When I was in my early 20s, I fell in love. Or, at least, I thought I did.
I met this really hot guy at a bar one night (I know, already not a great start–HA!). I was out dancing with my friends and I saw him smiling at me.
As I left the dance floor, his eyes followed me. He didn’t stop smiling.
As I walked past him, he smiled even bigger, his eyes locked on mine.
I was going to wait for him to come over and talk to me, but then my friend said “hey–you only live once” and I thought, fuck it, I’ll go talk to him.
I went up and talked to him. He said he was glad I came over to talk to him because I was intimidating (not the first time I heard that–HA!). He asked me to hang out that night and I said no, I’m hanging out with my friends, and I gave him my number and said to call me sometime.
My friends and I left the bar. We were back at my house, drunk, and eating hummus (seriously) when my phone rang. It was a number I didn’t recognize.
I picked it up… and it was the guy from the bar. He said, “I was just making sure you gave me your real number. I’ll call you tomorrow.”
It took us a few more days before we could figure out a time that worked for both of us to meet up. But when we did, it was like the most magnetic, intense connection I’d ever felt (up ’til that point).
We just sparked. In a way I had never sparked with anyone before.
He was so fun and funny. He was smart and worldly. He loved the same music as me (not a big deal to some, but it mattered to me at the time).
Not to mention he was the hottest guy I’d ever met. I honestly couldn’t believe someone so hot was attracted to me (and this, ladies and gentlemen, was my kryptonite).
I fell hard for him.
I couldn’t believe my luck. How did someone like me, the nerd, the bullied kid, the high school outcast, the girl who wasn’t good enough for the guys she wanted, land a guy like him?
I figured it had to be all the work I’d been doing the prior months on improving my confidence and self-esteem. It must’ve been working, I thought.
And then the Universe delivered me a test, one that I had already received the answer to months before it was given to me, and I completely and totally fucking failed.
A few months prior to me meeting this guy, a girlfriend of mine was dating a guy she was really into, but her distance-boyfriend (who was cool with her seeing other people while they were apart) was coming to visit for a week and she wasn’t going to be able to see the new guy while her distance-boyfriend was in town. The new guy was totally cool about it… but he said he couldn’t date her anymore after her boyfriend was gone. She totally understood where he was coming from and was fine with it since she knew she wanted to end up with her distance-boyfriend anyhow (and she did), and they parted ways amicably.
I was privy to all of this going on. I was in the know on how people who respect themselves act.
So when this exact same situation came up for me and the guy I had met, I should have known what to do.
Actually, not only did the situation come up, but I also found out he’d been lying to me (red flag, red flag, red flag).
We went out one night to a bar with all of his Marine buddies, and one of them got so plastered he decided to tell me that the guy I was seeing was having his ex-girlfriend from high school come out to visit him for two weeks.
The guy I was dating had told me he was going home for two weeks, which meant he planned on telling me he was going home, but really being in town with her.
When I called him out on this–because at that point, I had created enough confidence in myself to at least ask him to tell me the truth–he admitted everything and said her and him made these plans before he met me, she already had her plane ticket and he felt like he owed it to her to show her a good time on her vacation. He said he didn’t mean to lie to me, but we only knew each other for a few weeks and he felt awkward about the situation with his ex.
I guess I kind of understood where he was coming from (more like I felt like I should understand, even though I didn’t). I asked him if we’d still be able to hang out while she was in town, and he said possibly, he wasn’t sure, but he didn’t want this situation to ruin what we had.
I was upset about this for a few days. I told him I wished his friend hadn’t said anything. He said, why don’t we just do our best to try to see each other while she was in town and still text each other in the meantime.
All of these things are red-fucking-flags in my book, but I set them all aside because of my kryptonite of not feeling good enough… I didn’t want to lose the “best guy I’ve ever been with.”
I agreed to let the situation go and that we’d text each other and try to see each other if we could.
Well, as I’m sure you can already guess, the two weeks rolled on and we didn’t see each other. I made a ton of effort, of course, to try and see him, he did nothing of the sort.
