The main post is here. Click on over to BlogHer and comment on what the expert has to say.
As an extra incentive, there's a sweepstakes to enter, too.
So, BlogHer wants me to weigh in on these questions:
How do you practice self-acceptance and find unconditional love for yourself?
How does practicing love first help you attract more love and happiness in your life?
I'm so glad they asked. It's a topic on which I've been ruminating since I was shot 13 months ago. I was responsible for my girlfriend's daughter and something terrible happened before I could bring her home. I held her hand and I looked into her eyes and I told her that she was loved but I couldn't bring her home. Typing that used to make me sob. Today, I am smiling.
It's not that I'm not sad. I miss Christina-Taylor every day of the week. It's that I have arrived at a place of self-acceptance which, while it may not be unconditional love just yet, is coming pretty close.
I've never doubted the wisdom of taking a 9 year old to meet her Congresswoman. I'd do it again tomorrow. I never second guessed the venue; it's about as up-scale as the Northwest side of Tucson gets. I never wondered if I'd dragged an unwilling child along; her mom and I had that conversation which ended with "She loves going anywhere with you." It's the conversation I am happiest to have had.
But, still, Christina died while she was with me. Getting my brain around that fact took patience and therapy and believing that the love which was surrounding me was real. For a snarky New York heathen, that took some doing. Yes, indeed, it did. Ultimately, I had to accept the fact that the world is a scarier place than I'd imagined it possibly could be, and that, bizarrely, CTG and I had been at the center of it that Saturday morning.
Thinking out of the box never felt so relevant. I had absolutely no box in which to contain the notion that bullets had perforated my body. I was totally unprepared. That infuriated me. I took pride in the fact that life rarely surprised me. Thrown into the deep end, I'd swim to the side and figure out what to do next. Awake and immobile in a hospital bed, I vacillated between questioning and whimpering. Should I be strong? Should I give in and wail? Could I close my eyes and let Little Cuter and SIR manage what needed managing? What was the right thing to do? Who was I?
Was I the neighbor who was holding the little girl's hand? Was I the gym rat who would not let a few bullets get in her way? Was I the person sobbing uncontrollably in the shower, crying over feeling clean and feeling pain and feeling loss? Where had my sense of self gone?
The hospital brought me cards and notes which had been left at the vigil. Strangers thought I was special. People who didn't know me wished me well. I wanted to reject them but I couldn't - my heart felt warmer as I read I am sorry you got shot and We are praying for you and Stay Strong.
I'm not exaggerating about the warmth surrounding my heart. It was there, a giant hug that felt every bit as real as the pain radiating down my right side. I took my laptop and I began to write, and as I posted and readers responded I began to heal from the inside out. For the first time in my life, I was not second-guessing a compliment, not looking for the hidden agenda behind good wishes. I was raw and open and my friends and my readers and my family were there to cosset me and envelop me in their love. It would have been churlish to refuse them.
Accepting help with grace has been a challenge. Liking the person that others see when they look at me has made it much easier. I never thought that I was all that special. I was doing what I liked with the people that I liked and I never understood why some thought that what I was doing was odd... unusual... remarkable... notable. I was just me. I wasn't used to people telling me that they loved me. After all, I didn't hear it from my father until I was 41 years old.
Lying in my hospital bed, reclining on Douglas (the couch, for you newbies to The Burrow), watching the sun move across the horizon over 3 months of enforced inactivity, I had plenty of time to figure out who I was. I decided to believe the people who loved me. I decided to accept the hugs from strangers in the produce aisle. I decided that I must be worthy of affection, for surely the entire town of Tucson could not be possessed by the same form of mania. It must be real.
And, watching others take pride in my walking makes me stand up straighter and engage my quads more fully and proceed with alacrity instead of with a lurch. As I smile, others smile back. Rhonda-at-the-check-out tells me she's noticing improvements. I tell her it's because she's smiling at me.
I'm not sure that I've fully embraced the wonderfulness that others see. I've had 60 years of insecurity and that's not easy to overcome. But, as the love is returned in ever increasing degrees of amplitude, it's getting easier and easier. And, as I relax into it, as I stop apologizing and denigrating and shrugging, as I nod and agree and invite you into my world I'm realizing that, perhaps, I can allow myself to believe it, too.