when you're somebody you respect whether you're with others or alone, you'll like you

One of the most frequent questions I’m asked is, “But how do I learn to like myself? Where do I even start?”

There’s one particular reason why this question fascinates me: because 99.9% of the time, the same person that’s asking me this question has claimed to like and love others and yet they’re genuinely perplexed at where to start with themselves.

If you really have liked and even loved another person, it stands to reason that you could apply some of that knowledge to you.

If you can’t and yet you’re standing by the belief that you’ve liked and loved others, you either haven’t liked and loved them that much, or what you did like and love was superficial or even based on illusions. If anything, you’ve admired and even worshipped them which will have put you underneath their pedestal.

When you like and love others but can’t do the same for you, you end up crossing your own line. The lines are blurred between like/love and unhealthy ‘need’, validation seeking, and living vicariously through others because often what you like/love in others are things that you desire for yourself.

Of course you’ve likely already discovered that when you don’t like (or love) you, devoting your energies to liking others isn’t going to increase your own likability with you. What likely results is endless comparison and feeling inferior.

You might be thinking, “What the what now? Of course I liked and loved them!”, but here’s the thing: You know how we often do things that we know have a few lashings of bullshit in them, like when we suspect that someone’s Future Faking us but we go along with it because we’re enjoying the flattery, attention and promises, and hope to hell that we’re the exception to the rule?

Well… if you’re struggling to like you and you know that you’ve liked others for superficial, ‘makey-up’ or contradictory reasons that derail being able to have shared core values, you’re going to feel that you can’t like you in the way that you do others because you’ll know that it’s BS.

Think about it: If you met someone and were attracted to certain qualities and characteristics and then assumed that if they are or do X then they will also be or do Y which didn’t materialise, at some point you’ll realise that your assumptions were incorrect.

Now at this point, you could revise the assumptions into facts based on knowledge gained through your experience with them, but maybe, you won’t do that and instead you’ll keep projecting this vision of who you think they are or who you’d like them to be. Maybe you’ll keep acting like they’re The Ideal Person ™ and instead attack your own sense of self, blaming one rogue false move on your part that supposedly screwed it all up.

When you talk about this person, on some level you know that their actions and words along with your experiences in your interactions with him/her don’t match what you’re saying. It’s also likely that their own actions and words are at odds.

This is exactly why you need to go on a BS Diet, because all of this pumping up others to your own detriment means that you won’t even trust you enough to believe you when you actually see the good in you instead of only seeing the flaws. Liking and loving others isn’t about making sh*t up about them to pump them up and make them feel good so that you’ll be liked and loved back aka people pleasing.

Now granted you may find the idea of having to put your energies into you a daunting and foreign task, but not only does it not mean that you shouldn’t do it anyway, but you’ll find that how you feel about others and your perspective takes on a much more balanced ‘hue’ that allows you to have your self-esteem in tow and not be a groupie.

And before you say “Easier said than done” (incidentally ranking high on my list of pet peeve sayings along with “Just saying”), pretty much everything is easier said than done which is why some people rely on words and then bail. The lack of ease doesn’t mean it’s not worth the effort to do so, especially if the alternative has repeatedly shown itself to generate the same outcome.

Relationship insanity is operating with the same baggage, beliefs, behaviours and attitudes, along with choosing similar people in different packages who often generate variations of the same situation, and then getting similar results and being angry or even surprised by it. And then doing it again.

When I started to have a relationship with me, it actually helped me to appreciate people in my life while putting a stop to putting certain others on pedestals.

There is one simple place to start: When you like others, what is it that you think and do then? I’m patient, non-judgmental, compassionate, empathetic, forgiving (not in a shady way), respectful, trusting, caring, loving and more to my friends.

  • I don’t run them down behind their backs – why was I living my life with a backing track of “I’m not good enough” and “It serves you right”?
  • I wouldn’t speak to my friends in the manner in which I spoke to myself. Actually, I wouldn’t speak to or treat anyone this way. Why was I so critical and exacting about me?
  • I don’t keep throwing stuff back in their faces and reminding them of where they’ve erred. Why was I rubbing my own face in my so-called mistakes and failures at every opportunity? Why did it feel like I was on endless punishment for something I should have let go of ages ago?
  • If I could support others including a whole load of anonymous people from around the world who were reading my blog, er, why could I not be supportive to me?
  • I recognise the efforts of others. Er, how come I hadn’t recognised and internalised any of my own efforts yet I could wax lyrical and inflate crumbs into loaves?
  • If I could listen to others, if I could think before I speak, if I could see the bright side, if I could see the blessing in disguise, if I could like and love people who had made their own fair share of mistakes in their own lives, if I could like and love people who came from similar backgrounds or who similar or worse experiences to me, what made me so bad?

Think about the people who you genuinely like? Are you thinking, “I like him/her because they’re a genuine friend who I can be myself around”, or are you thinking, “I like Jennifer because she’s the most popular person in the office and I like being associated with her”?

It’s easy to get caught up in looking to be a particular thing, possibly because you might tend to look at people in terms of ‘good points’ but when you genuinely like others and you learn to like you, not only do you see them and you as a whole, but they’re not a list of points – it’s the sum of vibing with someone with whom you have mutual care, trust, respect and values.

As with getting past comparison, if you want to learn to like you, be someone whom you respect. I didn’t like me when I used to bust the crap out of my own boundaries while impersonating a walking doormat. If you engage with others in a way that respects you, you will like you. Believe.

Your thoughts?

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120 Responses to Why Is It So Hard To Learn To Like You When You’ve Liked & Even Loved Others?

  1. jewells says:

    How true. I don’t like myself very much when I am devaluing myself by not being true to myself and busting my own boundaries by letting others bust them. I’m going to ponder on the idea that a lot of what I had to get over from my relationshit was what I allowed, I let myself down because I didn’t believe in me enough to enforce boundaries. The recovery is not/has not been about him, it is about recovering from letting myself down, that has been the hardest pill to swallow, why this had been my epiphany relationship and brought me here. It was the MOST boundary busting relationshit by far, the most outrageous that I HAD to look for help and do the work I needed to do all along, but this finally propelled me and motivated me to do it. I didn’t love him anymore than he loved me – I was so outraged by him telling me that, then finding it was untrue….but now I realize that I was doing exactly the same thing… as we all have heard before – how can you love someone else if you don’t love you? We both played the game together, used each other to feel good, then the house of cards came crashing down and now we are both dealing with the consequences…in our own ways.

    • selkie says:


      I found that after all the shit and abuse I endured from others hands, it was my own self betrayal and abandonment that hurt the most. I foolishly offered myself up for sacrifice. You are right, if you love yourself, people who hurt and disrespect you barely get a foothold before you flick them off like dandruff. When you realize this truth, you have already begun to heal.

      • selkie says:

        I want to add that the exception is childhood abuse because it’s not something you sign up for and it’s hard to come up as an adult loving yourself when your parent was unloving and set a very bad example. But, time does heal and anyone can learn to love themselves. All seeds have the will to grow.

        • jewells says:

          My lack of boundaries does come from childhood. I am exploring this with my therapist now to learn to come to terms with it all now. It’s not easy, seeing how what I was taught in childhood affected my whole outlook on life and choices I made as a result. However, I am slowly but surely coming around to forgiving and learning to do differently. As long as I’m alive, I can learn to do different :)

          • Lilia says:

            I´m going through the same thing as you are. It´s sometimes still hard to accept that I was a participant in a sick relationship, and that I didn´t act on to the urge to get angry and flee – which I did feel – but to persist. I´ve been going through my whole childhood to put an end to my lack of boundaries. The hardest thing, at the moment, is not to dwell on what happened, not to feel sorry for myself for the situation I got myself into, and to move on.

            • jewells says:

              Yes Lilia, I’m finding the same. I’m still dwelling because I’m still working on solidifying in myself what I knew early on, it just seems that even though my mind saw and understood in a flash of sobriety, my disbelief and my heart are still engaging. I believe I’m almost there, accepting what the reality of the situation truly was – acceptance, working on peace with it for the moment. It’s a process to go through, I still have moments of anger and fantasies of revenge when I get a flash of what truly was transpiring. Everyday is a step forward though, and the situation has brought forward and pushed me into the light. Onwards and upwards!!!

              • GetSmartyr says:

                When you know better, you do better. Don’t beat yourself up because of what happened before you became fully aware of yourself. The more I understand that I did as well as I could with the limited tools at my disposal, the easier it is to forgive myself for mistakes I have made along the way. I am certainly not perfect, and wouldn’t I be a crashing bore if I were!

                • jewells says:

                  Yes, it’s the journey…must remember that… no one is perfect, nor can we expect to ever be. The point is to strive to better ourselves, and the only way to do that is learn to love and trust ourselves. I’m on that journey now good and proper, so I have more hope and happiness as a result and I know it can only get better :)

                • Bellaninha says:

                  “Don’t beat yourself up because of what happened before you became fully aware of yourself”. Such a good point GerSmartyr. I think this can really help you ease up on the self-blame. I think that myself, so many things I was just not aware of before Baggage Reclaim and before I really got to know myself and be present. I’m much more conscious now, and put a lot of my “mistakes” now down to “well I just wasn’t aware then..”. It really aids in moving along faster than dwelling in the past.

  2. Lisa D says:


    Your insights are uncanny, especially for such a young person.

    Your books and website are helping me stay away from a 5 year bad relationship and get together with myself. I have also been going to A.A. meetings and seeing a therapist. This is so hard to change! But I am. Thank you.

  3. Lisa D says:

    And I realize I only have myself to blame. I could have ended it at the first red flag.

