Self-Love Lives Here And That Is Enough
It has taken me years to be able to say I love myself. And for years I’ve loved myself. I love my rage, my sadness, my joy, and my pain. I love the woman I’ve become in spite of the forces that would tell me that I’m not good enough. Sometimes those voices slip through and I second, third, and fourth guess myself…and that’s not always a bad thing. Sometimes we need to revisit our decisions and decide whether we made the best choice, but none of us can go back in time to change them, and fixing them may not ever be an option.
I don’t regret many of my decisions. I don’t regret many of my relationships. People grow together and apart for any number of reasons. I do hold on to friendships way longer than I should sometimes…I am often willing to accept a little too much bullshit from people because I know how it feels to hurt and be unheard. I know what it’s like to make mistakes – to say and do things that cannot ever be forgiven. And while I may wish I’d done something different, I learned a lot from those mistakes and I am grateful for that knowledge. I trust my heart when it says it’s time to let go.
These past few years have been challenging yet rewarding in different ways. I have had to redefine, reshape, reprioritize, and reposition so many relationships. I’ve gone from being afraid of sharing my truth because I feared both the impact and the accountability, to someone who is willing to take risks and forge forward. It has changed the way I interact with people - I am more patient with people’s growth but less tolerant of their abusive bullshit. I’ve had to take note of people who have toxic world views, who are harmful to others, specifically those in oppressed groups. I’ve had to learn to sift through people’s entitlements and understand that experencing oppression does not mean you cannot and will not oppress others. Intersections of power are a thing that we often ignore when we ourselves are oppressed, but as a person more eloquent that me put it, “there are levels to this shit.”
I listen. I learn. And I push back. Lately, it’s been misogynoir and internalized anti-Blackness. The geek community is rife with people who either cannot or will not see or acknowledge their anti-Blackness, nor will they hear critique of their misogynoir or anti-Blackness, especially when they are engaging in it. I have had more issues pointing out the many ways people will come to me for help, advice, or insight and then “forget” that I had anything to do with their decisions. Moreso, if I ask for help, that help is conditional as fuck, which is one of the reasons I prefer to go it either with a very select few or by myself. I don’t like needing people because there will come the day when I need them and they won’t be there.
Yeah, I got trust issues. And with good reason. We’re not always good for one another.
I had a friendship that went south over the past year. I made some mistakes during the relationship. I lashed out when I felt slighted and hidden. I shared my feelings about how things were going, not taking into account that many people cannot deal with someone’s true emotions, especially when those emotions are the result of something they’ve done. I forget that everyone isn’t my S.O. who truly gives me the space to feel how I feel until I work through my feelings. And while my unhappiness makes him unhappy, I only need to remind him to give me the space to be sad or hurt. It’s not his responsibility to fix me, only to be there, protecting me as I fix myself. This is one of the promises we made to one another, which is how we can talk things through, or argue, or go silent as we try to figure out what’s next. I don’t tell him not to be mad at me. I tell him to let me know when it’s okay for us to regroup and revisit. He’s worth it.
Everyone isn’t worth this effort. There are people who aren’t going to meet you halfway. People will do whatever they want and think they are too important to be corrected or dismissed. It’s an interesting thing when someone you love ignores and disrespects your autonomy. It’s fascinating to have people assume they can make you into what they want you to be, instead of accepting you as you are and respecting your wishes. And it’s amazing when people feel entitled to you and your time only to nut up when you inform them that they aren’t entitled to shit. Watching people weave a bullshit narrative out of their entitlement is astounding, and yet, it’s a norm. People hate to be wrong.
Every year I learn more about myself. Every year, I learn more about who I am and the more space I make, the more I realize that people never really saw or listened to me. The more I stand for myself, the more I see just how much shit people projected onto me. It’s a fucked up lesson that I keep learning, but I’m glad that I am able to learn it. It makes me more aware and consistent in my interactions with others.
I am sad though. I don’t like ending relationships but when they go toxic and the only option for them to be repaired is for me to take someone’s shit? Fuck that; I’m out. And when their response is to try to undermine my credibility by painting me as emotionally unstable? Eh… Yeah. No. That crosses a line, builds a wall, then lines that shit with landmines. I don’t think the perpetrator can relax their ego enough to apologize for that level of nastiness cuz that is way over the top.
It’s a shame, too. Not for me; I’ll be fine. I've finally learned to trust myself and recognize when I can no longer trust other. A part of me questions how I missed this potential outcome, but I think it boils down to me stepping into a new space and the emotional growth that comes with it. I've changed and so have others. The key to relationships lasting through growth is a willingness of those in the relationship to not try to control, manipulate, or manage the other person's growth. Both people need to respect the other's path, even if it diverges from their own. I know it's possible, but it's work and people tend not to be about that relationship work.
All relationships are work. As are break-ups. I know there will be unanticipated fallout from this that I don’t really want to manage. But here we are. I know I’ll be alright because I am who I am and I love who I am. Regardless of the gaslighting, manipulation, and bullshit, I know, trust, and love myself, even when I fuck up. The beauty of that is that I don’t need everyone else to love me to be whole and well.
I hope you have that for yourself, too.