I hated myself. That was the cold, harsh, and lonely reality of it all. The tragedy of this hate is that I did not realize that I hated myself. I knew that because I was overweight, I needed to work on shedding some pounds. I knew that I did not like my nose, I wished it was a tad smaller. I knew that my natural hair had seemed to be stuck at my shoulder for the past year. But, it never crossed my mind that I could subconsciously hate myself. That is, until my most recent relationship ended and I was tasked with doing the emotional work of wondering how in the hell did I end up heartbroken with only a pair of Uggs to show for all my time and effort.
In my relationships I was the giver. If there was something that my man needed or wanted, and I had the capacity to fulfill that desire, then he may as well have considered it done. For a long time I equated being submissive to what it took to earn a mans love. Disney had convinced me of this wild fairy tale ending. I had the idea that all I needed to do was look really pretty, be able to fit my foot in the shoe, and BOOM, I would be well on my way to being married with three children.
This, I have found is not the reality and I have paid a steep price for such beliefs. Lets go on a little journey:
My mom and dad divorced while I was still in pre-k. Prior to the relationship’s end, I was a bonafide daddy’s girl. I would wait up at night for him to come home from work, wouldn’t rest until I saw his face. I wanted to go wherever it was that he went. I was his shadow and he was my idol. So, imagine the gaping hole that his unexpected departure left in my heart when he left the family we had, moved to another state, and began a life with another woman and child the two of them had created. Of course, it would be years before I found out the real reason behind my parent’s divorce but that did not lessen the blow. If anything, when I discovered the truth, it hurt even worse. I felt rejected, and I felt replaced. This was and still is the first heartbreak that I have ever experienced. It was a bond, a connection, that was torn at the seams and I was left, at about five years old, to figure out how to put the pieces back together.
Needless to say, its no wonder today that I have issues with my self-esteem and confidence. By no means am I using something that happened when I was five as an excuse for my own inability to see my greatness. However, what I am saying is that it undoubtedly had a detrimental effect on my psyche and my development as someone who would grow up to be a woman. In a perfect world, a woman’s father is the first person who begins to build up her confidence. In my world, that opportunity was pretty much missed and I had to figure out exactly what my place was in this world.
If self-love and self-worth and confidence were a test, I would have failed a million times up until now. God has recently closed the door on my relationship. I thought this was the man that I would marry. He was attractive, he attended church on Sundays, and he was focused. He was everything that I thought I wanted– I had placed him on a mental pedestal before I even began to get to know him. So I pursued him. That was my first mistake. I had placed this man on a pedestal without knowing anything about his character and I thought that I should work to change myself to get his attention. From the moment that I pursued him, until we got until a relationship, until he told me that he no longer wanted to be with me, I pursued him. I had something to prove. This had to work. He had to love me the way that I loved him. We had to be married by 25 so that I would be able to have his children by 27 because I wasn’t trying to have kids all up in my 30s. And we had to move to the same place after college because long distance just was not going to work. And despite how he aggravated my insecurities it still had to work. Despite the times that my feelings were ignored or made insignificant. Oh, remember that time when…?
After we broke up, that is exactly what I had to do. I was forced to stop. I was forced to look. I was torn up that he no longer wanted to be with me. I had the gumption to even be shocked– even though I had just prayed and cried to Jesus to take away anything that was not in His Will for me (lol, no take backs sis). I was even more upset when I had to cry some more and reject his offer of friendship. Knowing that my rejection would certainly be the end of our entire relationship– friendship and all. I turned our relationship inside out in my mind wondering where *I* had gone wrong. What it was that I had done or did not do. While there were some things that I could have undoubtedly done better, I had to accept that I could have done everything “right” and this still would have been the end result. Because some things and people are only for a season and we must have the discernment to know when the seasons are changing.
If you are reading this and you are going through a break up, in an unhealthy relationship, or just unhappy period I want to remind you that your first responsibility is to yourself. I know that it sounds selfish but I have paid the price of loving others more than myself. I have allowed myself to be belittled, sometimes manipulated, disrespected, and undervalued. Though this post stems from my most recent breakup, these themes have occurred in relationships from the past as well. This is not an insult to the man’s character, but rather a testament to what can transpire if we are not diligent of ourselves. This is not me telling you to leave your man if you are happy and he treats you with the utmost respect and care. But this is for my sis’s who struggle with self-love and boundaries.
The most important thing that we can ever do for ourselves is to learn to love ALL of who we are and where we are.
If you are someone who is a giver, a people pleaser, someone who feels that they have to make people love them then I implore you to ask yourself why. Why do you give your full self to people who can only offer you half? Why do you stay in spaces where you no longer fit? Why do you value other’s above yourself? These are some of the questions that I have had to ask myself since my relationship has ended. The answers are not always pretty, but it has been in the answers that I have found my truth. The truth is, I am enough, I do not need anyone to love me, like me, marry me, befriend me or any of the sort. I love me, I like who I am, and though I am very uncomfortable, I love where I am too. No one likes to admit that they are not as mentally strong as they pretend, but we may can lie to other people, but we cannot lie to ourselves. Your life is a reflection of what is on the inside of you.
Many people think of death as something that is final. They say that whenever someone dies, another person is born. I am thankful for my relationship’s death. In its death, the old me died, and has allowed for the birthing of my best, authentic, self.
With much self-love,