  4. selkie says:

    It takes a while to learn to like yourself when you never did before and I was one of the clueless people Nat described (How do I start to like myself?????). I’ve gotten there, hooray. It took being single for a bit to find my feet and rest after so much drama and disappointment in my life. Now I am faced with learning to trust myself better. I’ve spent the past year single, being kind and considerate to me and it’s paid off but I haven’t had much outside opportunity to trust myself beyond my own afflictions. I’m on a plateau of heartache avoidance. I think it’s time to try and trust myself in the dating world again. This time I don’t feel any pressure, just day by day, no fire, no rush, no void to fill, no wrongs to right. My foundation of self respect and love is much stronger now and I’ve made promises to myself I won’t break. Maybe it’s time to take some risks (flush handle nearby) and see what’s out there.

  5. Pandora says:

    This article is another wonder! It reminds me of a technique my therapist taught me when I am being super-critical of myself, unable to forgive, beating myself up, etc. She calls it “attacking the critic” by talking to your best friend. Imagine your best friend tells you what you are telling yourself, what would you say to her? You basically counter your own negativity by treating yourself as you would someone whom you respect, value, and love. I have written this out in a journal, and it is very helpful. Once I actually see it in print, it feels like a load is lifted. It is amazing how gifted you are in inspiring others to change. I appreciate this article very much. I am STILL WORKING TOWARDS N/C and trying not to beat myself up that I haven’t gotten there yet.
    Thanks again for another great post.

    • Sadder but Wiser says:

      It’s a very revealing experiment to imagine another person saying the same ultra-critical things to us that we say to ourselves. I read this in a book once and it puts the matter quite starkly: “If someone else talked to me the way I talk to myself, I’d have to kill them.” :)

  6. Magnolia says:

    What if you come to the conclusion that you maybe, actually, haven’t truly loved anyone? Or that love is somehow not enough?

    If I think of my immediate family members as those I have truly loved, none of them, individually, are people that I feel that if they weren’t related to me that I would choose them as a companion for myself in an intimate relationship.

    The people I have chosen as intimate companions haven’t been good for me; I was trying to feel parented and secure and loved ended up patronized and judged and misled.

    Those people who are my friends work for me as just that – as friends who I see occasionally but almost none make me wish I could move in with someone just like them.

    I think, I must not know how to love! I treat myself better now than I ever have, but I’m not totally at the point of really feeling I’m someone to get excited over bonding with. Well, okay, I’m alright and I assume the right guy would be excited to bond with me. But I have not felt that in a healthy way for a regular guy, ever.

    I look at the degree of enthusiasm and excitement my friends have for their husbands, or that my sister has for hers, and wonder if they are just deluding themselves, or if they are plain better people than me, who know how to enjoy others, others who leave me somewhat nonplussed. I have to say their husbands do seem like “higher quality” men who I believe I WOULD be excited about were I to meet someone similar and have a chance with them. Action-oriented, responsible, healthy, intelligent, kind, loyal men.

    I’ve been thinking it may be time for some counselling, again, but I kind of do not want to address the idea of letting real, flawed people into my decision-making world.

    • Mymble says:

      I think it’s hard to “imagine” what being in a relationship might mean, or be like, when you aren’t in one. Like – if you haven’t had kids – what will it be like? Will I love them? Don’t generally feel very enthused about other peoples kids I meet. Hmmm maybe I am constitutionally unsuited to be a parent. The reality is a) it really is different when they are yours and also b) there will be times when you will feel very unenthused about your own kids too, but having made the
      decision and commitment you “fake it”, do what needs to be done to keep it all going for them until the enthusiasm returns. I think maybe relationships are like that too. It’s a cliche but love is definitely a verb, and a lot of the time it is about consciously and deliberately reaffirming your decision. There’s a difference of course in that children are dependent so there’s a moral duty that isn’t so much present with an adult relationship. But I think as long as there is compatibility in whatever ways are important to you, the principle of living it is the same.

      • dancingqueen says:

        I gotta say that I relate to what you just said, Mymble, about love being a verb. I think many of us, especially on here, are very sensitive and maybe we shut down when afraid, angry, stressed…and don’t let love in from sources that are healthy.

        I was thinking about that with my students today. I work at a school that is pretty ghetto and the kids are rough. I have to really keep my guard up and be firm with them because a lot of them only respect you when you are a bit no-nonsense…so I have developed this teaching style that works but is very different from my personal style with others.

        That said, sometimes my kids just get through so much that they just make me laugh and I feel like I can express affection towards them, without them taking it for granted. Today this one group was just being so devilish and it was so hard to not crack a smile and they caught me and then we all had a laugh. It makes me realize that one rejuvenating thing about kids is how forgiving they can be; I am such a task-master for them, because I am so afraid that they will not learn if I don’t act very strict but no matter how stern I am ( I am not mean, but just very old fashioned) they still love me and accept my boundaries for them. These are pretty tough kids. It is like children are pretty pure; they live in the moment and respond in the moment. They have not learned, many of them, to live in the past yet.

        • Mymble says:

          That sounds like a tough job!
          I have a sibling who is about to adopt 2 small children, and that has been making me think a lot about how, to begin with, it WON’T be a feeling, it will be about doing the right thing and “acting” in a loving way, and by so doing the mutual bonds of love and trust will form. They kind of have to make it happen rather than passively wait for the feelings to spontaneously occur. And I suppose it is the same with your work – you do the right thing by them and you are rewarded with some of the fun stuff and warmth reflected back. You get what you give, cos kids are not usually EU!

        • Lisa says:

          I find that by bonding with myself – something new for me, meaning treating myself like someone I would like, taking care of my needs, whether speaking sweetly to myself, doing nothing for a bit, feeling entitled to feel good – I am getting better at bonding with other people. I had not known love either, not real love, except for loving my children. But I’m learning it’s just those little feelings of compassion, wanting someone else to feel better, listening when they’re troubled. When I can do those things for myself, I like myself more. Then I can like others more.

          Action-oriented, kind, loyal, intelligent men – you said you might be attracted to. I am trying to become what I am attracted to: adventurous, charming, creative, artistic men. I am getting satisfaction out of those qualities within me without needed to get them vicariously through anyone else.

  7. finallygettingit69 says:

    Selkie, your words are encouraging and inspirational. Loved the phrase “heart break avoidance.” I will know when I am ready to get back “out there” again but I am not anywhere ready. And for the first time since my divorce 6 years ago, I am not chasing the dream of finding someone. I am doing the hard work on myself and fixing the crossed wires which have had me in a cycle of relationship insanity. BR has been such an eye opener. It feels less lonesome to know that women all of the world face the same struggles and to see that many of us can so easily extend love and compassion to others but find it so hard to give to ourselves. I am a recovering Fallback Girl. Not there yet, but on my way!

  8. Lilly says:

    This post has made me realise that I’ve come a long, long way. I’m cringing as I write this, but I cannot believe that I actually thought that I ”loved” the exAC/MM. Well, I didn’t and I don’t. What I believed was “love” was all based on my insecurity, unhealthy needs, superficial stuff and illusions. I cannot even begin to explain how relieved I am to finally see that even if it does make me cringe. He is now officially 100% off the pedestal I ceremoniously put him on. I’m still deeply saddened by his dismissal and complete lack of empathy for my baby, but I’ve accepted it. This reflects who he is and says nothing about who we are(I finally get that!).

    It is time to put all my energy into building a new life for myself and to start trying to like myself again. I’m going to start by stop throwing stuff back into my own face. Losing my child and the AC’s cruel reaction was not a punishment for being in a “relationship” with a MM. That was a mistake, but losing my child was not a consequence of this. I lost my child for biological reasons that I had absolutely no control over. This was not a punishment it was life. I did everything I could to keep him safe, but it was unavoidable. Other women have experienced the same heartbreak through no fault of their own. I certainly would not blame them so it’s time to stop blaming myself.

    For the first time in what seems like a lifetime I’m looking ahead and he has absolutely nothing I want that I cannot create for myself. I also have something that he clearly doesn’t and that is the ability to empathize with others. I like that in myself! I bless the day that I found BR.

    • Little Star says:

      Thank you Lilly for inspirational comment, I really need it today! Glad that you took off AC/MM from pedestal and started to build a new life for yourself…So powerful to feel that ACs mean NOTHING for us:)

      • Lilly says:

        Little Star,

        Hope you’re feeling better today. I still have those days, but I keep faith that tomorrow will be better. No more AC’s, onwards and upwards we go!

    • Revolution says:

      Lilly, I’m so happy for you. Especially recently have you expressed such a calm, centered, logical view of the situation with your AC. Specifically am I glad to hear this:

      “Losing my child and the AC’s cruel reaction was not a punishment for being in a “relationship” with a MM. That was a mistake, but losing my child was not a consequence of this.”

      May you have continued peace, Lilly.

      • Lilly says:

        Revolution, thank you so much. I cannot pin down exactly what has happened to cause such a major shift in my thinking, but I do know that I’ve been coming here every day for months and months and eventually something had to sink in! I printed out all the responses I got from BR posters and kept revisiting them which really helped me, even the bits I didn’t want to face! The best thing is the realisation that I can do something about the situation. I can do something about my painful feelings even if that is just feeling them (if that makes any sense). The AC is not the antidote to my pain and the more I see that the less I need him. Wishing you much peace too, Rev.

    • Ms Determined says:



      That is all :-)

      • Lilly says:

        Ms Determined, lol. You once gave me a new mantra “total fucking fucker”. There, I said it and I will keep saying it!

    • runnergirl says:

      Lilly, I hear you and cringe with you. I was there too. You have come a long way. Keep looking ahead. There is plenty to like in you. I like you!
      I was raised Catholic and I’ve added Natalie and BR into the blessed.

