I feel like this is something we’ve all heard. I know I’ve heard it before, but I never believed it. When a relationship starts to sour, or even a friendship, I immediately assume I did something wrong. I didn’t say the right thing, I didn’t do the right thing, I don’t look the right way, I’m not as good as this person or that one. I then find myself walking into quicksand, trying to hold onto someone who is already gone. I’ve adapted, I now accept this as a part of life, I usually refer to it as my “wearing out my welcome”.
I remember one relationship, he knowingly took my virginity and dumped me the following day with a text message that said I was too easy. Now… most would, and even I do now, think, “Wow, what a jerk!” However, at the time, my mind was full of “What’s wrong with me?” and “Why wasn’t I good enough?” Why wasn’t I thinking, “Wow, there must really be something wrong with him, to be able to do that to someone he claimed to care about,”?
I remember another, I walk in on him sleeping with someone else. Was I furious? Of course. More than that though, I was embarrassed. “I’m so pathetic and stupid – I get fooled, duped, and cheated on.” While my other relationships had different endings, my mind always processed them as if they were the same… I wasn’t good enough.
One of the more meaningful friendships I had ended because she got married and her husband was jealous of our friendship. He basically stopped letting her see me, stopped letting her talk to me. While I didn’t expect her to divorce him over this, I did expect her to fight for our friendship, try to work it out or tell him to deal with it… but she didn’t. Did I think, “Wow, there’s something wrong with them,”? No. I took on that dysfunction and it tortured me until I felt – no, I knew – I wasn’t worth fighting for.
I’m told, again and again, to do more, be more… and I work myself into a frenzy trying to satisfy needs that change daily and without warning, needs that rarely make sense, constantly suffering through this bipolar foot race where the finish line moves every time I catch a glimpse of it. I’m running from one to the other, trying to please people who can’t be pleased, trying to meet and surpass impractical expectations, trying to “earn” my place in a world that neither accepts nor embraces me. Suddenly I’m infected with the poisonous thought tumors again, incessantly eating their way through everything that is good about me, leaving only one thought… I deserve to be treated this way.
These moments, these “failures”, keep replaying in my head… over and over… over and over… until I’m dizzy and drowning in thoughts of not being enough – not funny enough, not pretty enough, not smart enough, not rich enough, not cool enough, not ambitious enough, not creative enough, not talented enough, not not not enough.
What has this created? Well, I feel like I have to work harder than anyone else to “deserve” love, to get it, to get praise, to be cared for, to get that affection and kindness. I end up working my fingers to the bone only to learn that they don’t care, I don’t matter as much to them, if I matter at all. This makes me resent them, which also makes me feel stupid and naive for “falling for lines” again. I’m the little dog, begging, “Love me, love me, love me”, only to be put in the yard and forgotten.
Is this reality? Is this perception? What good is this? How is it helping me or anyone else? How can I hate my way into loving myself?
I struggle with this daily… constantly worrying that I don’t matter to the people who matter to me. I’m always waiting for things to end, waiting for the moment when I wear out my welcome with a boyfriend, with a friend, with family, with a job.
Do I matter to the people who matter to me? I certainly hope so.
Do they matter to me more than I matter to them? I don’t know.
Do I matter to myself? I’m working on it.
So what am I offering here? A cautionary tale, perhaps.
The fact is… objectively, I know I have value.
The key is… to feel that I have value and behave accordingly.
Don’t let these thought tumors grow as I have.
Don’t stay in a miserable situation because you feel it’s the only thing giving you value. Don’t keep a shitty friend because you’re taking the blame for their selfishness. Don’t allow people to walk all over you because you think you don’t deserve better. Don’t let people treat you poorly because you think you’re lucky to have anyone, awful or not.
I would never advise anyone to deflect blame for what they do. I’d never tell someone that nothing is ever their fault… but I feel that *most* of the people familiar with these poisonous “I’m not enough” thoughts are the people taking on too much responsibility.
The thing is…
Sometimes, it isn’t you… it is them.
Sometimes, that guy really is a jerk. That girl really doesn’t care. That friend really didn’t treat you the way you deserve to be treated. That person really isn’t ready for a relationship. That guy really does have unrealistic expectations.
As cliche as it sounds, some endings really are beginnings and while you should always try to improve yourself, you should also try to remember that not every ending is about you.