I’ve done a lot of very stupid things for the love of men. It was an attempt to employ the principle of every romantic movie: the heroine needs something special about her. Some unique trait makes her easy to love and hard to be with, which proves the hero all the more wonderful because he works so hard to be with her, despite her flaws and eccentricities. Thus, I thought my ‘flaw’ would weed out the terrible suitors and only the most heroic man would make it through my emotional booby trap. It needed to be dangerous to date me. The more dangerous the quirk, the more amazing the hero.
So over the years, I tried on a full wardrobe of silly stories and flaws and characteristics. Sometimes, it was that I was afraid of commitment or intimacy because someone else had hurt me before. Sometimes, it was that I was too busy and passionate about my future to get into a relationship. Other times, I was deeply spiritual and desperately committed to my individual enlightenment. Or I was the outspoken, gives-no-sh#ts girl, not afraid to disagree. I had all sorts of crazy personas about myself, and most guys believed them. In fact the plan usually worked, until I would ruin it. He’d fall for the story, and we’d be having a wonderful time falling for each other, then the part came where he should be weeded out if he wasn’t willing to work hard enough to love me…But I’d change my mind and not want him to leave. I’d get scared of being alone. We’d end up in a mess. Neither he nor I had any idea who I was or what I waned, which made breakups very messy. I was dangerous to date all right, because I’d suck all the love out of men as a way to see value in myself.
That is, until one guy really, really broke my heart. He had been lured by my story, for sure, and I’d been lured by his. A few months after moving in together, we culminated in a fight in which I finally admitted I wasn’t so special, so quirky and unique, I was just a scared little girl and actually needed rescuing from a prince – and are you that prince? No. He was not that prince. He left me crying on the living room floor, slammed the door behind him, and didn’t come home or speak to me for three weeks straight.
At first, I was devastated. I would sit at home at night, looking out the window till the sun came up, hoping to see his car. My job suffered, my body suffered, my heart suffered. Until finally, one night, he did come home. He knocked on the door, and I let him in. He walked straight to the guest room and closed the door behind him. He wasn’t home to rescue me or to ask for my love back. He needed a place to sleep. I thought “well, if he’s not here for me, he’s probably worn out every other place to sleep. I am his last resort.”
My concept of him changed. My concept of me changed. He wasn’t hurt from a lost love like me, so why was I sitting around hurting for him? I’d gotten what I’d asked for, here he was, and I suddenly saw him for what he was: a mess. Just like me. Not knowing what he wanted, or what he was doing.
Despite the pain, I grew up a lot that night, and in the strangest of ways. I felt productively aged, instantaneously. I was too old to be crying like this. I was too old for all this drama in a relationship in which two people shared a home. I wasn’t old, mind you, I was still in my early 20’s. But even one more day of this misery and wallowing was too much. For once I wanted to worry about anything else, my job or my hobbies or my friends, and I needed a stable and reliable relationship, or no relationship. I finally stopped and asked myself: what do I want? The answer was that I wanted a lot of things. I wanted a new career. I wanted to move to a bigger city. And I suddenly realized I would never have the time for anything if I was crying constantly. It was a radical redefining of in what I would allow, simply because I was too exhausted from treating myself, and teaching others to treat me, like a victim. I didn’t want to need saving anymore.
The difference that night made is that I was finished turning my personal history in a fishing lure. Whether it was the good parts or bad parts, it didn’t matter. What a difference that made! All the sudden that big empty apartment we once shared was so quiet, and so peaceful. It was purged of the false character I’d been shackling there, and all that was left was really, truly, story-less me. It became a safe place where I could heal and regain my strength. Things started to grow from there; once I started giving love to myself, I started seeing potential in myself. I started acknowledging my power and talents. That all led to the confidence to go after what I wanted, to move cities and to start a new career. I started feeling sexier, taking better care of myself, valuing my opinion which led to sharing my opinion – my real opinion, not words I thought would make me look good – more. I started to give myself love and it changed everything.
Here’s the bottom line:
The love I had for me became stronger than my excuses not to love me.
I didn’t need someone else to prove to me that I was worth loving anymore. When I began to feed my love rather than my insecurity, my love became the stronger of the two. My own love was my own life raft, and I didn’t need rescuing anymore.
And make no mistake: I’m still dangerous to date. Because I don’t pity myself now, and I won’t allow my partner to pity himself either. And he won’t be able to derive his own worth from being needed by me. I’ll be demanding and offering the best of myself, and you can believe I’ll be expecting him to do the same.
How to Fall Back in Love With Yourself
How does one fall in love with another person? You get to know them, you share some special experiences, you talk about your wants and dreams. You cherish them, adore them, compliment them. Then you get comfortable, and you open up and accept the not-so-perfect things like old pajamas and giving that person a break when they need it. You respect those things without looking down on the other person. You go through challenges together, you stick together, you prove you’ll fight for each other. You build love together over time, you give it and you get it and you treasure it…
That’s exactly what you should be doing with yourself. It starts with a clean slate; get to know the quintessential details, your height and your weight, not the story you have about how you weight too much; look at yourself with your eyes, not your fear. Begin to dote on yourself, start to compliment yourself, adore yourself, give yourself little gifts. Then get into the deep conversations with yourself: share what you see possible, what you really dream of, just like you would with a partner. A journal (like we talk about in this post) is a great way to start that conversation Be supportive. Share the vision your highest self has with you, see what she sees. Encourage yourself, just like you would for a partner. Then start to get comfortable. Let yourself stay the night in with you, watching tv, take a hot bath, let yourself relax without judgment. Tell yourself you’re beautiful in sweatpants, with no makeup. Eat chocolate. Drop the guilt and negativity.
This is about you falling back in love with your truest, highest, story-and-excuses-free self. You’ve focused on only her for a while, you stopped seeing other people (those imaginary versions of yourself in your head), you’ve stopped letting other people’s opinion, or what you thought they thought of you. It’s you, with you, by you, for you now. That’s love. Now you know who you are, better than anyone else. Now you’re getting love and validation from the right place. And you won’t fall for your own self-pitying story ever again. Because who’s got time for that??