Healing my heart: A quest for love

Allowing the heart to open up and let in the love that is offered from the world and the people who occupy it is a constant practice. I am a person with a fortress of walls. I have dragons and moats and oubliettes. People often get eaten by the dragons, drown in the moats and tumble into the oubliettes. A precious few make it through to the caverns of my heart.

I crave love so, I run from it—there is a part of me, (some days large, some days small) which believes I am not lovable. This comes from being given up for adoption as a child, growing up in a family that did not reflect me, having white friends who did not value me, and a society which tells me I am wrong simply for existing. I am also pretty weird and empathetic, so finding a place where I fit in has always been difficult. I have always felt like an outcast in every social situation I found myself in.

Over the past few months I have had the honor of finding people who do not make me feel othered. They are Black and brown and queer and straight, and spiritual and nerdy and weird and rad and fierce and I love them dearly. The only problem is, I am now in a space where I want to delve deeper into relationships, but I find myself lacking some of the necessary tools to forge the bonds I am after. Fortunately, I don’t give up easily, I am slowly wading into the waters of connection.

Receiving love from others begins with receiving love from myself. There four basic things that I do every day to help me to love myself and teach myself that I am worthy and capable of incredible love and compassion.

  1. I stretch. Every day…well, almost. I released a lot of tension and trauma during the four days I spent at the Shambhala POC meditation retreat at Sky Lake in Rosendale, N.Y. Every day we did yoga and not only did it stretch my body, but it helped to clear away the stress, settle me back into my body, become reacquainted with my breath. So, in the morning I wake up, stretch and breathe.
  2. I drink a jar of water. Making sure I stay hydrated allows me to feel energized and kicks my system into gear. It makes my skin and hair smooth and moves toxins out of my body so that I don’t feel bogged down. That and I want this melanin to stay poppin’ long into the future.
  3. I interrupt negative thinking. I tell myself that I am doing “such a good job” and that “I am so proud of myself” because if I don’t clap for me, who else will? I am incredibly hard on myself. My inner voice is foolishly abusive and so interrupting the sessions of abuse is helpful in creating a new narrative. If I am able, I try to identify the voice who is speaking: Is it my mother, boss, a mean teacher, the racist down the street? Who is speaking to me in such a cruel way? I will also correct the narrative moving forward. Often when I am stressed, I say “Fuck” loudly and with gusto. When this happens, I like to check in and see if “fuck” is really my mood, or if maybe something else going on. Usually I swear in response to something which triggers my anxiety, at which point I like to talk to myself about it. “Fuckkkkkkkk!” “No, LaLa, you’re fine. You’re not running late. You’re making yourself food which is important because you need to eat and nourish yourself. You are doing such a good job. You are fine.” This may sound silly, but it is important to be kind to ourselves, to love on ourselves. I try to speak to myself as a stern but loving parent to a child, because in those moments, that is what I am. I am raising myself.
  4. The fourth thing I do is listen to music. Simple, easy way to raise my frequency, work out my emotions and belt out a few tunes in the process (sorry neighbors!) It is no secret that music is therapy. Combine the right notes with the right chords and some killer harmonies and take me away. I have playlists which work me through a range of emotions, starting out sad or angry and ending contemplative or joyful. Music has been in my life since I was a child learning to play to violin, and it has stuck with me as my go to for healing myself and my heart.

The surest way to letting others love me is for me to love myself. It’s taken me 28 years to believe that I am worthy of love, and that my body is worthy of being cared for. I have just begun to look in the mirror and appreciate that I am getting older. Honor that I am on this planet to stay. There is something scary about that, committing to being present. Since I am going to be here, I’m going to be here for love. I have a difficult time connecting, but I am changing that narrative, one day at a time. Using these for tools as a base, I am adding more and growing each day.


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4 thoughts on “Healing my heart: A quest for love

  1. “When this happens, I like to check in and see if “fuck” is really my mood, or if maybe something else going on.”

    So true. Sometimes cursing is a short-circuit, with the definition of short-circuit that means to ” shorten (a process or activity) by using a more direct (but often improper) method.” So basically, a short-cut.

    Sometimes cursing is a short-cut out of a mood or thought and it helps to– as you said– check in and investigate the truth of situation.

    The complicated thing is that some feelings or thoughts or situations are themselves short-cuts out of other feels or thoughts or situations, so you could have a complex chain of short-circuits.

  2. My heart goes out to you and I wish I could do more. Since 2004, I have been helping a former student, brown-skinned and of African ancestry, who was on her own at 16. She has made progress but still needs those “tips” from time to time, and my retirement means don’t allow extravagance. Not all white people are well off. I would affirm you are valuable, much more literate than most, and equal to me or anyone else. You deserve happiness and fulfillment. May it be so.

    • Hi Katherine,

      I think it’s wonderful that you are helping this person. To take it a step further into recognizing some of the patterns of language and thought that white people have would be really important for the black and brown people that white people interact with. I’m far from perfect, and I noticed a couple of things that you said that I have some observations about that I would like for you to consider.

      I think everyone is well aware that not all white people are well off, and you don’t need to feel guilty about that or defend your privilege as a white person with that reminder.

      Also, I think commenting on black and brown people’s literacy is a common and tiresome theme. Usually it goes like this: “You are so articulate!” The word you chose, ‘literate’, means that someone has the ability to read and write. I don’t know if I have the knowledge or experience to break this down in a very, well, articulate way. It’s like when I have to surprise a man about my ability to do carpentry as a woman, every single time, every single man. Some comment on it, some don’t. I can still see a “that’s unsusual” light go off in their head even if they don’t say anything. This is about feminism, and it’s not a comparable experience to having your intelligence something that has to be proven to every white person, having one’s intelligence a matter of question due to the color of your skin. When your intelligence is recognized or mentioned, it’s pretty much a race thing, even if you are comparing this person to all people…. and even if you don’t realize that it’s racist.

      I think if you recognize the pattern of white people remarking on black and brown people’s intelligence you’ll understand how your comment fits in to that pattern.

      Thank you for listening – it’s important that we check our own and each other’s language. It’s going to be a long process, but we have to do this work and I hope that you are able to receive my input.

  3. Thank you for this beautiful piece. All of LaLa Drew’s writing here is resonant beyond words. Hoping for a book of her work. And thank you for the blog. It gives more, better meaning to lives in Maine.

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