In the past few years I went too far in the direction of trying to heal all my shit on my own, by myself. Of believing I needed to be on some particular level of self-love before I could have a good relationship.
That is bullshit.
We heal in the presence of love. We heal in stable relationships. We are not meant to learn to love ourselves completely by ourselves.
Unconsciously, after years of abusive relationships, gaslighting, ghosting, and shitty romances where I let myself be taken for granted or where I would open inadvisably, only to find myself abandoned, I had somehow also absorbed the "spiritual" idea that this was all my fault because I didn't love myself enough. Instead of also calling out this behavior for what it was, I only looked at my part and blamed myself.
So I went to work on my self-love. I went to work on dealing with my emotions on my own. I started to enjoy being by myself and stopped using other people to manage my anxiety. I learned my attachment style, my core woundings, and what my values are. I learned boundaries, self-respect, and that it was ok to want what I wanted. I learned about what triggered me and why and how not to act out or blame others for it.
But I still felt, deep down, that there was something wrong with me. I was still highly critical of myself. And I didn't see how to transform this alone.
And when I got the chance recently to be in relationship with a secure, aware, compassionate, honest man, I knew I was right.
He saw me, fully, and he loved me immediately. He cared so much that he tracked me carefully and came to know me and what I needed better than I knew myself. He always responded to my messages, and often sent me sweet ones first. He wanted to share things with me. Whenever I was suffering, he was there to hold me. He found it normal, not needy, that I would want to be near him. He wanted to be near me, too. He wasn't judgmental of my sex drive. He wanted me, too.
And in this light, something deep in me finally soothed. I finally settled. I finally KNEW - there was nothing wrong with me.
Saying it to myself was not enough. Hearing it from friends did not go deep enough. I needed to grok it on the deepest level of my being. And this can only come from a lover.
There is only so far we can go on our own.
I realized I just expected to be mistreated. That things would be hard. That I wouldn't be listened to, get my needs met, feel respected. I still flinched sometimes or felt panic closing in, in conversation, so much was my nervous system used to getting yelled at.
I actually had no idea relationship could be this easy, this nurturing, this fulfilling, deep, healing...this MUTUAL.
"You are so easy to love," he said, over and over.
"You are easy to get along with."
"You have a solid foundation of awesome human."
It hadn't occurred to me this might be the case.
Feeling loved, seen, appreciated, and desired in this way took away my anxiety. I found myself loving from a place that felt beautiful and detached in a healthy way. I had no worries about our love or our relationship. And so I didn't need or want to be with him all the time. Pining did not consume my life. I was not anxious that he would drop me at the slightest opportunity for another woman.
He was every inch a man, a delicious masculine presence for me, and part of that fullness was because he was so in touch with himself emotionally and somatically. Profound respect.
I was able to love and want the best for him without it feeling sticky. To go really deep in care and trust and growth together from a balanced place. To learn what he needed and provide it for him, as he did for me.
But I didn't need him in order to be ok myself. Once I had felt what it was to be actually respected, met, and cared for by an intimate partner, I finally could do it for myself.
And so when we parted, as we knew we would have to, it also felt beautiful. Even breaking up with this man was healing.
With this, as with everything....the secret is balance. It's the hardest for me to remember - in my dramatic, extreme Scorpio ways - perhaps for all of us to remember, with this black-and-white morality and judeo-christian cultural background. I see spiritual teachings misunderstood over and over again.
Take responsibility for yourself, yes. Do what you need to become aware of your emotional landscape and learn to communicate wisely.
But you do not have to be perfectly in love with yourself to have the love of another.
The love of another is part of the journey to fully loving yourself.
I love you, Brian. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.