We accept the love we think we deserve

I’ve been to counseling quite a few times over the last twelve years. I’ve seen five different counselors, each time dealing with the tangled threads of my past and often, my present.

I personally think everyone should go to counseling at some point. Do some heavy lifting with a third party.

It’s taken 4 counselors and 12 years to finally get through to my heart on something I think we all struggle with at some point in our lives.

We accept the love we think we deserve. – Stephen Chbosky

I can’t remember the first time this question was asked of me but I certainly remember the last.

My favorite counselor was a seasoned pastor named Henry*. He was blunt and authentic without being prideful, weathered the storm of his own adversities and had been married to his wife for well over 40 years.

I liked him. He laughed at all my jokes. I laughed at all of his. It’s no secret I have trust issues with pastors. (Watching three pastors fall from their positions due to sin and pride in a row, in three different churches, would make anyone a little freaked out.) But I liked him. I trusted him.

We talked a lot about relationships. Romantic. Platonic. Commitment. I think he wanted me to stop being so terrified of two things: marriage and community.

He was the last one to ask me the same question I had heard a few times.

“If someone was to walk into your life right now, what would they think about the way you value yourself by observing the relationships you allow to exist in your life?”

He wasn’t a fan of the state of my community. Neither was I.

It wasn’t that he or I thought I wasn’t cared for or even loved. My community provided necessary, practical things when I had nowhere else to turn. For that, I will always be grateful.

I just wasn’t needed back.

They didn’t need my help. I got one-word answers when I asked them how they were doing. I wasn’t needed when I offered to throw out the trash or wash dishes after community dinners. I couldn’t even tell you what was going on in most of their lives during those two years.

But they always went that second mile for me. Like big time. They knew how to serve better than most people I had ever met. And I will always love and cherish them for that.

I just wasn’t needed back.

Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. – Galatians 6:2

It’s a lot harder to hurt yourself or run away if you truly believe your existence is necessary. He said.

I eventually ran away. Henry had taught me that by advocating so heavily for the love I craved, I was demonstrating that I didn’t truly believe I was worth loving.

I needed to learn to love myself.

It still took another year before I finally believed that I was worthy of a love jealous as a consuming fire. It took multiple mistakes and repeated apologies for me to be able to look inward and acknowledge that I was worthy of receiving a love far more precious than what I was continuing to accept.

It was when I walked away from a relationship with a guy that was just using me. It was when I ended a four-year friendship with two people I love very much because they were never going to need me back. It was when I stopped searching social media profiles of all the men who broke my heart.

I knew something had changed. Something in me had been made new.

I was going to be okay. I am okay.

*Names have been changed

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