Feeling accepted is one of the most important pieces to overall well-being, in my opinion. For the longest time, I was convinced that no one could ever accept me, not if they really knew me...I thought that I was broken, that I had some internal, innate part of me that was unloveable and unworthy of compassion or acceptance. I've slowly been changing that, layer by layer, and while there is definitely still a small core part of me that is always there to whisper those terrible thoughts to me, I've come a lot closer to believing that I am just as worthy of love and acceptance as any other human being. I don't hate myself anymore, and some days I like, and even LOVE myself. I feel like I have things to offer the world, and the more I put myself out there, the more I find that people respond positively to me. I decided a little while back that since people are going to judge you no matter what, and no one is universally liked/loved/accepted, they might as well judge the real me, and not whatever version of myself I thought they would be most likely to appreciate.
It has been a long road to make it even this far, and I know I have more work ahead of me. I just started trying to date in a way that is more than 1-2 dates and then getting scared and never speaking to the person again. I had been dating this guy, Dan, for about 2 months, and I am leaving town for a temporary job, so I knew we weren't going to be seeing much more of each other. That said, Dan was very forthright in his feelings for me - he told me all these lovely things, complimented me and went on and on about how I wasn't like anybody he'd met before, he'd never felt this way, blah blah blah...I usually responded with a very eloquent "Oh...kay" to all of that. As things progressed, I started sharing more of my story with Dan, mostly because I felt bad that he was getting so serious and I was holding him at arm's length (not to mention the awkward sex part), but also because I felt like here was a great, respectful guy who really liked me, and if I want to have a real relationship, I should be able to be honest, right? So, I told him things, and he was always understanding.
Then last night, we met up for a drink, and we started talking and I realized he was telling me many of the same stories he'd told before. I have a weirdly detailed memory for things people tell me, so I didn't let it get to me. He didn't remember things I'd told him, like about my high school or my thoughts on a certain religion or whatever else...again, small details, whatever, it's hard to keep track of things. But then he started asking me about my family, and my brother, and did I have any nieces or nephews? And all of these questions, and in my mind I was thinking WTF??? I had told him about how my brother hasn't spoken to me in years and how hard that was and how I felt so guilty for leaving him with my dad when I left. I told him things I don't tell many people, and I had felt vulnerable and weird about it but I did it and it felt like such a positive step. And then he just...forgot??? Friends have come up with theories that he's a secret alcoholic or has a brain tumor or is dating so many girls he can't keep the background info straight, but personally, I think it is just that he had a certain idea of a girl he wanted, and I fit enough of the boxes that he decided I was 'amazing' and 'not like anybody else he'd met' and whatever other nonsense he said, but all of that was just a projection...he wasn't really interested in ME, he didn't really care about my story or what made me who I am or what's important in my life. He just wanted somebody, and ignored anything that didn't fit with his own fantasy. And that really hurts. That small part of me that still believes every person who looks at me is thinking how gross I am, that silly part that I've all but silenced, that part keeps trying to wiggle it's way in to my brain and convince me that "well of course he didn't remember, of course he wasn't genuinely interested in your story - who would be? I knew it was too good to be true. No one would think you were amazing if they really knew you."
So far, I've been able to tell that part of my brain "ok, thanks for your opinion - but fuck off, that's not true." It is totally his problem that he can't remember a major detail of someone's life (someone he supposedly is all a-twitter about, even) and a definite red flag and a great reason to not get all melancholy about leaving. It sucks that the first guy I confided in about that stuff, the first guy I dated for any real length of time, dealt with things this way, but I still believe it was a really positive step and a good experience. And hopefully next time, the person I tell will take it with the weight and with the intention that I think is reasonable to expect. Regardless of that dummy, I accept myself more than I ever thought would be possible, and I love who I am and I am proud of my story and what I have accomplished.