"While we are wired for self-protection and survival, we are also wired for connection and love." - Iris Chen, Untigering
I wouldn't be alive today if it weren't for friendships in my life. I won't name names for fear of accidentally forgetting someone, but chances are - if you know, you know.
It has been in friendship and from the love of my friends that I have learned to love myself. That cliché "you have to love yourself before you can love someone else" is bullshit. You can absolutely love others without knowing how to extend that same love to yourself - and you can certainly receive love from others regardless of the degree you love yourself.
Individualism is a highly valued characteristic in the United States, especially within white culture. We have lost what it means to be in community with one another. We have forgotten how to identify the help we need and ask for it. And often, we have forgotten what it means to give - no strings attached - to others.
In its truest form, love in friendship is reciprocal. This reciprocity is not always a moment-by-moment exchange. Sometimes the reciprocity takes place across months and years. What you value in friendship will be different from what I value; at the core of all friendship is, I believe, love. This love can be unspoken and reflected through words and actions. Love can be woven in belief and hope.
I have learned more about myself from friends' perspectives about me than I have learned about myself from thinking about myself.
I have learned
I am enough exactly as I am.
Nothing can ever take away the things that make me and my life brilliant.
I am worthy of love and kindness from my partner.
I deserve to be believed and not dismissed.
Being vulnerable can be met with vulnerability.
Trust myself. Trust my instincts.
It's okay not to be okay.
Taking medication for depression and anxiety is healthy.
Authenticity is beautiful.
I can do hard things.
To identify internalized beliefs that are draining and begin to replace them with life-giving beliefs.
Some friendships take more time than others to cultivate; some bloom right away and others may sprout when when the sunshine is Just Right. Either way, friendship is grown in a soil of love. Who is in your garden?