My Story: Love the One You’re With

My Story: Love the One You’re With

By Cynthia Toussaint.

One of my all-time favorite and most healing self-care tools is something I’m fortunate to have always possessed but learned about only recently. In fact, I never knew it had a name.

I practice mindfulness meditation most every day and a couple of months ago I pulled up a random video on YouTube. The guide’s subject was “self-love” which, because it seemed obvious, intrigued me. My thinking was, “How can someone not love themself? Why is this something that needs to be learned and practiced?”

Cynthia Toussaint

So, naturally, I began practicing and now I’m hooked. Through practice, I’ve learned to love myself better which in turn allows me to take deeper care of myself and enjoy ever-mounting wellness. Hey, pain can really do a nasty number on us and it’s easy to fall down the rabbit hole of self-contempt. We battle so many demons each and every day. One of them shouldn’t be ourselves.

We need to be our own best friend, no matter how much physical pain we’re in or how isolated, anxious or depressed we feel. Let’s face it, self-loathing just makes us sicker. The good news is that if we’re strong and brave enough, we can all do better with self-love. I know because I’m on my way.

Through self-love meditation tapes, I’m learning boatloads – and am convinced that we can all benefit. I’m talking about things like truly loving our authentic-selves, unconditionally, inside and out. That means loving our good traits as well as what we consider the bad ones. Loving ourselves for what we’ve achieved and what we haven’t yet, while letting go of unrealistic expectations. Also letting go of judgment of ourselves and others. OK, this is tough stuff, but I’ve learned over the years that women in pain are pretty tough customers!

Another biggie is taking a close look at our inner dialogue. There’s constant chatter inside our heads – and what we say is powerful and we come to believe it. The problem is that many, if not most of us with pain, are in a constant state of tearing ourselves down. We need to flip that negativity on its head and with practice, build a positive inner dialogue. One that gives us health and well-being.

Another self-love top of the list item is practicing gratitude. At night, no matter how hard the day, I like to say five new things that I’m grateful for – and I’m amazed at how that list often doubles, even triples. The items can be as seemingly insignificant as having felt the sun on my face for a brief moment or hearing my kitty purr when I woke. These moments are gold and I no longer take them for granted.

Perhaps most difficult is practicing gratitude for our bodies despite the pain. I find it miraculous to think about all my body does well every day, every moment, without me even being aware of it. We can fall into the trap of shaping our identity as well as our body experience around our pain and the suffering it causes. In the past, I’ve been guilty as sin of flat-out forgetting that my body could actually bring me pleasure because there seemed to be nothing but pain in my world. Now it’s different.

We’ve all heard this next one a million times, but I never really listened till I practiced self-love. We give it lip service, but do we really understand that it’s impossible to love someone else without loving ourselves first? And for our caregiving friends, I believe it’s impossible to help another without first helping yourself. I’ve had the most loving and giving partner for 38 years (only two with wellness) – and I know without a speck of doubt that I wouldn’t have that devotion without possessing a strong foundation of self-love.

It’s important for me to remember that what I put out into the world will be, by and large, returned. I welcome my day with a smile. I’m kind and truly like to help people, animals and the planet. In fact, I’m known for my bubbly good nature. Despite that, often when someone hears my chronic illness story they’re stunned and remind me that I have nothing to smile about. Clearly they haven’t gotten the memo that self-love is transcendent and carries the day.

On a dark note, suicide is something I grappled with for several decades. Forever it seemed I was certain that’s how I would finally escape my pain and agony. But I’ve never acted on that notion. Why? Only one thing has ever made sense to me. I love and respect myself too much.

Eating well, exercising and laughing are included on my action list of self-love. In our inner world of pain, not to mention the bigger current climate of disconnect and unkindness, it’s nothing short of revolutionary to love ourselves. The damnedest thing, though, is that we can.

Do it. Right now. Love the one you’re with.

Cynthia Toussaint founded For Grace in 2002. It is a non-profit organization headquartered in Los Angeles dedicated to bringing awareness to gender disparity in the treatment of pain. She is also a frequent contributor to the National Pain Report.

Featured image credit: ID 91537850 © Ivelinr | Dreamstime.com

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ElizabethR

With all due respect, positive thinking and “self love” aren’t the key for everyone. I’m glad they apparently work for you, but battling chronic pain in today’s atmosphere at age 82 doesn’t lend itself to simple resolution. I’ve tried non-medication approaches (PT, chiropractic, massage therapy) as well as a variety of non-opioid medications and have yet to find an alternative that actually works.

I expected to have some aches and pains as I got old, but I didn’t sign up for being in serious pain all day every day. I intend to keep on keeping on as long as I can, but longevity is NOT always a gift. Pain can turn one’s “golden years” into a bad joke. I expect to see the suicide rate rise as people are deprived of pain relief.

Maureen M.

