Accepting Love

Annaleigh is hosting this month’s Carnival Against Child Abuse, and since this is the month with Valentine’s Day, she added the topic of Love to the list of topics for the Carnival.

One of the things that takes awhile to learn, and yet in retrospect seems so silly, is how often survivors, in their struggles with self-esteem, spend so much time assuming that the way to self esteem is to get someone else to love them. Think about how complicated that is for just a minute. You don’t see yourself as being worthy of love, but you think that will change if you can get someone to love you. Of course, since you already know you’re not worthy of being loved, you aren’t honest or real with the person who you want to love you, so even if they do “love” you, they don’t really love you, they love the person you’re pretending to be, so it does zero for your own self-esteem since the real you is not actually being loved. How crazy is that? It makes my freaking head hurt to follow that circular logic, but I also know I’ve been there!

Here’s the thing. You will never be loved for yourself by trying to fool someone into loving you. Nothing good lies down that road. What lies down that road is a bad breakup when the other person figures out that you’re acting, and a lot of wasted time investing in a relationship that has no future.

You aren’t going to find someone who loves who you really are as long as you continue to hide who you are, thus you are not going to get any self-esteem benefit from these relationships! Not that you should be trying! Again, I know, I have a handful of bad relationships that I had to learn from.

Being yourself in a romantic relationship requires at least a little bit of self esteem. You have to see enough in yourself that’s worthy of love that you can be yourself in the relationship. If you don’t see that, you probably have no business looking for one.

What you should be focusing on instead of trying to find someone else to boost your self esteem, is learning to love yourself. Any relationship is a partnership in a sense, you have to bring something to the table to make it work. If you don’t believe you bring anything to the table, why should anyone be with you?

That being said, once you can accept who you are, and see what you do bring to the table, when you find love with someone it is a real self esteem boost, but you have to have enough self-esteem to be yourself in the first place. When I struggle with my own self esteem, the quickest way to remedy that is not to hide my struggles from my wife, it’s to be with her and remind myself that this smart, beautiful, talented woman loves me exactly as I am, so I certainly can’t be as bad as I currently think I am. But, if I had come into this relationship trying to hide myself, this smart, strong woman would have had nothing to do with me. How would that have helped my self esteem? What kind of woman gets involved with a man who is not real? Not the kind of woman that is going to raise your self esteem, that’s for sure. For women, that question is even more relevant. What kind of man gets involved with a woman who doesn’t believe in herself, and tries to do anything in order to get love?

For too many woman, the answer to that question is an abusive man. (Of course that holds true for men as well, but we see the results of women’s low self esteem much more glaringly.) People who have learned to love themselves don’t stand for being mistreated. People who look to others for their self-worth do.

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