You Loved Me Before I Loved Myself

by JL Palmer about a year ago in love

This story is for those of us who waited for love thinking that we needed to love ourselves first. We can't love ourselves all of the time. I fall in and out of love with myself like the leaves change colors. I am grateful that my husband doesn't.

You Loved Me Before I Loved Myself

Where does love begin? How does it start? What are the requirements needed for love to work? Maybe we don’t have all of the answers, but I find that most people believe that a girl must learn to love herself before anyone can love her. I believed that for a very long time. I wanted to become a person capable of the love that my best friend felt for me. I didn’t know why he loved me. He just did. I could not return the favor to him or myself. I felt unlovable. I denied any associations he made about me or what he liked about me. I deemed his love weak, unstable, and changing based on the principle that there was nothing in me strong, stable, or fixed.

People harassed me. Told me I was unkind and cold. “How can you be so stuck up?” “Why don’t you give him a chance?” You don’t understand. He can do better. I screamed internally because people really didn’t understand. I didn’t understand. His love was so much stronger than I credited him capable of because now I fully believe that even true love is achievable even when she has not yet learned how to love herself.

I didn’t calculate the magnitude of his love, but I did not realize I doubted its possibility purely on the lack of love I felt for myself. I was the epitome of gothic, emo teenagedom and contradictions. I “bah humbugged” love as if it was Santa while reading all of the best romances in my spare time. I look back on that part of my life and cringe. If anyone desperately needed to be loved then surely it was me. I needed love like Heathcliff needed Catherine and yet, here I was, treating Heathcliff like some sort of plague on my life.

Is there a happy ending to this story? I know some people are probably wondering when the whining stops and the happiness begins. So yes, there is a happy ending, but I don’t think it is found by lying and making people believe that I learned to love myself or that I grew out of my angst and realized how melodramatic I was being. No, I think the ending is more mundane than all of that. I think I learned to accept his love on the grounds that I did not need to understand it. I did not need to pretend that all of these things he said about me were true. He thought they were. Shouldn’t that be enough?

Jay loved Daisy, but did Daisy deserve it? I cannot fathom the idea that she ever loved herself. Selfishness and self-absorption is not the same thing as love. Daisy had plenty of that to spare. Loving yourself is feeling like you are worthy of greatness and capable of achieving these things through your own skills and talents. I felt none of these things, but you saw greatness in me and I allowed myself to trapeze throughout life with you being my ringleader, my fellow trapeze artist, and my safety net all in one. You loved me and I am so grateful that I accepted that as enough because I don’t know where we would be now if I had tried to grow a garden of love all by myself.

I am not discrediting the idea that women should love themselves. You most definitely should because you are worth a thousand ships and you are capable of accomplishing things with or without anyone’s love. I am only trying to draw attention for those of us who didn’t love ourselves all the time and for the hapless lovers who loved us at our weakest and strongest moments. I imagine we all fall into one of these categories. Learn from me. Girls, don’t discredit him because you feel unlovable. There is always something to love. Boys, keep on loving her because she is worth it and you might be the only one to see that. She needs some help walking before she can run. She needs some encouragement before she can fly. She will flourish, but she needs some soil, water, and sun first.

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JL Palmer

I love reading and video games. Currently functioning as an overworked and underpaid graduate student. 

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