F.L.Y: First Love Yourself!

Full Audio Version:
Narrated by Christophe Lafontant

Do you love yourself? And by that, I mean do you really, truly, and unconditionally love yourself…every inch, every flaw, and every single last trait that makes you, you? Are you able to walk into a room with your head held high, and whole-heartedly believe it? Do you take the time to think about all that you have overcome in life, and the fact that you’ve made it this far? That, in and of itself is a huge accomplishment. Life is hard! Therefore, you deserve all the credit in the world, for simply making it through each day.

Do you remind yourself on a consistent basis of just how amazing & badass you are? If not, do you surround yourself with people who do?! Because you should! You should be totally and utterly, head over heels in love with who you are! And I’m not just referring to the superficial you. True self-love is far more than just skin deep. Looking in the mirror and liking what you see is one thing, but loving the reflection of your soul is another. Take a moment and think about that! Because if you can’t fully embrace and love yourself now, it is so important for you to work towards getting there! Once you are truly in love with yourself, all the right things will begin to fall into place. No longer will you be accepting of those things which are not beneficial to you, instead you will start to allow yourself to live a life that is immensely freeing!

Ultimately, I believe we could all use some improvement in this area. We could all love ourselves a little more. Even for those who are full of confidence, everyone battles their own insecurities deep down inside! I for one, know that I appear way more confident than I actually am. Most people who know me, would classify me as the confident type, and to a degree, I am. But I also know that sometimes I am merely hiding behind that impression. Constantly comparing myself to others and wanting to be something I’m not. I’ve always been scared of appearing weak, and therefore for a long time hid my vulnerability. I never wanted people to know what exactly I was really going through. Until eventually realizing that there is, in fact great power in embracing your shortcomings. It took several decades for me to finally get over so many of my insecurities. And even still to this day, I have so much work to do towards genuinely loving myself as a handicapped man. It’s a process, but I’m getting there…slowly.

“My head is too big for my body!”

“I hate my voice!”

“My arms and legs are too skinny!”

“I wish I had clear skin!”

“My nose is too wide!”

“My hair isn’t curly enough!”

“I wish my eyes were lighter!”

“Why do I have to be gay?”

“I look sick all the time!”

“I don’t want to ‘look disabled!’”

“People must be staring because I look weird!”

In the end, we are all but merely a collection of imperfect beings, focusing on those imperfections, while living in an imperfect world, all sharing the common goal of spiritual growth and evolution. Whether you know it or not, this is a vital aspect of life, and it starts with the greatest love of all—the love of oneself. Spiritual growth is a gift we give to ourselves. But you can’t grow, if you don’t love yourself to begin with. And sometimes we even fail to realize just how poorly we treat ourselves. If someone asked me that very question in my years growing up, my immediate answer would’ve been, “yes, of course!” But it’s not something I ever took the time to really think about, until recently. Being older now, I am able to be more introspective and take an honest look back, and ask myself, “did I really love myself?!”

Did I love myself enough to live my life in a way that wasn’t dependent on what others thought? Did I love myself enough not to spend hours in the mirror picking myself apart? Did I love myself enough to stand up for myself and walk away from toxic situations? Did I love myself enough to not only know that I deserve better, but to give myself better? Did I love myself enough to eat healthy and exercise regularly? Did I love myself enough to take care of my first transplanted heart? Did I love myself enough to avoid slowly poisoning and killing myself through addiction? Did I love myself enough to make necessary, difficult, drastic changes for a better life?

So much of my existence has been spent hiding and trying to change so many of the interesting aspects that make me unique. For so long, I muted the brightest aspects of my personality and did my best to blend in with the shadows. I had no idea how incredible I was. Living that way is so sad! Being different is actually quite interesting! You have to work with what you got! I just wish it didn’t take such a debilitating illness to help me draw that conclusion. For example, I should have learned to love certain parts of my body before losing them. I used to despise how thin I am. Now I’d give anything just to move my limbs the way I used to. I also really wish that I learned to live life for myself much earlier on and to do what makes me happy. Sometimes I imagine how different life would have been if that were the case. Instead, I never took care of myself the way I deserved to be taken care of. I wish I had been comfortable enough to live my life how I wanted to, before so much of my independence was stripped from me. I deserved better! In that neglectful process, I caused myself so much unnecessary pain, heartache, and damage. So many years thrown away living a lie—so much fear of being my true authentic self. I am telling you this, because this shouldn’t be the case for you. If I could go back and do it all over differently, I would. I am man enough to admit that there are a things in my life that I suffer from, that I caused myself. However, had I learned to respect myself more, so many of those hardships could have been averted. As I grow older I refuse to ever fall back into a pattern of self hate ever again.

