Whoever came up with the above phrase was quite right. There’s always a calm before a storm. Knowing this makes me feel ominous – as though on edge, waiting for the next storm to attack. And when it does arrive, we enjoy saying that “This too shall pass.” We’ve made up phrases for everything, haven’t we?
I think the reason there’s always a calm before a storm is because you’ve succeeded in gathering your courage for what’s next to come. One of the toughest, most trying things I’ve ever had to do is bring myself face to face with something that my mind understood long ago. Acceptance can be so painful. I never before knew how stubborn I could be when I wanted to, how determined I was to match the plans in my head to the reality I was facing. The discrepancy was alarming. But so was my foolishness. Why was I attempting to keep the semblance alive when there was nothing left of it? Why was I allowing myself to fall asleep every night with unanswered questions gnawing at my soul, with doubts suffocating my heart? Who was I becoming? Why wasn’t I following the advice I would give to someone else, had they been in my place? Why was it okay for me to be consumed with the idea, with the thoughts, with the mental commitment of self-love, but when it came to action, it was petrifying to think to keep myself first?
It’s so easy to speak. It’s even easier to give textbook advice to people in situations you’ve had zero experience in. Nobody tells you – you, an anxious person, who would sacrifice herself with a smile for the people she loves, who would always keep herself second, who thrives on giving – that it’s going to be anything but a simple, happy experience of putting yourself first. It’s crippling. You slip – almost. You stumble, and instead of making you happy, it’s causing you pain. Not what you expected, but you go through it anyway. You make it, only because you’ve gone over the minutiae of your decision in your head – bit by bit, piece by piece. You know you’re doing the right thing. It will be okay. No matter how it feels now, it will be okay. It has to be. Because your decision was taken neither out of impatience, nor borne out of any emotion.
Self-love comes in a myriad of different forms, situations, and circumstances. It’s beyond giving yourself time each day – it encompasses your entire life. It’s about making sure you take care of yourself in every relationship that you’re in. Whether it’s with your friends, family, partner, or work.
It’s like learning a new language. And I feel like I passed my first exam.