This morning, as I lay in my bed, my mind wandered to all of the heavy thoughts that have been weighing me down. I gave a sigh, feeling the familiar pain of sadness and emotion in my chest and my stomach, and blinked the tears from my eyes.
I have not been okay. I am hurting–and grieving–and feeling close to hopeless.
Lately, the dysfunction of my relationships has been at the forefront of my mind. I have been struggling with the idea, again, that there is something wrong with me.
And then I realized something–there IS something wrong with me.
I don’t love myself. Like…at all.
My therapist told me in a recent session that I am grieving the loss of my family. The realization that I will never have the connection and the relationships that I have always craved from them. She also told me that I need to learn to love myself in the way that I am seeking and searching for from others.
I know there is value and necessity in self love. I want to be able to love myself. But, of course, I sat there, shaking my head. “Love myself?” I thought…. “Well, that is a sad–and seemingly impossible–thought.”
Two thoughts immediately came into my head: First, the idea of loving myself in this way is sad because it signifies, to me, that the only person who can ever love me the way I need it is me. This makes me feel inherently unlovable–why, after a lifetime of taking care of myself, can I still not find someone who can meet my needs? What’s wrong with me?
Yes, I want to love myself. But I also want to BE loved.
Second, if only I can love me the way I need to be loved, then I am in a world of hurt. Because I am harder and more critical of myself than anyone else in this world. I am working on self-compassion and being more gentle on myself, to varying degrees of success. But, in my core, I am filled with so much shame and feel deeply flawed. I am scared I am not strong enough to change that.
I cannot help but think that I’ve done something wrong.
My therapist also said something to me in my last session that has made me sit back and think–she said (and I am paraphrasing)–when you grow up in an environment without healthy love and only see dysfunctional relationships, you don’t have a model of what healthy relationships look like.
I understand what she is saying. It makes perfect sense.
But again, I find myself in a cycle of self-blame. It feels like it is my fault–I grew up in an unhealthy environment, so now I am unhealthy (which seems really unfair, when I think about how hard I worked to avoid that in spite of everything). Do I not have healthy relationships because I seek out unhealthy people? Do I push people away because I am needy and clingy? Do I feel all of the sadness and grief and disconnection because I don’t know how to feel differently?
Another part of myself challenges this–I HAVE felt love and acceptance before. It’s just…most of those people have left me. And then the cycle starts anew–they must have left me because I am too much…of something undesirable.
I’d like to think it is something different. It doesn’t feel that simple. I would like to think that I am good at people skills–I’ve always prided myself on having a high level of emotional intelligence and strong interpersonal skills. I know that I love others with a strong loyalty and compassion. But…maybe it is all another carefully constructed facade that I have allowed myself to believe in.