Self love is a process and takes lots of hard work. We all make mistakes on our individual journeys. Therefore, in that process, it is so important to incorporate unconditional self love as well. Unconditional self love is the ability to first recognize, and then forgive yourself for your past mistakes. We are all human. However, in that same regard it also means doing your best not to repeat those mistakes. Making mistakes is acceptable, repeating them is not. Loving yourself is to know that repeating those mistakes would only be detrimental to your overall well-being, only causing you more suffering and pain. Instead try to:

Love yourself enough to put yourself first!

Love yourself enough to walk away from people and situations that fail to contribute to your overall well-being and betterment: that includes family!

Love yourself enough to treat your body well!

Love yourself enough to be honest with yourself!

Love yourself enough to allow yourself time to heal!

Love yourself enough to enjoy your own company!

Love yourself enough not to depend on ANYONE for your own happiness!

Love yourself enough to know that you deserve happiness in the first place!

Love yourself enough to learn what sets your soul on fire. Get to know yourself on a deep level, and do all the things that excite you!

Love yourself enough to live your life unapologetically just the way you are!

Ive said this before, it’s so important to give yourself regular pep talks! Be your own motivational coach! Amp yourself up! It’s okay to remind yourself that you’re the shit! Don’t be shy! I can promise you that I am my biggest cheerleader, and I give myself regular pep talks several times a day. Sometimes it’s what I need to pull myself out of a funk. I consistently remind myself of my accomplishments and of how great I am. I remind myself of everything I’ve overcome, and I find strength in that. I use my regrets from the past to fuel my love for myself in the present. If you don’t think you deserve the best, why should anyone else? It may sound cliché, and that’s because it’s true!

– Margaret Paul, Ph. D.

I am turning thirty-seven years old next week. That is something which I do not take for granted. I love my birthday, primarily because it is a reminder to reflect on all my many blessings. Turning another year older is not guaranteed to anyone. As perfectly stated by my sister-in-law, “getting older is a privilege.” Just the other day, I caught myself staring at my shirtless reflection in the mirror, a proud smile slowly stretched across my face, as I processed the fact that, “I’m still alive…thirty years later, and I’m still f*cking alive!” I slowly used my left arm to bring my right hand up to touch the three-inch scar just below my left shoulder bone. Suddenly, I was reminded that at the age of six my parents nearly lost me. I remember how much that area used to hurt and itch when I had my pacemaker. I remember being so embarrassed of that scar, and now I see it as a proud symbol of the start of my legacy! The eight-inch scar running down the center of my rib cage reminding me that ages seventeen, and twenty-one weren’t written in stone for me either. My chest was carved open, and my entire heart was replaced, twice. I reached down and slightly pulled down the front of my boxer briefs to reveal the five-inch scar along my left groin that reminds me that having the sudden urge to pee in the most random of places is never something to complain about. Dialysis isn’t easy, but it’s keeping me alive. The gash marks on the side of my left rib cage and two healed holes above my stomach, remind me of countless chest tubes that drained blood after each and every surgery. The site where my gall bladder was taken out, reminds me that many people still walk around with a drainage bag strapped to their chest. The hole in my neck, my tracheotomy, my head turning “oddity”, reminds me that not only will I endure and adapt to anything as a means to survive, I’ll do it with style! “If they’re gonna stare, give em something to stare at!” It suddenly strikes me how uniquely interesting my body has become. Who needs tattoos when you have so many warrior scars that tell your stories?

My “bad days” have come and gone, and I know there will be more to come in the future. Again, life is hard! But I love myself enough to know that it’s always worth pushing through. I am worth the fight. You are worth the fight! No life is worth ending! Let this be a reminder that you are wonderful, and that it’s never too late to make improvements. I love myself more now at thirty-six, with all my baggage, than I ever did before. However, be sure to know the difference between critique and criticism. Don’t let all the external and internal criticisms dim your light, because I can guarantee they are lying to you! However, remain humble enough to heed constructive critique when necessary. I am thankful for my past because it has taught how to be a better person. My entire perspective has changed as a result of all that I’ve been through. My own self awareness has granted me the wisdom to believe that I deserve to give myself the best of every situation. And in loving myself, I have gained the ability to better love others.

It wasn’t an easy process, and I couldn’t have done it alone. Which is why I stress surrounding yourself with good and positive energies. It is imperative to surround yourself with people who lift you up and make you better. It took some quality conversations with those closest to me and some deep inner strength to get my motivation back. When you receive a compliment don’t fight it, instead use it to help grow your self love. Reigniting my passion for myself has made me hopeful again. Years ago, I just wasn’t ready to accept or deal with my situation. Although I am still coping with my disability, that struggle has not come without a great deal of growth. I’ve learned to hold my head high because, “ain’t nobody doing it like me.” There’s only ONE me! It has humbled me, and made me less hard on myself. The same disease which weakens me physically has significantly empowered me emotionally.

