“We accept the love we think we deserve.” Wise (and perhaps now overused) words from Bill the Advanced English Teacher–or more accurately, Stephen Chbosky.
I am finally reading Perks of Being a Wallflower, and therefore, thinking a lot about this quote, how it relates to the story and the characters, and what it means in my own life. Since coming across those words on page twenty-four, my whole perspective on them has changed. I used to think it was about our egos telling us we deserve better, but now I am concluding that it could be quite the opposite: we think poorly of ourselves, so we don’t deserve a good and healthy love. My track record shows that I am still trying to figure out what I want and what I deserve.
If you have read this blog at all, you know that I think very low of myself, even in recovery. I still have so much ground to cover in terms of self-esteem. I do not think that I deserve the happy and passionate and breathtaking love that Nicholas Sparks writes about. (This is not a “pity me and tell me I do deserve that moment. Just shush.) And because of that, I have accepted being made small by someone who thought he was so superior to me. I thought it was okay that he had to be right all the time because I did not want to rock the boat. If I just let him be right by admitting my fault, then he would think more of me.
I do not know if I have ever been more wrong.
When you hear about someone being taken advantage of, especially a woman, you think of her body. For me, he took full control of my mind, my confidence, and my authority over myself. I had been so harsh on myself that I did not mind his bite. There were worse things.
Somehow I thought this is what I was meant for. I accepted it, and at the time, I did not see fault in it. To this day, I defend some of my choices regarding that relationship; however, there is a list of things that were very wrong. I have learned that I am better than admitting I was wrong (whether I was or not) just to keep someone happy. I am more than someone “joking” that they can get what they want from a professional (if you are picking up what I am putting down).
And I thought things would be different in college–I was so happy that I thought I knew what I wanted. Two years later, and I am still lost about that. I have met two people since coming to Cal Poly whom I was convinced changed that in me. The first, let’s call him Jason, became a best friend to me. He was the one I wanted to tell my secrets to and who would accept those things about me. We spent so much time together that I was almost so sure. I felt so lucky to have him even in my life. When something was wrong or when I just wanted to have a good time, he was the one to fix me right up. But things happen and friendships are fragile, ours shattering right in front of me. We are better now, but not quite the same.
The other, let’s call him Riley, made me smile and laugh like I never thought I would. Content was studying together in a donut shop and filling him in on the latest Bachelor drama or building a fortress of tables in the library during finals week. Things were so easy with him, and he accepted me for what I was. Didn’t judge for what I could not quite explain to him yet. But I realized he wouldn’t be the one to understand them. He could make me happy, but he couldn’t be the one to hand me a piece of myself when it fell to the floor. So we just…stopped. No goodbyes, no more than a silence on both sides. It hurt, but it was not the end of the world.
They all hurt in different ways. I was let down my expectations I should not have had. I tried to accept what I was given because I thought I could never share the side of me that I ramble to you all about so often. I am broken and cynical and cold-hearted, so I have spent all this time looking for someone who will bring back the life in me–without knowing that’s what they are doing. I did not deserve the type of affection that they gave me (whether I was better or worse than it). I cannot accept a love right now that I “deserve” because I am not who I should be yet. I am not good enough for myself. And self-love is the kind of thing I need to earn first. That is partly why none of my past “relationships” have worked out how I initially wanted them to. Also probably one of the reasons that they have all (okay, two of three) gotten into other relationships since then.
It does not mean I am anything less. I used to think as much, but things change. Obviously. And I would not have really thought about these things if Stephen Chbosky did not bring them to my attention. I would not be thinking this much about myself and my recovery had he not so beautifully brought Charlie’s character to life. He explains so well the emotions and thoughts of a broken mind trying to figure everything out. Which is probably why I spent the entire movie in tears and why I have needed to take several breaks reading to just listen to a happy song or watch an epsiode of The Office. It is absolutely captivating, though, and I cannot imagine not reading this book over and over for the rest of my life.
And you know, I’ll find somebody. I am too much of a writer and a romantic not to.