I’ve been in a number of toxic relationships and one thing always happened at some point. Someone always reminded me that being (and staying) in these relationships was a surefire sign that I did not love myself.
I realize now that although that reasoning makes sense, it’s not true at all. In fact, it’s actually the opposite.
Loving these toxic people was actually mirroring back to me just how much I subconsciously loved myself (or, at least, wanted to).
Let me explain.
All of These People Were Projections
From the narcissists to the nice guys.
We’ve all heard that the life we live is based on our perception of reality. Each of our realities is a unique projection of who we are.
If this is true then through the people I’ve loved, I was naturally being pulled towards different projections of myself.
Essentially, I’ve been coming face to face with different aspects of who I’ve been (and who I am).
We all have and here’s why:
We’ve each experienced having feelings or being drawn to someone for no reason at all. Whether it was “love at first sight” or meeting someone who just wakes something up inside of us without cause,
We’ve all been there (or will be).
These experiences, to me, are what I consider us naturally being drawn to our own projections. Even if it means us having specific lessons of self-love to learn through those particular individuals.
Through these specific projections, each person we fall in love with becomes just another opportunity for us to love ourselves, no matter how toxic they are. Because that is their role.
And that role can only be fulfilled if we play our part in these toxic relationships, which is projecting the inaccessible love we have for ourselves onto other people.
We Have Been Looking for Love In All the Wrong Places
But that’s exactly where we’re going to find it.
I’ve been noticing something about toxic dynamics, especially mine. Although we are attracted to people who have things in common with us, these same people usually tend to oppose us in very integral ways.
And it tends to be things that these people have that we lack (either literally or in character development) that trigger us, deeply.
(Deep enough to evolve.)
For example; most of my narcissistic exes were incredibly disciplined in different aspects of their lives where I had none at all.
Jamel, the malignant narcissist I mention here:
Was extremely disciplined at working out, daily.
He was also a caretaker for his mom and was very career-focused. He too could cook, very well too. He was mastering adulting whereas I was drowning in wanting to still be a kid.
This became a continuous sore spot for me because these were all areas I lacked significantly. Especially, in the caretaker and career departments. Hell, I didn’t even know how to take care of myself.
I was fresh out of college with no real direction and my mom’s health had just started taking its nosedive. The anxiety it made me feel caused me to withdraw from her rather than take care of her.
Because his strengths were my areas of weakness, I often felt insecure in our relationships. These were also the things about Jamel that I oddly became both, envious and enamored with.
When my relationship with Jamel fell apart
These areas slowly became my areas of strength. Work came to m within a month of the breakup, and I began making a living doing what I love,
With time, I got completely sober and began doing yoga almost daily and now I shop and cook for me and my mom. I am also her full-time caretaker. This was the unconventional way I found myself.
Things balanced out because everything I envied in them I already had in me. It took me falling for Jamel to see the lost parts of who I really was.
It took “losing” him to gain (and reclaim) it.
The dissolution made room for me to access more of my self-love.
And because the path to self-love is not linear, I realize we prove to ourselves that we actually do love ourselves in our love of other people.
This perspective is the healthiest thing toxic relationships can offer you because,
It’s in our dedication to making things work with toxic people that highlights the subconscious way we remain dedicated to falling in love with a difficult aspect of ourselves.
Let me explain.
We Actually Need to Experience Toxic Relationships
Because this is how we inherently fall in love with ourselves.
We are going to require toxicity, in some way and at some point.
Not only to learn the skill of discernment when it comes to the types of people we allow into our lives and in our hearts but to understand something that often goes unnoticed —
Even when we love toxic people, we are still showing ourselves that we love ourselves.
Specifically, we’re showing ourselves that it is possible to love the darker parts of who we are. This includes the parts of ourselves we’re afraid of,
(especially those parts.)
We forgive their appearance in our partners because we are looking at them through the eyes of love. This is why these toxic features don’t scare or deter us when they show up in our lovers.
This is also how we unintentionally, show ourselves it is possible to be loved for our darker sides. This is also how we actively exercise that love toward ourselves.
Because in loving these toxic mirrors, we are vicariously viewing our own flaws through the eyes of love too. We subconsciously love those parts of us we think we consciously hate.
It’s just easier to love those parts of who we are when other people are wearing them. Because when we run from ourselves we often run into ourselves.
And in falling for these projections, we maintain falling for ourselves — over and over again, too. We remain patient with their bread-crumbing and their growth process, yet forget that our own growth comes in small doses,
As we ignore one very solid fact:
We are inherently finding ways to continue falling in love with ourselves.
You Have Always Loved Yourself
But it took loving toxic people to show you just how much you subconsciously wanted to love toxic aspects of yourself.
We look at the people we love the way we have been secretly trying to get ourselves to see us because, essentially, these people are us.
They reflect us.
This means that these people were never special — we were special. The reason it takes another person is the fact that we tend to avoid the darker aspects of who we are.
Therefore, we suppress it and allow it to linger in our energy to the point of manifesting it in another form — or another person.
Our dedication to loving these people when they arrive in our lives is how we learn to love those aspects of ourselves. This is how we show ourselves grace… and forgiveness too.
You can’t tell me we’re not secretly trying to love ourselves when we love the parts of ourselves we actively ignore by default when we love them in other people. It’s proof of how much we want to love ourselves.
The proof we give ourselves is in our desire to find another replica of ourselves to love, and ultimately spend the rest of our lives with. Our consistent search for it is proof of our dedication to ourselves.
This is how much we love ourselves.
© Linda Sharp 2023. All Rights Reserved.
This post was previously published on medium.com.
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