      • Lilly says:

        Runnergirl, you’ve just made my day, thank you and I like you too! Want to come to Australia one day.

    • Allison says:


      So happy to hear it! It sounds like you have reached a new place.

      Have you cut contact with this guy?

      • Lilly says:


        I haven’t completely cut contact as we are still working on a project (almost over). However, I have most definitely reached a new place. I can’t pin down what exactly triggered the shift, but I suddenly realised that I have absolutely no desire to keep playing his stupid games. I’m tired of him. Actually, I’m bloody exhausted. It’s as if I’ve taken off my rose coloured glasses and pulled off his mask and I can see him for what he is. I don’t feel angry, actually I feel a bit sorry for him (no idea what that’s about!). I’ve stopped pushing aside my instinctual desire to run away from him. I’m listening to myself and I’m out of there. I start at my new university in a couple of weeks and although I’m still in some emotional pain over the baby it is a good move. I’m a little scared, but it’s a new beginning. I don’t want to go back to all that pain and despair. The AC = pain and despair.

        • Sunshine says:

          Lilly, I’m really happy for you experiencing this “revelation” regarding your ex. You really have come a long way! And yes, once you get tired of all the hurt and pain, that’s sort of a tipping point and you realize it’s just not worth it. We all deserve so much better:) And wish you all the best with your new job:)

  9. Sadheart says:

    I’m new to posting but not new to this site. I agree that I don’t like myself very much right now…but I am so stuck and confused in my situation. So much of my unhappiness and dislike comes from not fulfilling my needs and from pushing them aside.

    When I met my boyfriend he was a warm, supportive and loving man that treated me like a woman of true value. I wasn’t a doormat but now I am and I am so confused! See, my boyrfriend has relapsed cancer. He was diagnosed a six months ago and there has been a lot of fear and anger. He gave me an ‘out’ when he found out about the cancer since he knew it would be ugly and didn’t want me to go through that. I decided to stick with him because I love him and he warned me that things would be very different and that I didn’t deserve what was to come.

    He was right about it all. A few months into his treatment he became a different person. I’m struggling to keep putting his needs before my own and we have become increasingly distant from each other. People in my cancer carer support group have told me that this is quite usual for cancer patients since they are fighting for their lives and struggling with emotions that I can’t understand (since I haven’t had cancer). The treatments are brutal. The fear and worry is constant for him so I feel so selfish for being upset when he is cold to me, distant or just ignores me completely.

    I just can’t seem to get past the constant and selfish feelings of rejection I have. Deep down I want to believe that it is the cancer and the medications and treatments but am I just being delusional? Am I holding onto a ‘barely there relationship’? Is he just an ass clown and I’m using his cancer as an excuse for his poor behaviour?

    *sigh* It sounds so stupid of me and selfish when I read it. But it is a confusion that is very real. He hasn’t told me he loves me in months. Affection is almost non-existant. If he wasn’t sick there is no way that I would tolerate this sort of treatment or behaviour. Instead, I make his sickness an excuse for everything. “He forgot my birthday” becomes “he’s got too many other things on his mind like hospital appointments and cancer”. He has ignored me for a week becomes: he is having a bad week. And the list goes on. So reasonable when you realise how awful cancer is…but so confusing when you are pushed so far away from the person you are trying to support.

    So, I don’t like myself right now. I feel guilty for finding his behaviour so difficult to deal with and I feel bad for myself for continually accepting it, I just love him with all my heart and I don’t want to leave him. I just wish that I could find a way to like myself right now.

    • Sadheart, I wanted to add a note in this situation because I really do feel for both of you. Our friends daughter (who incidentally is also a BR reader) has just been through cancer and a myriad of emotions are felt, not just by the sufferer but also by their family and friends who try to support in this time.

      My concern for you is that you don’t seem to know where you begin and he ends, plus you are mixing up over-empathising with empathising. Over-empathy is what happens when you try to put yourself in their shoes and instead of seeing things from their perspective, so reflecting their character, what you know of them etc, you put yourself in their shoes and imagine you in the same situation and forget to correlate the information back to him and then end up blaming you while minimising concerning behaviour.

      What you described is not trivial. I’m not saying that it’s terrible but the fact that you would describe someone shouting at you when you come through the front door and other such things as “trivial” tells me that this type of behaviour is not unfamiliar territory with you. The fact that you’ve piled into this alone and then are beating yourself up and struggling with rejection, also tells me that this situation is tugging at some other issues for you as well.

      Your needs are valid, cancer or not. The question is whether you had the relationship that had the foundation to weather this prior to the cancer or whether he actually even wants to be in this relationship and available to you? If you had a healthy mutual relationship prior to this involvement and he isn’t someone who reflects a ‘trend’ in your involvements, then this gives you something to work from. If you’ve felt this way in more than one relationship and his behaviour is familiar to you, that is a major red flag.

      People handle pain, grief, the sense of their own mortality in different ways. This man may be angry, scared, finding it difficult to be vulnerable and may be pushing you away because he thinks you’re going to go eventually anyway. Ironically, it won’t be because of the cancer but because he’s pushed you out.

      This man needs space. He may be very angry right now. He may even have given up although hopefully not. While I’m sure these people in the support group are “lovely”, you would benefit far more from one-to-one help because they’re not really helping and are actually adding to confusion when what you need to able to do is listen to your own voice and get constructive, empathetic advice. Some of these people aren’t hearing you – they’re projecting and talking about their own experience because it helps them to validate their own position. They’re not in your situation.

      Ultimately, you can only continue in this involvement if your partner *wants* the relationship, even if he’s going to be depressed during this time. He can make that decision and maybe he already has.

      Incidentally I would also consider this a code red situation if you have been a Florence Nightingale in the past and are even trying to right the wrongs of the past. You need to have a very honest conversation with you about why you’re in this and don’t just say love.

      I would also stop putting all of your focus on him. He has cancer granted, but he’s still alive. Act normally, have your own life, stop pussyfooting around him, don’t be a doormat, and don’t treat him like a victim. Him having cancer is not a legitimate reason to be a doormat and ultimately, whether you’re in a relationship or not, you also need to be able to meet your needs and manage your self-esteem.

      You are not selfish; you’re human. Do not look for validation from people, especially those who don’t know you from Adam. You can ask for feedback but you shouldn’t be reliant on these people because you need to drive you.

      • Sadheart says:

        Thank you Natalie. I am honored that you chose to respond to my post.

        I think that you hit the nail on the head. I am feeling like he has ‘opted out’ of taking any responsibility in the relationship so I (naturally) no longer want to be there. Every time I say ‘no more’ I allow myself to be hoovered back into the situation by his apologies. Sometimes things get better, then then get worse as the news gets worse.

        I think that you are very right about my support group too. They do approach everything from their own situations and a place that is supposed to be supportive has ended up causing me more confusion than anything else! I know that I have leant on them for support and have compared myself to them when I should not have.

        I have never been in this sort of situation ever before. I don’t know what would be “normal” for someone dx with cancer and I don’t believe I am much of a Florence Nightingale which is why his behaviour is such an issue to me. His doctor has told me that the steriods are having a definite impact on his mood and are making him much more “antsy and difficult”…Full blown Hyde would be more like it!!!

        I’m actually proud to say that I have been making a huge effort since Christmas to keep up with my friends, go to the gym and live my own life. The side effect has been my extreme discontent with my bf moods. I agree he is being a total ass clown to me! And I have to say that alot of the comments here are echoing the things that I have been very quietly thinking to myself.

        Why am I still in this relationship? Probably because I loved the man he was and I had hopes that we could return to that relationship or grow into something stronger…instead I feel like we have just fallen apart. I think that it is time for me to grow up.

  10. Sadheart says:

    Just to make it clear…

    I love this man and that is the reason I am with him. I am deeply worried about him and I do not blame him for his cancer or for all his actions. I am deeply unhappy with myself for being upset over such trivial things as him shouting at me the instant I walk through the door or ignoring me completely. I know that he cannot give our relationship the attention it would have if he wasn’t sick. My issues are more stemmed in my own inability to get past my feelings of rejection and my very selfish fears and worries for myself which seem such a taboo subject with my fellow cancer carers – all of whome are truly lovely and amazing people! So, why do I have such selfish thoughts when it appears that other carers do not? Why do I feel so lost and disconnected from the man I love when others talk about increased intimacy? The love of my life is now an EUM.

    I would do anything for this man but I already know that he wouldn’t send me a text to let me know how his last hospital appointment went. It’s hurting me and my ability to keep being the steadfast carer…and we are only 6 months in! How do I find more strength and forgive myself for feeling selfish and rejected? I don’t like the scared, selfish and doubtful woman I have become.

    • Magnolia says:

      Sadheart, I hope others will respond at greater length, but your post made me think that getting cancer isn’t a pass to turn into a jerk – ignoring you isn’t necessary.

      You say he gave you an out – basically saying he will not fully be there in the relationship. Yes, the reason that he gives for not fully being there is because he is fighting cancer. Not all EUMs are evil, some are unavailable because they’re not over someone, they’re focused on their career, etc. The problem is when they are EU and yet don’t opt out of a relationship. When an EUM says “I can’t give you what you want,” BR teaches us to listen.

      My sister’s father-in-law just died of cancer this week and not once did he say to his wife, “leave me because I’m going to get so absorbed in this that I will be cold to you or ignore you.” There was tenderness between them right up til the end.

      It sounds as though your boyfriend has decided not to participate in the relationship anymore, so you have to ask yourself, what are you getting out of playing long-suffering Florence to someone who has told you not to?

