You have to love yourself first

posted by Jeff | Sunday, May 13, 2018, 8:45 PM | comments: 0

I don't usually write about the darkest parts of my life. You'd never guess I was going through a separation and divorce in 2005/2006, for example, by reading my blog. But the reality is that people go through stuff, and everyone has "a thing" at some point that makes life kind of suck. When we consider how we treat others, we generally forget that this is the case, and it's regrettable, to say the least.

The last three weeks have been tough, because losing a job that you were mentally and emotionally invested in sucks. It's a little like a break up. On top of that, throw in the bits about losing one of our cats, the continuing challenges of parenthood, the sudden realization that I've not been taking very good care of myself (and the self-loathing that goes with that)... it all adds up to a bunch of icky feelings that are in some part caused by things I have no control over.

Let me go back to that split, for a moment. Understand that I've long since reconciled the entire thing, and I am thankfully in a place where I can honestly say that I love and respect my first wife, even if we couldn't be married. When I say that I'm thankful for our time together, it's not lip service, it's for real. At the time, as that transition occurred, my bigger problem was really that few people paid much attention to what was going on my life. Few people ever asked, "Hey, how are you doing?" I was miserable, even though no one was really asking. There were really only three or four people asking, and one of those I was romantically involved with. This situation caused an important realization.

When you say, "People didn't give a shit," that paints a kind of bleak and unhappy kind of picture, but the reality is that this forced me to understand that if I couldn't love myself, and willingly do my best to improve my situation, it didn't matter who cared externally. If I were to wait for external validation, it might never come. All I could really do was sack up, smile and look out for myself. By the time I entered another long-term relationship, which ultimately did not last but was certainly impactful to my life, I was mostly able to do it knowing that happiness had to start with me before I could add layers of love from others.

Why am I bringing this life nugget up right now? Because I have observed recently that a number of people in my life wallow in misery, and I can't do anything for them. The only thing that they can talk about is how hard their lives are, and given the amount of shit I've waded through in the last month, it's hard for me to be sympathetic given the requirement for me to look out for my own stuff. Life can be hard, absolutely, but if you're measuring your worth or your happiness by the amount of love you get from others, you're destined to be miserable. Doing so means that you're keeping score, measuring against the lives of others, and worse, rejecting any responsibility for making life awesome by starting with you.

I'm turning a corner now where I'm ready to make my own life better. It starts with me. Sure, we're all human, and people need people. I get it. But we can't truly be open to the love and caring of others if we can't first understand how to love ourselves and own our own lives. I can happily and willingly support people who take that ownership, but if you can't do that, I just don't have the emotional capacity to help. You've gotta help yourself before others can help.

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