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Hey, you reading this, when was the last time you looked in the mirror and said, “I love you”

I wrote this thinking of you.

This article heading is a line of one of Whitney Houston’s greatest hits and album ever produced dubbed ‘Greatest Love of All.’ The record was released in 1986 when the queen of pop was just 23 years into the planet, it took me an extra two to fully understand her message.  

I heard this song when I was a little girl, about 11 years old and it just caught me; I swear it’s one of my favorite songs in the world. As much as I have listened to this song like a million times, it was only last year, when I was 25years that I actually heard the words, ‘Learning to love yourself…. Is the greatest love of all. Before that I thought she said, ‘learning to love itself’… Damn, I wish we had Google lyrics and weed back then.

If Whitney knew how much this song would mean to a young girl who had never felt the warmth of another’s palm, the rush of blood in another’s veins, a girl who for years had been made to feel worthless, she would consider herself a queen, as she is to me.

The greatest love of all is currently happening to me, and I thought I would share this for people to turn inwards for love rather than look for it in other people, in other places, in drugs, porn and all that fuck shit that will just cast a shadow on your soul and leave you a world wanderer with dues that you will never get to pay.

Our society is rotten. Our moral fabric is deceased. Our concept of self is diminished. We are all lonely souls travelling aimlessly, never landing, hoping for someone to touch us, to make us feel whole, a home that will accept us as we are and a final breath that will not be so painful.

But is that it? Is that all we came here for?

When we were younger, all of us were encouraged to find someone to love for life. That is why so many of my campus mates are getting married at a very staggering rate. Most women my age are just posting wedding photos and rings suggesting their boyfriends pop the question. Most people are in broken marriages and relationships, tolerating abuse and violence just so they can have someone to love them. Someone to touch them, someone to tell them they are worthy, someone to reassure them every day.

But lets just be honest, it doesn’t always work like that right? I have been in myriads of relationships, which all begin with those fiery sparks, blushes, shaking hands, fake smiles, awesome love-making (which feels nice) but all end in disaster; to know that love is not something that you can find in someone else.

You see while we were being encouraged to find someone for keeps, no one ever told us to love ourselves first. And that’s the problem, because how can you pour from an empty cup really?

Cultivating self-love is the most difficult thing in this world, believe me, get it from someone who searched for love outward, everywhere, only later, after 26 years to find the greatest love of all right here, inside of me. She was just waiting for me to turn inwards.

I wish someone had told me this when I was younger, but you see Whitney did tell me but as much as I heard the words, I was not listening and that’s why for years, I thought she was telling me to go out there and find love. Blame it on the years of socially conditioning women that they are not complete without a partner, that our head canting will be tipped over if someone didn’t hold it with their shoulders.

In Whitney’s song, she talks about how the children are the future and they should be given a sense of pride, that we should show them the beauty they posses inside and let them lead the way. I agree with this.

She goes back to her years and tells how everyone around her was searching for a hero, a role model but she didn’t find anyone who fulfilled her needs, so she decided to lean on herself. This is something that I can so much relate to and when she says it was a lonely place to be, I remember my own young years of total loneliness and prejudice for choosing to be different.

She contends,

“I decided long ago,

Never to walk in anyone’s shadow

If I fail

If I succeed

At least I lived

As I believed

No matter what

They take from me

They can’t take away

My dignity!”

And now 26 years later, I am blossoming into a fearless dragon. This is after years and years of low self-concept , of being so fearful I shit my pants, of sexual abuse, allowing people to make me feel worthless, losing a child, doubting myself over and over again, being beaten, being betrayed, not forgiving myself, waiting for love from women and men who didn’t love me back, not feeding myself properly, falling as low as you can go…

But there’s really only one place you can go when you are at zero.

People have taken from me, including my own body but I am reclaiming me again. Whatever they took from me, they really couldn’t take my dignity. No one has that kind of power.

The greatest love is happening to me, I am learning to love myself. I am going back to that little girl and apologizing for not making her feel worthy. I am meeting my younger me.

I hope that you too will find the courage to look inward, to be fair with yourself, to forgive others so that you too can be forgiven, to water yourself till you can feel like you again. I hope that you find the courage to love yourself and experience the greatest Love of all.

I wish Whitney were here for me to tell her how much she blessed my life.

By Wambui Ochieng'

Radical Feminist

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