I’ve written and talked to friends about how I don’t believe in the idea that “no one will love you until you learn to love yourself”. I firmly believe that you can be loved even when you are struggling to love yourself. It may just be a matter of being able to accept it and not turn away from it. It may just be a matter of whether you internalize it, embrace it, learn from it. You may just put up with not being loved well until you learn what it is like to be loved or until it seems possible and real.
Then, it can be hard to turn back or settle for less.
Today, I’m thinking about self-respect, too. So much of my struggle over the past few years in Greensboro has been over issues of respect and not always knowing what it feels like to be respected, taken seriously, or believed in. I have felt for so long that I am a joke to many people around me. And I am. There are many people who do not respect me in their actions and words and attitudes and it serves me nothing to continue to give them the benefit of the doubt and pretend that they are. I learned self-respect through realizing I was tired and feeling unhappy and opening up to my therapist and established loved ones about my hopes and dreams for my life. When I thought I loved and respected myself enough, people who learned how to love well before me showed me what “better” is. I learned that how I had been treated was unacceptable. I could be treated better. Sometimes, I didn’t know what “better” was until “better” happened to me and I felt something in my heart that feels like peace or pleasure.
Being treated with respect helps you to learn that you *really can* be respected.
Self-love and self-respect is sometimes a matter of knowing how, more than it is sheer will. You can’t “sheer will” yourself when you don’t know or can’t fathom it. Sometimes, you just really do not know what it’s like until you experience it. Sometimes love and respect feel imaginary until you are touching it.
A loving community is so important. We have to show respect to each other.
In the beginning of the year, I had a “vision board” party with my friend Alicia. After being so disenchanted with all of the tables lacking respect and love that I had stayed at in 2018, I knew that I was longing for more love in 2019.
But I was afraid to say, because it doesn’t feel like a “concrete” vision for how to make the world better – and I of all people, The Explainer, the Lover of Grounding Bigger Pictures with Specificity – must be concrete. A good friend, however, is someone who you can be honest with. “I want more love in my life.” Friendship. Community. Lovers. Thankfully, she reminded me that to dream and hope for love to grow and for love to stay – this is a good enough dream.