It is hard to come to a place of self-value, self-love and self-appreciation when we live under this strange, invisible expectation of perfection. More often that not, we become more hung up on the negative parts of us than we do the positive. But, why? Is there a quota of positive attributes we have to reach before we can declare ourselves good and worthy of being loved? Do we need to attain a specific ratio of good to bad before we can feel justified in appreciating ourselves? I know that I am often guilty of falling into this line of thinking.
But then I think about the people that I love … and, more importantly, why I love them. There is not one person in my life that I would consider perfect or even close to it. I know the ways that they have failed, whether they are monumental or microscopic failures, and those downfalls never factor in to or affect the love that I have for them. They are still so precious and irreplaceable in my life. Their faults are the last thing that come to my mind. So why would I ever expect differently from the ones who love me?
The difficulty comes in when we are not being loved in this way and when we are not loving people in this way. Some of us pull away at the sight of others’ failures … we judge them, condemn them, criticize them … whether its out loud or in our heads. We tend to be most intolerant of the things in others, that we hate most within ourselves. But when it comes down to it, we react and feel that way, not because we really believe that person is bad or less worthy of being loved, but because we fear that we are. And so, as an attempt to protect our pride, we separate ourselves from that person’s faults. We try to disassociate from them so that we aren’t faced with the glaring reality that we, in fact, fail in the same ways. And on the flip-side, we all, at some point, have felt a loss of love or approval from someone, because of our faults. And when love looks like this, it is no longer a safe place to be. It is scary, fleeting, unpredictable and not guaranteed. So we are screwed from the start. We come into our relationships immediately on the defense. If we hurt or fail someone, rather than being equipped to talk honestly and openly about it, admit our wrongs, apologize and move forward … we become defensive, aggressive, manipulative or avoiding, because we are so fearful that our failure is unforgivable, unacceptable, and intolerable.
But what model are we comparing ourselves to? Where are these expectations and pressures coming from and why haven’t we realized that they have no basis in reality?
No one is perfect. No one will ever be. Why isn’t that our common ground? Why isn’t that a truth that frees us to love and be loved without fear?
When you stop to think about yourself and all of the specific faults that you have (and we all have that mental list of what they are), there has to be some point where we realize that our faults are their faults. They just look different from person to person. We don’t love people because they are perfect. And we are not worthy of being loved because we are perfect. So why do we love?
Love is a declaration that says (or should say), “You are so worthy of respect, faithfulness, kindness, affection, encouragement, patience and forgiveness simply because you are alive.” That is what it comes down to. That is the ONLY thing that we can come together on. We are alive and we are all human. We are all experiencing the trials and victories of life, we are all being affected in good and bad ways, we are all failing at times, and we are all working toward being better … in whatever way we know how. When we start to realize that and see it for what it is, we are suddenly so much more capable of loving freely and without restriction and we are able to see why WE are so worthy of being loved freely and without restriction.
No one has to do any thing special to deserve love. Bring me a person who has committed the worst of crimes and I would say the same for him/her. (That ends up being a whole other topic, but hopefully my reasoning is understood without explanation, for now.) Right now, where we are … given all of our failures, all of the ways we have hurt people, all of the ways we have hurt ourselves, the bad decisions we have made, our current struggles, weaknesses and downfalls …. we are still deserving of full and complete love. Because the reason we deserve it still stands, in the midst of the mess we have made: We are still alive and still human.
On paper, all of this sounds really great. Of course that is what love is! Of course that is what it should look like! Let’s go do it! But, we get that its not that easy. Relationships are complicated. You are bringing two people of completely different up-bringings, two people who have been hurt and failed in very different ways, and two people who have learned how to deal or not deal with those issues in very different ways. And you are trying to make those two people work as one. Shits hard, y’all. Love is not an easy thing. Its not fantastical or fairy-tale. It takes so much work and so much time … but that is a good thing. The most important thing we can do for ourselves and for the ones that we love, is realize and remember WHY we are doing it.
Creating this kind of relationship takes both people. It isn’t enough for us to love someone unconditionally and faithfully, if they aren’t willing to do the same. And it isn’t enough for someone to love us unconditionally and faithfully if we aren’t willing to do that for them. We have to seek out people who give and receive love in this way, so that when storms do come, we can have full confidence that the relationship won’t be shaken … it will be strengthened.
When you go into a relationship believing that you truly deserve to be loved fully, you will be free to mess up without guilt or fear. You will be free to communicate openly, humbly, and honestly. And you will be free to work on being better, because you know that the person you are with is so happily and patiently working through it with you. When we go into relationships fearing that we will be left or that the other person’s love is going to lessen when we mess up, more often than not, we aren’t able to communicate openly or admit when we have failed. Because we are so scared that doing that puts us in a place of weakness and that, ultimately, we will be abandoned. This causes us to do a lot of different things. We keep our relationships at an arms length, so as to never let ourselves get too close … that way it will hurt less when the other person (as we believe) eventually leaves us. We do subtle, or not-so-subtle things to push the other person away, so that we feel in control and like the stronger person. And we begin to distance ourselves from the other person, emotionally and physically, so that our heart won’t be too invested. All of these things are poisonous to a relationship and will eventually lead to its demise. But! When we go in knowing and standing firm in what we deserve and we choose someone who we know will love us the right way, we don’t have to be scared to be the human that we are. In fact, we get to be excited because someone knows us for who we are completely, loves us completely, and is going to be the one who sticks with us through everything … and we get to do that for them as well. Holy crap there is nothing better.
You deserve to be loved. And everyone in your life deserves to be loved by you. No matter what has been done or will be done. As long as you are on this earth, your right to love exists in its fullest form. Remind yourself of this and let it help you to love yourself more, show yourself grace in times of failure and celebrate in times of triumph. Don’t settle for less. Take the ways in which you have been hurt and let them aid you in finding someone who is not content to love you less than you deserve. You will know it when you find it.
And P.S., thank you endlessly to the friends and family that I have in my life right now who have loved me so well. Things have been rough and I absolutely wouldn’t be able to get through it without you guys. You are my heart <3