      • angelus says:

        Sadheart, what Mags says is true – he gave a get-out-of-jail-free card which is effectively removing any responsibility from himself for his crappy behavior. Its like saying, “Oh you chose to stay with me even though I gave you an exit ticket, therefore you have to put up with my crappy moods and treating you badly”.
        Yes, cancer sucks, it takes its toll on the sufferer, as well as their surrounding loved ones. But he sounds like he is using his illness as an excuse to take out his fears on you.
        You should not feel guilty for leaving him – some people may raise an eyebrow, but at the end of the day, you can’t be there for him if he is constantly ignoring you, and you are feeling lost and hurt. You sound like you have a lot of love to give – cancer or no cancer, you deserve more than the silent treatment this man is giving you. I hope that one day your username will change to “HappyHeart” xx

      • MSA says:


        I am not sure if I can agree with Magnolia. I know it’s the right thing to be said, but, I know how almost impossible this is, since I’ve kinda been there. Not all men are alike, some take it so hard on themselves and try as hard as they can to push the people they love away so when/if they’re gone (sorry to say it so bluntly, Sadheart), you wouldn’t feel much pain from their departure. Little do they know, right?

        I think if you want to stay with him, which I can sense from your words that you do, you should not make him the centre of your universe. Pursue your own interests and passion, nurture and pamper yourself. Work on yourself to be a stronger woman, work out, or I don’t know.. Just do something for you to keep you busy and improve your morale. Then when it’s time to see/talk/visit him, you’ll feel stronger and more able to do it. Yes, he’s EU, but I understand how you feel about him, because I’m that kind of person and I would stick around as long as it takes. It may be wrong and non-BR syllabus. My point is, I feel for you.

        It also depends on the stage and location of his cancer because the concerns related to it varies, whether he’ll live or not, and if he’s going to live, what are the chances that he’ll lead a normal life and what possible disabilities he’ll have to live with.

        The example of the man who didn’t break up with his wife and why he didn’t is clear.. She’s his wife, they took their vows, “for better or worse, in sickness and in health, till death do us part”. For Sadheart, they’re only 6 months in and he probably feels bad for her and feels guilty he’s dragging her into this and believes she deserves better than living with a cancer patient. It is also possible he opted out in the beginning so that you wouldn’t complain later on, which you have to discern for yourself.

        That being said, take your time also to consider your future. Cancer treatments take from months to years and they either work or not. It might relapse any time. Take the decision that you won’t regret even in a worst case scenario. Whatever you do, you’ll find some people to blame you, so don’t put much weight on that. If you need solo therapy rather than the support group you’re attending, go for it. Hang in there! Come back here if you ever need support(((hugs)))
        P.S. you’re not selfish. You love him and wish he’d come to you for comfort instead of pushing you aside.

      • Sadheart says:

        Thank you Magnolia.

        What you said is pretty much what I have been asking myself and I confess…I was shot down for being selfish in my cancer support group. I’m told it’s normal for each person to have a different reaction to cancer and very common for men to withdraw as they process the emotional trauma differently to women and the medication (steriods and anti-anxiety meds) can have very marked affects on personality.

        I really do understand that it’s a private and very painful journey that I do not make light of. I have seen the evidence of how hard it is in my boyfriend and in the people I have met while going through this. I agree that some people pull tighter together and others fall apart. I am beginning to suspect that we shall fall apart.

        I am not a Florence Nightingale…I wish I could be that selfless when it is what I am told is needed right now. However, while my boyfriend was happy that I chose to stay…as his treatment progressed he became so withdrawn from me. Bad news upon bad news and he keeps telling me that he hates the way this is affecting me and how he is the cause…and then he withdraws from me further. He keeps telling me that the road ahead is truly ugly and that he wants to spare me that. But at the same time, he isn’t willing to let me go. He gave me an ‘out’ right at the start. An honorable gesture he made out of respect for me and ‘because it was the right thing to do’ and it was an offer that he was so relieved and happy I didn’t take him up on.

        Now, I am so torn between my needs and the needs of my boyfriend that I feel intense guilt over my confusion. I do not like me anymore. I do not like that I am now a doormat and I do not like that I feel so selfish for thinking of my own needs. Surely when faced with a very serious cancer dx I should be able to support and love my boyfriend without being so selfish? Other carers seem to be able to do it. Why am I struggling so hard?

        • GetSmartyr says:

          Sadheart my dear, it is time to put on your own oxygen mask. Caretakers for the sick — or in my case, the addicted — become codependent. Instead of inflicting huge amounts of guilt on yourself for not doing this relationship “right” try to remember that you are having completely normal reactions to a very challenging situations. Support groups are FULL of codependents. I run one. I am one. I know. So, have another look at some ways that you can take the focus off your BF, cancer or no cancer, to get some clarity for yourself. I just ended a relationship a few months ago. The man I was with announced, rather suddenly, that he wanted to have knee replacement surgery (it would have been next month, to be exact). His aftercare plan was me. He didn’t ask me for help – he basically told me I was going to take care of him. When he did, I had an out-of-body moment. I live in a different state. I have a kid who lives with me, and she’s enrolled in school. Yet, Mr. Unavailable wanted me to leave my kid with her dad, take weeks off of work, and take care of him on demand. Why? Because it worked for him. We’d been together less than a year, and I was thunderstruck by the arrogance of his assumption and his self-absorption. Just because people have physical challenges, it doesn’t give them the right to treat others as supporting actors in their stage production. Try to keep that in mind as you go through this situation. It’s not your ordeal.

      • kookie says:

        sadheart, I agree with magnolia. distancing ourselves from others is not a punishment for them being terrible to us or evil. i think you need to distance yourself from this guy for yourself, not cos he is bad.

        good people who get cancer do sometimes act like jerks cos they are terrified. however, there is a difference between someone who aspires to fight cancer and the unpleasant feelings that come along with it but then fails cos , hey, it’s really hard and the person who preempts and gives up on himself before the really hard stuff has even come. the more optimistic person MAY still fail at their goal of keeping it together for the sake of their loved ones but the more pessimistic person DEFINITELY will. it’s a sure bet of failure with this guy, don’t do that to yourself.

    • Ms Determined says:

      Sadheart , this makes absolutely no sense to me. Let me get this straight. There is a real possibility this guy could die, but he’s not holding on to you – the woman he supposedly loves – for dear life; he’s choosing to be totally fucking horrible to you? This is so unbelievable to me that I’m going to have to consult Dr Harshy McHarsherson for a proper diagnosis. Can you wait?

      Um, I have bad news, Sadheart. Dr McHarsherson diagnoses a scorching case of (sorry in advance, he’s never one to mince words) assholery here.

      He suggests that if it was YOU that had given him cancer, then maybe he would have every reason to be angry AT YOU. But he figures that since you’re unceasingly by this guy’s side, turning yourself into a tormented, self-questioning pretzel in the sacrifice-everything-even-my-sanity pursuit of “being there for him”, the guy should be at least be showing some basic symptoms of respect. STAT.

      Dr McHarsherson also prescribed a healthy dose of self-esteem for you, and reiterated that even when a loved one is sick, your number one priority is still to take care of YOU. He suggests your feelings of ‘selfishness’ is actually your illusion that it’s only the cancer causing him to be such a jerk starting to flatline.

      Also he wanted me to stress to you that amnesia wasn’t a symptom of cancer the last time he checked. In fact, forgetting your birthday was a lost opportunity to make some precious memories to cherish, whether he recovers or not. The good doctor understands very well that it’s not as if you were expecting to be made vigorous love to all night, but rightly suggests the words ‘happy birthday darling’, plus a smile, would have sufficed (but also, would have been willing to dash off a script for Viagra if you’d both been so inclined).

      I am sorry Dr McHarsherson doesn’t have a better or more comforting prognosis for you at this time of acute worry and stress, but he’s confident that whatever happens, YOU will make a full recovery if you stay on BR for general life support.

      • Ms Determined says:

        (Sorry Sadheart, that McHarsherson guy can be an overreaching ass at times. He’s made me cry more than once.

        If it helps I’m sending sincere hope that you come through the other side of this awful time with your heart intact, if not still a little sad.)

    • Amanda says:

      Sadheart: This line really worried me: “I am deeply unhappy with myself for being upset over such trivial things as him shouting at me the instant I walk through the door or ignoring me completely.”

      That is not trivial at all! No one has the right to shout at you or ignore you completely. When these kind of terrible life events happen, it’s certainly not unheard of for a previously emotionally-open person to become withdrawn, sad, and difficult. But a total Jekyll and Hyde situation? I don’t know. The most important thing, however, is to remember that you are under NO obligation to accept poor treatment from anyone, regardless of their situation. If you are worried about what others would think if you “abandoned” your lover during his time of need, keep in mind that anyone who loves and respects you would understand your situation, and the rest don’t matter. This man is really really treating you wrongly, and you deserve much much better. Hugs and much support xoxo

    • yoghurt says:

      Hiya Sadheart

      There’s so much super-wise advice on here that I’m not sure that I can add much, besides which I don’t think that anything will make the situation easier :( . Lots of hugs, though.

      My toddler has been in hospital this week (is fine now, but hospital’s never pleasant) and this has given me pause to reflect on how I cope when I’m in a position to need support – I am very bad at it. I hide and don’t want other people around. And if I can’t hide I’m quite cross and ratchety. I don’t like asking for help or support, I don’t like accepting it and if I have to then I don’t know how to behave whilst I am doing. Even when I’m grateful I also feel frustrated and out-of-my-depth and irritable with it.

