When Self-Love Isn’t Loving… – Susie & Otto Collins

house on the hillI was just about to turn 26 years old when one of my attempts at self-love (and to be loving to my wife at the time) turned into the biggest disaster of my life.

What happened was, one day our next door neighbor who was a contractor and home builder) told me that he was going to buy a piece of land not far from us and build a brand new, totally amazing home on the property.

He was so excited and made it sound so easy that I started getting excited about doing the same thing.

The longer he and I talked about it, the more it sounded doable.

To make a really long story short, he (and we) decided to go in together and buy not just the piece of land he was originally going to buy…

But we would buy the property next to that one as well and he would build two houses instead of just one and we’d continue being neighbors and friends.

Only then, instead of living in small starter homes, we’d both have really nice, custom made homes up on this hill in the woods with very few neighbors and total privacy.

Big problem.

The home our contractor friend was building for us came in way over budget, our old house never sold and my wife became pregnant.
Plus, our son was born with major (at the time) health problems.

When it was all said and done–this attempt at self-love by “going for my dreams” and building this big house
on the hill that we couldn’t truly afford…

Culminated in what would come to be known by me as my “3 years of hell.”

Maybe someday I’ll share more of the specific details of what happened in the aftermath.

But for now, let’s just say that by the time this 3 year period was over, I felt totally alone, defeated and abandoned–even by God.

Looking back at me in my early twenties, I was simply young, dumb and so full of false confidence in myself that I could have been considered arrogant, conceited and cocky.

I also had almost no self awareness.

I hadn’t yet figured out the importance of asking myself the “deeper questions” as I made important decisions about moving forward in my life…

And slowing down.

After my “3 years of hell,” I was no longer cocky, arrogant or conceited.

I didn’t have an ounce of real or even false confidence left in me.

Somebody once said that life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans and that’s certainly what happened to me.

Since then, I’ve been on a 30 year journey of learning about self love and learning to love myself.

It hasn’t always been easy but my focus since then has been among other things) about learning to love me and learning self awareness so I know the difference between when I’m truly loving myself and when I’m coming from some wounded place I’m still carrying forward from my past.

I’ve learned that there’s always a reason for everything  we do.

Always.

No Exceptions.

Sometimes we’re aware of the reasons and sometimes we’re not.

What I’m finding in my life is that there’s a big difference between doing something to try to put a salve over an old wound so you don’t feel it and call that thing love…

Versus doing something that’s a true act of self-love.

These days, it’s the self-awareness piece and how self-aware I am that helps me be more (or less) able to love myself in each and every moment.

I’ve found a few questions extremely helpful along the way in my quest for more self-love.

These are (but certainly aren’t limited to) questions like…

“Why am I doing this?” and then following up with another similar but different question…

“Why am I really doing this?”

These two questions are pure gold in allowing more self-love because they help you get to the truth.

And finally, I like to ask myself…

“What would having, doing or being THIS give me that I don’t already have?”

Years later when I could finally look back on the 3 years of hell with some objectivity and less shame and answer these questions for myself about the decision to build the big house on the hill…

I can see that my motivations were based on fear…

–Fear that my wife wouldn’t be happy unless I gave her a nice house

–Fear that unless I went in with my neighbor on this “deal,” he’d think less of me

–Fear that I wouldn’t appear “successful” to other people if I didn’t do this

Of course, I’ve realized that I have no way of knowing if any of those things were true.

What I’ve found is that anything I think I need to be truly happy, content, fulfilled, successful, loved or anything else isn’t true.

Everything I need to be any or all of the things I think will bring me more self-love is an illusion.

I am already love.

I was created from love.

I am love.

It’s just that sometimes I forget this.

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