I know I said I loved you, that I would always love you, but I was wrong. I was mistaken. I couldn’t see then what I can see so clearly now. And that is, what I thought was love was in fact yet another attempt to manipulate yet another man into giving me what I have been so unwilling to give myself.
By saying that I loved you, by saying that I would always love you, what I really wanted was for you to turn around and say that you loved me. My (secret) hope was that you would return this ‘love’, and I could finally breathe easy.
With you giving me your love, I no longer had to worry about giving love to myself. You could do it all for me.
Of course, I didn’t know this was what I was doing when I told you that I loved you. I didn’t know I was trying to manipulate you into giving me your love. I didn’t know I was lying and trying to wrestle out of you what is not mine to take or ask for from another. I didn’t know I was attempting to get you to take responsibility for what is not yours or anyone else’s to take responsibility for. I didn’t know this is what I so often do when in relationships with men. I didn’t know that I didn’t love myself.
Naturally, these attempts to wrangle love out of others doesn’t work, but it doesn’t seem to stop me from trying. With you, however, I may have finally learnt my lesson. It’s time to stop looking for love outside myself and to start giving it to myself.
At the time, I thought my feelings were real and genuine. At the time it really did feel like love. But when you walked away, so did those feelings. When you left, so did the love.
And if there’s one thing I do know for sure, it’s that love that is true never dies; it doesn’t just get up and walk out the door; it doesn’t simply disappear. Yet with you, it did.
What I also know for sure is that you can’t love another until you can first love yourself. And while I’m getting better, I’ve become only too aware of how little I love myself. Why else would I have accepted your obvious lack of love? The love I extended to you, the love I extended to so many others, I should have been extending to myself. But I didn’t know then what I finally do now.
I’m not sharing this to cause hurt or take revenge. Instead, I felt it was important to honour love for what love really is. And love isn’t something to be used to manipulate others for my own selfish gain. Love needs to be respected and valued and treated with reverence.
There will come a time when I do fall in love with someone, and that love will be real, and it will be genuine. I will want this person to be able to trust the words coming from my mouth. When I say ‘I love you’ I will want this person to know I don’t speak these words lightly, nor do I say them to every man I meet. I will want this person to know that I’m not saying this to get him to love me for I won’t need him to. I will want him to know my love is real and my words are the truth.
If there’s one thing I did say which remains to be true is that you were a gift. Not in the way I might have expected, but in a way for which I am incredibly grateful. And the gift you gave me is the gift of self-love. By not loving me, I’ve been able to take the love I’ve given away so freely and indiscriminately and return it to myself.
And that perhaps is one of the greatest gifts a person can give another. In which case, from the bottom of my very big and very loving heart, thank you.
Published on Thought Catalog