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I struggle to find self love and always end up hurting myself


katmisj
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It's starting to bother me when I look around and see my friends having boundaries, my exes being firm on their word whilst I stay even in unhappy relationships because I don't think I can do better and out of fear of being alone. Or pushing people away because I think I don't deserve any good. 

I've had a streak of failed and toxic/abusive relationships in my life, a lot of my exes have moved on and are happily married/with kids whilst I'm stuck in the same cycle. 

I always see these stories where girls stay in relationships for years and then break up with the guy because she knows her worth and I've never been that kind of girl. I've always been the one that gets dumped, the one that gets stepped over on and left, and honestly gets me questioning if I'm even worth of being with someone. The last boyfriend I had treated me well but my insecurities pushed him away and we ended up having other issues and he broke up with me on New Years. We're still in touch but not as a couple anymore, and we decided to go on a break but I feel miserable. I miss him and I wish we'd get back together but he says he wasn't happy a lot of the times. 

But at the same time, I don't want to be like this anymore. I don't want to play the victim and feel like there's no way out. I want to change, I want to put myself first. I just don't know how. Every time I fall into this trap where I feel like I have to earn, chase and beg for love, because if I don't, I'll be alone. But I end up alone anyway no matter what I do. 

When I was younger, I went through this but it was easier to move on. I went to parties, went out with friends, was constantly going out or working, didn't really have a lot of free time to stop and think. I think I just numbed myself to any issues. Now at 28, I've gotten bored of long parties and have become more introspective and also having to face my issues without burying myself in music, drugs and alcohol. It's been hard. I'm going to therapy as well, but I feel like I'm not really making any progress, not because of her because she's great but because I am an extremely sensitive and emotional person, with anxiety issues as well... Tips and advices would be great. 

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24 minutes ago, katmisj said:

I don't want to play the victim and feel like there's no way out. I want to change, I want to put myself first. I just don't know how. Every time I fall into this trap where I feel like I have to earn, chase and beg for love

It’s cliche but love yourself. Everything is extra hard if you’re not able to accept who you are. It’s also the basis for change.

What has your therapist suggested?

Edited by Rose Mosse
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52 minutes ago, katmisj said:

 I'm stuck in the same cycle. 

 Now at 28, I'm going to therapy as well, but I feel like I'm not really making any progress, 

Get to a physician for an evaluation of your physical and mental health. Rule out physical causes. 

Get a referral to a qualified therapist for ongoing support.

Do you live alone or with parents or roommates? 

Take some classes and courses. Enjoy or improve your job. Get a side hustle. 

Join some groups and clubs. Volunteer. Get involved in sports and fitness. Improve your diet and lifestyle.

Get on quality dating apps with a good profile and pics. Start talking to and meeting men for a low-key coffee.

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4 hours ago, katmisj said:

Now at 28, I've gotten bored of long parties and have become more introspective and also having to face my issues without burying myself in music, drugs and alcohol. It's been hard. I'm going to therapy as well, but I feel like I'm not really making any progress, not because of her because she's great but because I am an extremely sensitive and emotional person, with anxiety issues as well..

Failed/toxic/abusive relationships aside, I think it's not unusual to go through something like this as you age out of your mid 20s and solidify into a mature adult. I certainly went through it myself and it was difficult. You do grow up even more, meaningless past times become boring, you shed some friends.... and all of that comfort and meaning is suddenly gone. But it has to go in order to make space for better things--things that you weren't able to understand or appreciate as a kid.

It could be that this phase in your life might actually be a separate issue from the relationship trouble that you are having. Maybe try viewing them and approaching them separately. 

Can you find another therapist? Therapy often doesn't work very well unless there is a good fit between you and them. 

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What actions do you take that show you love yourself? Loving is giving.  What actions do you take on a daily basis to show you are taking care of yourself and giving a darn about yourself?  Be very concrete IMO not abstract notions of "self love".  What do you do to show you like yourself-forget about love.  

For example -yours can be very different -I drink a lot of water -as if it is medicine for me because it is - I started drinking even more some years ago -makes a big difference physically and mentally/emotionally.  I work out daily.  Same reason as the water.

