Martin Luther King, Jr. was referring to opposing forces when he said, “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.” This is one of my all time favorite quotes. I hold a deep belief that light is always bigger than dark; forgiveness takes far more courage than anger; and that while the path can feel slower and harder, love always wins over fear and hate. These values hold strong and true when I think of the discourse of the world. But, today for the first time I read this quote and thought about how I could apply it to myself. I immediately stopped in my tracks.
For years my self-hatred was so deep, and the burden of that hatred was so heavy. On the outside I tried to appear like everything was OK. I led with my ego, and fed it constantly to cover the amount I didn’t like myself. If I had the right look, the right job, the right friends, the right boyfriend – then I would love myself. By all outside appearances, I had quite the high self-esteem and sense of worth. On the inside, I beat myself up over the smallest of things. I lived in constant anxiety and fear that someone would see the façade to the truth. I believed the truth was that I was unworthy of love.
Despite growing up with the most loving parents, brother, friends, support system that anyone could ever ask for, there was something in me broken. I’m eternally grateful that I was born into such love from others, because they comforted me beyond what they will ever know. I can’t imagine what the burden of self would have felt like without their love.
Today I am blessed to know their love AND my own love. I hit a turning point in my life where I decided that hate was too great a burden to bear. Through lots of hard work – and I do mean work –and I went on a journey to healing that brokenness. I’ve done work on my physical, mental and spiritual health. They all work together to bring us to a place of peace.
Letting go of hating myself, and learning to love myself was one of the hardest and best things I have ever done. The irony is that now I don’t have to try so hard to show up or look OK. Today, I’m honest with where I’m at whether I’m experiencing great joy or in a place of pain. Today, I let my light always shine and know that it is there even when darkness emerges. Today, I know that I’m on this planet for a reason and it’s not selfish to actually love myself. By loving myself I’m able to show up for others in a way that I always wanted to. I’m able to give back to my family, friends, community. I am able to be the person that so many saw that I already was.
To my dear readers, if you are struggling, please know, you are loved by many and you are worth learning to love yourself.