When I call author Christine Arylo on a Thursday afternoon, she’s doing what one would expect of a self-love expert: being good to herself. “I’m at my girlfriend’s house. She’s gone for the week, and she left me a beautiful bottle of Zinfandel and some flowers,” she describes. “I’m sitting here in beautiful wine country. After we’re done I’m going to go to take a walk.”
Now, that sounds like the life, but it wasn’t always this good for Christine. Ten years ago, she was sitting in a parked car with her fiancé hearing the most crushing words a bride-to-be can imagine.
“On our way to our engagement party at my mother’s house where 40 people were waiting for us, he stopped and looked at me and said, ‘I don’t want to marry you. I don’t love you anymore, and by the way, I’ve been cheating on you for the last six months,’” she recalls.
Christine remained strong, determined to fix the broken relationship. She begged and pleaded with him to change his mind and describes those two weeks as “the lowest point in my life.” She says, “I really thought I was going to die. I couldn’t get to work with makeup on my face, because I’d just cry all the time.”
Finally a friend encouraged her to see an astrologer. She says, “I got my chart read and his chart read, and she said to me, ‘Honey, you can keep following this guy around for the next 40 years and he’s going to keep breaking your heart. Or you can leave and your life will open up in places you could never imagine.’”
Christine knew in her heart it was true. She says, “I knew that the day he proposed to me. I knew it the day we bought our house together. I knew it, but I was unable to admit it to myself. I was unwilling to look at what was going on inside of myself that was stuffing him into my own emotional hole. It was because I didn’t love myself.”
She moved out of the house and stayed with a friend. She describes the first night as painful. However, as she stared up at the ceiling, she says a voice spoke to her. “’The reason that your heart hurts, Christine, isn’t because he’s not there. It’s because you’re not there. While you’re very confident and successful in your career and you like yourself quite a bit, you don’t love yourself. You’ve been settling for a long time. You don’t really know what love is.’”
That night Christine made two personal vows: to fall in love with herself and to never settle for less again.
She embarked on a spiritual journey that took her all over the world. While maintaining her high-level corporate job, she sought spiritual retreats in her spare time. Eventually, she learned to listen to her intuition and it led her to a revelation.
“I was with a good friend of mine -- a girl who had just gotten divorced and was miserable,” she says. “She was trying to find herself and couldn’t. We were dancing in the living room to Frank Sinatra. All of a sudden, it just hit me. I looked at her and I said, ‘You need to fall in love with yourself.’ It was like the universe said this to me. I’m the one that’s going to teach women how to love themselves.”
At the time, Christine was uncertain, feeling as though she lacked the leadership expertise to jump into the business of self-love. However, she took a leap of faith, left her job in 2006 and made ends meet with consulting work while coaching women with the tools she had learned.
“It was really much more of a progression,” she explains. “I gave myself patience. I gave myself what I call a bridge, knowing it was going to take a few years for me to be able to go from one place to the other.”
She began writing her book, Choosing Me Before We: The Everywoman’s Guide to Life and Love. Christine says, “I couldn’t stand watching all these really smart fabulous women wanting these partnerships, and it seems like they couldn’t create them because the didn’t have it with themselves. It was like there was some handbook that we were all missing.”
Even in this modern day, it’s clear that even the strongest, many intelligent women find themselves either miserably alone or in precarious relationships. Christine definitely understands.
“We’ve been trained especially as women for centuries to believe that putting yourself first is selfish,” she says. “When you look up the definition of self love, the current definition is conceit, vanity and narcissism. So we’re really shifting a way of viewing. The second reason why I think it’s so hard for women is because they just don’t really understand love. We think of love as something that we get from something versus something we have inside of ourselves and have access to all the time.”
Christine eventually met Noah, the man she calls "Walking Love". She discovered that even in a relationship, the need for self-love was just as important. “I remember a few weeks into dating, he said to me, ‘Christine, I don’t know what’s going to happen between the two of us, but you have to raise your standard for men. You can’t like a man just because he’s nice to you. Men are supposed to be nice to you.' I looked at him like he just told me that he could walk on water. I had just been assuming that it was okay to be disrespected. It was okay to be verbally or emotionally abused and that was different than being in an unhealthy relationship. All these things I had accepted because I also did them to myself.”
Today, Christine spreads her self-love revolution through her life coaching company Dare to Live You. She also has an online community, GirlTalk, where women discuss real issues. She has her own line of jewelry for women to wear their love in style. She’s working on her second book Madly in Love with Me: The Daring Adventure to Being Your Own Best Friend due in Spring 2012. She’s a busy woman, but she wouldn’t have it any other way. “It’s the best job ever to be able to teach love,” she says.
Through her spiritual journey that continues to unfold, Christine Arylo’s message remains the same and it springs from the vows she made to herself: "You really have to love yourself first. Honor yourself first. Trust yourself first. You have to develop a partnership with yourself first."
Want more? Read "Christine Arylo on Learning to Love Yourself after Loss"