by Leslie Ann Ellingburg
As Queen Lizzo sings:
‘Cause I’m my own soulmate (Yeah, yeah)
I know how to love me (Love me)
I know that I’m always gonna hold me down
Yeah, I’m my own soulmate (Yeah, yeah)
No, I’m never lonely (Lonely)
I know I’m a queen but I don’t need no crown
Look up in the mirror like damn she the one
She is on to something here, we are our own soulmates and to be complete we don’t need another person. It’s a hard truth to accept and fully lean into when our society values relationships. It makes sense. If we look at relationships through a sociological and anthropological lens, they serve a function. Relationships build societies, culture, create safety and protection, and serve a purpose of reproduction. Humans are social beings and part of that socialness is that of building relationships–especially those who we want to “settle down” with.
If you’ve been in any form of couples counseling or have heard anything about healthy relationships, it’s important to be your own person and to love yourself. To know who you are outside of your relationship. It kind of reminds me of the infamous RuPaul quote, “If you can’t love yourself how the hell you going to love anyone else?”. There is so much truth and power in her outro. For years I watched Drag Race and was like that’s such a nice sentiment. But it wasn’t until I turned thirty, started to connect to myself, and eventually leaving my marriage, did I learn how to truly love myself. I thought I was loving myself but I wasn’t.
I thought loving myself was taking care of others–my clients, my family, my husband. Serving them and putting their needs and wants before my own. I was raised with the adage that it’s kind to serve others and to put your husband first.
I thought loving myself was making myself small and not taking up space. To not be a pain or burden to those around me. When I was in the midst of a gastro flare up I would do all I could to take care of it myself and not ask for help. Even if I was writhing on the floor puking my guts out. I took care of my recovery and even when my eating disorder voice wanted me to relapse and that area was looking very gray, I just kept it all to myself. Not to worry others or make their situations or stress seem less.
I thought loving myself was making myself presentable for others. Dressing and adorning myself in a way they wanted me to appear. Covering myself and not coloring my hair or doing things that I always wanted. But still treating myself to spa days, manis and pedis, and treating myself to clothes.
But this was pseudo self love. It didn’t do anything for me. Self love is loving who you are–the good, the bad, the alright, the imperfections, the dimples, pimples, your super loud obnoxious gut laugh, and the fact that you crave attention and affection.
I started putting myself first and doing little things that made me happy–like buying flowers. I got tired of waiting around for someone to buy me flowers. So I started buying them because I LOVE them and they make me smile. Every Sunday after my tennis lessons–another thing I started to do for myself, I bought flowers and made flower arrangements.
I dyed my hair blue. Something I always wanted to do, but felt like I couldn’t. I also began getting my hair done more often because it made me feel pretty and confident and I’ve been through hell and I deserve it. I started wearing crop tops and while I always ended up wearing what I wanted, I truly started living up to the fashionista I always wanted to be.
I stood up for myself. That was the biggest self love act of all.
Leslie Ann Ellingburg is a trauma informed movement educator based out of Tennessee. She is a certified exercise physiologist through the American College Sports Medicine (ACSM), dance teacher, a certified Yoga Instructor with over 800 hours of teaching, holds Levels 1 & 2 of the Yoga 4 Eating Disorders Mentorship Program, recently completed her trauma informed training through Yoga 4 Trauma, and is beginning to pursue her master’s degree in Public Health/Community Health. Leslie’s passion is that of recovery (eating disorder, exercise addiction, other addictions) and helping individuals reconnect to their bodies in a positive, affirming, and fun way. Her philosophy is based on the Sanskrit words, “shanti” (peace) and “leela” (play)-finding inner peace through the play and practice of Yoga. When she isn’t moving on or off her mat you can find her playing with her furbaby Winston (#dogiwinston), curating the perfect playlist, writing, practicing her photography skills, and making the best coffee a home barista can.