  I work hard because working hard -pushing myself -makes me energized.  I help people.  Helping people is altruistic but it's also good for making you feel worthy and good about yourself. I help people in a healthful way -not like a martyr.  

At the end of the day -especially really long days - I make myself think of at least three things I am thankful for.  Sometimes it's avocado on toast.  Sometimes it's that the power didn't go out during a storm.  Whatever.  

It's about actions large and small.  I wouldn't compare at all - other people might be more fortunate or luckier than you, other people you have no clue about what's really going on, other people have non-relationship struggles you know nothing about.  

It's not about abstract "self love" or "self care" or "believe in yourself!" or "be your own best friend!!" -do the work to find what actions you can take every single day to show yourself you give a darn about yourself.  That's what love is.  Then when you show you give a darn about yourself you will naturally not want to be around people who do not give a darn about you.  

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I think @Jibralta makes a valid point. Many of us go through lots of bad relationships in our youth. And you are probably experiencing a bit of the pain associated with when you realize you are outgrowing some people & things.

On the other hand, I understand your quest to know more about how to care more yourself and how to love yourself more. 

It is more than just pampering yourself and getting your nails done. 

As @Batya33 indicates, it's different for different people. You have to look at like parenting yourself.  You hold you accountable to you.

You make small promises to yourself and you keep them. Like I'm going to drink a glass of water before each meal.

You spend time alone and you learn it's not so scary to be on your own. You become good company for yourself.  You learn to listen to yourself.  Read self help books... look for one about boundaries.

As you spend time alone you learn more about what interests you, what's important to you.  With this knowledge you can start picking up on what other's are about and what you will and won't accept. And you're own boundaries.

Like that ex that you wanted to get back with.  He says he wasn't that happy.  Ok. you accept that. You protect yourself and say to yourself, I don't want a guy that isn't happy with me.  You cut him off. it's no offense and you don't have to be rude about it but it's over.  he's not happy and you are not trying to make him happy anymore. Thanks for the good times. 

It takes work and it's hard. You might feel bad at times because you are forcing yourself to be strong. You can not accept people who don't respect you.  You must limit the chances you give them.

That's how you build trust in your decisions. You show respect and love to yourself.  And you get through things in your own.

You lose some people and you might spend more time alone but in the long run you will find the people that will respect you and love you in a healthy way.  Because if they don't, you walk away... not mad just not accepting the unacceptable and not trying to change other people  (you can't) 

Start a journal, hit the bookstore, identify some things you can do starting today to hold yourself accountable to do: making the bed, taking a 15 minute walk,  drinking more water,  eating a piece of fruit, clear out the clutter in your room..... the list is endless.  Start with what you can do.  Start now.

Tell yourself good things about yourself.  Start liking you! 

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I like lambert’s advice !  I’m not a fan of telling myself good things about myself as a regular practice but showing myself good things and then reminding. Like “even though I was tired I took out the garbage because I know I feel better with a clean kitchen “

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On 1/20/2022 at 2:07 AM, katmisj said:

I feel like I'm not really making any progress, not because of her because she's great but because I am an extremely sensitive and emotional person, with anxiety issues as well...

Oh, this is progress. It feels pretty lousy, doesn't it?

(((HUG))) Hang in there, Kat, and stay with the therapy. Let it get messy. Allow yourself to feel vulnerable and unhealed during this time. If you can be brave and keep walking, it will clear up, and you will thank yourself later.

You're right on target for your age. People tend to believe that adolescence lasts until age 18, but the fact is, we don't outgrow it until our mid 20's. So you're coming 'of age' and you're experiencing growing pains--of the body along with the brain synapses of emotional awareness and tuning.

One thing that helped me break the cycle of low self-respect prompting a boredom and a ditch of anyone who would be low enough to think highly of me was this metaphor I heard from a speaker on trying to market yourself to the masses, hoping that someone of importance will see you and validate your worth:

"People standing on city streets seeking a taxi will only notice the cars with their service lights ON. This doesn't de-value cars that are driving under that radar--they're just operating outside of that scope. So decide whether you are trying to SELL to passengers who want to use you for a ride, or whether you prefer to trust that people who can see and appreciate your unique value--the few who will 'get you'--are the ones who will offer you true simpatico and become part of your life."

