For Once, I Love Me More

I had to make a very hard, lifechanging decision recently. A decision that came as a result of twenty-four years of life experiences I cannot even begin to explain in one piece. I come from a cycle of abuse; a cycle that began long before I even existed. I was around the dysfunction and abuse and chaos for so long that I thought it was normal. The decision to break the abuse cycle in adulthood is only the first step in a long road of intentional healing, painful, long looks in the mirror, and the constant, proactive choice to be different. I was never taught how to be a good friend. I made a lot of mistakes, lost a lot of friends but learned necessary lessons, and now I’m a better friend. I was never taught how to be a good partner, how to effectively communicate, or how to work through disagreements in a healthy way. I was never taught how to establish or maintain a healthy, functioning relationship, and because of that I have definitely had to face my own demons and choose to be different, every time.

All of the work I had put in to grow and heal in my adult years was hindered, because I continually exposed myself to the abuse and manipulation I came from. The years of effort it took to work through my demons ultimately lead me to a place where I was forced to accept that I was the only one with the power to break the abuse cycle, for good. My emotional bank was running dangerously low; I was working so hard on improving myself, while still working so hard to maintain a relationship that was only damaging me. My personal growth was stunted every time I was drawn back in, thinking it would be different this time. I was tortured through the process of hoping that if I loved hard enough, that if I did the right thing, if I tried to create and maintain healthy lines of communication, I wouldn’t end up hurt by that person again. But I knew that I always would. I knew that it was only a matter of time before I was curled up on the floor crying, wondering what I had done wrong this time. Wondering what I did to deserve the treatment I received when all I wanted was the love and acceptance that I so freely gave.

The years of effort it took to work through my demons ultimately lead me to a place where I was forced to accept that I was the only one who could break the abuse cycle, for good.

One of the hardest lessons I have had to learn is that you can’t hurt a narcissist’s feelings – no matter how bad their guilt trip. They are incapable of having their feelings hurt because they lack feelings in the first place. It’s hard to realize you are just a pawn in someone else’s story. That your presence in their life is actually worth very little to them – even when they manipulate you into thinking otherwise. The relationship isn’t based on a mutual bond of love and respect; it’s about them, always. Even when you think it’s not. Again and again I had picked that person and that relationship over my own mental health, my own emotional stability, and my own sanity.

I had loved someone who was selfish, selflessly.

The day that I realized that was the day I chose myself, my future, and my happiness, for the first time in my life. I had loved someone who was selfish, selflessly. The decision I made to love myself more than someone else was years in the making, and it was the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make. But I am proud of myself for being selfish. I am proud of myself for making the right choice for myself, no matter how it looks to anyone else. I am going to be twenty-five this month, and I have finally accepted that it is okay to be selfish. I have finally learned that real love isn’t giving all of yourself to someone who doesn’t do the same in return. I have finally learned that I am deserving of the love that I give, and that accepting less will only hurt me, and not them. I have finally learned that I will never receive the love I want from someone who simply isn’t capable of giving it, no matter what I do. I have finally learned that I love myself more, and I have never felt more free.

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