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How to Remember to Finally Love Yourself

"To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance." - Oscar Wilde

I absolutely loved myself as a little girl. I loved my growing, curious body. I loved my exquisite Inner World, filled with ocean adventures and mermaids and crystal-clear waters and orca whales. I loved to express the radiance I felt inside me through unchoreographed dance, song, and art. I was like many other young girls, excited to be alive, delighted in her own imagination and curiosity.

I remember my first (and only) pageant at 6 years old. It was my earliest exposure to performing on a stage. I remember the massive Indianapolis hotel, the shining lights, the bouncing teased 80’s curls and poofy sleeves of white gowns. To open the show, the young contestants performed a version of the Hokey Pokey.

I remember looking out on the crowd, not feeling afraid, but ALIVE! When the song came on, it felt like my entire body filled with electricity and all I wanted to do was take up as much space as I physically could. I don’t remember much when I was six, but I DEFINITELY remember this performance.

Thankfully, my mom caught the defining moment on film. This photograph serves as evidence that I was an ecstatic little girl living her best life. In this photo, the girls have their hands in the air and feet spread slightly to portray some sort of starburst position… that is, all the girls but me. There I am, in my blue and white polka-dotted dress and teased bangs, completely airborne with arms and legs outstretched as far as they can go and my face beaming with utter delight. I looked like a firework exploding on stage.

It was clear this little girl knew Who She Was. She loved being alive. The very act of BEING Her Brilliant Self lit her on fire. But most importantly, she loved Herself fully.

As I grew into a teenager and my body started to change, I continued to delight in myself and took every opportunity to shine brightly. I expressed my Creative Life Force through ballet, free dancing, and hip-hop, acting, painting, and singing. As much as I felt sure of Who I Was, my large blossoming bosom, ass, and curves were causing a stir around me that put cracks in my self-image and love.

It felt like becoming a Woman suddenly gave the world permission to tell me its opinion of how it thinks I should look and behave. Or those messages had always been there, and I only started to hear them. Regardless, I was suddenly aware of the stories of “How a Woman Earns Love in the Real World.”

You know these stories I speak of, yes? The ones that say if we don’t behave or comply with their standards, we won’t get love. The stories that say we’re not enough. Not thin enough. Not curvy enough. Not tall enough. Not pretty enough. Not sexy enough. Not talented enough. Not feminine enough. Oh, and you better not fit into the Too Much category if you want to be loved. How dare you be too sexy. Too loud. Too bubbly. Too quiet. Too big. Too small. Too much makeup. Too feminine. Too messy. Too perfect. Their actions, messages, and stares told me all these stories, and my young heart didn’t know they were fiction. Like most girls, I took the narratives as gospel.

Many adults would make hushed, and sometimes quite loud, comments about my curvy body, talent, or impractical art. It was my intelligence, however, that caught the most attention from the adults. Every time I won an academic award or achieved an impressive test score, they would pour their love and attention into me, far more than I would receive from my art or performances. My intellectual abilities were my golden ticket to acceptance and love.

Unbeknownst to them, the grownups were watering the tiny seed of Self-Abandonment planted inside me. That poisonous thought-seed told me that displaying or using my intelligence made me more worthy of love than my creative expression. Eventually, the seed took root, and I poured more energy and focus into my studies and achievements, while simultaneously walking away from my Creative Life Force.

Like every teenage girl, I wanted to be loved and accepted. So, I embraced my intellect and personal drive and left the “childish things” behind. First, the dancing was abandoned at 17. Next, I left the world of singing, musicals, and choir behind when I graduated school. At 19, I completely stepped away from my art, turning down a coveted scholarship to a prestigious art school. The last piece of my Creative Life Force to be cast aside was my feminine body and individuality as I joined the Promised Land of Achievement and Security: The United States Navy.

In the height of the post 9/11 Middle Eastern wars, I became an Intelligence Specialist for the Navy. Year after year, they beat out my bubbly personality, told me to cover up my body in oversized uniforms so not to distract and seduce the men with my vivacious curves, and my female Chiefs told me never to cry or else the men would never respect me. Like a good girl, I complied, and my assimilation led to unimaginable achievement.

Less than a decade later, I had done “it,” I had won the Life Lottery. I achieved success, receiving award after award. I had a successful military husband, the dog, the house, and a promising future. I had surpassed many of my male counterparts and my husband who joined the Navy on the same day. Despite disciplinary setbacks early in my career, I was promoted to the rank of E-7, a Chief Petty Officer, in just shy of 9 years’ time. It was an impressive feat even in my small intelligence community. To every onlooker, I had it made.