So question: who, exactly, do you admire--and why? The 'why' is really important, because if its about buzz and followers, go beyond the superficial and get clear about what matters to you.

Being 'alone' is not a sentence, it's a right of passage. People who fear that state fear the very growth that will liberate them from people-pleasing and desperation to cling onto others.

Once you can reach some comfort with yourself solo, you will amaze yourself with your resilience and discretion in who you'll regard as a good match for you versus the many you'll allow to drop away early.

Most people will become a 'no,' or at very best, an acquaintance. This is just natural odds. Very few people make good matches, as friends or as lovers, because very few people offer the simpatico that views us through the right lens. That just speaks of their limits rather than of any reflection on you.

Your value already exists. You don't need to 'earn' it, you just need to learn how to appreciate it over t.i.m.e. The more you can do this, the more you will trust your own judgment on who really belongs in your life--and you will grasp that most of the people do not.

Head high. 

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  • 2 months later...

Wow.  Some awesome comments above.  katmisj, reaching out here is a great way to get a variety of perspectives from some really good, caring, experienced people 😉  I think your inner wisdom led you to eNotalone.  Over the years I've reached out a number of times for assistance, then lingered afterward to try and "pay back" the favors with what I've learned.

Before I married my husband 26 years ago (even tho I am in the middle of uncoupling, he is still an awesome person and the end of our marriage is a lot more on my part than his) I struggled with poor relationships, attracting the wrong guys, jealous maniacs, etc.  I got fed up and decided I wanted more out of life.  I focused on my career  and my personal development and took time for myself to read, study, get THERAPY, have fun, learn how to windsurf, go dancing with groups of friends, etc.

We started dating.  As things progressed I established and kept boundaries, maintained my fun with friends, kept putting energy into my career development as a late-20s ambitious career woman.  I didn't care he was against marriage and calmly let him know while I respected his opinion, that was my goal and I would accept no less from the man who would wind up my life partner.  I guess he must have changed his mind...less than a year later he proposed.

Anyhoo, that is one of my fondest memories of my attempts to become (what is now called) a High Value Woman.  If you're curious please visit youtube and search for videos about HVW and even cheesy ones with titles like "10 Things That Men Love" are helpful to suss out what you are doing that is attracting the wrong men.  You can take that knowledge and incorporate it into your repertoire and help yourself tease out that HVW inside of you, yes she already exists!  There is some kind of voice inside your head holding her back, telling her she doesn't deserve a High Value Man, BUT YES YOU DO!  Just get inside and start chatting with your inner HVW, she wants OUT of the prison you built for her.

Now, you've got a whole pile of strategies to choose from.  Please check in and update us when you have a chance, nothing like a good eNotalone success story to top off an already full heart.  <3<3<3

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I agree with everything everyone else said! One thing I want to add though is, don't be afraid to be alone. I think one reason why people sometimes stay in bad/wrong relationships is because they're scared to be alone. They think that being in any relationship is better than being single. The truth is that it's not.

Of course it's nice to be in a relationship and share your life with someone. I think being in abusive relationships is like a vicious cycle though. People who have low self-esteem often end up in abusive relationships and in turn, the abuser diminishes their self-esteem and self worth even more. I think the really important thing is to try to break that cycle.

I can really relate to this too because I was very scared to be alone. I wanted to be in a relationship so badly. I actually looked up my ex on Facebook and saw that he had a wife and two kids. That made me feel hurt and jealous and it's a natural feeling. I think sometimes people also don't get the same things in life at the same time or at the same age, etc. Everyone's life is different. 

For example, my male friend who I met 11 years ago was then 36. He said at that time that he'd never really been in a real relationship, he'd only had casual things. Then in his early 40's he met a woman on online dating and he married her. Now they're expecting their first child and he's 47. 

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