Why We Accept The Love We Think We Deserve

A few months ago, I received an urgent call from a dear friend. He was sobbing on the phone as he told me about how he was treated by his partner. For the two and a half years they were together, his partner showed signs of being emotionally abusive. He would get angry at him for the smallest things, blamed him for things he never did, called him selfish when my friend wouldn’t give him the attention he wanted.

It was all too familiar to me. The same scenarios with my ex-husband played in my head and I couldn’t believe it was also happening to my friend. He knew he was with an angry and insecure man, but that didn’t stop him from still being with him. My friend is smart, young and accomplished, shouldn’t he know better?

Marianne Williamson in her book, A Return to Love, devoted a full chapter on Relationships. She said we don’t attract emotionally abusive or unavailable men, the problem is we are attracted to these type of people. We are so familiar with the feeling of pain and neediness that we are subconsciously attracted to them. She goes on to say that we are comfortable with pain.

For everything that must have happened in our past, this kind of pain is close to home.

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This leads me to ask, what do I think of myself that gives me this kind of people in my life? Have I looked deeper within and asked myself honestly what I think of myself?

I did an introspection and the hard, bitter truth, hit me. I realized I didn’t think I deserved to be loved. Looking back on my past relationships, I saw the pattern. They liked me, I liked them and soon the neediness kicked into overdrive. The fear of being rejected and abandoned, the feeling that I wasn’t good enough were so strong that I would self-destruct in the process.

Before I got married, I was in another relationship with a man I placed highly on a pedestal. I was deeply in love with him and it broke me when our relationship didn’t work out. For years, I held on to the story that he left me and he never gave us another chance.

While reading a passage in A Return To Love, I burst into tears when it dawned on me that this man didn’t really leave me. As it turned out, I was the one who abandoned him. Because I was too scared of losing him, I felt I was doing him the favor If I leave him first. That way, the rejection wouldn’t hurt as bad, or so I thought. In truth, I felt I wasn’t worthy of his love, so I copped out and called it quits.

For three years, I held on to the narrative that he never gave me a chance to explain myself and he completely shunned me from his life. But, I was the one who closed my door on him.

I would rather let him go because I felt I didn’t deserve his love.

My relationships with these men were like having one foot in and one foot out of the door. Just in case one doesn’t work out, I have a Plan B. I projected this image that I didn’t care what the other person did, but deep down I was scared and insecure.

Considering how low my self-worth was, I married the next person who came into my life who showed the least bit of interest in me. I settled into a self-image of me who deserves little respect. I accepted the emotional abuse because I thought that was the kind of love I deserved. I was operating from a place where all men are the same. They were going to leave me anyway, so I’ll take anything- good or bad- in order not to be abandoned.

Despite it all,  I haven’t given up on myself and on love. I know that the heart will keep trying until I learn all the lessons there is to learn.  The men in my life were there for a reason. As my yoga teacher, Pom, puts it, like or don’t like, treat them the same, they’re there to teach you something.

I’ll keep working and believing in myself that I deserve more. My heart remains open as I continue to learn and accept that I already have what I’m looking for.

We Accept The Love We Think We Deserve- The Perks of Being A Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky