I like to walk. Certainly my neighbors know this. They see me walking to and fro as they sit at their windows drinking coffee and reading the newspaper. I’ve walked to Harvard Square, walked in McLean land, and walked around and around the Belmont Hill School track. My father liked to walk; too, so maybe it’s in the blood. When I was a little girl and we lived in the Lowell highlands, he’d walk to the Windsor shop to get his Boston Globe. Sometimes he’d ask me to go with him. Often I did.
When my menopause heated up, my walking intensified. I felt miserable with menopause what with not sleeping at night, a change in food attitude from live to eat to eat to live, and a ridiculous amount of free floating guilt, a vestige from my past. My mother, an unhappy woman with an unhappy childhood, flails at anyone who doesn’t fill her endless and irrational needs for adoration and the end result is that both my brother and I feel guilty, a lot. And so on those walks I began to talk to myself. I would tell myself, ” Hetti, you are a good person.” I would tell myself, “It’s not your fault,” and often I might add, “I love you, Hetti.”
Now, I knew for sure I was off my cushioned and rational rocker. So I asked an old friend or two, what they thought about all this self- love and self-congratulating. Jean, in her eighties and a practicing psychologist, thought it was a fine idea. Very normal and healthy, she said. And the right thing to do.
Mostly, knock wood, I’m through the worst of my menopause, except for the night sweats. But when I walk I still tell myself, I love you. And I say it with a heartfelt sincerity, carefully, though, scanning the immediate vicinity to see if anyone is watching/listening to me. But no longer do I ask anyone else if it’s okay to reaffirm myself. Here’s why: A friend of a friend died nearly ten years ago. My friend told me that just before her friend died, she offered her own heartfelt advice, ” Make sure to love yourself. I never did.”
So, this is what I believe: It is very very good to talk to yourself in this way and give yourself love. Here’s what I also believe: it’s important to tell yourself early and often.