You’re worth the whole damn cake and more.
No one sets out looking for crumbs. In love. In life. In friendships. At work. But somehow, even the most intelligent people (who know their worth, no less!) find themselves waist-deep in situations where they’re inadvertently accepting mere morsels of time, attention, love, money, whatever it is. I know what that’s like. I’ve been there. I might well still be in it.
By the time we realise what’s happening, we’ve sunk so deep into the quicksand of over-giving and undervaluing ourselves that a way out feels so elusive. We get stuck. We know it has started to feel like a destructive addiction. We know we don’t deserve this and we most certainly deserve only the best from life, yet here we are.
After two and a half years of tears, bawling on my cold, hard kitchen floor, I am on the cusp of freeing myself from this destructive and cruel situation. I no longer cry about it and the alternative — being alone — is a lot more attractive to me now than any crumb he throws my way. Yes, I fell in love with a very unavailable man.
First of all, to anyone who finds themselves in a situation where they feel pathetic, unworthy, humiliated, and many other emotions we never thought we’d feel, I’m sending you lots of love. Please be kind to yourself.
You’re also probably asking yourself how this happened. I certainly was. I’m a positive person, successful, independent, strong-minded, kind, well-travelled, well-read, etc. I’m not saying those to give myself a pat on the back, I’m saying those to give context. My self-esteem was pretty healthy. I have a high-profile job and am pretty damn good at it, I’ve always known my worth, I valued myself, I’ve always had clear boundaries with people, I knew how I wanted to be treated. Yet… I allowed myself to get stuck in a situation that made me feel pathetic. I was starting to lose my dignity and self-respect.
That cold, hard kitchen floor was my rude awakening. Things needed to change. Right now.
Recognise the vicious cycle.
Being in this vicious cycle is one of the worst feelings I’ve ever felt. It gives me the creepy crawlies. I feel exasperated. My head is spinning, my heart racing. I start to wonder if I’m crazy. I have a physical headache. I feel like a need a shower. It makes my skin crawl all over. I feel like I can’t access my gut instinct. If I was getting burned, I probably wouldn’t have realised I needed to run. That’s how off my internal compass felt.
The manifestations are different from everyone, but do make it a priority to find a way that works for you where you can clearly assess what’s going on. Do you need to sit in silence? Do a body scan? Talk to a professional? Journal? Do something to get out of your own head and recognise this for what it is. If you don’t know what the problem even is, how will you know what solution to look for?
Take a snapshot of your lowest moment.
It could be a figurative snapshot, but I took a literal one. I took a selfie. Of my worst self. On the cold, hard kitchen floor. My face was puffy and red, and tears were streaming down my face. The noise coming out of me sounded more like a howl than a cry. It was coming from the very depths of my soul. I took that selfie to remind myself that I had hit rock bottom and I would cry and cry until I had gotten it all out of my system. But as soon as I’ve done that, I promised myself I will not go back to that dark place.
It was quite a transformational moment. The physical proof a selfie provides of that ugly moment allowed me to look at myself from the outside, a different perspective. It made no sense whatsoever for me to be putting up with this when I have so much going for me in my life. There are so many people who actually love me and give me their full attention — family, friends — why was I forcing myself onto this person who throws crumbs at me and tries to frame it like I should be thanking him for it? It made absolutely no sense. Taking that selfie gave me a visual image I can keep going back to whenever I find myself getting drawn back into the spell of that person.
Before this crisis in my life, i.e. falling in love with an unavailable man, I had never seen a therapist. I’m a generally positive person with enough close friends to be introspective with and didn’t really see the need to seek professional help. But actually, it does help.
Do your research beforehand about what kind of method you need most and be most comfortable with. I tried a few different psychotherapy methods and I can’t say I’ve found the one I’d stick with long-term, but even those few sessions helped me clear my head and connect with my feelings.
Focus on what brings you joy.
How many times have we heard this cliché? Thing is, it works. When you focus on putting one foot in front of the other and deliberately seeking out activities, people, experiences, things that bring you joy, you increase positive emotions, even for a moment, and that’s already a giant step forward. When you’re in a negative spiral, you’ve got to grab every chance you get to focus on something beautiful, uplifting, nourishing and enriching. No moment is too small. Put as many rainbows in your pocket.
I repeat: please be kind to yourself.
We are human, we make mistakes. Whatever led to you being in this vicious cycle of loving a person who makes you feel low, worthless, pathetic, devalued, humiliated is something to be reflected on and learned from, and then moved on from. Forgive yourself. Don’t blame yourself, or anyone else for that matter. Learn the lessons and leave it all in the past. You have today and that’s all you really have.
In being kind to yourself, you also need to remember you’re worth it. You’re worth the whole damn cake. Anyone throwing you crumbs can go play Hansel and Gretel somewhere else. Love yourself. That means choosing yourself. Don’t let your self-worth be determined by anyone else. Don’t lose your self-respect. Loving yourself means telling Mr. Unavailable to please F off. For good.