This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Milk and Honey" by Rupi Kaur. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.
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What lessons does milk and honey author Rupi Kaur explore in her poetry collection? What does this say about her personal journey of finding self-love and self-worth?
Rupi Kaur started childhood feeling like she wasn’t worth much. After the milk and honey author found self-worth, a tumultuous breakup challenged her views on herself.
Read more about the milk and honey author and her journey to self-love.
Milk and Honey Author Struggles to Hold Onto Self-Worth
Despite the intense emotions the milk and honey author felt following the breakup, Kaur worked to maintain the self-worth she had built. By the end, he had treated her like she was a commodity to be used and left instead of a partner to care for and support. She knew that she was worth more than that. She didn’t want to be something he just wanted to fool around with. She wanted a relationship where he needed to be with her and gave her the respect she deserved.
While she felt mixed emotions about the breakup, she didn’t regret it ending. She knew the longer she was with him, the less she would love herself. She was giving too much of herself trying to make the relationship work. She accepted that if he didn’t want her, then nothing she did was going to change that. She stopped questioning what else she could have done to keep him and accepted that he was simply not able to handle everything that she was giving to him.
She realized that the only person that could make her feel whole was herself. She stopped trying to build her life around another person and started focusing on building a life around herself. When she stepped back, she noticed that many of the qualities she loved about her ex were actually just reflections of her own actions and affections. She had taught him how to love her by loving herself. When she realized that, she once again felt whole.
Healing and Moving On
As she moved on from her first love, Kaur learned that the key to happiness in life is self-love. Throughout her childhood, she felt defined by her surroundings. In her relationship, she felt defined by her lover. With distance from both of those, she realized the only person who could define who she was as a human being was herself.
Milk and Honey Author: Finding Self-Love
Kaur saw that there was no use in clinging on to someone who didn’t want her in return. In fact, the milk and honey author realized that there was no use entering a relationship at all until she loved herself. She concluded that the only way to have a healthy relationship was to embrace that she deserved more than love that hurt her.
While she felt lonely after the breakup, she found that waiting for someone to make her feel whole was a futile task. She realized that the cure to loneliness isn’t finding another person to complete you. It’s embracing that you are a complete human being without anyone else. If you learn to love yourself when you’re alone, the feelings of loneliness won’t feel as crushing. Other people can complement your strengths, but they can’t give you the things you think you lack.
Kaur views pain as part of being human. Everyone experiences pain. It’s what you do with it that counts. She used her pain to strengthen her resolve and accept that she deserved to love herself and reject the people that hurt her. She saw every experience as a chance for gratitude. When she got hurt, she saw it as an opportunity to learn. When she was given love, she embraced it with open arms.
She realized that her self-love taught other people how to love her. The more she valued herself, the more others valued her. This wasn’t because she changed anything about herself. Rather, her best qualities began to rise to the surface because they were no longer bogged down by insecurity.
Despite her pain, Kaur insists that everyone should love passionately and wholeheartedly. The milk and honey author insists that nothing else matters if you can’t offer and accept love. You could have the greatest job in the world and make obscene amounts of money, but, without love, you’ll never feel fulfilled.
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Here's what you'll find in our full Milk and Honey summary :
- How Rupi Kaur suffered sexual assault and oppression as a child
- What red flags Kaur missed in her toxic relationship
- How Kaur was able to heal and embrace her femininity