Last fall I was talking with a guy friend about dating and relationships.
"I know this will sound utterly pathetic but all I want is to feel loved," I confessed.
"That isn't pathetic at all," he replied.
There was comfort in his answer, warmth in his words.
A few years ago, as I worked through my childhood trauma with a therapist, I considered reaching out to an older cousin. I had finally accepted the fact that my mother would never parent me the way I wanted or needed. But I had this idea that I could simply request it from someone else. The only thing that held me back was the realization that asking someone "Will you be my mother?" sounded ridiculous.
"The solution is to parent yourself. Dig deep, communicate with your inner-child," my therapist instructed. "Stop talking to her like your mother and start talking to her like the mother you would be."
It made perfect sense. If I can't love myself, if I can't be my own champion, how can I expect anyone else to do it for me? More importantly, if I can find a way to love and parent myself, I can partake in healthier relationships. Though I wasn't sure I could succeed in this effort, I did truly believe in its value.
I am back in the dating scene and am currently dabbling with a few boys who make me grin from ear to ear. But I'm also applying for new a new job. Just like wanting to be loved, I thrive on being wanted. Rejection letters from graduate programs, even those I had little interest in attending, stung like an open-palmed slap across the face. Not winning a new client and having my literary pieces turned down only reinforce the hateful and dismissive opinions spewed by my mother when I failed to lose weight or got only a B+.
In the last few weeks, I've been flooding the market with my resume. I realize the end of the year is a slow time for companies. Fourth quarter numbers needed to be met and everyone was itching to disappear with a gallon of eggnog. So far I have received three declines, all of which I assumed were based on my salary being too high. But I did have two companies reply with interest. In fact, this afternoon, I snuck home and had a phone interview regarding a position in Atlanta. And at the risk of jinxing myself, it went fantastically.
For the better part of 2011, my boss treated me as replaceable. His words and his actions mirrored those of my mother. The difference is that I no longer drink the Kool-Aid. He may openly dismiss me as irrelevant, but I know I bring value and benefit to this office. And I also believe I can do that elsewhere, in a place where I am praised instead of slighted. So while I still welcome the day when I can curl up next to a man and feel truly loved, I find comfort in knowing that in some ways I have come to love myself.