It’s like it stole from me, stole my life story. Bipolar disorder. It was haunting me as I rose each day and went to bed each night. The ups and downs were extreme and I would be over-productive, balancing multiple projects.
When I finally got help for it, I realized how much of my life it had taken. My ego loved it though because productivity meant results which in turn meant success. It was something to be glad for besides my well-being, in spite of my well-being. Then one day my well-being didn’t matter at all.
My self-love diminished. I didn’t recognize what was good about myself anymore. I was never enough, yet my pride took it all. Perfectionism was my ruin.
It was unsettling, the inevitable discovery of my limit. I could no longer stay up multiple days without sleep. What had made me so useful before now made me useless. The superpower of mania had turned on me. Racing thoughts that had once served me made no more sense. My Ego was shouting to “keep going, you’re doing great”. My self love, however, was a whisper. It said, “You don’t have to let it matter anymore. You can rest.” All my goals and dreams were about fighting when I needed most to surrender.
Have you ever stood there? Stood in the place where nothing mattered anymore?
I have, and it was raining. Hard. Full of fury, I wanted to stay there, stay in this place, but I couldn’t. I had to move on.
I opened my eyes.
Suddenly, I saw my future collide with my past. Decisions made that were calculated and for the wrong reasons attributed to the pain I felt now. But what about declaring self love into the darkness of the void of ego?
Ego took from me. It took my healing, took my health and my help. It harassed me with a to-do list. It made me work harder, work faster against competition, in search of something that seemed like happiness, that looked like happiness, but that wasn’t even close and was instead, harmful.
Self-love tugged at me, reminding me it was time to go back inside. To stop staring into the void and fill it with something. To become creative, meaningful and driven in the right ways.
It taught me to search for myself on these nights, to search for sanctuary, for freedom, for art.
But still I stood there a long time, wondering if my life mattered. Wondering if I mattered.
My ego could not stand it. It could not stand being held accountable. It could not stand being sold out. It lost friends, family and a feeling of peace that it once held onto in order to compete with others and drown out my fears with workaholic antics. It never stopped before to look at itself.
And that’s when self-love called. It replaced ego.
It said, “You have a purpose in life. You are worth more than what is on the outside. You are single, you are free, you are in your twenties. You have a lot to give. Your faith is what you hold onto most. Other people don’t always understand every choice we make so you’ve got to make it for you.
“I’m here for you. I’ll never let you go or let you down.”
And then Fear showed up.
I stood alone with them surrounding me, calling me, beckoning my return to ego. They wanted to teach me a lesson. They said they were calling me to help me. They wouldn’t hurt me. They promised, so long as I chose ego over self-love, they would be there. They would get me what I needed. That future I longed for… everything I wanted.
It was a temptation so deep it was almost trance-like.
Self-love beat out the temptation. It said to me, “You are going to get what you want by making the right choices in life. You are going to overcome all doubt and fear not by choosing ego and suppressing me but by declaring me as yours. I am the only one who can bring you there. Don’t listen to them. Don’t lose your purpose in life.”
Finally, it was my turn to speak.
“But I have suffered,” I said. “When I ignore you, I face greater suffering. I see that now. I am not alone because you are with me. But when Ego comes back bringing back fear, sadness, grief and madness, you drown them out with LOVE. That’s all I am, all I should be, you tell me. And so I let go. I choose Hope. Freedom. I choose Self Love.”
Ego stalled the journey. It said, “Wait, come back. I am here for you. You made it this far because of me.”
“And it is destroying your life,” self-love intejected.
My one regret in life that I did not choose self-love sooner. So then I did, taking its hand. We walked in partnership, without regret, leaving ego behind.
I learned the hard way to trust again, to share my vulnerabilities with people, to be honest and real. I loved again, no longer in a broken way. I was whole. I was at peace. I was thankful.
I said to self-love, “You have caused me to become reborn. You caused me to master my fears. You solved me. You are all I need. The rest went away.”
“I am you,” self-love said. “I am the real you. I’ve always been.”
And so I smiled and again, we walked hand in hand.
I no longer succumbed to my ego or self-doubt. I was a minimalist and I minimized what was in my life. I decided self-love for be all I had room for, and it has made all the difference.
Originally published at medium.com