      I don’t know whether that’s got anything in common with your boyfriend, but what I DO know is that it’s my problem. People aren’t psychic and they don’t deserve to be roared at because I’m uncomfortable. Besides which, when I’m unhappy I genuinely DON’T want other people around – I want to crawl into a hole in the ground, pull a rock over my head and stay there until I feel like coming out again.

      I don’t know whether this is an unhealthy reaction to stress or if it’s just a facet of my personality, but it’s certainly my issue, not that of the people who might want/try to support me.

      To me (and admittedly I’m not the All-Seeing Eye), his behaviour says that he doesn’t want you there and he doesn’t want support right now – at least not from a girlfriend-figure. If that’s the case then it’s the case, regardless of how he feels about you outside of the cancer context – the cancer context is what you’re both operating in right now.

      • dancingqueen says:


        Okay I am just going to be practical; what about saying to him, straight up, “Look I get the feeling that you are pushing me away and you don’t want a relationship. You have done x, y and z and this makes me feel x y and z. I want to be here for you, if you want me here, but if you don’t then I need to go because no matter how much I care for you, if you don’t want me here, I don’t want to be here either.”

        Then see what he says….hugs:(

      • runnergirl says:

        Yoghurt, I hope the baby is okay? I hope you have some support? Sickness is a really tough situation. I’m just like you when it comes to accepting assistance. I get cross, ratchety, and extremely irritable.

        • yoghurt says:

          Hi runner

          Yea, he’s fine – just one of those gets-serious-very-quickly ailments that little children are prone to. Also just wanted to second snowboard’s comment about loving to read your posts, which I do :)

    • K says:


      I’ve worked in hospice care in the past and have seen patients dying of the diseases, spouses/girlfriends present. In healthy relationships,what you are describing DOES NOT TAKE PLACE TO THE EXTENT ON A CONSISTENT BASIS THAT YOURS DOES.
      Cancer patients react differently to the news, to treatments and to their ultimate prognosis, and while they may go through periods of distance during their process, it is nothing like what I’m seeing here with the behavior of this man. It is clear he is SHOWING you that he does NOT want a relationship with you. I think the kindest thing for you to do right now, for yourself and for him,is to LET GO. This is now more about you, than it is about him. You have only been with him six months? The depth of emotions you are experiencing do not reflect a healthy foundation in a relationship that was built SLOWLY over time in the first place. This man’s behavior is clearly EUM, and I suspect that before he got sick, he was ALREADY this way. Cancer does not change the person’s CHARACTER. And this man’s character is questionable. In all the time I did hospice work, while I saw patients become snappy, sick, tired and have some REEEALLY bad days, those they loved, they WANTED around. It was detrimental to them for their process. Oftentimes, especially if the prognosis is questionable they go through the Five Stages of Grief (See Elizabeth Kubler-Ross), BUT their families will often go through it WITH them. Healthy partners involved with cancer patients, while providing most of their care,were ENCOURAGED to have respites and guess what? The cancer patient WANTED them to have LIVES outside of their care taking and illness.

      This relationship is not about him. It’s about you.

      Be kind to yourself and get out, Sadheart, because I don’t see this having a healthy ending for you, in fact, I see it as increasingly destructive. Take your reactions as a sign of all the wounds that YOU need to heal WITHIN YOU.

      • Lilia says:

        What you describe about your bf´s withdrawal reminds me of childbirth. I had both my kids the natural way and there was always one point when I would just completely withdraw, stop communicating with those around me (though I had a good relationship with my husband at that moment and he was there with me), and sort of tune out. The midwife told us this was normal because you need all your strenght for your body. (This always happened a little after I raged at my husband because I truly believed that it was all his fault.)

        My mother, who is a cancer patient (in remission), had a similar experience when she was going through all the chemo and other therapies. She told me there was a moment when she was feeling so bad physically that she didn´t mind about everyone else and just wanted to die. Her body and the cancer had taken over, it wasn´t her fault or decision.

        It´s what happends when you loose control of your body. Things take on a different meaning. For someone in your situation, I think it would be wise to get more informed about what your bf is going through before taking any decision. You can´t expect to have your own needs met at such a critical time. He isn´t a selfish jerk or EU, he is trying to deal with something he doesn´t control and can not control. I don´t know what you should do in this situation, that is something completely personal. But for now, accept that things have changed and for all the goodwill in the world can´t be any different.

        He just doesn´t have the physical, emotional or spiritual strength to protect the relationship with you. He is fighting for his life. The only thing you can do is have patience and sit by his side without expecting anything in return, or leave.

    • SugarPetunia says:

      Sadheart – I have been reading BR for a while but your is the first post I’m commenting on. You say that you’re feeling selfish and none of the others in your group are. Bullshit. I can say this because I’ve been where you are. A year into my marriage, my husband was diagnosed with cancer. I could’ve written your exact posts. I’m confident that you aren’t alone in your feelings. The others in the group just can’t or won’t share because they are ALSO feeling shame. Afterall, the people they “love” or “care about” have cancer. Please, please, please listen to Natalie’s excellent advice and get some one-on-one counseling. In addition to the group therapy if you like that dynamic. Because it is so easy to lose you in the process of taking care of someone else. These are the repurcussions I’m unravaling 15 years later. Prayers to you and your boyf.

      • Sadheart says:

        Thank you for commenting. You made me feel a lot more normal! In my support group my boyfriend and I are the youngest there.

        His prognosis isn’t the best and he lost family to the same type of cancer. He sees it as a death sentence. He doesn’t like the support group so doesn’t go anymore. I go and tend to feel out of place. When I have talked of his moods and behaviour I’ve been told everything from it’s “normal” to “everyone deals with the 5 stages of grief differently”.

        Since Christmas I am taking much better care of myself. But it has made it so much harder to deal with my boyfriend! I thought that it would give me more strength to deal with the situation if I had ‘breaks’ but it has had the opposite effect.

        I feel selfish and guilty for wondering how much of his behaviour is actually cancer related and how much is him just being an ass?

        I think that I will seek one on one therapy.

    • Tracy says:

      Sadheart- I recently went through a situation, while not as dire as yours, had some of the same aspects. I had been with a man for several months…he was, it seemed, sent from the heavens for me. Everything was wonderful, he ticked all the boxes.
      But then he got depressed, bad enough to go on medication. And, at the same time, he asked for ‘a break’…he couldn’t ‘give me what I deserve’. It was an overnight change. I got sad, furious, felt duped, etc. I have suffered from severe depression many times in my adult life. I was married to a bipolar man for almost 20 years. I never sent anyone away when I was depressed, and neither did my ex, so I didn’t understand why the need to ‘send me away’ was…after all, he still went out with his friends! So, what was the need for ME to go away? I tried to be super understanding, I even tried the old line “I’m there if you need me…”

      Bullshit. When I gave it closer thought, I realized that if THIS is how he handles an issue (sending me away), then WHY OH WHY would I want to be with this person? If having me go away for an indefinite period of time (and we only saw each other once a week so it wasn’t as if I was in his face every day!) was ‘relief’, then screw it.

      What I’m saying is, by him giving you the ‘out’, you should heed the warning. Cancer sucks, for sure. But I’ve had relatives with cancer or ALS who never sent their loved ones packing. Yes, they may have had unpleasant moments, days, weeks. But at the end of the day, their partner was a source of help and comfort, not a burden.

    • Allison says:

      Sad Heart,

      Is he on any steroids?

      My brother who died of lung cancer, was on steroids, while dealing with both radiation and chemo. He could be absolutely horrible! The steroids can make people VERY difficult and cruel at times.

      If not, he does not have the right to be abusive. He is scared, and we cannot comprehend what they are going through, but it does not excuse his behavior. Have you discussed his behavior with him?

      It is a horrible disease and is destructive in more ways than one.

      Big hug!

      • Sadheart says:

        Allison, thanks for your comment. It helps to hear from others that have experience with loved ones getting nasty on steroids.

        My boyfriend is also doing a combination of radio and chemo and has suffered heart and lung damage as a result. His steroid dose has already been lowered but I haven’t seen much difference in mood.

        He apologises afterwards and things are better for a little bit before they go back to his ‘new normal’.

        People have suggested some good ideas to put boundaries in place or just ask him if he still wants a relationship. I think that my current plan is to seek some one on one therapy and go from there. I think it will help me work through some of the jumbled issues in my head.

        • Allison says:

          Sad Heart,

          I think that would be a great idea: one-on-one.

          They are going through so much, dealing with death, chemo, radiation and steroids. I learned from others in my support group (Gilda’s Club) that they were experiencing similar behavior with their loved ones. It is very hard for all parties- I know what you’re going through. So hard!

          My brother cut me off for over a year – when on steroids – and this was very difficult, I wish I had known of their affect on behavior, as we lost much precious time. We finally restored our relationship three-weeks before his death. Thank God! Most valuable period of my life.

          I don’t know what to say, as you are dealing with so much. Keep up the support, but try not to compromise your own needs.

          He’s is lucky to have you!

    • grace says:

      It will help you both to put boundaries in place. If he shouts at you when you come in, you say, “I see you don,t feel so good, I,m just going to check on you and leave”. Then do just that, no fussing or hurt looks.
      Bring a book or an ipad or knitting. If he ignores you, take yourself off into a corner and do your own stuff. Don,t sit waiting for him to notice you.
      This takes the pressure and guilt off him, and protects you.
      My mother is very disabled and getting worse. In the past she was a definite AC. She still has it in her. I still see her and it works because I expect nothing. I don’t expect any motherly warmth that,s for sure.
      If you are unable to accept what it is, then you can walk away. Otherwise steel yourself for an unpleasant experience that you may still learn from and where you may still have moments of connection. It,s a sacrifice that no one sees except you and God. You don,t get any credit for it. You might even have people suggest you do more! Grrrr!!
      I personally would sack off the support group if it weren’t helping me. Or continue whilst not needing anyone else to agree with me. But that,s me.

