I had a dream the other night, in which one of my oldest and dearest friends looked at me and said: “”I’m surprised he’s dating you. He can do so much better than you.”
Frankly, I woke up rather upset (especially since I woke up just after she said this).
I talked it over with my sister, and she gave me some assorted different things to consider, particularly that if something like this is coming up, I may have recovered enough to be able to face it.
The reason I was struggling with it was because I felt I didn’t hate myself that much. That my subconscious was telling me things I don’t believe. I don’t like the concept of putting others (or myself) on a pedestal. It’s unfair to the person you are putting there. Human beings aren’t perfect, and when you put someone on a pedestal you become hurt and confused when they inevitably make mistakes. But there’s obviously something in my subconscious that is doing it anyways.I’ve always struggled with the concept of being “deserving.” It’s one of the reasons I stayed with my abusive ex for so long – I valued him far more than I valued myself. I’ve always tended to put others at a higher value than myself, only valuing myself if I had anything left after taking care of everyone else.
It’s a cycle that comes around again and again. Sometimes I succeed at dealing with it and sometimes I don’t (See my post Didn’t We Already Do This?). I have gotten better about it through the years, which is part of the reason I found enough strength to leave my ex.
When I started dating my boyfriend (yes, I started dating him before I even considered breaking it off with the ex. And NO he never pushed me to divorce my ex), we had a number of different discussions about each of us feeling we weren’t “good enough,” not just for each other but in general.
When I talked to him about the dream, he reminded me about those conversations. And he pointed out that the concept of “he can do better” is absolutely no different than myself not feeling “good enough.”
It’s not always about putting someone on a pedestal. It’s about placing yourself lower than the dirt.
Our society encourages pretty much everyone to believe that other people are “better” than we are. We all make comparisons to other people, even when consciously we know that we have NO clue what other people are experiencing or going through. That woman you’ve chosen as a role model may have serious self-image issues. That rich man who makes so much money may focus so much on his work because the rest of his life is shitty. That rich cheerleader you envy may be being abused at home.
It’s particularly difficult to overcome that societal programming if you are “different” from the mainstream (or you view yourself as different). Fat people get this all the time, as do the people who love them (particularly if the other person is thin). And having my ex tell me I was “too fat to be desirable” is just another part of that same issue.
It’s so damned easy to think that you are far too evil for the world. That your life is punishment for being so “bad” or so “different.” And sometimes it’s easier to fit yourself into the stereotype, because if people are going to expect you – even without knowing you – to be the evil bitch, you might as well give it to them.
I CAN do better than my life right now. Not in order to be valuable to someone else, but in order to be more valuable to me. I deserve better. And doing better doesn’t mean starving myself into a size 0. It doesn’t mean becoming fabulously wealthy. It doesn’t mean marrying a rich guy or dating the world’s most handsome man.
It means valuing who I am RIGHT NOW, not who I used to be or who I might become.