Love After Love
The time will come
when, with elation, you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door,
in your own mirror,
and each will smile at the other’s welcome
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread.
Give back yor heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.
Flipping through my recent issue of Spirituality & Health magazine I came upon this poem. It was like running into an old friend. I had a copy of this on my bedroom wall for years, and reminded my daughters of it. ”You know, the poem with the billowing curtains around it?” “Oh yea,” the said, feigning interest. I was delighted, regardless. When I first pinned it to my wall, I felt in my bones that it was true. Yet, I didn’t experience it, that notion of loving oneself. We’ve all heard it said that we can’t truly love another until we truly love ourselves. I know I have. A bazillion times. When I first discovered this poem I was going through a nasty divorce and found myself raising two small girls alone. I didn’t know how I was going to do this. I was afraid I would ruin the lives of these small angels. Didn’t know how I would financially support the three of us on my own as a massage therapist in a rural town. I felt unprepared. Alone. Beaten-down. Depleted. Exhausted. So I pinned this poem to my wall with the notion that maybe if I read it daily, something would shift. Loving myself felt a bit far-fetched. But perhaps it would at least help to quiet those punitive voices of criticism and self-doubt that ruled my days. I kept going, putting one foot in front of the other. Somehow, I’ve managed to support my family. Miraculously, I’ve raised two brilliant young women. No, we’re not done yet, they’re in their early- and mid-teens. But we’re a tight, loving, pretty dynamic family, if I do say so myself. My daughters are making their marks in the world in their own unique and beautiful ways, and I’m confident they will continue to do so. We’ve done alright. I have done alright. Have I come to truly love myself? Well, I still have a ways to go on that one. But I can look at myself in the mirror with joy and pride, even love. I’ve come a long way from those days of fear and exhaustion and self-doubt. Over the years I have learned how to give myself wine and bread. I am actually feasting on my own life.