So many clients come to me and ask me why he doesn't love them or what they can do to find someone to love them and the first thing I always ask in return in how they love themselves.
When we feel a lack of support we need to see how we can support ourselves more. When we feel unloved we need to see whether we love ourselves adequately. Trying to find an external relationship to fill the gaping hole left when we do not love ourselves is a bit like trying to put a Band-Aid on a bullet wound.
There was a time when I was obsessed with finding and having a relationship. I was young and dealing with an awful environment at home so to me relationships were both a means of escape as well as validation of a love I didn't quite feel internally. I would bend over backwards to appease my lovers and often times lost myself in the practice.
I would dedicate so much to them that they would begin to feel completely stifled and close to losing oxygen that they would run so fast in the opposite direction they left smoke in their wake. I would be devastated and incapacitated for a period of time before I jumped back on "mission: find boyfriend" again.
I had an addiction to external relationships because I was not filling the void myself. I was looking for someone else to give me a relationship that would solve all of my problems never realizing that the only relationship that would bring solace was the one I created with myself. And the funny thing is I was not even attracting very good lovers. I was attracting love I felt I deserved which at the time was not exactly ample. I met people who failed to respect me, took advantage of me, used me, lied to me, cheated on me etc. and in most cases I accepted it. Something was better than nothing, I often reasoned.
When the relationship would end, often at their doing, I would kick and scream. I surmised that I would just float from one relationship to the next because healthy, stable love was something only the lucky ones had access to. I, personally, didn't feel even the slightest lucky.
I hit a very low point. I was depressed, depleted and completely lacking any self-awareness at all. It took a lot of hard work to break the cycle and there were times of deep despair as I devolved into a junkie jonesing for my next fix. I realized that it was either continue dragging myself through the same awful relational situations or start doing the work on myself. For a while I thought I could do this while still searching for “the one” which is a bit like quitting smoking while holding a lit cigarette in your hand. Instead I had to go on a dating moratorium. Even those who I met and I felt may be potentials I had to turn away from. I had to develop a relationship with myself and anything else was a distraction to that.
I discovered that my own company is not all that bad. Though I used to avoid spending time alone for fear it was a sickness I would never recover from I began to actually enjoy the solitude of my own thoughts. I could delve in deep and have a conversation with the aching inside me. I had a chance to ask myself important questions about what love was, why I wanted it and what I thought was so special about the love I assumed "they" would provide?
I learned that we attract the love we feel we deserve. Though I had a lovely facade of confidence and bravado behind that was a pretty fragile individual who easily crumbled. I nitpicked everything about myself from my more athletic thighs to my small chest to my crooked teeth. I was uncomfortable in my own skin and had very little respect for myself. It was impossible for me to attract someone who would reverse that trend. I was and could only attract those who mirrored the way I treated and felt about myself.
I had to invite self-love into my heart as earnestly as I tried to love others external to me. I had to recondition myself and reverse rather negative mindsets that were bred from a place of self-loathing. I needed to love myself fully and stop tearing myself apart. Once I did I found that I seeped confidence and self-acceptance with each step and began to amass a group of people, lovers and otherwise who felt the same way about me.
Perhaps most importantly I realized that no relationship outside of myself would ever take the place of the one I needed with myself. All relationships end whether by choice, design or "shit happens”. There is no denying the pain of longing for a relationship or having one end but when you have a strong relationship with yourself things fall apart a little less. You bounce back and you realize that even if you do not have a lover next to you that you are a-ok all the same.
When you have a deep and unfaltering relationship with the self you radiate that love outward. You are able to love others from a more genuine place rather than as a means of their reciprocating love to you. You walk through life with a confidence and a surreal sense of acceptance that does a few things. It ensures that you are not attaching yourself to anything with a pulse as a means of just having someone who we <em>think </em>will love us and, perhaps most importantly, it puts us in a position of not <em>needing </em>a relationship but rather wanting one.
A very valuable shift, indeed.