FOUNDER LESLIE BENNETT’S STORY – LEARNING ABOUT THE SELF-LOVE SOUL MUSCLE THROUGH LOSS I whispered “I love you” as I held the love of my life, Bill Bennett, in my arms until the heart monitor made that long beep indicating that his heart stopped. He was gone. The moment of his last breath marked the end of hearing “I love you” or texts where he reminded me that “there was so much love in our house.” I didn’t linger too long staring at this lifeless body because I didn’t want to remember him in that state. Bill was so much more than to see him that way. He was my lifter when I was down. He was my cheerleader when I was going for my next job interview. He was my true life partner. A day never went by where he didn’t remind me that he loved me.
I felt hallow leaving the hospital without him. I was numb, empty, and brokenhearted. I was desperate to connect with anything physical so I could still feel him. I wanted to be in his clothes. I re-read his text messages to emblaze them into my being. I wanted to hear stories and memories because I wanted to relive every moment because I didn’t want to lose him. I wanted to feel him in those stories.
I was so attached to the feeling of being loved that I was looking for it in his items, words, or memories. This attachment, or what could almost be termed an addiction, went on for a couple of years before I realized why. It wasn’t that I was missing him (I was), but it was the constant reminder that I was loveable. In my grief, I tortured myself thinking that I was unlovable and that I found and lost the only man that could ever truly love me. I spent many hours feeling empty not realizing what I needed to start healing was my own relationship to myself. I needed to learn to love myself.
At the time of Bill’s death, I didn’t realize how badly I didn’t love myself. My career had just taken a left. The job I had when Bill died was not taken to further my career but for the paycheck to maintain our family stability. I wasn’t happy with my body or in my body. I was in a funk but the depth of it was masked by Bill’s daily reminders of love and of me to him. Our love for each other was powerful. In all those years we were together, I had neglected loving myself and didn’t realize it because I was being fed love externally. I couldn’t internally manifest loving myself. I almost didn’t know how; I didn’t even have the strength in those first couple of years after Billy’s death.
There is a saying that “loving yourself makes you indestructible.” I now understand the depth of that statement. I know that if I had self-love for myself when I lost Bill, I wouldn’t have suffered those many years in my addiction. Healing my broken heart meant learning to look inward. I had to find things that I could love about myself.
“Loving yourself makes you indestructible” -unknown
I didn’t realized how badly I neglected myself until years later, after I started working on myself from the inside out. With Bill, it is so easy to hide from myself when I obtained loving affirmations from him. It is easier to seek outside enforcement of feeling accepted and loved, then to do it myself. We often go to great lengths changing who we are to chase those feelings. We become versions of ourselves so others will like us, thus feeding that addiction to be loved. We do it so much that at some point you don’t recognize who you are. Now, I was lucky I didn’t need to change when it came to my love story. My lack of self-love came from neglect.
In healing from grief, self-love became my first soul muscle that needed to get into soul shape. “Love yourself, you are indestructible” has become my core truth and important to surviving any curves in my journey. I found the self-love soul muscle has many components to it, here are just a few to begin this soul muscle workout.
Identify what you love about you Open your heart by taking time to identify what you love about yourself. We have a great tool that we will share with you in the coming months, called the Quesadilla of Awesome.
Release self-judgement Listen to how you talk to yourself or about yourself to others. Is the voice in your head speaking to you in positive or negative tones? I bet it is the later. It is time to stop judging who you are and shifting it into being the best version of you. This one took a lot of my attention to change.
Forgive yourself Start by forgiving yourself for thinking you are anything less than the best version of yourself. In a future post I will share my personal forgiveness story because learning forgiveness was key to me allowing myself to love me again.
Taking time to nurture We have all heard the advice that we need to make time for ourselves. It’s about being deliberate with how we spend our time. It is for other’s needs or is it serving your soul?
I encourage you to take time to assess your self-love soul muscle. Take the first assessment by looking yourself in the mirror and say, “I love you.” If it feels awkward then it’s time to fall back in love with you. Continue this exercise until you look forward to the good morning, “I love you” every day. If it feels natural to tell yourself “I love you”, then you are on your way to being indestructible.