      • Sunyata says:

        “I see you don,t feel so good, I,m just going to check on you and leave”.

        I wouldn’t even do that…my experience with people with cancer is that it’s best to treat them like regular humans and not let the fear of death run the show.
        I’d say, “damn, it feels horrible to get yelled at, I don’t want to be yelled at!” and go from there. If he keeps yelling, then you know you’ve got a tosser who just can’t see out of his own misery. If he stops, then you know you’ve got a possibility for connection.
        I lived with a housemate who had what was allegedly incurable cancer for a year – we all treated her like anyone else, we still got pissed at her if she didn’t take out the trash, held our boundaries and gave her notice when she wasn’t coming up with rent :) Treating her just like we would anyone else empowered all of us and she went into remission and is one of the most amazing people I have ever known and honestly I’m sure she stayed with us because she trusted us not to buy into the fear. We didn’t pretend like it wasn’t happening, we just didn’t let it run our lives.

  11. Heidi Graham says:

    I am 48. I am just now starting on the road to learning to live with myself and even, maybe, like myself. It will be arduous and lonely at times, I know, but it’s either do that, or spend the last half of my life in just as much pain as I was in the first half. I hope I can do it.

  12. runnergirl says:

    Too wonderful Natalie. As I keep reading and participating in the e-courses, I keep learning and healing. Thank you so much for the opportunities. You’ve triggered a lot of stuff lately. I’m paying strict attention to my self-talk (including comparisons) and you are so right. I wouldn’t begin to say to others what I say to myself. For me, it’s as much about developing self-esteem as it is developing self-compassion which is happening slowly through developing and enforcing boundaries which is contributing to my self-respect. It’s like a healthy loop for a change! Ranking high on my list of pet peeve sayings would be “the benefit of the doubt”.
    Rather than revise my assumptions based on my experience of their actions, I seem to blunder ahead giving them the benefit of the doubt as they continue to bust my boundaries. Then whose balls do I bust when shit goes to shinola? Yup, I blame me! That’s the negative loop I’ve been caught within. Honestly,I’m surprised at how much I projected, imagined, and downright admired the exMM, even though he was a lying cheater. Slowly I’m starting to do for me what I do for others, including a big heaping spoonful of compassion. The comments on this site have helped tremendously as I see when others are their own harshest critic and I want to reach out and hug them…then I realize I need to hug me too!

    • Snowboard says:

      Hey runnergirl,

      I’ve really loved reading your comments over the years and have learned so much from you. I’m glad you’re being good to yourself. :) Many hugs

  13. runnergirl says:

    I apologize for a double-post Natalie. I want to report a growth of my self-esteem and self-respect through enforcing boundaries and going with my gut which as you say, is easier said than done. Tonight, before I read this post, I gave me the benefit of the doubt, instead of a him. I finally went with my gut. Talked with an online guy last night. His pic’s were nice (no assumptions). His profile, not much to go on so I though a phone chat would help. Dear lord. He ticked every wrong box possible. Wanted to meet right then, wanted to know when we were going to make out, wanted to know if I was naked under my pj’s, then wanted to meet tonight at a dive bar since I wouldn’t meet him last night. Only thing I did wrong was not hanging up the phone immediately. Next time…lesson learned. When he called this evening, I told him I was uncomfortable with the convo and not available to meet. That was it. He didn’t ask why and I wasn’t going to explain. I was uncomfortable PERIOD. We said goodbye. Now, that was much easier said than having to endure a freezing cold evening with this creepy dude drinking a bad beer in a pool hall with absolutely no chance in hell I was going to drop my knickers doncha think? So, high five to ME! But, thank you all, particularly Nat.
    PS. Take one guess what outcome that guy wanted. No future faking at least! Oh and just for the record, he’s 50.

    • Magnolia says:

      Man! Adventures in online bullet-dodging.

      Who isn’t naked under their pjs? What a question, there is no right answer: if you have undies, that leads to asking what colour, if you have none on, you are clearly a little minx and so much the better!

      Good for you for the quick stop to all that. That’s why they call them red flags!

    • Revolution says:

      Yeesh, runner. Dodged that colossal, slime-infested bullet, eh?

      And who the hell ISN’T naked under their pjs? WTF?

    • Little Star says:

      Ha, good for your Runner, well done:)No more future fakers for us!!!

    • Ms Determined says:

      Speak for yourselves. I wear an iron maiden under my pjs.

      50? For realz? You could have said 15 and your comment still would have made sense (although you know dating teenagers is illegal, unless you are also a teenager. We know the pool is infinitesimally small Runner, but…)

      His desired outcome? If it was to give anyone you told about him a mouth like a cat’s ass, total RESULT!

    • dancingqueen says:

      Aha runnergirl you used my favorite word for boundary placing “uncomfortable”! Ah I so lov that word, so perfect for so many situations; it is like the hummus of words, inoffensive, everyone likes it, and it makes any bad situation healthier:)

    • Sunyata says:

      This is what I think is meant when some say we create karma – if we bust our boundaries even once, there is often hours if not days of bad feelings to face and process and release. If we stick to them…meh, nothing happening but a good time, here, moving on in the flow of life. There are maybe some bad feelings that come up from busting the force of old habits, but that passes pretty quickly in comparison to say, getting into a 5 year relationshit with an AC :)

      • Lilia says:

        Sunyata, my own personal superstition is as follows: let one AC bust my boundaries once and I become an irresistible magnet for more and worse ACs. Boundary-busting multiplies!

  14. miskwa says:

    I too am sometimes super critical of myself because I always wanted me to be the best me possible and not follow a path of failure as the rest of my family. As much as I may hate some physical aspects of me, I also applaud my courage, convictions, and my refusal to back down with regard to either. Part of why sooo many womyn have self esteem issues is that we are bombarded with contradictory messages damned well from birth. Be nice, better be pretty or you’re nothing, look this way, act this way, up to adulthood where men reject you for your looks, actions, etc. while simultaneously chastising your lack of self esteem! It’s like “I get to treat you like crap but if you feel bad about it, you have a problem with your self esteem”. No person that is sane is going to feel good about being denegrated. Coming from a place where I was loved and had community to the west, where I have neither, for a good 9 years, I can tell you, it’s damned hard to continue to avoid self doubt internally in an environment that gives you the message that you are garbage. Kinda crazymaking.

    • Magnolia says:

      After writing my post earlier this morning, I was thinking about how I know I loved being in New York City; how I now know I loved Toronto (I never used to wake up and think god, do I have to spend the rest of my life here?); just like I know I love looking at the mountains over a lake.

      I don’t love the town I’m in for many of the same reasons you don’t love yours, miskwa, and I was really asking myself this morning if I could ever say I truly love “me” as long as I’m in a place where I’m unhappy. Loving me” has so much to do with my mental state – I love me in the sense of my commitment to myself, but when I’m constantly unhappy, I’m no fun to be around.

      Something in me does feel like I don’t deserve to love the place I’m in, that I need to accept this unhappiness because making money comes first. But everything not about making money is pretty much everything about life that is outside of work – one’s whole personal life.

      How can one be happy when one is not in an environment that allows for fulfilling personal life? How can I say I love myself if I am the one saying I should be happy sacrificing my almost *entire* personal life for money?

      I’ve mentioned before that my colleagues are great and they are indeed good people, but I NEED a life outside work. Now that I have handed in my dissertation (Yes!! I defend in April!!) a bit of time has opened up and it is glaringly obvious that I have no social life outside of work folk and that around here church is the thing to do.

      I look at the opportunity to invest myself in this town with about as much excitement as I did the guys that I felt I “should” give a chance.

      I’m not saying I have the answer, or that I must fly back to Toronto forever, because Toronto has changed since I left, and I have changed. All I’m saying is that loving myself has to mean giving myself loving community, not just collegial work community. And that I deserve to feel love for my non-work community. So if I don’t, and if it’s really because this community and me are incompatible, then it’s like a relationship where I’m EU. If I know I’m never going to give myself 100% to where I am, then I can’t expect to get 100% from where I am, nor to be able to give 100% to any potential partner who likes living here.

      I guess I always figured if I liked someone enough, I’d be happy staying where they were. Maybe when I was younger. Now, I think I might feel trapped.

      • intuitive says:

        Great comment, Magnolia. I am in a similar situation – working for money in a place I don’t feel compatible with and where my personal life is kept on hold, and wanting a relationship with a certain someone in a large city where there would still be lots of opportunities for me.

        But what keeps me hemmed in is fear. I find myself forced to choose between the “easy” yet uncomfortable path of staying where I am and maintaining a part-time long distance relationship… and taking the plunge to be with the other person and make a go of things 100%. And it in turn stems from my lack of complete faith in myself to adapt and change to find new work.

        I’d tell most anyone in my situation that love, care, companionship are too important to sacrifice on the altar of a job and that they should have faith in themselves to deal with a new situation even if things do not work out. Because you know what? Staying in the other scenario isn’t going to magically protect you from things not working out either. It is like what Natalie says about people trying to not make mistakes and not miss out on things… while in turn just making mistakes and missing out on things anyway.

        Food for thought.

  15. Jennifer Tiffany says:

    To be honest I wasn’t a very good friend to my friends. I would cancel plans, tell them they were needy or too intense *cringe*. I’ve now been on the other end of that and it hurts like hell. I would future fake them, ditch them for men, and disappear. It’s a wonder I have any left.

