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How to fall in love with yourself

How to fall in love with yourself

The Oak Tree

How to fall in love with yourself

By KLS Fuerte, Author of “Never Saw You Coming”

Loving yourself is a science which could only manifests as an art form. Shaping you, from an acorn into an oak tree. KLS Fuerte

Have you ever felt out of control, lost in the rapid currents of events carrying you despite your resistance? This is me all over, and I still wonder every day, how did I get out of this mess, how did I manage? Whether it’s family traumatic events, or work, relationships or friendships, and whatever the age, it is not given that we can control all the situations we experience. 

I see life in cycles of circles which tie up with one another, because in my world, everything happens for a reason, good or bad, therefore everything is connected. Just like the little circles of a golden chain: each circle is independent, yet joined to other circles… This philosophy I created for myself after years of joys and pains thrown at me from many angles.

As a child, aged 11, but looking 7 as I was so tiny, I had left my little island, Guadeloupe to live in Paris. That was tough:  new environment, new ways of living, new grey and cold weather, new people who frowned or smiled when I spoke a beautiful French with my creole accent. Unconsciously, I learnt fast that I had to excel there, being the only Black child in the top class.  For some mysterious reason, turning this situation into my advantage, helped me to cope with the cultural shock. I embraced my difference and loved the feeling of “standing out”. From the pain of leaving my warm world, I became the tiny girl with a loud voice and big laugh. Other students who did not know me, knew my laughter. I was loud and proud! My early years in secondary school, in a new country, thus were shaping what would become my life philosophy, years later: turn anything bad into a good thing! It’s all about the way you want to see life.

As a teenager of the 80s, I thought I was invincible! I was going to save the world from the evil of famine, work with Daniel Balavoine and Bob Geldof. I wanted to be a doctor with Mèdecins sans Frontières, next to Bernard Kouchner, to rescue and cure all the children who suffered. Then tragedy struck. Daniel Balavoine, my hero, the rebel, the socialist, the humanitarian, died in a helicopter crash in Mali in 1986. He had only recently linked with Geldof who supported his humanitarian initiative with Action Ecole. I was only 14 when I discovered those big names and the work they were doing to save the world greatly inspired me. I remember feeling an immense sense of loss when Daniel Balavoine died, even though I had never met him, and he did not even know I existed. Was I going to shift away from his inspiration, like a fashion item? Oh no! 33 years later, I still talk about Balavoine to my A-Level students when I teach them about volunteering and make them listen to his songs about the suffering of migrants. I was determined to follow that humanitarian doctor route, but my Maths and Science teachers decided otherwise, another blow in my face that same year 1986. The dream of studying medicine vanished, but not the urge to help others. So, if I could not help with medicine, I was going to help with education. Luckily, I still had my love for writing, reading and passion for languages. I reshaped myself into “the teacher” I was going to become, because I was not going to be “the doctor”, and that was fine.

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When I think back about this turning point, aged 16, I can only say “thank you” to those great men who inspired me, but also to my mother who understood me without questioning. Unlike my step-father, she never asked: “What? You are going to study languages and not medicine?” Though very quiet, my mother was gently instilling a strong moral purpose in me, which I came to understand years later. The sense that no matter what goes wrong, there is always a solution to fall back on your feet.

Well, years later, I found myself in so many relationships that did not work. It was almost like watching a very bad TV series with a stupid woman who keeps falling for the wrong men, and even marries the wrong men! There was the super clever guy who wanted to marry me and have a child with me. I was 20! We had even created a first name made of both our names. How romantic! Then as I was about to leave Paris to study in the UK, I found out he had gone back to his ex! Crash in my head! Luckily, despite my hesitations, I had signed the application to move to the UK and I could leave this bad story behind me. Once again, the connections of the circles were at work… Meeting this young clever man had motivated me to apply to move to the UK. His cheating took place just before I left, so I ran away to London, and there I started new adventures and met so many other more interesting young men. If I had stayed with my very clever young man in Paris, I don’t think I would have been here writing to you in this superb magazine. I would probably have had a long-distance relationship which would have been quite dry after a while… Everything happens for a reason; a bad situation can give birth to amazing stories when you see the inter-connections.

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I remember the Nordic boyfriend, very handsome and very bright. I was under his spell, well I always am under some sort of spell anyway. We had a very short time together, but he left an unforgettable print on my mind. He taught me one very important lesson: “How to recognise a player?”. If I hadn’t met him, I would have never known. He was not the first “player” I encountered, but certainly the most subtle. I am not saying that breaking-up was not painful, it’s the reflection that followed, after the storm, that mattered more. Those moments when I stop and think or talk to a close friend about my pain. Years after we parted, we reconnected again, as friends, and that was also revelling. The player telling me about his pain of being played… I wondered if he believed in Karma?  We are no longer “friends”, we drifted apart because the positivity died off. There is another lesson I have learnt with time. If it does not feel good, discard and move on.

Life is too precious to waste on negativity or bad vibes. I could tell you many more fiasco stories, and how I managed to find a good lesson in each of them, but I will leave that for another column.  

Nowadays my biggest fight with life is my daily battle with Multiple Sclerosis. It has been officially with me since 2015 and it has taken me 2 years to talk about it without crying and accepting it. I have this invisible MonSter inside of me that I try to keep calm in a cage with my Magnificent Soul. Sometimes I succeed, other times I loose the battle and the MonSter escapes, enraged and reduces my energy to nothing with extreme fatigue. That is really hard. Only yesterday, I could not go to school, I had a very grey and blue day. So, I just had to stop. I stopped and for the first time, I shared my MS story online. The support messages I received were so touching and overwhelming, from people I have never met, it was incredible! When I say, that sharing your stories makes you feel better, I think that is so true!  My battle with MS will continue, I am an MS warrior and I can decide which direction I can take when dealing with it.

There is always a light at the end, or sometimes in the middle of the tunnel. There is always another way. There is always a solution. Sometimes, you must feel pain, to feel joy. It’s a question of balance. Everything is connected, find your positive connections and live! When life pulls you in directions you do not enjoy, fight another one and keep going.

Each time I felt in love with another man, I realised that there is nobody to catch me when I fall...

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But each time I entered another cycle, I grew another circle inside my whole existence, which let the inner layers of sapwood die and become heartwood.

Each time I felt out of love with a man, I’ve got a step closer to who I am, and learned that love starts with loving myself.

If Love for who you become is like a tree, when is best time to plant it? A Chinese proverb says "The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” 

Loving yourself is a science which could only manifests as an art form. Shaping you, from an acorn into an oak tree.

That’s from me, Kiki, to you with love.

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