-The most powerful relationship you will ever have is the relationship with yourself
‘’Why can’t you be like all the girls your age?’’ he asked.
‘’Look at your cousin, she is doing normal stuff. Why can’t you be like her?’’
I was 13. My newly found passion for ballroom dancing didn’t please my father. He had a hard time understanding why I enjoyed spending all of my Saturday afternoons dancing with people who could be my grandparents. Sometimes, I wondered whether I was making certain choices simply to piss him off. At least, that’s what he thought. Maybe he was right. I don’t know.
Our relationship has always been complicated.
I have always been quite different from the people my age, and that bothered him. He has never missed an opportunity to remind me.
I never felt like I was enough. Never good enough. Never funny enough. Never pretty enough.
Despite my numerous attempts to please him, and be the perfect daughter, it was never enough.
But we did a great job at pretending. We used to spend a lot of time in cinemas, supposedly to enjoy some quality time together. Everybody around us found that cute, and thought that we shared a common passion for movies. The reality was far less charming, and we knew it. In the dark, we did not have to talk to each other. It was the only place where we could avoid to face the awkward silence.
Awkward silences. We had many of those.
For many years, I looked for someone to show me love like my dad hadn’t been able to. I looked for my father’s love in the arms of men who kept on trying to change me or to belittle me. I was falling for the wrong guys, for the wrong reasons. Deep down, I was aware of it but I did not know how to do differently. I was ready to give my all and to expect nothing in return.
I gave it all. And I actually received it all; pain, contempt, betrayal.
I was mistaking love for acceptance and validation. At the time, I did not know that. Instead, I thought that being in love would inevitably end up in pain and tears, so I gave up on the idea of relationships. What was the point of going through this? Why allowing my heart to bleed? So many questions, and only one course of action: to never fall in love.
‘’You know, I read recently that we only accept the love we think we deserve. And when I look at you, and your life, I think this is true”, he said.
My friend Samuel knew me well. He probably saved me. From them. From myself.
‘’So, do you think that I always end up in screwed up relationships because I believe I do not deserve to be loved?’’ I asked.
‘’Exactly. What these men give you is not love, but you do not see it’’ he replied. “Love will never hurt you.”
‘’You have been hurt and you’ve decided to build some kind of barrier between your heart and everyone else. I promise you that, one day, you will meet the right person who will love you for exactly who you are. But you cannot be scared like this and keep your heart shut. You need to give love a chance”, he wrote.
Sam definitely knew how get through to me. On a cold night in November 2015, the ice that was surrounding my heart started to melt. This short email became some kind of prayer that I recited in my head every night before going to bed for at least the next 3 months.
He was right; I needed to give love a chance, a real chance.
However, I realized that before opening my heart to strangers, I needed to open it to myself.
From this day onward, my life changed. I changed. Like a young child, I took my first step. I started to accept and love myself. I understood what Sam had told me ; we indeed only accept the love we think we deserve. I realized that I deserved so much more than what I had been receiving, and that it was time for me to accept this love. Or at least, not to accept anything less.
I understood that indeed, love does not hurt, when it truly exists.
And suddenly, very slowly, I loved myself enough to let go of my fears. I loved myself enough to say no to destructive relationships. I loved myself enough to open my heart and to welcome the right people in it. I knew that one day, someone would enter my life and make me forget about the pain, the contempt, the betrayal. I would allow myself to trust. I would allow myself to feel deeply. That gave me hope.
But for now I loved myself, and that was enough.
On the Side : Rosi Golan – C’est l’Amour