“Please don’t kill yourself, I’m talking to you…”

I’ve trained my mind not to allow negativity to take over. I refocus my thoughts, or reach out to someone who can help me do so. There’s nothing worse than being alone with an anxious mind. When I hit road blocks, I’ve learned to “run through that shit over and over and over again”. I have to be relentless. I have become my own best friend, and no longer need to rely on anyone else to enjoy my life. I have put in so much work, and as a result have also reaped the many benefits. I have come too far in my journey, which means to give in now would be so utterly disappointing. Quitting just isn’t an option for me. Simply put, I just love myself too damn much to ever give up on myself…and you should too!

You can be afraid of certain things in life, but never be afraid to F.L.Y!

About 1 Man, 3 Hearts

After collapsing in my NJ home one night at the age of six, due to heart failure, doctors were convinced that I would not live to see my seventh birthday. Three decades later, I have defied all the odds that were placed against me. I will be turning thirty-seven this summer. Upon discovery that I was in complete heart failure (age 6), I was rushed to the NIH research hospital in Maryland. At this time, I had an emergency dual chamber pacemaker implanted. Since then I have survived two heart transplants, a kidney transplant, gall bladder removal, lung collapse, pain medication drug overdose, and a tracheotomy. Unfortunately my transplanted kidney failed two years ago placing me back on dialysis three times per week. At the age of twenty-seven, I was diagnosed with a rare muscular disease known as Myofibrillar Myopathy. This disease progressively attacks the various muscle groups of a person’s body over time. In my case, it was discovered that this disease was also responsible for initially attacking my heart muscle at age 6. In the last two years, I have lost usage of about eighty percent of my bodily function to my illness. I am currently wheelchair bound, sleep with a ventilator every single night, and require the assistance of a full time (24/7) personal aide who resides with me. My life is full of challenges, it’s all I’ve ever known. I’ve had my share of dark moments. However, I refuse to allow this to keep me from enjoying life and living everyday to the fullest. I have gained a great deal of perspective and learned many valuable lessons over the course of my life. My goal is to be able to give back and share my story in a way that can help others who may be facing difficult circumstances and encourage them to keep fighting. I also believe it is important to raise awareness for rare diseases as well as the importance of organ donation. I have chronicled my life in a book, “1 Man, 3 Hearts, 9 Lives,” available for purchase on Amazon. I truly appreciate all your support, thank you! 💙
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9 Responses to F.L.Y: First Love Yourself!

  1. Amanda says:

    Beautifully written, Rocky!!! So many important points to remember and focus on!! Life is too short not to enjoy it to the fullest!! I love reading your blogs boo💗💗💗keep em’ coming ☺️☺️

  2. Jennifer Lafontant says:

    Chris , powerful ! This is so important always but especially when so many people are falling out of love with themselves . No one said this this is always easy , and sometimes a challenge . Some of us are born with this , others have to cultivate this .I know for sure that I , love myself As a result I was able to truly and unconditionally love my children , and those who loved me . I was. often criticized and was subject to remarks ‘ Mother of the year putting my children first ‘ This was only possible because I loved my self , the rest , as a Mother , came naturally . Self love is nurtured by positive feed back . When others tell you POSITIVE things , it enables us to keep the spark going . On the other hand , beware of NEGATIVE energy ! To your readers , let’s go ! Love ourselves , today more than we did yesterday ! ❤️ I love you Chris ! ❤️❤️❤️

    • Awwww Mom!! You couldn’t be more right! You always give the best feedback. I am only able to love myself as much as I do because of your support and guidance! 💙💙💙

  3. Dee says:

    OMGoodness! This is an outstanding read! I absolutely love the way you are so authentic in your delivery and I find myself nodding and getting teary eyed because it hits home on one level or another. What I realized is I do love certain things about myself and it’s important to give the other things that I’m still working on some love too. Although I routinely hear about the importance of self love, you took it to the hilt when you wrote about the importance of “unconditional self love” and ways to get there. The way you described how you felt about your first scar and the feeling you had then versus how you feel about it now is awesome! Thank you sooo much for writing this. I sooo ❤️reading this💙

  4. Netert Aset says:

    This was so beautifully written and put together. Real and raw! One of my biggest issues growing up was being myself with full confidence regardless of what anyone thought. When you mentioned loving yourself on the soul level that is the truth! That is where I stand. Thank you, so much, for creating this beautiful inspirational piece.

    • You are so kind!! Thank you so much for the positive feedback and support! It makes me so happy to know you have grown to truly love and embrace who you are! You’re amazing! 💙💙💙

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