Editor’s Note: FII’s #MoodOfTheMonth for February, 2022 is Redefining Love. We invite submissions on the many layers of love, throughout the month. If you’d like to contribute, kindly email your articles to firstname.lastname@example.org. This article is part of Cripplentine’s Day, a project by Revival Disability Magazine in collaboration with Feminism In India rooted in the belief that all kinds of love should be celebrated because love is a disabled and queer revolution. An accessible Valentine’s Day should be one that not only includes an able-bodied kind of love between two heteronormative lovers. As a part of the project, Revival Disability Magazine publishes a series of articles on the theme. The theme of Cripplentines Day this year is on what disabled women, trans and no binary folx think about pleasure and how has it changed during the pandemic – how have they coped, in a sense with loneliness and isolation.
Posted by Swara
I have been single my whole life. I have been heartbroken many times. Along with that, being autistic, all I need is acceptance, and that struggle for acceptance as well as the heartbreaks have made me tired to pursue relationships. I sometimes wish I could get a partner, but my experience of being single for too long has also made me content.
Valentines’ Day is said to be the day for love. Does love have to be just about relationships? It can also be the love you have for your family, your friends, or yourself. On Valentines’ Day, I decided to give myself some love. After all the pain I went through, it’s time that I give myself the love and care I deserve. How would one do that?
I used to think that self-love is about loving yourself so much that you don’t need anyone. But we need people and acceptance in our life. So now I am starting to think that self-love is about loving yourself, being confident, having the self-esteem to face the world and negotiate with the hatred that comes your way. In the process, if we find people who accept us for who we are, we shouldn’t stop them from coming into our lives.
Self-love is also about accepting ourselves. If we don’t accept ourselves first, how can we expect others to do that? We can try to self-love with these small steps – breathe in, breathe out. We can give ourselves a big hug saying ‘you deserve it‘. We can try to be healthy and fit. Eating good food and exercising can bring so much happiness. It also relieves stress.
We can explore our talents and pursue new hobbies. For instance, if you like to sing or dance, do it for yourself rather than going by other peoples’ comments. Peoples’ comments can lower our confidence.
Speaking of people, we can try minimising the usage of social media. It can be toxic at times, people can be fake. We tend to compare ourself with others. Comparisons can bring a lot of negativity amongst ourselves. For an autistic person, I can admit that this isn’t easy, as I communicate better with writing. But I am not saying we should completely disengage with content or social media. We could take conscious breaks and during this time, focus on something like singing, meditating, nature walks and the like.
Accomplishing small milestones like getting up on time, going to work, eating breakfast etc. in themselves also bring a great amount of joy and self-affirmation. We should appreciate ourselves for even the smallest of things we get to do in life. Try something new, experiment with things we may be shying away from. Do what the heart says.
When I make a mistake, I tend to punish myself, and my stomach starts to hurt. But nobody’s perfect. We learn new things. We need to forgive ourself for the mistakes we make. If someone you care about makes a mistake, how would you comfort them? Lets try doing that to ourselves too.
Most importantly, we must learn to say no, and recognise that if something goes out of our comfort zone, or boundaries, then it’s not worth it. Be authentic. If you are happy, you are happy, if you are sad, you are sad, if you are angry, you are angry. Don’t get in the pressure of feeling something else. I believe true self-love comes from being authentic.
Everyone is going through something we don’t know. Self-love isn’t just about loving ourselves, other people do come in the picture. A small compliment to someone can make a huge difference not just to them, but to you as well. The fact that we have done something good can give a good feeling that can help us in appreciating ourselves.
These are some steps we can start with to cultivate self-love in this month of love. There is no guarantee that you will do all of them, well there is no guarantee that I will do all of them too. But lets start. Moreover, don’t feel bad about being single. It is not a bad thing. If we have ourselves as our support, it helps us with confidence and self-esteem. It helps us become stronger, it helps us in dealing with the lack of acceptance we disabled people go through.
At the same time, we should also keep advocating for acceptance. I hope some day I can get a partner who can accept me for who I am. But for now, its time I give myself the love and care I need.
Featured Image: The New York Times