I have a lot of people who love me. I know this, intellectually. Most of the time, I can feel it as well. But sometimes I can’t feel it. Sometimes, my own lies get in the way. My lie, an illusion which obscures reality all too often, is that I’m not worth being loved.
Therapy, over various points in my life, as well as many open conversations with loved ones, has shown me the deep feelings of lack of self-worth which are responsible for this set of experiences, so I have a fairly good grasp of the nature of this problem. But this problem is one that expresses itself in a different way, as a polyamorous person, than it did previous to that. In a strange way, a way which has become a focus for my continuing personal growth, therapy, and knowing myself, the more people in my life who love me, the more my own lack of self-worth becomes exposed.
It’s almost as if hearing, feeling, and seeing acts of love towards me keeps poking at the part of my mind which whispers, perpetually, you don’t deserve this. This voice is not merely the voice of all my past mistakes and transgressions. No, that’s too simple. it’s deeper than that.
The feelings of little self worth are not the result of mistakes I have made, the mistakes I have made ultimately come from this feeling that I do not deserve love. This is an old realization, and implementing the changes which would help heal this wound is not a quick and easy fix. Were I capable of merely snapping my fingers and fixing it, I’d be further lying to myself.
This feeling compels a strong desire to be loved, as a kind of cover or disguise for this feeling, and when I get it I feel guilty as if I had manipulated that love out of people. I have trouble believing, sometimes, that the love I receive is because of who I really am. I don’t really have an alternate explanation for why it exists, but my mind flutters away from this uncertainty and insists that it must be some illusion or lie.
In moments of sober reflection, it becomes repeatedly obvious that this feeling itself is the illusion. The distortion in reality, the lie I tell myself, is the persistent sense of something being wrong with me. Not that I am perfection incarnate (as if that idea had any meaning), but that my lack of self-worth does not spring from anything real. There is a difference between the recognition of responsibility and the illusion of worthlessness.
It’s a very specific kind of illusion, one which not many people share. And for those close to me, understanding that this illusion is persistent and deep is the key to understanding how I hurt. Not understanding this illusion is the first step in mis-attributing my insecurity for something else.
It’s a problem which belongs to me, ultimately. And I’m becoming more and more aware of how used to an environment of cold, persistent, lack of validation I lived in most of my life. I’m coming to the realization that I grew up in a world where vulnerability was seen as weakness, encouragement was rare, and love felt like it was something to be earned, and taken away as punishment if I didn’t follow along the right way.
The polyamorous world is not immune to such things, being full of people. Having the intellectual, cultural, and often selfish insight into the possibility of “loving” more than one person does not imply the necessary creation of an actual healthy environment. A world of transactions, rights, and rules follows from this, all too often.
But, because the polyamorous world is full of people, sometimes it is actually wonderful. The problem for me, right now, is allowing myself to see the good. The other side of that problem is to trust my instincts when I sense something is off. In other words, I need to trust myself, trust other people, and allow what’s happening around me to inform me, rather than the fears in my mind.
Allowing people into my world
Ginny has been having a good summer. She has made, strengthened, and re-connected relationships (we both have) which have extended our immediate group of friends and acquaintances significantly. Our social life has grown, and Ginny has people close to her who are providing her with joy, pleasure, and love.
And this has been an emotional challenge for me, especially since the last few months have been hard, emotionally. All the while this has been happening, that deep and uncertain part of my mind reaches its tendrils up to my consciousness and says she’ll be happier with them, forget about you, and you’ll eventually be alone. But those voices are not reflecting reality. Those voices are dark reminders of the deep places I have been in my life, the fears of loneliness and of the impending solitude of dismissal, separation, and death.
These deep feelings are instincts I desire, very much, to be quiet. Because there is another option, one which will lead to greater happiness, fulfillment, and health. These people are not trying to take anything from me. These people just see what I see; a beautiful, intelligent, and loving woman and they are drawn to her. My feelings of fear, pain, or jealousy are from a place which has no real foundation.
But the fact that they are not real does not mean I can afford to simply ignore them. No, they must be dealt with. They must be communicated. They must be taken into the sunlight, to either whither away and die or to be exposed for what they really are. Only by examining the illusion can we hope to counter it.
So, rather than keep these people at bay, I should be inviting them in. In a non-polyamorous context, these people could be threats (although, not necessarily), but as a polyamorous person I have no immediate reason to fear them. This fear is my illusion insisting itself into quasi-existence, forcing me to move left, right, down, and inward like a puppeteer. And if these people are any possible source for harm, I will see it; not through the hazy fog of fear, but with the sober, intelligent perception of experience.
To allow my experienced perception to operate at full capacity, the haze must be cleared. The shining brightness of daylight, of trusting and open seeing, must not allow the lies to tug at my leg, begging for attention. I must learn to better trust myself. I have cognitive and physical powers which have been honed by time, places, people, and circumstances. The time for fearing has come to an end, and I must move forward believing not only that people love me, but knowing that I love myself.
Because I deserve that. Because we all deserve that. Because the surest way to act such that I wouldn’t deserve that is to believe the lie.
We all have our own lies. Mine is lack of self worth. Finding what our own lies are are the only way to avoid the traps which they set all around us. If you have not yet spotted your own lies, the conclusion is not necessarily that there are no lies to be found. A person who cannot admit to their own flaws, illusions, and insistent uncertainties either cannot see them yet, or the lie covers so much of them that they become lying incarnate. Such people are a danger, ultimately to themselves but in the mean time to people around them.
Luckily, for us, the people we surround ourselves with seem to be aware of their own imperfections. We may not all have solutions, at least not yet, but at least we’re trying to see past our own lies. I cannot say the same for others.
Screw them. There are other people worth my time. I’ll make more effort to not allow my fear become a distance between us.