The summer after my first year of university I volunteered with the local television station to try and gain some experience in my field. I was the only volunteer along with two full time employees and while the experience was very worthwhile it also taught me that I do not want to work in television… At all. While most of the summer I was behind the camera, one afternoon while we were filming on location at a psychic’s house, I got to make my local television debut… joy! The star of the show wanted to read someone’s energy and my producer suggested me. Reluctantly, I had to stand in the middle of these metal circles as a complete stranger told me all about myself, on camera. Thankfully, our local tv channel doesn’t get much traffic. Anyways I must admit I was curious as to what this lady thought about me. Would she tell me some groundbreaking truth about myself that I had never even realized?! But when she began to speak, after a long long wait, she looked into my eyes and said “you long, deeply and greatly, only to be loved.” (Or at least thats how I remember it.) She was right. And maybe it was just a lucky guess, or a statement so vague its true for all, but in that moment she was and continues to be right when it comes to me.
It took me a long time to realize how desperately I wanted to be loved. Almost as if somehow, something, somewhere broke me along the way. Made me feel as though I wasn’t enough, that I needed to be more and that I wouldn’t be until I had proof of this love. I’ve lived the majority of my life through this desperation without even realizing it. I often find myself pulling all my hair to one side because so long ago the boy I had liked at the time told me it looked nice. I shy away from wearing dark or bright lipstick because someone once told me he preferred the “natural” look. I stopped wearing see-through shirts when my boyfriend at the time said he didn’t like me wearing them. My favourite flowers are hydrangeas because I remember a character in a show I used to watch when I was young saying they were her favourite, and I liked what I thought this said about me. I could continue the list forever.
The other day I came across a poem a boy wrote for me when I was 17 years old. It was beautiful and I cried reading it because he saw in me what I am now able to see in myself, and I treated him like shit. In the same box was the birthday card he made me, on which he drew my two favourite animals and his copy of the Great Gatsby that he had written in and given to me as a gift. They were beautiful and kind gestures and it saddens me that the younger me was unable to appreciate them. Stumbling upon these tokens made me think of the little letters and drawings and comic strips I would send during my last relationship and how badly I wished that type of love and effort would be returned. It brought up the same feelings of loneliness and worthlessness that being taken for granted suddenly and then continuously had brought me months ago. It angers me that it wasn’t until he suggested I read the Great Gatsby that I even did, even though I had received that book years before from that other boy.
We see and read a lot in popular culture and the media about why women are attracted to men who treat them poorly and/or why nice guys always finish last. But I think it wasn’t until a friend recited that cheesy line from the Perks of Being a Wallflower, that I chose as the title of this post, that I truly got it. That, yes: we really do accept the love we think we deserve. And I am not saying that my ex was the worst person in the world, in fact I still care tremendously for him, but was he giving me the love I deserved? No. And are so many people also not receiving the love they deserve? Yes. I used to think it was all a load of crap, this “you can’t expect somebody to love you until you learn to love yourself” stuff, but I see now how true this rings. When you do not value yourself, recognize your own worthiness, or fight for your wants, needs, and interests then how could you expect your partner to?
I believe love should be selfless, but only to a certain extent, and only if both partners are selfless in that relationship. It took me a long time to recognize that there is something brave and beautiful in putting yourself first, in choosing yourself when the person you love has stopped doing so. And while it remains the hardest and most confusing decision I’ve made it in my short twenty one years, it is also the one I am the most proud of. I still want to be loved, but I no longer need to be. And I now see the value in recognizing and fighting for what you deserve in a relationship, and in being realistic and honest with yourself when it simply isn’t what you are receiving.
“Fitting in is one of the greatest barriers to belonging. Fitting in is about assessing a situation and becoming who you need to be in order to be accepted. Belonging, on the other hand, doesn’t require us to change who we are; it requires us to be who we are.”
I think that Love is the same in a sense. It shouldn’t require us to be anything other than who we are. And when that simply isn’t enough anymore we need to evaluate the health of that relationship.
I still wear my hair to one side often, simply because it has become habit, not because of what others think. I can be seen sporting see through shirts once again. I’ve even started wearing red lipstick when I want, sometimes just to class or to the store, but it makes me feel fabulous. Hydrangeas are still my favourite flowers because quite frankly I think all the other flowers are too flashy and I like how beautiful hydrangeas are in their simplicity. Little by little I am taking the me back that I somehow lost along the way.
“Those who feel lovable, who love, and who experience belonging simply believe they are worthy of love and belonging. I often say that Wholeheartedness is like the North Star: We never really arrive, but we certainly know if we’re headed in the right direction.”
I agree with Brene. I may not be fully there yet, none of us may be, but we are well on our way to recognizing and accepting our own worthiness and to changing the idea of what love we think we deserve. This story is an important part of that journey for me that continues to challenge me daily and which changed me immensely as a person, bringing me closer to who I want to be. And for that reason I believe it needs to be shared.
It has taken me too long to realize that I wasn’t the problem in that relationship, that there was nothing else I could have done, that I wasn’t getting what I was putting into it. Going forward I am more accepting of myself, Lupus and all, and I now know what I want, need and most importantly deserve when it comes to love. I hope this allows you to reflect on times in your life when you were accepting one type of love, knowing you deserved another. And may my story remind you of how truly deserving you really are.