    Now, the treatment of myself, oh geez, nothing short of constant abuse. And the men I would chase and love: complete monsters. A meth dealer, a porn addicted pot head alcoholic, and the most recent an emotionally disturbed narcissistic mama’s boy. And every time I would near give up everything for these men in hopes of winning their love in return. It only resulted in me compromising my sanity, health and happiness.

    I had such a janky compass for dating. I mean it lead me to shadyville every time. I though women had to take what was served to them and not complain. In writing out that belief, I just realized how sick it is. There was so much constant abuse in my family and us women never were able to have a voice. We always got shut down, or in my case, hit. No wonder I’ve taken the yellow brick road to hell and stayed longer than an extended weekend. It’s all I know.

  16. Revolution says:

    Great post, Miss Natalie. I had to read it slowly to get the full effect. I especially liked your thought on us lurving the heck out of someone else whilst running our own selves down. As you so often say: “What the what?!”

    You know, in my head, I was reading this post saying to myself, “Yes, yes. Get on with it, Revs. You already know all of this. Great post, but we’ve gotten this all buttoned up, now don’t we?” But I had to do a double take inside of my life. And in doing so, I remembered a couple of things that happened just within this last month.

    Like when I was at my Zumba class with a friend, after one particularly sophisticated “move,” she looked over at me, smiled and said, “You could be a Fly Girl!” Now, despite the fact that this dates myself a bit (Ah, the days of “In Living Color,” when JLo was just Jenny from the block…), I am telling you all this because I immediately replied, “Yeah, if I lose 30lbs!”

    Another one: I was told recently that I was beautiful. My response? “Maybe at one time, but not anymore.” Which cracks me up, because I don’t remember a time in my past where I WOULD have agreed with that compliment.

    My point has been illustrated, and it is this: W.T.F?

    So I like, nay LOVE myself and yet I can’t take a frickin’ compliment?! Now, even though I don’t EVER call myself “fat” “stupid” etc., that doesn’t mean that I’m liking and loving myself. In other words, the LACK OF HATRED towards myself still doesn’t mean I’ve completely learned to like and love myself, to accept me warts and all. And yes, Natalie, the irony is that we WILL make all kinds of concessions for the weaknesses of our friends, relatives, the mailman, our favorite TV anchor….but ourselves?! Get outta town.

  17. Marie83 says:

    Thankyou for this wonderful post Natalie. I struggle to like myself and certainly when I was with the ex and I let him treat me like s**t and make an absolute mug out of me I really resented myself – my friends would also comment that I wasn’t ‘acting like me’ and indeed it did seep over into other areas of my life, I suddenly became I doormat to everyone and couldn’t say no or enforce boundaries to anyone. I am treating myself with a lot more kindness and I am working on tacking the negative self talk. However I still struggle with trusting myself and my decisions – I still have the odd pang of self doubt when I make choices that involve any kind of ‘loss’

  18. MSA says:

    Interesting! The thing is, it doesn’t always have to be about me… Well, yes, I can’t deny I like the attention and flattery, etc. BUT, sometimes, it’s about them as well or maybe about my judgment of people. Meaning? When I meet someone, and they act in a certain way, that for me means they have a certain quality. When they are consistent, it only proves I have a sound judgment. Then, all of a sudden, they blow it. WTH! How can I be so stupid and naïve at what I expected of them. Am I making any sense yet?

    I’m just trying to set a difference between a) Them being ACs and me putting up with it because I don’t like myself enough and b) Putting up with AC behaviour because I had this initial theory about them that I won’t easily give up (I usually crash and burn trying). Does this mean I have a bad judgment of people? Or just that they’re so effing good at pretense and wearing masks?

    For me, it’s also about expectations and disappointments. I think I don’t take disappointments well. Again, hitting reality after living in a lala land for a while. Maybe I don’t blame me as much as I blame them for not being true and honest about themselves, I get disappointed when they don’t act with as much integrity as I do. Yeah, I do live in a Eutopia of my own, huh. It’s really complicated and up to this point, I don’t know why exactly I give people 2nd, 3rd, and infinitth chances. I do like myself and I know I deserve someone who treats me with love, care and respect, which I, lately, learned to do to me.

    I’m kinda living the golden principle, “Do unto others as you would like be done to you”. Unlike the examples mentioned in the post, I tend to accept people are not the same as me, they don’t have my background and my brain. They don’t have to be me for me to accept them and most importantly… that they’re inherently good. If a man likes his space during stress and I don’t, it doesn’t mean he doesn’t love me as much as I do him. I just accept him the way he is, like I want to be accepted for what I am. I wouldn’t want someone to love me in his own way, so I don’t love them in my own.

  19. kookie says:

    think i have confused empathy for love most of my life. i find it very easy to feel other people’s pain even when they are being completely inconsiderate to mine. this is actually a good thing about me but being pathologically empathetic has made work and life so hard for me. it’s not healthy.

    i am a new nurse ( this is my first year) and meet very ill people. patients love me cos I am that nurse who comes back to check on patients in the evening or holidays cos i worry but i internalize so much of my patient’s suffering that i am barely able to survive when a complete stranger dies. i am even considering quitting cos the suffering i see leaves me in tears while other doctors and nurses are able to shake it off and get on with it. they are NOT less caring than me, but they have figured out how to balance empathy with moving on in life.

    this pathological empathy is also a source of my relationship insanity. instead of opting out of dating unavailables i just really empathise with whatever the reason they are unavailable ( abuse, drugs etc), and what a disaster that has been. it’s not that i expect me to heal/change them or that they can ever love me, in fact i usually break up with them but this unhealthy stuff comes when i am their “friend” post break-up. i think i have given up on my ability to have a proper relationship with normals so i just decide to use the time i have to listen to another human who hasn’t been given any breaks in life and i am a pretty good listener. random strangers on planes tell me their life stories. blessing/curse.

    the highlight of wtfness in my last relationship was when i broke up with my non-bf for his confusing hot-coldness. i was so proud of myself for ending it after three months when i felt something was off , in the past i would have stuck it out for years, but then i totally negated my brownie point by what i did after we broke up. he told me he had overestimated his capacity for a relationship with me because he has never gotten over his first girlfriend from ten years ago. they have lived in separate countries for all this time but every few months or so one of them emails the other to say they love the other but they never move on but also never do anything to actually be together.

    my first reaction was rejection and jealousy and feeling like a chump for the three months i had wasted but i converted that unpleasant feeling into feeling heartbroken FOR him. really trying to put myself in his shoes made me feels tons better than being mad at him but it didnt change that i still felt totally rejected and used and awful when i wasn’t comforting him through his self-imposed misery.

    i have never been in love in all my 27 years so i totally romanticized this unhealthy dynamic between them thought it was amazing that they still loved each other through everything, even secretly wishing that one day i would meet someone who would never get over me, the way my guy hadn’t gotten over his ex, as long as they lived. i’m a sucker for enduring(so unhealthy) romances ( damn, you novels and movies), i always root for lovers even when they are out to push aside my own needs apparently. i comforted him , even suggested he maybe move back to his home country and give it a shot with her instead of putting both their lives on hold and wasting other people’s time. and this was all AFTER the end of our ‘relationship’ . what is wrong with me?? this dude had strung me along for months and instead of huffing out in righteous rage, for months ,after i broke up with him, i was so concerned with helping him.

    INSANITY. ugh, no more. if i extended half the amount of slack, crazy support and understanding to myself, i would be in an awesome place right now with my own spirit. i would never have gotten involved with such a confused individual in the first place. luckily, anger caught up with me four months too late and i am no contact now until forever. i won’t be empathetic to others at the expense of myself anymore

  20. Lau_ra says:

    I must say that BR posts here and on FB account help me a lot lately and show up very timely, in order to stop me from doing wrong wrong things… Finally deleted my latest crush from everywhere: FB, skype, email, telephone. Felt fine for a couple of days and then came the regret and illogical thoughts that I shouldn’t have done that, cause now he won’t even want me as a friend anymore, and yada yada. After my eye caught this post, I’m sitting here and thinking: yeah, Laura, would you tell any of your friends she has done a stupid thing deleting a guy, who suddenly went silent on her and has been silent for 5 months, even though he was all that handsome and smart and nice before silently running for the hills without saying goodbye? Would you support her unrealistic thoughts and making up excuses, that he has Aspergers, as if Aspies aren’t capable of understanding they’ve hurt someone? Definitely not.So why am I doing this to myself?
    Ladies, if someone of you has similar experience with guys who have AS, please, share your thoughts on how to let go easier, when the guy hasn’t been an AC, but he left in such AC way, which seems pretty common for Aspies? (my friend laughs that in that case all men have Aspergers then:)) How do you identify the line when its an Aspie trait, his inner fears and etc. (which might help in forgiving him and realising I can’t do anything, cause he chose his some kind of fear over me) and when its a deliberate and willful action, bringing up AS as an excuse?Am I putting too much weight on AS here?

    • grace says:

      What difference does it make, the fact is you will never know? We cannot do the experiment where we remove x or y and then re run the script. You can only deal with what is real.
      If you want to break up with someone because you can’t stand the way they blow their nose, that is your right. It may be wrong, it may be shallow, your friends and B R might criticise you,but you,re the one who gets to decide.

      • Lau_ra says:

        Well yes, I guess so, it doesn’t make a difference, cause the final fact I have to deal with is that he decided to end things without noticing me about that:(
        and after reading Sadhearts story and comments on that I can see that in my situation its assholery in its full expression (for, as I said, AS doesn’t make you incapable of realising what and how are you doing).

