A boyfriend whom I really loved once threatened to leave me. It wasn’t that I didn’t love him enough; he said that I didn’t love myself enough, and that I didn’t have enough self-confidence and self-respect. The insecurities made me too jealous, he said, and made him feel smothered. He wanted me to see and believe that I was beautiful, and he was tired of me believing lies about myself.
When I looked back at all of my relationships, I saw that he was right. I noticed that I have always built the guy up and torn myself down. I’ve lost myself in every relationship. I didn’t care if I went without things that I needed. I quit thinking about myself as being worthy of anything. Everything was always about the guy. And if that meant giving up on myself, I gave up on myself. I just wanted to make the other person happy. I stopped loving myself.
I used sex as a self-esteem builder: a way to feel wanted and needed. (Because let’s face it, that’s what society pretty much says it is.) I didn’t know that sex didn’t have to be a staple in a dating relationship—that it was possible to feel loved in other ways, like by listening to each other and making sure each other’s needs are met. Instead of showing that kind of love, I ended up relying too much on the other person for my self-esteem and emotional support. I cared way too much about what he thought of me.
I spoiled boyfriends and coddled them, without letting myself accept anything in return. I let boyfriends spend money for stupid things when there were bills to be paid—and then paid the bills myself instead of asking the guy to share the load.
When I say that I stopped loving myself, I mean that I stopped giving myself the basic care and respect that I try to show other people, and that every person deserves—that I deserve. Sacrifice is an important part of a loving relationship. But those sacrifices must be built upon the foundation of respect. Too often, I haven’t treated myself with the respect that I deserve.
My health has suffered as a result of not taking care of myself. I’ve had to go through mental health counseling just to get to the point I am at now. I thought I was going crazy. Turns out I was just stressed to the max, and it was manifesting into actual sickness, like stomach issues and migraines.
After years of this, I don’t know what I love to do anymore, or who I am. I have no clue what I want to do with my life. I don’t know how I got this way. I think that I’ve tried so hard to be different than what I’ve seen, but I’ve lost everything about myself in the process.
I recently realized that something had to change: I had to find myself and love myself. So I started meditating. I now tell myself daily that I am worthy, and it makes me feel a lot better about myself. I have also been trying to communicate better with my boyfriend to let him know what I need and what I expect out of our relationship.
I want to discover who I am and to love myself again. Because if I can’t love myself who can truly love me? And if a relationship is all one-sided, is that even a relationship? I want a true relationship. I want to love my boyfriend like I love myself—and that’s why I want to love myself.