How to Train Your Dragon

What is your dragon? Everyone has a dragon they face. Some of us have more than one. It’s helpful if you can see the dragon, then you can name it. When a beast has a name, it’s easier to defeat. Mine was my father’s emotional abuse. But what I didn’t know for a long time was that there was a second dragon hidden within the first. You can’t defeat something you can’t see.

My father doesn’t know how to properly love the people around him. He can’t. A person can’t love another until he can love himself. My father’s severe self-criticism unfortunately tends to come out as anger. And so, instead of affection and support, I got sarcasm and snide remarks. When the first man in a woman’s life doesn’t know how to love her properly, it can really mess with her sense of self-worth.

I sought validation of my worth in the attention of other men. For many years, this was self-defeating. I was shy and awkward—not to mention overloaded by a mound of emotional baggage—and I wouldn’t have known what to do with the attention once I got it. But it still hurt to feel invisible, especially when meeting guys and dating, and then marriage, seemed so much easier for all my friends.

I didn’t start dating until my mid- to late-twenties, much later than many other girls I knew. And I still had so much to learn. Finally, after I turned 30, I was in a relationship, one of my first semi-serious ones. It was fun to have a boyfriend, to have a man in my life who cared for me. But there was something wrong, and after a while, I could no longer ignore it. I began to notice that I was jealous of my other dating friends’ happiness. Why wasn’t I as blissfully happy as they were? My boyfriend was certainly good enough for me.

Therein lied the rub. Good enough. I finally saw it—a silent dragon of a lie that had been holding me tight in its clutches for a long, long time.

I didn’t believe I deserved the love of a good man.

Once I realized this, it was like I’d found the final clue to solve a never-ending mystery. I began to believe I was worth the true love of a good man. I was worth waiting for him. So, I ended the unhealthy relationship I was in and focused on building the foundations of friendship with the men I met rather than desperately searching for someone to love me. I was no longer searching for my self-worth in a man, and I could feel it growing stronger within me.

Dragons don’t suddenly disappear in a wisp of smoke, but as time went on, I was able to train and ultimately defeat the beast. Once I began healing, things fell into place. I found that good man (or, rather, he found me), and I was able to accept his love. Most importantly, though, I learned that I have the power to defeat the dragons that still may come.


All stories published at I Believe in Love are real stories, by real people, about real love.Sometimes, our writers may choose to remain anonymous to protect the privacy of friends or family that may be referenced in their stories.
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