Looking back on the past few years of my life — about 5 to be exact, I have struggled with self-love. I feel like this phrase is more common nowadays, more wide-spread and well known. Maybe to some it’s a cliché, a trend, somewhat of a basic and overused phrase. But to me? It is what I have battled with for a good portion of my abbreviated life.
It took me a very long time to get to where I am mentally today, and I am so thankful for that. I am blessed to have been given to opportunities this life has given me, the friends that I have, and the love I have given and gotten back. The toughest love of them all was the love that I had to give myself, because I never thought I actually deserved it.
I became ashamed of who I was all because of people who really didn’t matter to me, people who played no significant role in my life and well-being. I subconsciously tore myself down daily, ripped myself apart from the inside out, observed all my flaws until I ended up hating myself physically and mentally. I made myself believe that someday somebody would come into my life and relinquish all the effort I have given them and then I would be happy, I would be whole again.
I stopped surrounding myself with such adverse people, people that were so negative about so many aspects of their lives that they saw me as an opportunity to gain something for their own good. I was a doormat. I was someone who would drop everything to help somebody else, no matter how little purpose they had in my life. I felt that if I gave and gave and gave, someday someone would look me in the eyes and think more of me than I thought of myself. That maybe they would finally give back to me all that I have given out. Maybe for once in my life someone would ask me how I’m doing, ask me why I looked sad today, maybe just one person would stop and ask me how I was feeling. It took far too long for me to figure out that you do not need people in your life who don’t even ask you how you’re doing.
I am not looking for sympathy — I don’t even want empathy. I want more people to grasp the idea that it is utterly understandable to feel like you can never get back that love you have given to another person. The time, patience, and effort you have given to other people who never gave you back even a percentage of all that you gave them, no matter how long you waited around just hoping you would get something back. I relied so heavily on others for my happiness that I forgot how much power I had over my own life. It took me too long to realize that you should not break yourself into pieces to make another person whole again.
The truth of this all is that you get no say in who you love and who loves you back. You have no say in what part they will play in your life, if any part at all. You do not choose how they end up treating you and you don’t get to choose whether they stay or go in the end. But you are the only person who decides how you pick yourself back up after all is said and done. I know the feeling all too well, like your heart has been crushed inside your chest and you’re suffocating beneath your own skin. Like the world around you is a giant blanket and it’s covering you and smothering you until you stop breathing altogether. You have given your all to someone just to be let down yet again.
Through my experiences I have come out stronger and more positive than I thought possible. I have realized my self-worth on a much deeper level than I have ever been able to notice before. There is so much happiness in the simple pleasures that often go unnoticed when we are distracted by the opinions and actions of others. I now know that not everyone in this world will have the same heart as me and care about little things as much as I do, and that is okay. I have told myself this and come to terms with the fact that you are not made to please everyone— it’s impossible.
Do not hold the door to your life open for someone that doesn’t intend on walking through. No one asked you to hold that damn door open. How someone treats you is how they feel about you— plain and simple. Do not try to decode it; do not make excuses for their actions. If they act like they don’t care, they don’t. It’s as transparent as that.
I wish I could go back and tell myself all of this years ago, I really do. I can say now that I love who I am, I love how much I care and how far I am willing to go for the people who have positively influenced my life and deserve the love I am pleased to share with them. I am not apologetic towards the experiences that led me to discover my self-love, nor am I bitter towards the people who ended up teaching me this lesson. All I can do now is understand it, learn from it, and never again will I cross oceans for people that won’t even get their feet wet for me.