If I had actually respected and loved myself back then, that would’ve been it. I would have ended things with him because I wouldn’t have allowed someone to treat me that way.
But I was living with the demon of not feeling good enough.
So after the two weeks were up, when he called me to say I should come over to hang out, I, stupidly, went over to see him, and we ended up going out to a bar and having a great time. It was like things between us had somehow deepened.
We spent the entire next weekend together, just hanging out, drinking, laughing, talking, etc. It was incredible.
It felt like our time apart had solidified how we felt about each other. We became inseparable after that.
But since our whole situation was built on a foundation of me not feeling good enough for him, it all came crashing down not long after.
He decided he no longer wanted to spend the money to live off base when he could live on base for free and he moved away from where I lived. He said we’d still see each other.
Then he stopped texting me as much. He made plans with me and then I wouldn’t hear from him.
Eventually, he took me on a “goodbye” date where he was really sweet and paid for everything and drove and acted politely, and then he broke up with me on the phone later that night.
I was devastated. Crushed. Absolutely beside myself.
Although, in hindsight, I have no idea why. I totally set myself up for that shit by showing him how I was going to allow him to treat me.
Not long after, I found out he slept with his ex the whole time she was in town (duh, like I didn’t know that), and he was also seeing four other girls (that I didn’t know).
That experience broke me when it should’ve been an easy way for me to demonstrate the confidence I’d been working on, by walking the fuck away when I found out he lied to me the first time.
Instead, I blamed the whole situation on me not being good enough. “See, if I had just been good enough for him, he would’ve wanted me. He would’ve stayed with me. He would’ve chosen me.”
No, no, no, bitch, fucking NO!!!!
THAT is the nonsense that women allow to go on in their lives. That is the fucking insanity that women call “unconditional love.” That was what I was telling myself, believing and allowing to be acceptable in my life.
The situation with the guy who broke me is what led me to get together with my now ex-husband. Because I was in the worst mental place I’d ever been in, and so was he. We were friends who bonded over our wounds.
As any good counselor or coach will tell you, bonding over wounds is not the way to start a relationship. (And our wound-bonded relationship went on for almost 13 years. But I digress.)
If you want real love, if you want respect, you must first GIVE IT TO YOURSELF. You cannot ever receive from outside yourself something you haven’t first given yourself on the inside.
Your outer world reflects your inner world.
I had created confidence externally in my life back then, by doing the things I thought a confident person would do (have a cool apartment, a dream job, talk to guys first). But I hadn’t created that same confidence on the inside yet, so when a situation arose for me to demonstrate what I’d learned, I failed miserably.
And then that failure caused a downward spiral that sent my confidence and self-esteem to rock bottom.
We’re not taught how to respect or love ourselves. It’s not something we grow up learning (usually). And so we don’t always have the best beliefs about ourselves or our worth.
That leads us to do things, like allow men (or women) to treat us in ways that are inappropriate, disrespectful or downright disgusting.
When you don’t love yourself and don’t respect yourself, you won’t know how to allow others to love or respect you either.
You’ll allow things that are below your standard. You’ll accept things that are similar to what you want, but not fully what you want and know you deserve.
I know, because I was there, for a very, very long time. When I look back on my marriage and the relationships I’ve had in the past, I’m mind blown by the things I’ve allowed to go on, by the things I’ve accepted.
But without standards that you uphold and values that you live by and, most importantly, love and respect that you feel and give to yourself ON THE INSIDE, you will continue to experience that lack and disrespect, in some form or fashion, on the outside.
This year, after the demise of my marriage, I decided I was going to learn how to love myself and respect myself and have standards that I actually uphold. And that’s when I started attracting better things into my life, including men.
Feeling not good enough has been my inner demon/inner struggle for as long as I can recall. It will probably never fully go away.
But now I have an understanding of what it really takes to get the life you actually want, and I’ve created a healthy level of self-love and respect for myself that is now reflecting from the inside out.