How Love Saved My Life
Gamergirl, Age 17Click thumbnail to view full-size
I've always been a plain jane kind of person, looking for love and watching it pass me by. When I was a teenager I was too thin, too flat chested, too clumsy to fit the feminine archtypes most desired. I loved with all my being to have it never returned.
I struggled with this lack of love in my life by reaching out to the wrong type of man. I had boyfriends who just wanted to be with me to 'go all the way,' even though I wasn't going anywhere with anyone. I blamed the constant flux in my life on not being pretty enough, not being funny enough, not being -enough-.
The Spiral Down
I resigned myself to being alone after a boy broke up with me for not succumbing to things I was not yet ready for. I was sad, deeply heartbroken. Why couldn't they love me for myself? So, the summer before my senior year of high school, I transformed myself. I cut off four feet of hair, hair which I'd lovingly grown for the whole of my short life. I spent all my earned money over the summer buying any article of black clothing I could. I acquired collars, chains, spikes, and a repertoir of 'gothic' makeup. I became the stereotypical Gothic Kid.
There was one common thread between my Goth friends and I. We all wanted love. Each and every one of us was an emotionally vulnerable or withdrawn person, each of us needing to mend our broken hearts and spirits. None of us realized that the means by which to fix ourselves was staring us in the face every morning as white face powder and black eyeliner were liberally applied. We didn't recognize the need for self-love as a method to find other forms of love. What can I say, we were fragile.
The First Engagement
By the end of my senior year of high school I had become a witty, falsely confident Goth girl with the world on her shoulders and a big case of depression. I showed the world I loved myself, even though I knew it wasn't true. I rushed into a hasty engagement with a fellow I met three weeks before graduation, just because he was interested in me, and not in what I could have given him behind closed doors. He was very good to me; he was a kind and attentive boyfriend, eager to be with me and holding himself to a sort of code of honor. He loved the vulnerable me behind the makeup and spikes.
I learned a valuable lesson from this, my first substantial relationship. I learned that I had value, that the girl I was inside was not something to be ashamed of, and that even a lanky girl with a flat chest and plain blonde hair could be loved. By the time this man and I parted ways, I had gained a self-confidence and realization of my own worth that has carried with me through the years. I was starting to love myself, and through that, love others.
Never falter from the path of self love.
Young, impetuous, and armed with this newfound self-love, I moved on to relationship after relationship, trying to console my spirit and rejuvenate my love life with the company of people my age, other Gothic type folk, but nothing seemed to be able to adequately fill the gap that my breakup with my first real boyfriend had created. I slowly sank back into my private depression, only this time I never let anyone close enough to mend the emotional pains I felt.
After a particularly messy breakup with a sweet boy from the town I went to high school in, I started going to the clubs, drinking (illegally) and experimenting with drugs. In a few short years, all the lessons I'd learned about treasuring myself as a path to true happiness had gone into the aether, lost for quite some time.
I married a fellow I had only known for a month in the winter before my twenty-first birthday. It was a bold decision, based solely out of the passion of the moment. Little did I know that this man would nearly kill me.
During the three short years he and I bounced back and forth from "good marriage" to "bad marriage," all self-confidence, all of life's joy, all of the tenuous grips on happiness I had were destroyed. He ruined me emotionally, destroyed friendships, and alienated me from my family. I loved him the entire way, honoring vows which he had broken dozens of times out of my desperation to be loved.
He left me, of course, to move back to his home town. I was beyond broken, emotionally drained and deep into depression.
That is when I started cutting myself. I craved some physical partner to the emotional pain. The few friends I had left tread softly around me because even the mention of my husband drove me to tears. I hated myself, blamed myself for his leaving, his infidelity and his lies.
I wanted to die.
You'll find love in the least likely places..
I nearly did, die that is. My arms had healed from my latest venture in carving, and I had no more tears for my failed marriage. Then, after months of silence between us, he called.
"I want to make things right, Charlotte." My husband's voice crackled through my cell phone. Immediately I was clenched in despair and hope, the two extreme emotions fighting for dominance in my weary heart.
"No." The short answer, and one that resulted in weeks of sadness. I hated everything in the world. My work, my friends, my life. Nobody could fix the situation, and so I quit college, slacked off at work, and spent my nights alone with sharp objects.
Then, like the calvalry, my friends started rescuing me. One night here, one night there, I was enveloped in the platonic love of the people I'd been faking some sort of half-contentedness to. They didn't know, or find out until much later, that I had planned to kill myself.
My emotional hardships were too numerous, and many self-inflicted. I had lost the path of my own love, kept looking outside to love the inside.
Without realizing it, I let my friends rebuild me. I took solace in their closeness, their cheer. I rambled at them, and soon every single one of my very close friends knew more about my marriage, my background and my despair than I think any of them bargained for. My friends, whom I now count among the dearest, sweetest people I've ever known, brought me back from the never-ending pool of suicidal depression into the warm glow of real and true happiness. I know joy, because these people moved me to know that I am loveable, I am a good person, and I am normal.
What an epic tale it is, the finding and losing wheel of love. The power of friendship, companionship and unconditional affection saved my life, literally. I would be lying to you, my dear readers, if I said that I am without the perfectly normal bouts of worry, lapses in self confidence, or doubts of my own worth. Too often, I learned, people strive for the extreme, the perfect, the storybook scenarios.
It is this straining for the 'perfect love' that hurts us the most, because the love is perfect, but we are not. We aren't meant to be, though we all should embrace the little nicks and scratches in ourselves. You do not have to be perfect to be cherished. Love doesn't care if you're disabled, injured or unwilling. The love of a friend is no less worthy, no less life-saving than the love of a romantic partner.
There is no deeper love than your love for yourself.