Cynthia, as always, it is great to hear from you.
Your post is beautifully written and is a reminder to stop and smell the roses…
to give our painful bodies some attention and learn more about who we now truly are, with acceptance and love.
For many of the early years of my Pain Journey I fought this body of mine big time! I was angry and confused., Always chasing the cure, not understanding why I hurt so badly (since doctors don’t explain because they don’t have a clue most of the time!), having more surgeries etc etc.
Until one day I said ‘enough’! I could no longer deal with the depressing days of such great struggle and my losses.
And so I began to shift gears, went to therapy and learned to accept that I have to love the new person I had become.
Self love is so important in our survival with chronic pain and illness.

Peggy

Cynthia, you are amazing! I loved your article. I have never thought about self love for a very long time but intend to di so in the future.

Judie Plumley

I really need this today. I am trying so hard to pick up the pieces of my life. I will add your suggestions to my pain toolbox. Thanks!

Steven

Beautiful Cynthia, But what about having our pain medication taken away? I hurt so bad before and now I want to do like you said but honestly I do not know how much more I can take. The government is out of control and are serious about cutting us clear off meds until we are off the bridge. I honestly think pain meds are a thing of the past and so will I be. What is mindful about that?

chuck darrah

I have to tell you, I know your intentions are good but the kind of constant horrific pain a lot of us have is not going to be reduced to where we get our lives back with out opiod medication.My wife and I spent our life savings and a 2nd mortgage trying every alternative so called pain reliever out there.Medical marijuana does not work for people like me.I have been injured disabled for 19 years in horrible pain and I am told it will continue to get worse.I can not belief another human being would make us suffer like this especially since all their data is fictional.They have convinced everyone with the media’s help that we are all garbage addicts, including doctors, hospitals etc who want nothing to do with us. Our spouses sit by and suffer with us as they see the constant agony we are suffering.All we can fight with is the millions of chronic pain patient’s votes; speak out let your voice be heard, don’t sit back and expect others to do it for you; our plight is only going to continue to get worse.

Karen C.

I also have RSD/CRPS Cynthia and you touched on something I desperately needed to hear right now. I gained 60lbs. since my diagnosis and my husband decided he didn’t want a sick and chubby wife. I’ve lost some of the weight but I’m having a hard time losing the rest of it (thanks Gabapentin). I can’t wait to start doing your suggestions and I know I can begin loving myself again, I just need to put in the work! Thank you so much for this wonderful article, I really needed it.

David Cole

This is some good stuff, I have recently started working on meditation and thinking about what I can do rather than what I can’t.
Thanks for the Post.

Jodawn

❤️
Cynthia, you are amazing as always!

Jess

Great Article Cynthia! I’ve herd about self love time and time again and I’m pretty harsh on myself. I really do need to love myself more, take care of the body I have, take care of myself more! I need attention from myself.lol 😊

Recently my husband had a heart attack and he really isn’t doing well, they couldn’t completely fix him and since the end of May ( his 1st heart attack and hospital stay ) I’ve been pretty depressed and quite honestly scared to death, it definitely made me realize how precious life really is , I just lost my 35 yr old brother in November 2017 so having my husband almost not be in my life seriously scared me, especially after losing my brother. At 1st after my husband had a heart attack I was really strong for him & im proud of that. Recently tho idk I’m just sad. So idk how do I get out of this funk and start loving myself again and realizing that every single minute of every day is precious. Tonight bf I read this I’m laying next to my husband of almost 19 yrs and together 20, and I face him and really just look at him and play with his beard while he is drifting off to sleep thinking how much I love this man and how lucky I am to have him and how lucky I am that I had another day with him, hopefully many many more! I actually felt good today after a mth bout of fibromyalgia/ cfs flares and literally makings myself sick physically. I usually can’t sleep like right now, but during this bout I seriously couldn’t keep my eyes open and I was sad I missed out on precious time with my husband and kids. So this is a good reminder, tho I’ve herd this since I was a teen or even pre-teen, that I need to take care of myself and love me more. Honestly I do love myself, I’m bubbly like you, I’m silly and I’m romantic and fun. Then trama happens and my mind nd just goes to horrible places. I have suicidal ideation, no I’m not going to , bc I love what I made..,.a beautiful family of my own. Plus I do lov3 myself too much to go. I’m honestly not myself , I mean we’re are humans in pain right? So sometimes I go bk to my dark days. I’ve been in pain alittle over 10yrs and my husband is not only the love of my life, he was my caregiver & now it’s my turn to be his. So again ty for this article and I need to look into some self love motivation. I’m thankful for all the days with my husband and kids 💜

Virginia

Oh, Cynthia, you’ve just said exactly what Jesus has been telling us all for thousands of years if all we would do is come to Him, He would show us how to love ourselves, and others. He has proven that He loves us more than anyone else by giving His life for us, even while we never knew Him, nor loved Him, nor ourselves.
God bless you for this message, Cynthia, but instead of those tapes, may I suggest Jesus instead?

Rebecca Davis

Beautiful, Cynthia. Thank you. Namaste 🙏