Title is pretty self-explanatory really.
My relationships have always been one-sided. I have always put their needs above my own, and I have always felt intense guilt and as though I am selfish when I say “no” and decide to put myself first. Sometimes, they actually call me selfish and make me feel as though I don’t care, just for putting boundaries and rules in place, because I want healthier, more balanced relationships.
An ex was an alcoholic, and treated me like shit whilst I constantly helped him to unsuccessfully improve his life, whilst neglecting myself and my mental health. Everything wrong with his life was “my fault” apparently. Apparently I didn’t do enough to help him, and his life went downhill after he met me. This didn’t make sense to me, because I constantly put my needs on the back burner to ensure his were met.
Somehow I always attract people who are a little messed up. Somehow I always fall in to the role of counsellor and cheerleader. I don’t even realise it’s happened, til they leave me, apparently “cured” and in a “better place” now, apparently thanks to me. Apparently they’re thankful for the time we spent together; apparently I’m their best friend, and apparently they feel amazing largely because of me.
Meanwhile, my heart is broken and I’m sobbing my eyes out because someone else left me; because I wasn’t good enough yet again; because yet another person didn’t want to commit to me; because I haven’t walked away with similar revelations. Far from it. I’m broken again, and all my hopes and dreams are in tatters yet again.
It took a while to figure out where I was going wrong. It wasn’t a sudden revelation. It was more gradual.
As I became focused on my recovery, I took a stroll down memory lane. This included revisiting all my past relationships, and psychoanalysing them. I ripped them apart. I studied them. I found patterns. I learnt where I was going wrong.
So I decided to do something about it.
I started saying “no”. I started saying “I can’t do that now” or “I won’t do that”. I started cutting back on social media, messaging people and phone calls. I started taking time for *me*.
Firstly, I made my five year plan:
1.) Get a college/university education (something to further my job prospects, and fully utilise my intelligence which up til now hasn’t been put to good use or reached its potential);
2.) Pass my drivers test (anxiety holds me back);
3.) Lose weight healthily and get fitter (I have a history of eating disorders, including binge eating);
4.) Learn to control and manage my BPD (I’m on the road to recovery);
5.) Put myself first.
Not necessarily in that order.
I started trying out hobbies. I took time for me. I got back into gaming. I paint. I make candles. I go shopping. I watch movies. I do things by myself; *for* myself.
I put boundaries and rules in place in my interpersonal relationships. I limit how often we talk, and I absolutely refuse to do anything for them. I merely advise, and if they don’t listen, so be it. I cannot make someone want to improve themselves. Merely support. But never so that it takes over my own life and needs.
I’ve become happier within myself. More reliant on myself. I’m content, and finally feel whole as a person.
Yet the guilt still lingers. I feel selfish sometimes, and sometimes feel as though I don’t care. I’ve often been told that I am. But then I take a few deep breaths, and remember that it’s not selfish to focus on yourself and work on yourself.
It’s not selfish to want to put your own needs first.