Before you even try, no this is not a post to fish for compliments. It is actually the exact opposite of what I want.
I hate being complimented. No, I’m not saying that in an attempt at being humble or self-less, I genuinely hate it. My body reacts in a way that physically rejects your compliment. I curl up in a ball, or won’t look you directly in the eye, or grimace, or even shiver, twitch, or tense up. I’ve learned to politely say “thank you” instead of, “No…” because then people go, “No really! You’re…compliment compliment compliment” and then it gets worse.
Why does this happen?
I’ve learned it is because I think everyone is lying to me. I think that anytime a person compliments me it is because they’re trying to make me feel better about something, but they don’t mean it. Yes, this includes family and close friends who I trust.
How did this happen?
Well it goes back to middle school..(here we go again). Someone once told me that to have self-love and to think highly of yourself is egotistical and therefore unattractive and no one will like you. I, being an incredibly susceptible, insecure middle school girl who would do anything for people to like her, took another 12 year old’s words as truth. I was barely recognized in school for the significant amount of hard work I put into the arts and because I wasn’t a straight A student, I was rarely recognized for my academic achievements as well. No one in the academic system was telling me that what I was doing was right or that I was doing a good job. There were people around me who were consistently putting themselves down over grades and other insecurities and I fell into this as well, well into high school.
By high school, I had been living with un-diagnosed depression since about 8th grade. I decided that I was fed up with being put down and not being recognized, so instead of saying, “Fuck what other people think!” I built a wall of self-hated around myself thinking, “No one can hate me more than myself. That way people can’t hurt me.” And that wall has remained sturdy ever since.
Now that I am out of that hell hole and I’m immersed in the most welcoming community I could ever ask for, there is no need for this safe wall of hatred that I created and maintained for so many years. But even having an idea of loving myself scares the living shit out of me. What if someone does think I’m egotistical? What happens if I get hurt again?
I’m so utterly terrified of being hurt that it is my worst nightmare to leave this box. I would rather hate myself than risk being hurt (and now that is put in words I see how ridiculous that sounds). My therapist is slowly coaxing me out of this box. She knows that this is something I can’t be extremely exposed or pushed into, like my anxiety therapy was, because the first slip can send me racing back into it and may cause me to ease back into the depression I’m fighting so hard to keep off. So we’re taking baby steps.
She’s having me start with the one thing I know to be true about myself. I am passionate. I always have been passionate and its one flame that has never even flickered during any hardship in my life. So she told me to repeat this phrase in my head everyday:
“I love that I am passionate.”
I say this sentence until the words “I love” can be successfully associated with “I am passionate”. The words “I love myself” with “passion” aren’t scary anymore. This is secure. No one can take my passion away and therefore I am safe to love myself because of it.
It may seem like not even a baby step, but this is HUGE for me. Not even huge, world shaking. To have even a glimmer of self-love is mind-blowing.
I’m starting small so I can end big. It will be a twisty, winding, uphill road. I’m just hoping the view at the end is worth it and I don’t fall off the mountain during my journey.