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For years I believed that love was something I had to earn. That I could only be loved if I was very hardworking, very productive, very successful, very beautiful, very strong, in short, perfect. I kept striving to be perfect, only to disappoint myself in the end.
I knew that I had the kind of perfectionism that is found in individuals who, instead of experiencing unconditional love in their childhood, felt that being loved depended on certain conditions, but I didn't know how to solve this problem.
Therapy had helped me to see the underlying causes of my behavior and to develop awareness about it, but it had not taught me how to free myself from the desire to be perfect. I had to do it on my own. Finally, instead of searching for an answer, I decided to ask a question.
As I sat meditating on a sunny Sunday morning, just when I was able to focus on my breathing, my cat Yoko came and sat on my lap unbidden and began to lick happily. I opened my eyes, looked at her, and then couldn't help but smile. Yoko looked at me and opened her mouth wide and yawned, then continued to purr and lick happily.
At that moment I realized something very important: While I was devoting myself to being perfect just to be loved, my cat was doing it without doing anything, just being. Just being herself, just existing, just being Yoko. And after a moment of reflection, I asked myself: Can I be loved just by being?
Then I closed my eyes and continued meditating with my cat on my lap. But this question haunted me for a long time. While listening to my breath, I gently placed my hand over my heart. And this time I asked: Can I succeed in loving myself just for existing?
I now know that I cannot demand unconditional love from others. Childhood is over and adults cannot and perhaps should not love each other unconditionally. Yes, sometimes I want to resign from being an adult too, but that's the way it is.
And that being the case, there is only one kind of love in life that we can be sure is always and forever with us, without any conditions, and that is the love we have for ourselves. The love we have for ourselves is always with us somewhere inside us, and if we manage to get in touch with it, we will never feel alone again.
Yes, when I put my hand to my heart that morning and felt my heartbeat in the palm of my hand, I thanked myself for being myself at all costs. And in that moment, I decided to replace "me" with "perfect". "I don't want to be perfect, I want to be authentic," I said out loud. I don't want to be perfect, I want to be myself. And I consider myself enough as I am.
I used to be distant from such things. I thought it was funny and strange to say these affirmations out loud. But over time I realized that when I said them sincerely, with real conviction, I felt much happier and more peaceful. Somehow I saw that they worked. Those wellness gurus must know something! I said to myself.
Nowadays, just like my cat Yoko, I tell myself every day that I deserve to be loved just for existing. Moreover, that love is not something to be earned and that no matter what happens, it is always with me, inside me. Every time I am surprised how much we can learn from cats.
I know very well that nothing from outside can make us as happy as we are. At the same time, I know that there are others in this world who want to join me on my journey of self-discovery and self-love. They love me not because I am already very hardworking, very productive, very successful, very beautiful, very strong, in short, perfect, but simply because I exist.
Love does not live in a perfect place. It has been waiting for me all my life in a complicated, messy, imperfect, melancholic, chaotic place. Deep in my own heart, I mean. So, as I finish my meditation, I touch my heart for the last time and whisper to it: There, I have finally found you.