I am a woman in her early 20s with some experience of being in a relationship and near-relationship. I have been in love, loved, and dumped – nothing out of the ordinary. Asides from these romantic relationships with other people, however, I have been on an on-again, off-again relationship with myself too.
Back in high school, I once got dumped by myself because of my eating disorder issues. The story behind it is not so pretty. Pressured to be thin, my weight got down to 40kg, the lowest it has ever been. Still, I never felt good enough about myself.
Having been dumped by myself, my hunger for self-love grew uncontrollably. Eventually I was dumped by someone else too and somehow nothing seemed able to help me regain my self-worth. So I decided to take a break from getting romantically involved with anyone, and to do some self-reflection so I could regain my self-love.
Three years passed, I gained weight, got into one of Indonesia’s top universities, and spent some time abroad on an exchange program. I was good and happy – at least that’s what I thought. Thinking I was fully healed, I decided to throw myself out there again, back into the dating game.
It has now been a year since my significant other and I met and I can't tell you how wonderful this year has been so far. Besides trying to be good to myself, I also tried to be the best for my significant other too. But then somehow I’ve found myself back in the hole again – failing in self-love again.
To me self-love is the endless effort to get rid of your unhealthy insecurities. Having dealt with issues such as eating disorder, I am well familiar with insecurity, the fear of how others judge my physical appearance.
One of the reasons why I failed every single relationship in the past was my failure in self-love. I oozed apologies. I apologized for being not good enough for my significant other, for being a little overweight (when I was NOT). I was constantly afraid that I would be deserted because of my physical flaws. What I didn’t realize was the flaws inside me, this part that insisted on seeing only my flaws.
I felt the force of realization when my boyfriend asked me this question: How can I fully love him when I cannot even love myself? How can I value others when I cannot even value my worth?
I left his questions unanswered. Staring at my dormitory room’s ceiling and connecting every dots, every little quarrel we had and the reason behind it, I think I got it. The problem is not our relationship but my relationship with myself. Turns out I still can’t love myself as much as I love him.
When he first asked me those questions, I was angry, as if he was questioning my ability to love. But now I knew that he saw through me. I still could not get the idea that someone could accept me in whole despite my flaws, and was willing to be there for me. How could they love me when I couldn’t even do the same thing to myself? I have tasted the hardship in loving someone unconditionally in the past, I have tasted the bittersweet of being dumped and being loved again. Why can’t I do the same thing to myself then?
Today I am not fully healed yet. I’m still in this journey and I don’t know when this journey will end, nor do I know whether it will really end or not. What I can say for sure is how our unhealthy relationship with ourselves can play a destructive part to our current relationship.
Change is hard. For a Taurean bull like me, the word change comes like winter wind, forcing me to keep myself closed and covered from it. But, there is no harm in trying, as change won’t happen overnight.
Maudy Elvira is your regular 20ish-year-old Taurean who lives for coffee and loves to indulge herself in a bottle of cheap white wine. She still attends her obligatory classes at uni and stuff, but spends most of her time by sailing through the sea of words and write it here, maudyelvira.blogspot.com