"Hello Jin," I whispered into my folded arms, my hands clutching around my sides, feeling my quivering ribs beneath my desperate fingers. "It's OK Jin," I hold myself and try not to cry, try to just breathe into the moment, to tap into the infinite joy that exists, always, in the stillness of the present. "I love you, Jin," the tears well up regardless, my words come out choked and broken, and they sound completely foreign to my ears. Had I ever said them before..? Had I truly almost-reached 30 and never once told myself how much I mean to me? How beautiful I am? How strong and proud and determined and wonderfully, shatteringly human I am? I've shouted it from digital rooftops, I've screamed it in laughing faces and graffitied it on walls under cover of night.. but have I ever said any of it to Myself??
I never knew I needed to. I've spent my whole life looking at love's dancing, warped reflection on the water, trying to achieve what was only an illusion.
"I love you, Jin."
I say it daily now. I say it, and I mean it.
Or at the very least, I'm learning to mean it more every day. They don't teach you this in Hollywood.
February is the month of love. Or, at the very least, everything even remotely considered romantic has it's prices jacked the fuck up for the whole month. Candles, roses, hotel rooms, anything soft, cute and fuzzy: all of them get a nice price boost for all the poor fellas out there who are obligated (I mean it, just bite the bullet and do it) to come home with a box of chocolate and a terrible, terrible teddy bear.
Sure, it's commercial as fuck, but at least as a society we've decided that there's one day a year that everyone deserves to feel and celebrate love.
But when, I wonder, is the holiday to celebrate self-love?
Where's the holiday where we each get ourselves something nice, or do something special for ourselves, or write ourselves cheesy poetry or even just give ourselves a little extra leeway for once because we've universally declared this a day of self-love dammit! Just like every day should be.
Because without self-love, there's no love at all.
Maybe, like me, you've been told that you are loved over and over your whole life, but you never felt it. Maybe the people who said those important words, never showed their sincerity in them. Maybe you grew up resigned to be alone forever, because the ones that love you are the ones that leave you. Maybe the only love you've ever known is pain. And maybe, like me, you've struggled to accept love, to embrace love, to share love, only to realize that the only person you've ever needed love from, has never said those magical words to you before.
Maybe you've never said "I love you" to yourself either.
(Do it now.)
Maybe, because you never have loved yourself.
(It's OK, you can get there.)
Maybe, because you never knew that you needed to.
(You do. More than anything; You do.)
Maybe, you never knew that you could.
Or maybe you're amazing and you KNOW IT and you tell yourself how much you love you every god damn day while high fiving your butt-ass naked self in the mirror! Yay!!!
I honestly fucking hope that you do. Because I fucking love you, and that means absolutely nothing if you don't love yourself first.
If I can learn to love me, and to SAY it, and to MEAN it, so can you. And trust me, you deserve it.
Nobody deserves it more.
All images are ©Gail Kilker Photography 2016
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Just don't be a douche; credit the talents who made 'em.
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