I have to tell you about the time I fell in love with this guy who showed me how much I didn’t love myself.
I had been single for a while and thought I was ready to date. I sought him out. Something I rarely do because I have my own shit stemming from a fear of rejection which is a problem in itself, especially since you wouldn’t have known that by just talking to me back then. If you asked me why I didn’t approach men, I would have probably told you something like, “I feel like I am the mouse.” Meaning, I felt like the “kats” were supposed to chase me. That kind of shit. You know? Ego shit.
Anyway. I stalked this guy, not really but really, for a while trying to figure out how I could make him notice me. He did. And once he got into what I was giving him, he wanted more of me. And I gave it to him. But only the parts of me that past experiences, and the people in them had loved and affirmed about me. My best self. I suffocated him with my humor, my nurturing nature, my extreme affection, my sensitivity, my never-ending thoughts on life and everything in it. Those things.
And while I gave him the edited version of myself, he allowed me to get to know him in his totality. Everything that made him good was accompanied by everything that did not. He led with his flaws and placed them on my plate. I ate them up because they tasted so familiar. They tasted like the flaws that I had and hid from him. Once I got full, the flaws of his that mirrored that of my own rose up from within like throw up. Outside of me and then onto him.
The throw up looked like me telling him how much I hated the things that made him, him… never once telling him that it was really because they made me look at me.
I looked at it like this:
If I threw his inability to trust easily, or articulate his thoughts, or step outside of his past, or tell me what really scared him, or exercise more patience, if I threw those things in his face, then I wouldn’t have to face what those things made me realize about myself.Truth is, despite my best efforts to bypass myself by misplacing blame and focus onto him, it all still came back to me.
He and his flaws still mirrored my own and instead of me getting him to change or grow past his flaws–to clean them up for me–he simply walked away. And once he did, I had no choice but to face myself. The kicker to that is before I was able to fully understand how dysfunctional my inability to see myself was, I met a guy after him that did to me what I did to him. That was my wake up call.
I found out that the cycle of inner brokenness enters into our lives from the outside, in when we refuse to acknowledge that it exists.
Fast forward to now.
I think about how we often lead in love and relationships with this false sense of confidence. We don’t have it together as much as many of us portray, and often times relationships with others highlight that. We present this greater version of ourselves for many reasons mainly all pointing to fear. We don’t want to be seen for who we are and rejected because of it. We don’t want to show up as our f*cked up selves, clueless as to how to navigate life because we just know that judgment is on the other side. We don’t want to express our desires and live in them because they seem so foreign when we look outside of ourselves.
It wasn’t until I started having hard conversations with myself about myself that I realized that part of the reason I was single had nothing to do with the men I took interest in. It had nothing to do with their shit and everything to do with my own. It was the fact that I had let hurt and shame and fear build up in me to the point that I completely neglected myself in my truest form. And how could I be open to the greatest love affair with someone else if I were too scared to have the greatest love affair with myself?
So why does any of this matter? I think it matters because when I see people on Valentine’s Day talking down upon this celebratory day of love, I know a lot of it comes out of unprocessed hurt from shit that happened years ago. I know that as much as many of us say we don’t want (or need) love, we do, and we only say that we don’t because we don’t truly want to be open to the transformation that has to occur before we get there. That part is tough, scary, and often times too real for us. But guess what, it’s very necessary.
Go love on someone today, starting with yourself. Happy Valentine’s Day.
Also published on Medium.