I cannot say I would want it to happen to anyone else. But I can say that falling in love and then falling out of love was the best thing that ever happened to me. Pain can have that effect if we allow ourselves to evolve from it.
I Fell Deep
I fell in love as deep as any sixteen year old could with a slightly older man who had an ambitious heart. He was always reaching for the next ambition and I looked on in awe as at that time I could never believe in any great reach for myself. During our relationship, I gave my all without ever really feeling fully loved in return. You see, underlying it all I could not figure out why I was unable to be fully loved. Deep down, I always felt like something was missing. At the time, I thought the gap was between us. But now I know the gap was within myself.
I Felt Rejected
Around the time we broke up the book He’s Not That Into You was trending. And, it was true! He was not that into me. Even though I was aware that I should just move on, I felt rejected, hopeful, and wishing I could know the answer to the question, “Why not me?”
I went through all of the usual feelings after a breakup; self-pity, anger, and even dabbled in depression for a while. I allowed myself to feel each feeling intensely and allowed space for each of them. I moved on, but that nagging sense of lack of self-worth continued.
This belief that I was not good enough broke hearts along the way. I did not know how to cope with the feeling of knowing I was beautiful but doubting myself simultaneously. The inner struggle corrupted my ability to build healthy friendships and my lack of self-worth left me feeling alone.
I Knew That I Wanted Something Different
But I also found myself making the same mistake, as I would foolishly re-date this person from time-to-time throughout my twenties; each time with a similar outcome. I later realized that this is the definition of insanity and I dedicated myself to creating a new pattern. I committed to redirecting my energy from looking for my self-worth from an outward view and turned the journey inward.
I read mounds of relationship and self-help books. I studied psychology. I took a sabbatical from dating. I pursued my deep routed interests and taught myself mindfulness, and a body positive mindset. I also allowed myself to sit with my emotions and to let out a big scream or long drawn out cry when needed. I was dedicated to doing the work.
Over and over again the belief that I was not worthy would creep up and hold space despite all of my efforts. I started to notice that it had manifested itself in other relationships, my career, and my ambition. I began to dig deeper and realized that this belief was rooted in childhood messages conditioning me to be polite, to be subdued, to be proper. I was taught to hold myself in as to not disrupt the status quo in the world. I was also taught that being adopted was not normal. That it was a special need and that translated to unworthy. When I realized this, I also realized that my lack of self-worth was not my own. It was a story that has been told to me repeatedly that I now, upon realization, could start to rewrite.
I sought after truth. I began to see that my worth was not relative but instead was defined by the truth that I hold. I also began to realize that my truth does not have to be the truth of others and that our uniqueness of perspective is what makes life beautiful. I no longer felt the need to fall in love because I felt full.
Of course, I still have moments of self-doubt but what I have learned is that it is worth the effort to do the work. As I continue my deep inner reflection and progress my view in the world I have become able to find peace with who I am and most of the time feel fully worthy to live a full and beautiful life. I love myself.
Some lessons I have from the journey I’ve taken to fall in love with myself are:
- Have standards even if you were taught to be easy going. I was always an adaptable child. I would find delight and a reason to play wherever I was. In my adult life, this has become both a strength and a weakness. I did not know how to be selective because I did not know how to envision what I wanted for my life. Taking the time to create standards for how I wanted to be treated and how I wanted to feel in relationships helped me to create boundaries and know when I was diving into a situation that would not meet the life or standard for the relationship that I am seeking.
- It’s ok to redirect. Falling out of love felt like a failure. After all we are taught to find love not lose it. But, in retrospect, I have learned that falling out of love was the path I needed to take to find healthy emotional balance in my life and to enter into a new relationship in a healthy way. This mindset has helped me in lots of different ways in that I am now open to failure knowing that the journey will teach me lessons. And, that sometimes failure is not really failing it is just a lesson in that what should be sometimes should not be.
- Find compassion for yourself. This journey is not about perfection or making someone that does not love you love you. It is about learning about yourself, who you are, what has formed you and using that knowledge to shape your life towards healthier patterns, relationships, and sense of being. This process takes compassion because this is an emotional journey and you will need to hold space for all of your emotions to pass through in order to get to the deeper, more tender layers that help you to unravel and own your own truth.
- Find support structures that serve you. At first, I felt very alone on my journey. But as I have progressed to build my self-worth, support structures started forming in the form of like-minded friendships, stress-busting activities, radical meditation techniques, financial abundance, community support systems and so much more. I became very aware that some of the support structures that I felt should have brought me support did not and this allowed me to let go of pushing for support from places that did not prioritize my best interest and open the door for alternative support structures that provided the support I needed to succeed in my journey.
I’m thankful for this journey. If my fragile, unsupported heart had not broken I would have never done the deeper work and would also never have truly known myself. I now know that we are all worthy of love but that love begins with our ability to love ourselves.