There was only one problem: I absolutely hated myself.

woman looking in broken glass with Her Nation Magazine
To every onlooker, I had it made. There was only one problem: I absolutely hated myself.

I was empty, void of color, dead inside. They promised I would feel successful and be accepted, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. I had arrived in their Promised Land, but my Inner Light was nowhere to be found. I felt alone, unloved, and unseen by everyone. Especially myself.

I coped by drinking heavily and smoking, fraternizing and participating in self-deprecating sexual activities that risked my career and ruined relationships with others. I was miserable in my first marriage, eventually breaking up with him while deployed overseas. I was then drugged and sexually assaulted by another sailor the day I returned from that same deployment, and I never reported the crime out of fear of repercussions and blaming myself. My self-love had been plundered into the depths of the ocean, and with it my self-respect and self-esteem.

Then suddenly, after 10 years of honorable service, I had a moment of immense clarity and inner knowing while pregnant with my daughter. I was DONE. I stepped away from my very promising career in the military. I left my friends, shipmates, and my prestigious rank. I said goodbye to my secure paycheck, my top-secret clearance, my future as a decorated enlisted leader or potential Naval Officer. In one fell swoop, I burned it all to the fucking ground.

OK, I’m going to pause my story for a moment, because I feel like we need to have a little Sisterly Chat. But first, let’s take a breath together. Deep breath in…. and out. Feel better? Ok good, me too.

Let me ask you a question, dear Sister. Does any of this sound familiar to you? As you read my story, do you feel the turning deep inside your stomach? Do flashes of a little girl creating and expressing herself come to mind? Did you leave Her behind while walking towards the Promised Land of Accolades and Security? Have you also left pieces of your Self scattered across the life you’ve lived?

Regardless of where you are on your journey, I invite you to explore these questions with an open heart and mind. Whether you are in the height of your success or have walked away from it all like I did, I want to give you a big ole’ freaking hug. I am so proud of you for living this life as a woman in strange, unbalanced, masculine-dominated patriarchal world.

The fact is not lost on me that you selected THIS article to read. While I appreciate you reading my story, I know there is a reason you chose to read an article on learning how to finally love yourself.

Since we are both here together, and I’m not one to beat around the bush, I’m going to slap a big honking truth bomb on you right now. Please know this comes from the deepest place of love, compassion, and understanding:

You can’t “learn to finally love yourself” because you ALREADY KNOW how to love yourself. You just can’t REMEMBER how. I know this because I had forgotten, too. Turns out, we’re not broken and unlovable, we’ve all just forgotten Who the Fuck We Really Are.

It’s funny, really, how we go about searching the world to learn to love ourselves again. When we’ve had Love here with us the whole time. It’s just buried under years of make-believe stories and impossible expectations and grief and failed attempts at perfection. Maybe that’s hard to believe right now, but one day, I hope you feel that glorious Love that comes from being enamored with your Radiant Self.

I can look back and see that Love pumping through my veins each time I picked up a paintbrush, did a switch kick in my kitchen, or belted out Kelly Clarkson in my car. Can you think of that time when you expressed the Fullness of You? When you felt the electricity of Life, the warmth of Being Seen, the delight of Authentic Expression?

Maybe it’s been so long, you can’t even remember with your conscious mind. Maybe you were still in diapers. Or maybe it was before your first period. Or perhaps it was as a teenager, like me. Rest assured, your mind may have forgotten, but your Body never forgets. She knows how to bring the pieces of You back together.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret from a woman who in head over heels in love with Her Whole Being. Something magical happens once you come back to that Creative Life Force inside your core. When you remember how remarkable you are, there is a very real chance you will fall so deeply in love with your Beingness that not a single worldly narrative could touch you. Every curve and bump, every off pitch note or wonky art project, and every drop of blood from your divine pussy would become a heavenly sonnet, a radiant wildflower, a Goddess expressing herself in glorious reverie. You would see yourself as God/Source/Universe Expressed in Human Form, here to shine with the brilliance of a million galaxies.

I’m crying even as I’m writing this because I STILL forget sometimes as well. It feels like a pendulum of Remembering, where I swing in and out of full Love and Expression. I’ve pulled all those pieces of Me back together, and sometimes those stories still creep up and tell me horrible things. But now, the more I remember my complete Brilliance and honor my divinity by fully Being Me, the more Love I have for my Self. I know the Truth of Me. And you can remember the Truth of You, too.

Let me ask you this question: How would you act if you viewed yourself as a beautiful unique expression of the divine? How could this deep, unwavering Love of You change the course of your life? I have asked myself this question many times, and even the act of asking this question brings me back to a place of love of self and helps me act from THAT place of respect, love, and devotion.

