A case of vanity or self-love?

When you get to my age you finally learn that whilst certain external agents are necessary, vital at times, to lift us out of anxiety, depression, loss or any other soul-destroying circumstance, in the end the only thing that can rescue us from the darkness is truly ourselves.

If there is one lesson I have tried to teach my kids time and time again is this one, because I know that the biggest battles we fight in our life are always the ones we win within, wrestling with ourselves.

I have fought many of these internal battles over the years. When I was young and easily influenced, I relied on other people’s opinion of me to give me a sense of worth and confidence. As an adult, I learnt that even the closest of friends can one day become enemies and that many people who come into your life dressed as sheep are in fact foe; that there are individuals who come into your life for a season to gain something from you and then move on when they got what they wanted. There are others who also identify themselves as friends and are so for a time, but then just like the wind blows in one direction one moment and then in another the next, they change alliance with the blink of an eye and once again, you get put on the shelf or back in the shadows as they move on to the next fool who cannot see them coming. And then there are the kind of friends who genuinely see the best in you, want the best for you and would drop everything to help you out when you need it. And yet, not even those can save you from yourself.

I have learnt that what I thought was vanity is in many instances self-love. When I was younger, I was judgemental, proud, arrogant. Now I know that we all have our own reasons for behaving the way we do. I am not seeking to justify any particular behaviour. I am simply saying that in the later part of my life I have learnt to respect other people’s space and freedom to do as they please. I guess when I was younger my outlook was limited, full of prejudice and blind spots. Now, at 51 I myself have been driven to tight spots I did not know existed, and I have had to alter my behaviour in order to survive, to move forward; a behaviour that my younger, naïve self would have considered totally inappropriate or undignified perhaps. It’s funny how life teaches us time and time again to never judge a book by its cover, and time and time again we ignore that advice and we fall into judgement and rejection of others based on our own prejudices and narrow-mindedness.

I have learnt that it is not worth giving of myself to those who have no empathy, interest or kindness to open the book of my life and read through the pages of the highs and the lows that have led me to be who I am today, before they pass judgement or give their opinion.

I have learnt that the only opinion I should trust when it comes to who I am and where I am going is my own, because even when given with the best of intentions, others’ counsel or guidance is based on their own convictions and experiences, and so what may suit them, does not necessarily suit me.

I have learnt that whilst friends and family are a really important part of a person’s life, the one constant we need to thrive during our time on earth is self-love. The advice given during the safety briefing on a flight to put on your own life jacket or oxygen mask before helping others is for me one of the essential keys to safe living. Sometimes we can be so caught up in looking after others, trying to help others or gaining direction or seeking validation from others that we forget to listen to what our own judgement and gut instinct is telling us; we forget to extend that lifeline to ourselves and in doing so we spend our life wrestling, perpetuating our predicament of a square peg in a round hole.

Today I am practising self-love or vanity, call it what you will. I don’t really care. It helps me to appreciate who I am and how far I’ve come. It reminds me that I am not who or what others may think of me, but I am the truth I see in the mirror every day, warts and all! I am imperfect, unfinished, scarred, blemished and very flawed, but I am authentic and beat only to my own drum.

18 thoughts on “A case of vanity or self-love?

  1. Doug

    Thanks very much for writing this. I have had friends come, and go, and some that disappeared for no reason whatsoever. It’s very disconcerting and has at times made me wonder if it’s worth bothering.

    I now have a few acquaintances, and two close friends I trust completely. I know they’ll be there whatever happens. A third really close friend died four years ago, the heartbreak was awful. I still miss him.

    I wholeheartedly approve of your self-love, it’s not vanity. You may call yourself imperfect, unfinished, scarred, blemished and very flawed, I see none of that.

    Have a wonderful weekend, and thanks for writing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow Doug, your words made me quite emotional. Thanks so much for sharing of your own experience. I am very sorry for your loss. Friends like that are rare. I wish you a great weekend too. Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to be part of my intimate but vulnerable world.

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      1. jummurphy

        I didn’t mean to make you emotional, but I saw no point in replying if I wasn’t going to be brutally honest! I too have a fun side… now, where did I put it? 😉

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  2. I can tell ya being with someone who is proud of their emotional development, embraces their flaws and is comfortable in their own skin is way more appealing than being with someone who is the other way around. I embrace your post!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Kerry

    Hi, I really enjoyed your blog , I too have struggled with many things, mostly Self Love. I am the kind of person that does everything for everyone else, forgetting myself constantly. I am the go-to person in my family for advice, comfort, love, understanding and sometimes raging into the void. It is only in later years that I realised it was a drain, not only on my mind but on my mental health. Since then I have tried to work hard on putting myself first, sometimes it has worked. The people I love the most have real mental health issues and they need me to listen to them to make them feel better, there is little time sometimes to think of me & put myself first. I am still learning, if I can manage to do it 50% of the time then I will see that as a victory.
    I do enjoy all of your blogs, I can find myself in many of them.
    Keep going they’re great.
    Thankyou.

    Kerry

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Kerry. It really transpires from your words here and on twitter that you are an incredibly kind and caring person. I too have invested the later part of my life caring for my husband and family and neglecting my own needs. I feel the real me rebelling against it all as of late. Too much frustration, too many hopes deferred, life passing me by as others lean on me to make their own dreams come true. I hear you. I have been there and still am but definitely getting better at putting myself first. I hope you too master the art of self-love in time. Life is so very short. We only get one crack at it. Xx

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  4. Ed

    This is a beautiful piece of work. I myself have struggled for years with this lack of confidence and belief in myself. And I have always looked towards people for their approval. Without going into my life it started from childhood, father was a violent man and I battled with this for so long..but the truth is I have let this dictate large parts of my life. I let this man constantly get inside my head when he didn’t even care about anything in my life then I listened to a guy called Sydney Banks who said thinking about the past in this way is only hurting one person..you.. constantly dragging the past back up is only hurting yourself. So reading this piece today made me smile because the fact is it’s so true…if you learn to love yourself for who you are…if you put yourself right..be a bit selfish and the people around you will benefit from this. So be proud of who u are…you are unique..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you much for stopping by and taking the time to leave me such a lovely heartfelt comment. I’m sorry that you had to go through that with your father. It’s worse when we suffer at the hands of those who are meant to love and edify us. I hope you come back. It’s wonderful being able to bounce off each other’s ideas and experiences; to learn and grow together. Best wishes. Mercedes

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  5. Erik

    Thank you for sharing your, very recognisable, experiences. The simplest questions can be the hardest, and especially the essential question: “am I enough” is one that many people face on a daily basis, but can be so intimidating they put it aside without proper validation.

    My experience is that even when I answered the question with a ‘yes’ for the sake of internal argument, it was already easier to see things more clear, and make more sensible personal choices.

    So I think it’s beneficial to turn the relationship between question and answer backwards and start with a positive answer to direct the question. (Even though there seems to be a built-in reset button that activates from time to time)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Very intelligent discourse Erik. I like your suggestion of turning the relationship between question and answer backwards. I guess it equates to the self-love I speak about. It’s taken me a lifetime to adopt that attitude. Thank you so much for your feedback. Very good interesting thoughts worth pondering on.

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