Originally published in P.S. I Love You on July 2nd, 2019. https://psiloveyou.xyz/learning-to-love-all-of-me-d426357f56a5
Yesterday as I was meditating, I was imagining my future self. I was thinking about the difference between ‘inside’ and ‘outside.’ The inside is my fantasy life, where I don’t have to engage with the world. Instead, I live ‘inside’ my little bubble. I read, write, enjoy and am at peace. The outside is where I reach out into the world. I want to engage with the world. I want to be part of the flow of consciousness and contribute to the flow of life around me. Because my ideas about my life can be limited, I imagined myself as somebody who could balance those two places. I would have time for an abundant inner life, while also being part of and contributing to the world. I could be both without robbing either part. Instead of a conflict, the balance would enrich each part of me. As my outer reach becomes more significant, the need for a stronger and deeper inner ballast grows. As my stronger and deeper inner ballast grows, my need for an outer reach also grows. Finally, I am able to visualize a more whole and complete me. Not a me isolated or trapped in either partial position.
It is exciting for me to visualize and see the part of me that is patiently building the more integrated future me. And it is exciting for these two parts (inner and outer) to acknowledge each other and like each other — become friends, not wary co-inhabitants of the same psyche.
My now self wants to have a more conscious relationship with the future self as well. I can imagine back to the past and also see that self — the one who built the now, my current reality. There is a line of continuity and growth from my past into the future and from my now to both the past and the future. For me, healing has often involved sending love from the current now reality back to aspects of myself in the past that had suffered. We do grow. Our lives do change. We do have different chapters.
As I meditated, I could see the future me, sitting across the room in the chair. For some reason, she was wearing a hat! She was more than I for she was effortlessly balancing focusing on the inside: the writing, the psychological growth, and the outside: running a company, getting my work out into the world. She was at peace. She was enough, and she was abundant in that she gave to the world and the world gave back, both in nourishment and support. She didn’t have fear over that exchange. It was as simple as a plant breathing in carbon dioxide and breathing out oxygen.
In this culture, we often see nourishment and support from the environment as money, but it is not necessarily money. We sometimes lose the sense of giving to and receiving from the world. We can get stuck in taking, needing or surviving and forget about giving. Or we can over give and not take care of ourselves by not allowing ourselves to receive.
I was happy to see her, this future me. For now, I am in a place where I am building and preparing, but I am not yet exchanging with the world in as deeply an abundant way as I would like. Yes, I do give. And I am being nourished and taken care of. I have made peace and found gratitude for and acceptance of both what I offer and what I receive — because there is a part of me that wanted this exchange to be more like a balance sheet. I give this; I receive that. But it doesn’t necessarily work that way. Sometimes we take care. Sometimes we are taken care of. Sometimes what we put out comes back. Sometimes not.
I could also see ‘behind’ me to the self I have been who has allowed the current me to be doing what I am doing. I have gratitude also for this part — for the line of energy between my past and my future. For the cycles of life there. For the young part of me, that broke through great fear and tackled my life. For the person who learned to focus on the present moment and my psychological interior. For the person who strived to make things happen on the outside. For the person who worked very hard and persevered. For the person who made learning and growing more important than having. For the tending of the garden that I am, all of my parts, so that I could later integrate and bloom. I am grateful for all of that.
And yet, I sometimes have a yearning for a different kind of path. I once listened to an interview with Bob McFerrin. He stated that he wants people to feel joy by listening to his music. I immediately felt bad. My path has been teaching people to walk into the storm and survive it, understand it, and ultimately transcend it. It is not an easy thing to do or an easy path. I have longed that I could have help people find joy directly, help myself feel joy directly but this has not been my path. Instead, it has been the path of slowly digging down into the dark and painful places of the psyche to examine, nurture, and tend these places, so that they do not fester alone and unloved. This task has colored my vision. I do not look about and see joy as something easily attainable. I look out, and what I see is complex. I have learned to ‘lean into the discomfort,’ rather than push it away or avoid it. I have done this rather than looking for a more superficial way of achieving happiness. I’m just a regular person. I have fears, tensions, and worries. It’s what we do with them that matters. I understand that you cannot truly live if you are constantly bombarded by every upsetting thing that you see or hear. But pushing all of this away is also a defense that significantly limits your ability to experience life. What if you could learn to ‘be with it’ and feel and use these experiences to grow?
I tend to carry too much. I have a heavier load than those who can more easily push their difficulties away. Both actions are helpful in different ways. But if you want to reduce your shame and grow, leaning into the discomfort will take you further.
It felt good to do this meditation. It felt good to send energy out to this person I shall be in the future — a more evolved version of me with a slightly different task perhaps. It felt good to acknowledge what has been and be grateful for what is. It felt good to give energy to this process and to know that it will continue to unfold.
It feels good to participate in my own evolvement and growth. This, I believe, is what self-love is really about. It isn’t the buying of things that will grow old and lose their charm. It is instead, about being alive and participating in the act of life and growth itself.