In this essay, I discuss loving yourself first and the danger of collapsing for the sake of others desires.
A friend of mine sent me a video about choosing yourself before you can choose another person. In the video (found here), Tracy McMillan explores the importance of loving yourself, of committing to and marrying yourself, even through the pain and darkness and the ugliness of your own humanity.
It is the untouched and unhealed pain that eventually ruptures, pouring itself out and manifesting in every area of our lives. If this pain isn’t engaged with, isn’t mitigated – it will exist silently, quietly, stealthy sit in the background and go unnoticed, but it isn’t truly silent. It’s loud and boisterous and we end up collapsing into it as it collapses into us.
I have a tendency to collapse into the people around me, to fold into the people I love and care for. ‘Good people’ disappear into other people’s lives.
Bridges collapse. Buildings and organizations collapse. Hearts and lungs and bodies collapse, but people and wills and dreams do too. I have a tendency to collapse into the people around me, to fold into the people I love and care for. ‘Good people’ disappear into other people’s lives. They become a vessel and avenue of another’s desires. This is what I’ve been taught and what I’ve internalized.
I’ve believed this idea that is perpetuated by the world, by my culture, by family that to love someone is to become origami, to bend and melt and mold myself into the shape and form that is most desired by them. It is to become a pretzel. I’ve been taught and believed to place my own desires, my wants and, ultimately, my humanity on the backburner. To become a martyr. We love the martyr because we can control them, because we can warp and contort them into our own image and we love our own image. But martyrdom will end up in destruction.
We love the martyr because we can control them, because we can warp and contort them into our own image and we love our own image. But martyrdom will end up in destruction.
I’ve been a shapeshifter, a mirage, a ghost for a long time. I haven’t found my home. I thought that becoming what people wanted me to be would lead me to the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, but there is no pot there. There is only another image, another desire or thing that is wanted from me. What is wanted is my complicity, my collusion and participation; our participation in the desires of other people are oftentimes fulfilling, endowed with purpose, but we mustn’t forget ourselves. We must not forget our lives and our hopes and our dreams. We must not forget that when we completely expend ourselves for others without replenishment, we end up closer to death, not life.
If we truly want life, if we truly want space and room to love ourselves and love other people the way we deserve to be loved and the way other’s desire to be love, we must hold, both the space to give and the space to receive. We must hold, both the space to work and the space to rest. We must complicate our lives. We must, at the appropriate time, shift into a different gear. If we don’t learn this, then we will burn bright, shine our rays on everyone else, then implode on ourselves like a sun at the end of it’s life. It may appear like a spectacular way to go out, but it’s not. Dying a loud death is still a dying that we should avoid. A public death is still a dying that we should avoid. We must choose ourselves and, ultimately, choose life.