A Lesson In Self-Respect

Have you ever told a lie and over the years convinced yourself that this lie is in fact, true. Maybe you can even go as far as recalling very specific and particular details of the lie because you have somehow managed to successfully fool yourself to the point that even now… You’re just not sure.

I did a similar thing with my feelings.

I told myself, as a teenager, that ‘liking’ people won’t get me very far. At best it will bring me a partner and at worst it would leave me heartbroken, alone and struggling. As a natural introvert, this was a no-brainer.

So, when I met somebody I liked, at a level that I would allow myself to like a person, I went with it. I knew that they had a girlfriend and so mentally allotted them into the ‘you don’t need to worry about this’ category. Only, I did kind of need to worry about it because something was happening. Nothing fast and nothing groundbreaking, but during a time in my life that I was surrounded by people during every minute of the day, people that didn’t include the girlfriend.

We spent three weeks in each others company, and naturally everybody knew and treated us as though we were ‘one of the couples’. And honestly, I liked it. I liked the feeling of acceptance, the lack of explanation and clarification of what we were doing –  it was easy.

And then it wasn’t, because one morning he left to collect his girlfriend from the airport.

I told myself that I didn’t care and to a degree, I didn’t. I didn’t really care about him and as heartless as it sounds, I didn’t once think about her, all I cared about was me. When he left, I felt overcome with sadness at the way I had pimped myself out, I felt naive and silly.

I had been so determined to prevent feelings from creeping in that I hadn’t stopped to examine the way I was treating myself, or to be more precise, not treating myself. It is impossible to escape the fact that if you don’t feel for others, they are not going to feel for you.

I told myself that I would never have to actually face the situation, turns out I was wrong on that front too.

A few weeks later we all reconvened. It was fine for the most part, incredibly awkward and I suppose, difficult for others not to have an opinion, but fine. I kept my distance, sat on the opposite end of the table, stayed out of their way.

She told me that there are shampoos to help with the yellow in my hair so any guilt I had started to feel quickly dissipated.

And then one evening at dinner, he sat next to me and asked me if I missed him, told me I looked good.

And suddenly I didn’t feel so bad. I smiled politely and turned away because there was somebody I did like and it was me and the least I could do, was show me some respect.

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