I remember how warm his hand felt wrapped around mine. How safe it made me feel as we crossed the Dublin streets.
I remember the way we laughed until we cried as the piano solo began. Front row, center, we tried to hold it in but only laughed harder.
I remember the joy and innocence in her eyes the first time she heard a flute. And the tears I held back watching.
I remember the way she braided my wet hair and smoothed the waves in the morning. Angel hair, she called it.
I remember the summer days we spent on our bikes. We ruled the city then.
I remember the music in his voice when he exclaimed, “The stars!” as he pointed out the kitchen window. And his giggles, like bells, when he discovered that they were twinkle lights. Somehow, that made it more magic.
I remember hot chocolate on stormy nights and walking to the music store on snow days.
I remember dancing in the driveway as if I’d only ever danced.
I remember the old, red Explorer and my fingers floating through the air as I turned the corner.
I remember, too, pinching imaginary fat as I inspected my reflection. I remember the time he told me that my voice would scare the children. The time he mocked me for aiming too high. When he said I was a poor conversationalist.
I remember the ladder theory about relationships. Wiping tears of mascara from my cheeks so I could get out of the car and go inside. When they stopped returning my calls. When she called me a lousy role model.
These memories are all part of the wholeness of me, the moments that taught me about love and loyalty and what it really means to be strong. And these are a few of the many beautiful reasons to see myself as someone worth caring about.
All of us have stories of rising from the fall, healing from the pain, and going on to hope and believe and try again.
Each of us can look back and find amazement for all we’ve celebrated and all we’ve survived. No matter what we believe on our worst days, ours is a story of fortitude, not failure. It’s a human story we all share, and I can’t believe I get to live it.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been fascinated by how and why we suffer and thrive and the power of the stories we tell ourselves. (Even as a child. I tried to heal my cat with the soundtrack to The Chipmunk’s Great Adventure and counseled classmates on the playground.)
Over the years, my fascination’s grown into a burning desire to find another way through and share it with the world.
Through trial and error and thousands of hours in my psychotherapy practice, I’ve developed a personal framework for living the kind of loving intentions that foster inner strength and serenity.
I’ve shared this framework with clients, in groups and workshops, with friends and family, and it’s the framework I go back to when I’m hurting and don’t know what to do. I’ve learned that wherever we’re starting from, the steps through are always the same:
- Establish your intention to be loyal to yourself.
- Show up and pay attention without judging what’s happening.
- Speak to yourself with compassion and constructive guidance.
- Take heartfelt, restorative action.
- Dedicate yourself to practicing these steps.
Now, I want to share this framework with you.
I wrote it all down and put it in a guidebook, How to Have Your Back: Simple Instructions for Loving Yourself Through the Ups and Downs in Life. I filled the book with lessons in self-love, step-by-step instructions for practicing in the good times and bad, self-assessments to measure your growth as you work through the book, reflection questions for putting these ideas into your own words, and tips on what to do when loving yourself is hard.
How to Have Your Back is available in paperback and ebook through Amazon. (And the audio book should be ready any day now!) When you order now, you can also sign up to have the first full lesson in audio and pdf plus the free Self-Love Set book bonus emailed to you.
In the book and the bonuses, I’m sharing actionable steps for integrating loving intentions and loyalty to yourself into your daily life. Click here to go deeper into the intentions behind loving yourself and living from the heart, visit leslieralph.com/howtohaveyourback.
Your own love is curative,
P.S. Seeing the goodness in you and embracing your whole story is just once piece of loving yourself through life. I’ll guide you through all the loving intentions behind self-love in How to Have Your Back.