Over the the past year, while dating my now ex-boyfriend, I would often hear the line ‘you have to love yourself before you can love someone else’ as a reason why we were’t meant to be together; couldn’t, and shouldn’t be together. If I read between the lines, he was saying that my flaws were causing the relationship to fail. He was basically saying, ‘it’s not me, it’s you’. I spent a lot of time and mental airspace thinking about what he said. I was definitely a little insecure, which gave his statement a small percentage of merit, but the more I thought about it, the more it made absolutely no sense. Sure, I could stand to lose a few pounds, eat a little better, drink a little less, and take care of myself a little more but overall, my life was great, and I was happy. I also thought about the truth behind that statement. Yes, it is extremely important to protect yourself from verbal and emotional abuse (which I’m learning to do over time), do things for your own satisfaction, and not sacrifice yourself and your well being for the benefit of others. Despite it all, I did love him – with all my heart. When things were good, they were great and everything in my entire life seemed to fall into place. I lost weight, did exceptionally well at work, slept well, my friendships improved, and I seemed to function at a much higher level overall than I ever had. It wasn’t that he was the single source of my happiness or the only one who could make me feel better about myself, but when I was with him, I wanted to be the best version of myself that I could be and when things were good, it effortlessly poured out of me.
Last night, I read a very interesting article in the New York Times titled Chubby, Skinny, Accepting by Cole Kazdin ( http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/06/fashion/chubby-skinny-accepting-modern-love.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&ref=fashion& ). It’s a short, non-fiction story about a woman’s spiral towards anorexia and bulimia, and what (or who) caused her to eventually seek help. Before meeting her boyfriend Hugh, Cole starved herself and purged after meals because she thought being thin would make her happy. She may have believed that her new weight of 90 pounds was the source of her confidence and happiness, but those thoughts were quickly discredited by her dangerous diet and actions. She woke up one night with the realization that if she wanted her current relationship to last, she had to change herself for the sake of the relationship – she was, at that point, in a relationship and not happy with herself. She made the decision, in large part, for Hugh, who she loved dearly before she truly loved herself. At the end of her story, Cole said, “I do know this: Although we’re often told that you can’t love someone else until you love yourself, my experience was the opposite: I couldn’t love myself until I fell in love with someone else.
I still may not love myself as much as I love Hugh, but I’m making steady progress.”
It’s true that I was not meant to be with my ex. There were a thousand and one reasons why it would never have worked but out of the disaster that was our relationship, I was able to find a silver lining. My ex may no longer be the one to bring out the best version of me, but now I believe that there is someone out there who will and who, in turn, will allow me to bring out the best of them.