Now, I won't lie to you. Finding that love for myself again was life-shattering. It took years of serious soul-searching and utter destruction of my external and internal worlds to uncover Her. Was it worth feeling all the pain? Fuck. YES. Every tear shed, every fear faced, it was all worth it to rediscover the Creative Life Force within me.

You may be asking: How do I do it? How can I find Me so I can fall in love with Her again?

Truth is, I don’t know the way back for you. I do, however, believe in the power of storytelling. When women share their stories, it stirs up ancient memories inside our bones. It awakens the sleeping parts of us, so that we can climb out of the dusty grave we’ve found ourselves in and breathe life in our weary souls. So, shall I weave you the second part of my tale, the part where I find Me again? My hope is that, by sharing my story, you may feel inspired to find your own way back to You.

When I left the military a decade ago, I couldn’t have told you what the path back to Me was going to look like. I felt like Elsa in Frozen 2, walking towards a siren’s call only I could hear. No one understood it, not even me. All I knew was I was not going to find Me in my mind. It would take the ultimate descent into my body, the darkest recesses of My Being, to find the Inner Love and Joy I had lost so long ago.

Like so many other women, my soul’s chosen path to reawaken my Creative Life Force included a real-life reenactment of the Tower tarot card. Every earthquake and disastrous fire revealed another layer to be burned to the ground of my life.

It started with a coerced and manipulated cesarean section that propelled me down the path of midwifery, women’s health, and birth advocacy. Next, a cataclysmic implosion in my incredible second marriage left me a single mom to a toddler overnight with no job, no home, and no clue how to carry on alone.

My body took the next few blows, when years of abuse from internal and external sources sent my physical and mental health spiraling out of control. Suicidal ideations and a scary experience with COVID-19 while going through nursing school as a single mother during the pandemic had nearly crushed me. Mismanaged polycystic ovarian syndrome, dismissed symptoms, and months of suffering with undiagnosed pelvic inflammatory disease sent me questioning everything I understood about my body and healthcare.

The last brick to fall from my Tower sent me straight to the unimaginable bottom of Me. Another tragedy in my family resulted in the lossof my first job as an emergency department registered nurse, only six months after graduating as valedictorian of my class. Now, I was truly in the Dark Night of the Soul.

Lost, ashamed, broken, I isolated myself from my family, peers, and friends. Life had brought me to my knees, stripped naked of all the masks and false securities I had so desperately clung to for my whole adult life. I started writing and journaling to soothe. Then, finally, the Universe and my Higher Self decided I was ready for the Re-minder of Who I Really Am.

Life had brought me to my knees, stripped naked of all the masks and false securities I had so desperately clung to for my whole adult life.

One day while endlessly scrolling on social media, a friend of mine posted about a journal that focused on building awareness of your menstrual cycle through daily introspection and observation. I experienced a sudden overwhelming urge to buy this journal. It looked cool enough, kind of spiritual and feminine and well organized. But deep inside my gut, there was an intense stirring I hadn’t felt in years. At once, I acted on that impulse and bought it. That same week, my friend had lent me Regina Thomashauer’s (aka Mama Gena) book “Pussy: A Reclamation” and I had just read the first few pages. These two synchronistic events changed the course of my life forever.

Turns out, getting curious about my menstrual cycles and pleasure was my Portal back inside my Self. I had no idea that beginning a practice of daily cycle awareness and pleasure cultivation would take me into the depths of my pain that would eventually lead me back to My True Essence.

I found Her deep inside my Womb, hidden underneath years of neglect, torment, and unsung grief. See, I had experienced all that loss in my mind, but I had yet to FEEL all that loss trapped in my Body. One gut-wrenching, wailing journal entry at a time, I broke the chains off my Creative Life Force that had been locked up inside me for so long.

I awkwardly started to dance again. I sang in the car with women like Yaima and Nessi Gomes. I painted for the first time in 15 years. I meditated and read oracle cards and journaled. I started a small women’s circle and spoke about my discoveries in daily live videos on social media. I sought out my own pleasure while doing chores. I drew boundaries around my Bleed and protected my cyclical based self-care. I started filling my head with people who spoke amazing words about cycle syncing, body connection, unbridled joy, feminine pleasure as a birthright, conscious abundance, creativity, worthiness, and self-love. I slowly reawakened my Creative Life Force.

