How do you practice self-love? Maybe you dance in the mirror With your headphones on Encourage yourself to eat right Sleep in until it's time to go back to bed again Self-love is about listening to your body It is about the feeling you sense creeping into your gut Telling you, not right now, and maybe, not even later Self-love is asking yourself the difficult questions that you hide from Like how do you break a difficult habit? Acknowledging the truth and power of your struggles Acknowledging your strengths even when you are at your worst Self-love is eating junk food because it’s good at the moment Self-love is reading a book that makes you happy Self-love is doing shit all on the weekend because you don’t have to do anything Self-love is warm bubble baths Let no person to your left or to your right Ever make you feel as if you have to follow THEIR regime Self-love is finding support even if you are your only support system In my darkest moments, I was alone when the tears drenched my bed - questioning my existence In my darkest moments, I was surrounded by voices telling me I didn’t deserve to live Somehow I found a way out If we don’t have a crutch, how do we hold ourselves up? Self-love is taking the first step to do anything Self-love is doubting the process of healing We forget to be still when the chaos becomes too much Some days we forget how hard life really is So we stop, inhale, exhale Repeating our words of affirmation Whatever keeps you grounded Self-love is learning to say no To those you love To those who ask you for things but are never there for you Saying no to feelings that want to hurt you That is deflected onto you Remember that hurt people, hurt people When hurt people show up in your safe spaces Remember who you are Take a moment and hold yourself Self-love is the ability to see a few steps ahead, to stay as many steps ahead Self-love is looking in the mirror Staring at your melanated skin And refusing to accept that you are not wanted in this world Self-love is getting high Playing cheesy songs that make me dance even if I am scared too Ordering your favourite food Self-love is getting away from external noise Asking the world to hold space for you Self-love is whatever you want it to be Praying to the universe that you make it through the night Stop. Breathe Self-love is touching your body Figuring out the parts of you that you are afraid of Understanding the parts of you That you get the most pleasure from Caress, massage, and hold yourself Be still, breathe, and hold yourself Let yourself go Be free Embrace the process The nerves, the shakes, and the quivers Embrace the reactions, dismiss the distractions My body is beautiful My body is valid Own your journey Let it be a story you tell your stretch marks Let your self-love and self-care Be a story you keep telling yourself Even when you find happiness Don’t stop feeling Don’t stop living Don’t stop loving
Martha Mutale is a Zambian-born poet, organizer, and advocate. She has been performing poetry for several years, she took part in the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word in 2016, as well as the Canadian Individual Poetry Slam in Vancouver in 2017.
See also: Tired bodies, a poem by Martha Mutale
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