I love you but…
I love you anyway…
I love you even though you…
I love you in spite of…
This, for a long time, was my support network of love. A lot of my people anyway.
They didn’t mean me any harm. They really did love me. At least, in the way that they are able to love. But, they made it a point to constantly point out what I had done wrong, what kind of person that made me, and how I should feel lucky that they would still love me after all that.
My transgressions have varied, from having children out of wedlock numerous times to having a small intimate wedding for 25 people instead of a big all-inclusive family wedding for over 300. For no longer labeling myself as a Christian. For being a single mother living in poverty. For posting about politics too much and daring to correct anyone. And through all of this, there was always the inevitable pointing out how it was all was my own fault.
For a long time, the vast majority of my people made it very clear that I was only lovable if…
That I was still okay, but clearly I was lucky they had chosen to stick around. And of course, that I could learn from them.
And they were careful not to give me too much praise or credit, because I was damaged, after all. And because of this, it was very unlikely that I may be right about anything because of how badly I had screwed up my life.
But they loved me anyway and I should be thankful for that.
And for a long time, I believed all that. I bought into it because it was what I was taught and what I had learned. It was built into who I was.
Ultimately, I decided that the whole “good enough” thing is bullshit. And that what other people think of me is their business.
But that I get to make my own definition.
And I stopped going out of my way for people who only love me if..
For people who make qualifiers on who I get to be and what makes me good enough.
I didn’t throw anyone out of my life or even block them.
It would be a clearer description to say that I merely let them go. A process I have been learning and relearning my whole life.
I would be lying to you if I said that parts of this process weren’t absolutely heartbreaking.
But what I have gained is people who love me no matter what.
I realized that there are people who will truly be there for me, instead of just saying they will. People who will show up no matter how busy they get. They will go out of their way to make sure that I know I matter. They will care when they don’t have to and love me at my best and my worst.
They love me no matter what.
People who love me so much that they give me the benefit of the doubt rather than automatically assuming I am wrong, or cruel, or damaged.
People who are there for the good days and the bad days and the worst days and the everything in-between days. The people who always remember to invite you and never stop making you feel welcome.
And the thing is, when I stopped taking up so much time trying to please and be what everyone thought I should be, I made a lot of space in my life for figuring out who I am. And when your main group of people do a mass exodus on you, it gives you lots of time to find out who you are.
And as the people dropped from my life, as I was no longer apologizing to them for who I was, I made space for the people who don’t feel I should apologize for being myself. And found that they actually just love me for me. As simple as that.
I could’ve stayed where I was my whole life. It was safe and familiar, even if I had to hide myself in order to be good enough. I had to tone myself down to be acceptable. I could’ve kept being lucky that they still loved me.
But I define my worth, and when I decided that I was enough as I am, the people who love me as such appeared. Truly, just like that.
I have a much larger circle of friends now. My network of people who love me and are here for me has multiplied tremendously. But only after I decided that I was good enough to be loved no matter what.
How about you? Would your people still love you no matter what? Or do you have to pretend and be quiet for them to love you?