Going into 2019, I would have considered myself a loving person.

Sure, I had heard the expression that your capacity to love others was only as much as your capacity to love yourself.

And I knew that intellectually but not viscerally. Little did I know that 2019 was the year that would change.

I actually chose self-love as my power word. When I chose it, I more so thought I’d be working on my self-confidence and self-worth. The universe had other plans…

In March, an argument with a loved one led to harsh names being called. One name in particular cut very deep, it was an emotional wound like I’d never experienced before.

I withdrew emotionally and mentally from that relationship.

And was overcome with immense despair. I questioned everything I believed about myself, my life, the world around me.

The world went dark.

To be honest, I’m not sure how I managed life for the next few months. I remember bursting into tears at the most inopportune times. Feeling so lost and alone.

I couldn’t even stand to be within my own body somedays.

Everything seemed to be falling apart. I didn’t know who I was and probably never really had.

Having spent most of my life behind masks, hoping that if I just did what others wanted, they would like and accept me.

And now as I reflect on 2019, I am not really sure how I maintained my sanity. Somedays I held it together, kept moving my business forward and other days I sat on the couch for the whole day mindlessly scrolling social media, and wallowing in my own self-pity.

Relationships evolved quickly. I seemed to find my people, the ones who understood me, only for many of them to fall away within months. At a time that I needed the most support, I felt I was losing the most people.

Oddly enough, I started to develop a connected relationship with myself. I was compelled to take care of my mind, body, and soul.

I committed to a meditation practice like never before. Every morning at 5 am, I got out of bed and meditated for two hours. I listened to the silence, observed the train of thoughts that ran about, some days engaging and other times observing. Sometimes I fell asleep.

My relationship with food also totally changed. I cut out sugar, wheat, dairy, and processed foods cold turkey. Something I never would have even considered before.

And exercise became a part of my daily life. A 20 minute run followed by weights. Weight training is a love of mine so it felt good to be doing it again consistently. And as I got stronger, I started to actually love the parts of my body I had always seemed to reject.

And slowly, one day at a time, I started to see the light again. But it wasn’t only light, I had built a stronger relationship with myself. One built on trust and love. As my mind, body, and soul transformed, I saw beauty where I had never seen it.

Looking back, 2019 was full of messiness. Many ugly cries, lonely nights, emptiness, and loss. And it was also full of such beauty. I started to love myself for who I am. My love-hate relationship with my body turned into pure gratitude for all my body is capable of. I have learned to follow my intuition. I later learned this experience is called a dark night of the soul.

And because of all of that, I am learning to set boundaries and stand up for myself. It isn’t easy because the people-pleaser often comes out wanting to ensure everyone is happy but I can’t possibly please everyone. Especially at the expense of myself. But best of all, I also am learning to love at at a different level. Letting go of how others have to be in order for me to accept them and still loving them anyway.

I chose self-love as my theme this year and wow, did I ever learn that. Of course there are moments, even days of self-loathing. But more often than not, I’m in much gratitude. Thankful for my strength, courage, resiliency and for who I am.

My love capacity tank is much bigger now than it was back in January, or ever for that matter. I can’t wait to see what 2020 brings.

What comes up for you when you think of self-love?