In counseling, I’ve encountered several women who don’t know if they love themselves or not, much less identify the ways with which they are loving themselves. To them, loving oneself seems foreign, like it was the first time they’ve ever heard of it.
They were the only one doing all the job in a toxic relationship to make it work. They’ve been busy trying to understand and meeting the needs of their toxic husband. They’ve been taking all the emotional suffering to the detriment of their emotional, mental, and physical health. They’re the only one doing the adjusting without the husband doing their part. As a result, they have forgotten to take care and love themselves.
Take for example, Nina. Her husband has cheated on her for three times already. She messaged me because she’s having a gut feeling that her husband might be doing it again. And if proven, it will be his fourth time cheating. With this, she told me that she doesn’t know if it’s love anymore or plain selfishness. Then I wondered out loud, “I’m not sure too if it’s love, or emotional dependence.” She answered back, “emotional dependence makes more sense.”
In the Bible it is said: “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” I have heard it preached many times – in writing and speaking- that you must love your neighbor the way you love yourself. That’s because, you cannot give what you don’t have. So how can you say that you truly love your husband when you don’t even know if you love yourself?
If you are in a normal and functional marriage, my take is that, love your husband 100% and love yourself 100%. Just give your best and give your all as much as possible.
If you’re in a toxic relationship, no one can stop you from trying hard to make it work. No one can drag you and your children out of your house and lock you in one of your parents’ rooms. But even if you’re still in a toxic relationship, because you couldn’t decide yet whether to leave or stay, I hope that you would try to do something for yourself.
Perhaps there’s a skill that you want to learn and you’ve been putting it off. Try to begin it. Or maybe there’s an organization in your church that you want to join, do inquire and join them. Or perhaps, you’ve been lagging in your spiritual life, it’s probably about time that you connect with God again. There are so many things you can do to begin loving yourself – to begin increasing your self-esteem and self-worth.
I hope that after reading this, you would start pondering about it and move yourself into action. By loving yourself you will get to to know yourself more, you’ll be stronger emotionally, and you will be able to decide for yourself and children more clearly. Take it one baby step at a time.