How Do I Love Me? Let Me Count the Ways

In the Darkness, You Are the Light

The world is weeping. All the borders bleeding. Never before has our virtual connectivity been so alive and our basic human contact connectivity been so suppressed. These are challenging times—it is changing us all.

I have been supporting a friend with increasing suicide ideation. More and more, she detaches from the world. Her existential crisis becomes a looping gospel of despair. Her reality shifts and glints in the sunlight or is wilting in the moonlight. Nothing warms her heart and all that feels good in her life is buried in blizzards of confusion and hopelessness. She is limp with apathy and whittled down with her own obsessive lament of being futile. Comparison whips her. Having no apparent use or purpose is a vinegar-sponge in her side.

I have used every trick in the book of empathy. Every ounce of joy I could conjure has been squeezed out of me and drizzled over her. I have reasoned, pleaded, listened, held space for the raging, shed glorious realisations on skewed perceptions and dark perspectives. I have leaned in. I have given space. I have never left her side. I have walked around the dark side of the moon with her. I have made daisy chains with her. I have prayed.

I, too, am becoming weary.

How can I ask her to see the truth of who she is? How can I ask her to end her self-effacing fables of defeat? How can I shake her into the beauty of this life—her life? How can I take her to the edge of the universe, passing trillions of stars, and let her know that this is it? This is our shared home—our shared reality. How can I weave acceptance, forgiveness and peace through her heart?

How can I ask her to love herself into wholeness and wellness? How can I illustrate that poor mental health is a thousand fractured trauma-bones? How can I help her know self-love? How can I show her that self-love is the antidote to all her trauma and woe? How can I let her go?

Let me sing Elizabeth Barret’s love sonnet to myself in the hope that my beloved friend can sing along and one day, very soon, serenade herself back into her divine lifeforce.

How Do I Love Thee? (Sonnet 43)

Elizabeth Barrett Browning – 1806-1861

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right.
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.



May we all find the courage to love ourselves and love one another through the pain or numbness that we can all feel at various times and in varying degrees. May we all pray to mine the courage to accept what is and what is to be!

Sometimes the only uplifting thing we can share is our pain. We’d love to hear yours and hope that the comments below can afford some relief and empathic resonance.

We love you
Paul and Team UPLIFT



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3 years ago

You tell such a sad story Paul. How much suffering for your friend and how hard for you trying to bring her home again. She knows. Deep within she knows and appreciates all your love and care for her. Please keep faith in her. We all need support, I hope you have the support you need too. I include you both in my meditations, sending peace and love. Karen.

3 years ago

Letting go of the programming I received as a child, that I am defective and don’t belong, has been a long and difficult journey. The moment I realized that you are never alone and never not loved was completely life changing. The fact that I survived an upbringing in a completely dysfunctional way and survived is proof enough that I am a part of life and it is a part of me. The fact that I’ve come to see my own dysfunction not as something unique to me but shared by all others raised in similar situations helped me to come out of isolation and walk the path toward healing in the loving light of our source energy.

I connect to the source of life through daily practices of affirmation, meditation, mindful movement, clean consumption and outreach in either a sangha setting or a step program for dysfunctional families. So grateful for this opportunity to be alive.

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