well being than his own. I believe this to be a relatively common way of thinking. Likely most people would volunteer their own lives for someone they cared about. He proceeded to tell me that when he would go skiing alone, he would venture into very risky territory. Potentially life threatening trails. Not because he’s suicidal (or maybe he is – no judgement. Been there!) but for the experience and the rush. However, if he’s ever in the company of friends, he won’t even consider taking these types of trails.

It’s a slight paradox though, if you think about it. 

Because, if you were to claim that you were truly more concerned for others’ wellbeing… then wouldn’t you be even more intentionally cautious with your life and safety? Hear me out on this one. 

Depending on your belief system, if you die you either (this list is probably longer, but for the sake of time) land in heaven (which is way better than earth from what I’ve heard), you’re enlightened and omni-understanding, and/or you turn to dirt and have no awareness of your death or anything else. So essentially – it might be the only linking consensus of all belief systems – we conclude: if you’re dead, you’re probably pretty okay with it.

The only people suffering are the people you love. They’re going to be devastated to lose you. So if you truly are someone that claims to place others’ wellbeing before your own, wouldn’t this be something you’ve considered? That caring for yourself is exactly that, an expression of caring for others.

When we grow up, we turn 18 (or 25, 31, 53 whatever) and without much thought we venture into the amazing world of adulting. We move out of the familiar comfort of our family home and being to focus on our new responsibilities, paying bills, surviving, getting through that first job or those University papers. The actual responsibility of truly ‘taking care’ of ourselves is far from our minds… if it even crosses it at all. 

In that same transition, our parents had an entirely different experience. Those people that love us SO much, literally handed over to us the responsibility of ensuring the wellbeing of the thing that they love and cherish the most in the world. There is literally nothing that could replace you to them. So by that measure, you would be doing a service to them by taking care of yourself, right? 

If you have kids, don’t you want them to one day take care of themselves like you take care of them? To love themselves like you love them; understand their abilities, potential, and gifts like you do? You forgive them when they make a mistake, don’t you want them to forgive themselves? You do right? YOU are somebody’s kid. Someone loves you so much, they want that for you. 

  

Even if you were someone that grew up with shit parents. Say they really dropped the ball on the whole loving, supporting and appreciation thing; or maybe they were abusive, critical or neglectful. If you see that, and you know that. Then you are acknowledging that you deserved more. Which means you deserve more now. You owe it to yourself to love you. You’re due. You are entitled to love. 

In my opinion, the only other form of love that has the potential to be as deep, connected and meaningful as parental love is self-love. I think it’s simply that most of us just haven’t found a way to tap into it. And if we did… can you imagine? 

All those little holes, flaws, and self-perceived deficits would soften. Fear would be replaced by trust. Trust that you have and that you are everything you need. Guilt, shame… nope. No room for that. You love yourself. You forgive yourself. Therefore, guilt and shame would become obsolete. This doesn’t mean ignoring your flaws; it’s not ignorance or arrogance. It’s not turning a blind eye to the parts of you that you’re working on. It’s simply acknowledging those qualities, forgiving them and having patience with yourself while you sort through it. 

Parental love isn’t blind either. Your parents know you’re a butthole sometimes. They know all of your character flaws. Probably better than you do. But isn’t it cool how they love you through that? They aren’t ignorant to your bullshit. They just keep loving you. Deeply and endlessly. For no justified reason except for that they just DO. 

I can’t remember when I came to realize it… but one day I did. I thought – my parents aren’t here to take care of me anymore. I’m all grown up. So now it’s my job to take care of me. I need to make sure I eat my vegetables and I go to sleep when I’m tired. I need to make sure I don’t watch too much TV and that I get my work done on time. I have to clean my room, do my laundry, and make sure I have a shower everyday so I don’t smell bad. 

I parent myself. I truly do. 

Sometimes I’m a super lax parent…

Me: “Can I have popcorn for supper?”

Parent me: “You know what, why the hell not. Fibre. Sure!” 

And other times I’m a bit more mindful parent. 

Me: “Can I have another cookie??” 

Parent me: “You’ve already had 2 (or 5). I think that’s enough. If you’re hungry you can have a cucumber – or I’ll make you lunch. No more cookies though.” 

[Yes. Most of my self-parenting skills are tested at meal times.]

But what about the times when you’re tired, you’re sad, you’re angry or broken… What do you do with yourself? Are you kind? Do you let yourself cry it out, give yourself a metaphorical hug and take it easy? Maybe you’re someone that has grown so accustomed to your own abuse, you don’t even recognize it as abuse anymore. Maybe you’ve become so used to not loving yourself, that simply the absence of abuse feels like love. You need to know there’s more. And that you have the capacity to create it. 

Sometimes it’s too hard or too much to move from abusive inner-statements to positive mantras and self-affirmations. It was for me. It felt so false and gross coming out of my mouth. 

“I am beautiful and radiant” would be followed by this cruel sarcastic mental dialogue in a mocking tone repeating I am beautiful and radiant followed by a mental eye roll and taunting laugh. (I still think affirmations are stupid but hey if that’s jam, you go rock that shit.) 

Start small. And in ways that feel real to you. 

I think sometimes when people talk about self-love they say it like it’s just going to happen. Like it’s something that just ‘IS’ … like ‘Go love yourself.’ is the same as ‘Go make a sandwich.’

Like it’s this thing you just do and then you have it. But it’s not like that at all. Maybe it started that way… when we were really little… but we forgot, and that’s okay. So now, we accept that it’s a process. 

Few lasting relationships had a first date that began with “I love you so much, I want to spend my life with you. You are my everything.” There’s a natural evolution of getting to know each other and slowing showing small forms of affection. Establishing trust, commitment and eventually love. 

Go date yourself. Get to know you. Build a friendship, show yourself small acts of kindness and let those grow in to more meaningful acts of love. 

I don’t conclusively know if you can or can’t love someone without loving yourself. But I feel confident in saying that even the intention – just the effort of trying to love yourself can make some huge, unparalleled shifts in your body, your relationships and your quality of life.  

So go on now, go fall in love with you. ‘Cause you’re awesome.