It has been a very interesting few weeks.

Interesting is putting it mildly. It started when I got some completely unexpected and very upsetting health news - basically it was yet another cancer scare, and the good news is that it is benign and things are more or less back on track. But something has happened to me this time that didn’t happen in connection with the Breast Cancer Scare of 2008.

It has caused me to look at my life. Deeply. Sincerely. How I have been living. The relationships I have been having. In short, it has caused me to do a thorough examination of where I have been putting my energy. And for the most part, I see that while on one level everything has been and is perfect, and we are all right where we are supposed to be - I need to head in a vastly different direction in many ways.

Some things are wonderful, and I need to continue to nurture those things: the burgeoning positive co-parenting relationship with H, for which I am extremely grateful; and the fun I have had creating and performing from Take Refuge. Two beautiful unfoldings in 2009.

Yet in many ways, I’ve been in a fog, a trance. I’ve indulged in way too many unhealthy connections with men. This isn’t “happy-go-lucky single mom out in the field dating.” This is establishing and putting a lot of energy into maintaining relationships with no-good men. I have been drinking and smoking…and a little more than “socially.” I’ve put on 30 lbs from nervous and unconscious eating. As of a few weeks ago, I hadn’t meditated in months. I purposely drove myself on far too little sleep…in a sort of ongoing hypomanic frenzy.

Now, I have put it all down. The men, the drinking, the smoking, the junky food. I’m an all-or-nothing kind of girl. Moderation, for me, at this stage of my life, hasn’t worked out so well. Perhaps I am now far more boring, but I’m happier. I have been going to bed at a decent hour and waking at 5:45 am to meditate and start my day off with quiet time to connect with myself and a sense of something larger than myself.

I realize now, not just intellectually but on a much deeper level, that in all the relationships I’ve sought with men, I was really just seeking a spiritual connection. But I convinced myself of my loneliness, my deficiency, my defectiveness as a single mother. I’ve written about it many times, that sense of “something’s wrong.” On a visceral level, I was sure that something was wrong.

Nothing is wrong.

With this little “spiritual awakening” or whatever it is I’ve had, I see that I need to spend a good chunk of time alone, to finally face the demons I’ve been fleeing. And equally as important, to befriend myself.

I am on a mission: to be the best lover I’ve ever had.

In every way. I am going to cherish myself and pleasure myself and treasure myself. I am going to tell myself all the romantic and silly things I would want a man to tell me. I am going to pick myself flowers and tell myself how gorgeous and sexy I look in that outfit, and hell no, my ass doesn’t look big, as I like a little junk in the trunk. When I’m sad, I’m going to hold myself and wipe my tears and remind myself that I am loved. I am going to constantly remind myself of that fact. I am loved, and beautiful, and enough, just as I am.

I’m going to love myself and love my son with all my might. All the energy that used to go into chasing men, dating, trolling the dating websites, scanning the crowd for potential eligible bachelors, is going to go into loving us fiercely. I’m going to thoroughly enjoy our little family of two, nothing missing in that little family. We are a dynamic and adorable duo.

And when Sami is with his dad, I am going to spend some of the time with good and nurturing people and friends, none of the time with people I don’t like or who don’t support me, and a lot of the time by myself. Writing, contemplating, being. Finding my authentic self, my authentic voice, living a more authentic life. I don’t do this just selfishly. I do this for Sami. I want him to see me relatively happy and sane…I want him to see what real self-care is all about. I want him to see that life is too short to be mired in self-pity and endless grasping after that certain perceived “something” or “someone” to make it all better.

I have written about spiritual topics many times without really coming close to living a spiritual life. No shame in that, just an observation of how easy it is to pick up a role and pretend at something.

I am thankful for the latest diagnosis I received. For me, so often, physical illness seems to be the gateway to spiritual opening. It was my back pain, for example, that got me started down the path of alternative medicine and meditation. An enormous opening, to be sure, over five years ago now. Yet like the layers of the onion, there is so much to peel. I feel that I am being stripped down to my essentials, reminded of what’s really important. I’ve always been told, and intellectually understood that “if you don’t love yourself, no one else can really love you.” But I was never willing to put the work into my relationship with myself. I was afraid.

All I can say is that by some miracle, now I’m not afraid. In fact, I really understand on a deep level the words of the Buddha (paraphrased): “Who is more worthy of your love and attention than you?” I don’t even see loving myself as a means to an end (meeting someone else who will love me).

It is a worthy end in itself.

So…I commit to the rest of this year, and declare 2010: the year of loving myself…passionately.