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Madeleine Eames

- Psychotherapist
- Mindfulness Teacher

Key #5: Loving Yourself Back to Life at Midlife

Let love be my first and last stop on this journey.

And may I find as many moments of love as I can in between.


I always thought self-love was over-rated. I thought, what about all our other emotions, our anger, our rage and shame? They count too! I was so aware of spiritual bypassing as I had bypassed myself most of my life. So self-love seemed like a cop-out. Anything other than the whole deal of darkness and light I scoffed at.

All you need is love sounded so cliche to me. You also need boundaries, to let some people go and to go deep into the darkness of trauma to be truly healed.

Oh, how I had it all wrong and I don’t think I’m alone in this. I equated love with acceptance, which it turned out to be, but acceptance at the expense of myself. This is completely different.

We have been taught from a very young age to be good, to be selfless and giving at the expense of ourself. To be nice. To be loving. To be kind.

I had done all the mindful self-compassion meditations, changed my inner talk, loved my body, was kind to myself, rested often and tried to eat well. I was nice to people most of the time and tried to fight injustice. I thought I was on the path of self-love.

Then I realized that I had equated being kind and nice with love.

It couldn’t be farther from the truth. We have interpreted being good so we are liked, even loved and accepted, for love itself. We have so many spiritual leaders that preach love, but less that preach that you ARE love. This is a whole different ballgame, I found out.

Love is not something you need permission for. It’s not something you wait to find, and you certainly don’t have to go through anyone else, any leader or guru to find it.

I had even read things that pointed me in this direction but I still couldn’t find it. I looked everywhere and had glimpses when I felt good. But what about all the other times? Had I fallen out of love?

It wasn’t until I had done a massive amount of work that, in a moment of grace the doors to love fell open. I didn’t open them. I was invited to walk through them.

It was in a moment of feeling completely invisible again when I was younger that my nervous system finally felt safe enough that she could remain present and get curious rather than either moving to fawn (people-please) to move towards the threat in order to gain love, approval and validation. It came at the most surprising moment as I sat, void of any acknowledgement, a vast empty space that I filled with myself.

I felt the freeze response rising in my body, the flushed cheeks, the immobility that covered my limbs like a wet blanket and I remained present to it. I sat. I breathed.

I don’t know why it was this moment that changed everything, but it did.

I felt safe enough to be myself even within a trigger of old trauma of being invisible. We have all had moments of not being seen or heard, it’s part of childhood. But you can also grasp for decades to fill in an empty hole inside that you might not even know was there by doing more, learning more, being more, but the truth is …  it is impossible to be more. You are already whole, perfect and enough.

I only needed to allow this truth to be revealed.

I allowed the moments to tick by as life unfolded by itself in the most magical, and painful way. It’s only when we feel safe enough to be exactly who we are that effortless miracles can reveal themselves in our lives.

I got curious. I saw the truth. I was there, unseen by others, and it had nothing to do with me.

If angel choirs could have rung out, they would have. I had been granted freedom.

I visibly saw all the moments I had not been seen and I had not been able to see myself. 

I saw my face in every moment of invisibility. I was seeing myself and I realized that self-love is being acutely aware and present to oneself in any state. To hold oneself in love no matter what.

All the unseen parts of you, of your wholeness, are waiting. Patiently waiting in the shadows for just enough loving presence in a stable nervous system to come back and be held in loving presence. That presence was me. Is me. And it is you.

Love holds all the shame, the guilt, the trying parts, the anger, and also the brilliance and the gifts of being you. It loves your human nature with all your faults and mistakes. This, I realized, is why I am here. I am here to grow and have experiences and love myself through it all and show others the path.

I now know love. I truly had it backwards. I love myself because I am love. I can’t not be. I see the trying energy and I let her know we’re ok.

I feel like I discovered a super power that no-one can ever take away from me, because it is me. I am not here to change or fix myself or anyone else. I am only here to allow love.

Loving boundaries, fierce loving choices, loving anger, guilt, shame.. all the emotions can be held in love as passing states.

I now can’t imagine talking badly about myself. I would be hurting all my inner parts.

I can’t imagine treating myself badly, depriving myself of food, sleep or water.

I can’t imagine reprimanding myself for making mistakes. I would be hurting my inner child who is truly doing her best and always has.

I see love everywhere. In people, trees, the soil and the hills. In the night sky.

Now I understand what love is, and what it isn’t.

If you have ever been made to feel not enough, not worthy, or not lovable, I want you to know that this is a lie that the world is based on. That might be enough to love yourself back to life and breathe fully again.

You are not here to be punished, to beg for forgiveness, or permission.

You ARE your own permission. Love all your parts and you will come alive.

It took me years to arrive at this point of grace but I don’t think it could have come earlier. I hope it does for you.

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