Suddenly, I realized I had found my Self again, and she was the most beautiful creature I had ever seen. The love that washed over me at this remembrance felt like the sun and the moon, every beautiful piece of music and radiant flower all wrapped into one Exquisite Moment. I felt just like Elsa when she arrived at Ahtohallan, how she cried with joy in that cave when she realized the One she had been searching for the whole time… had been her Own Fully Expressed Self the whole time.

As I conclude this chapter of my story, I want to bring this conversation back to you. Because YOU are the reason I share my story. Here you are, spending your precious time reading an article titled “How to Learn to Finally Love Yourself.” Maybe we know each other, but probably not. Regardless, I know YOU, Sister. I can feel your heart longing for the Love that deep down you know exists. I know you because I WAS you. I AM you.

We have different experiences and traumas, diverse backgrounds, different achievements, and failures. But at the core, we all long to feel loved and appreciated for Who We Truly Are. And there is no one in the Universe that wants to be seen more by you, than You. All the praise and love from the outside world cannot compare to the depths of Love available to you from your very Own Self.

So, how do you find Her? How do you get With In? Like I said earlier, I don’t know the access point for you. Your portal could be like mine, through your body, womb, and pussy. I know the more women I talk to about their experiences, the more that these elements keep coming up for us. If you feel drawn to those paths, I’m happy to walk with you through those portals.

I also know this: You aren’t going to find Self-Love OUT there. Not from another person. Not from a job. Not from a beauty cream. Not from reaching a certain clothing size. Not from money or status or financial security. Not from becoming a mother or wife or published author or the CEO of a Fortune 500 company. The only way to genuinely Love Your Self is to get to know HER. The REAL You, the Creative You, the Alive You that’s hiding underneath all that other shit. And then LET HER OUT into the Light of Day.

Want to start this Self-Discovery quest? I invite you try this exercise out, today, right now. Don’t think too hard about it, just DO it. Your mind will try to keep you from coming face to face with your Inner Demons, because it wants to protect you. But just like a seed planted in the ground, the only way back to You is through the Dark Soil of You.

1. Close the door and sit in front of your mirror. Close your eyes and breathe for a few minutes. Put on some soft music if it helps you relax.

2. Open your eyes and LOOK at yourself. Look into your eyes, look at your body, just LOOK. Don’t turn away, don’t look down. Look into your eyes and speak out loud to You. Tell yourself all the things you’ve been holding inside, your fears, your angers. Get real with yourself.

3. Once you feel the shift of energy and things go quiet, tell your Self all the beautiful, loving things you’ve been longing to hear from others. Tell your Self how beautiful you are. How magnificent your body is for allowing you to hug your kids or pet your fur baby or kiss your partner or hike a trail or swim in the ocean. Thank all your parts for allowing you to experience life. Hug your Self and caress yourself and just TALK with Her.

A word from the wise: This You, this Stranger in the mirror, might feel like an Enemy at first. She may seem foreign, ugly, and angry. You will want to fight Her or hide from Her, but I encourage you to stay and bring gentleness, curiosity and compassion instead. Once you’ve stood face to face with this Strange Enemy enough times, you’ll realize that She is not your enemy. She’s actually the One we’ve been searching for your whole life.

woman writing on Her Nation Magazine
Because YOU are the reason I share my story. Here you are, spending your precious time reading an article titled “How to Learn to Finally Love Yourself.” Maybe we know each other, but probably not. Regardless, I know YOU, Sister.

Like Moana staring at the wrathful Te Kā, you’ll see that the vengeful, jealous, empty, contorted figure in the mirror is not Who You Truly Are… it is an avatar molded by society, missing her Heart, her Creative Life Force. Once your Heart, your Inner She is restored, you’ll emerge as the glorious Goddess you always were.

Then, you will realize you never needed to LEARN to love yourself. You only needed to remember The Real You. Because once you see and let Her out of the cage, Love will flow within and without.

Go find Your Self, Sister. Take your Body by the hand and dive into the depths of your Being so you can find the beauty of your Splendidness. And when you find Her, come tell me, so we can celebrate, sing, and paint and cry and laugh together like two radiant, unique wildflowers dancing and swaying in the summer breeze, shining unashamed in their own brilliance.


Kori Rae Kovacs | with Her Nation Magazine
Kori Rae Kovacs | Registered Nurse and Women’s Cycle Wellness Coach

Meet the expert:

Kori Rae Kovacs is a Registered Nurse and Women’s Cycle Wellness Coach. She has spent the last decade repairing her relationship with her body, mind, and soul, after years of self-abandonment as a woman in the military. Kori Rae dedicates her time to helping women heal their relationship with their bodies and menstrual cycles, reconnecting them to their Inner Love and Creative Life Force.

Dive deeper into her wealth of knowledge:



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