  21. lo j says:

    Yeah Lilly. You got it girl. Spot on. Now keep on keeping on with your awesome self! :-)

  22. miskwa says:

    I am a breast cancer survivor. I can tell you a person sick and tired in pain is still basically the same person they were before, with the same character. Though I was in incredible pain, had to hide the fact so I wouldn’t loose my teaching job, none of that turned me into instant asshole. I have had friends go thru chemo, some lived, some didn’t but they remained their basic selves throughout. Talk to your cancer support group, tell them how you really feel, and I’d bet they’ll verify this.

  23. Tinkerbell says:


    Congratulations and welcome to an “honorable profession” (told to me by many, what exactly is that supposed to mean-LOL!) I remember very well the days when I over-empathized and would shed tears when my patient died, as if I could have saved them. I always wanted to do more, felt I should be able to and would even feel pangs of guilt when my tlc was not very effective. Believe me as you continue you will “toughen-up”. You will realize that you cannot carry all your patients on your shoulders and feel responsible for how they get along. It’s just too much to put yourself into. I would recommend that you look into transferring to a different area. There are so many avenues open to you in nursing. You don’t have to leave the profession.

    Now, as far as your love life is concerned, don’t confuse the two. It’s alright to have empathy for your patients as long as you can control it. Having empathy for an AC is just unhealthy. He is not physically or mentally compromised and even if he were, that is not your problem. It’s his and you need to leave him alone. you did not like the way he treated you. Giving you an excuse that he hasn’t gotten over a past gf is as old as the hills. And, from 10 yrs ago? Gimme a break. You were on the right track when you left, but you fell off the horse. Get back on and ride AWAY, never to return. Another tip. Don’t be quick to tell guys when you first meet that you are a nurse. They immediately see dollar signs and an excessively caring person who will put up with anything. You are not that person. You are not a Florence Nightingale. And, you have a career in which you are financially capable of taking care of yourself BUT NOT ANYONE ELSE in any way shape or form. Good luck.
    You may want to look into Mother/Baby, or a less depressing area if you want to take care of patients. Or, there are so many new areas in nursing where you are not administering patients care. That may be for you if you tend to become over involved emotionally.

    • kookie says:

      thanks tinkerbell!

      i feel mostly exhausted rather than honourable but i do appreciate the privileged position to see people at their most real on my job. I have to complete this year and i hope I do “toughen up”, I love this work so much I really do and it would be a shame to leave it. I am looking into a transfer to pediatrics next year. Kids come in sick but leave jumping off the walls. As for excuse-ridden ACs, i’m so so over that. The day it clicked how NOT special he was i got over him but just harder to get over my part in this fuckery. Working on it 😀

  24. selkie says:


    First, I am so sorry both of you are going through this. Cancer, chemo, radiation, all are very tough physically and mentally. Chemo, steroids, etc, can affect someone’s personality, but not completely change it.

    Second, you have no reason to be so hard on yourself saying you are selfish. YOU are so far from that. You are not a robot and your heart still counts. I disagree with your support group, you DO have the right to have your basic needs met and not be continually disrespected. Otherwise, if you break down emotionally, how good will you be to you or him. It’s okay to stand up for yourself and he may need you to do this to pull him out of his increasingly closed off world. This isn’t good for him either. I have worked with critically and terminally ill people for 23 years. I have seen things you wouldn’t even believe, like burn victims that were unrecognizable who fought for their life every day even while disfigured. And more too graphic to describe here. My point is, these people were very angry, with VERY good reason. I have been spit on, screamed at, threatened, kicked, punched and accused of abuse in their desperate moments while they have lashed out at me. I maintained my support, but I did leave the room. I told them that I was leaving because they were being disrespectful and making it impossible for me to help them and that I would come back later. I also said I wanted to help them, but they need to do their part. I got spit on some more, got called more names for a little while. But, funny thing happened. They learned to trust me because I was being REAL with them. I never abandoned them, but made it clear we were both still human. It went from them spitting on me to them calling for me more than any other caregiver whenever they were scared or in a crisis. I wasn’t confrontational, but firm in asserting the need for basic respect. Did I allow for many bad days, lashing out and grumpiness, of course. But they recognized later and at least said sorry, and then thank you for me staying on course with them. Being a doormat for this man doesn’t help either of you. He is being mean, and although sometimes in overwhelming emotional and physically painful moments its understandable, this happening without and apology or as the general rule is not okay. He is able to say thank you and sorry which does go a long way, trust me. You taking this kind of behavior withut question may even fuel it as he projects his anger and helpless feelings onto you. That is not the kind of support you want to offer. You are not his punching bag. It’s a delicate balance to find, but hopefully it can be achieved, but you have to gently put your foot down. Take some time away when he is an ass. Make sure his basic needs are met if he is unable to get out of bed, or puking, or unable to eat, but when he lashes out, say you are going to remove yourself until he calms down and stops yelling at you. He may say he needs space at that point, honor his honesty when he offers it. He may not be an evil bad guy, but he isn’t being a good guy right now, and while that is understandable to a degree, having cancer or not does not make abusive behavior acceptable. I am not a therapist, but this has been my own personal experience.

    • selkie says:

      I want to add that my heart was not romantically involved with the people I took care of, so it is different than your situation which undoubtedly is more emotional and has more at stake. He may be struggling and unable to handle his own ‘stuff’ right now and not able to consider your basic needs in a romantic relationship but he can still respect you as a fellow human being. You sound like a wonderful human being who is going above and beyond to help this man. It’s OKAY to need some human kindness or a tiny bit of positive feedback that he appreciates you from him in return. Can you talk to him about this? Can you ask him for feedback on whether he just needs space or wants to be alone more? I don’t think the normal red flags apply here, but there should be some boundaries in place. Also, if sick people I knew only from working closely with could offer me thanks and moments of kindness between storms, surely this man can do this for you, someone he loves. If he can’t, don’t forget that your life still matters too. Don’t dissolve into him and his cancer.

    • Sadder but Wiser says:

      This is an awesome response Selkie. I also believe that by gently insisting on decent treatment, you are helping the sick and angry person retain their humanity and dignity instead of dissolving into an out-of-control victim. Even in times of sickness and extreme crisis, people need to respect themselves – and treating others well is one way to do that. By not being a doormat, you are actually helping him keep a sense of normalcy as he goes through this difficult time.

      • runnergirl says:

        Wow, Selkie your response took my breath away. And then Sadder but Wiser, your response to Selkie made me realize how complicated these issues can be. I wish I had something as elegant and eloquent to say to you. I don’t but I want to send you support. My two cents will probably sound stupid relative to all the wonderful responses you have received. I have not dealt with your situation. However, when I find that I am drowning in my own sea of despair (however trivial in comparison), I remember what they say as you board an airplane: Place the air mask on YOU FIRST. You cannot help the person sitting next to you if you aren’t breathing. Take care of you first Sadder. Learning to like me and put the air mask on me first has helped me take care of my daughter when she has needed me. Taking care of me has also assisted in determining when she doesn’t need me. Put your air mask on YOU FIRST. It’ll help you breath too.

        • runnergirl says:

          So sorry, I confused Sadder but Wiser with Sadheart.

          • Sadheart says:

            The responses of all you wonderful ladies has brought tears to my eyes.

            I agree with you Selkie. He does offer me apologies when I tell him that his behaviour has upset me. I do tend to cling to these moments. It’s sad, but instead of clinging to the moments of ‘I LOVE YOU’ I cling to ‘thank yous’ and ‘sorry’. It’s so different to anything I have ever lived.

            People do give lots of advice. They tell me that because we are so young and he was just starting his career so far away from his family that this has all added to the emotional storm. He hates being bed-ridden or relying on anyone to take care of him. I’m really starting to struggle with the distance growing between us. The last time we were affectionate was just before Christmas. I thought that we were starting to get closer again but now he has pulled away again after more bad news.

            He hasn’t hit me, spit on me or anything like that. He isn’t physically abusive. He shouts at me and rages about how unfair life is and how I don’t understand how he is feeling. I admit that I don’t understand…but he doesn’t want to talk to me about it either! Last week he called me by a pet name…I was shocked because it had been at least 4 months since he had used an endearment. I realised how much I miss that. All our friends are going out and being young. It upsets him and then he pushes me to go out with them but is jealous when I get home. I get the silent treatment a lot. I don’t pursue him…I let him come to me because I’ve already learnt not to go after him.

            Yet the distance between us continues to grow. I don’t know what more to do for him or for us. The more advice I get here the more I feel that I need to find the money for one on one therapy.

  25. I'm the one you speak of says:

    I know why I don’t like or love myself these days…I’m doing things that are not esteem building and I’ve lost the feelings of value I used to enjoy. I’ve told my kids this many times that to feel good, you need to do good. Finish things, follow through on plans and promises, don’t waste time, do well, think well, speak well. During this period I’ve been pathetic, and done the stupidest things, and been so negative and down and like a broken record about all the wrongs done to me. I’m snarky and pissy, and the trajectory of my life is following that negative direction. In order to like myself more… I need to stop doing that stuff, stop the set up, stop being surprised and disappointed when the AC is exactly as he has always been – an AC. I’m not that nice to anyone anymore really. In order to really be kind and loving to others, I need to fill my own bucket first, because without radical self-care and respect it is a leaky vessel, never (ful)filled. I want attention and approval for all the wrong reasons, and it is never enough really. I took down my Face Book, as it further feeds that approval seeking nature in me. I feel double minded, I am often conflicted in my feelings – love/hate the AC; can’t stand/miss the AC… why is that? Because I haven’t decided who I want to be, and every feeling I have doesn’t need to be vetted among my friends. That makes me more confused. The answers are inside of me, not out there, and continuing to talk about my hurts and pains, and frustrations doesn’t really make them any better. So I am trying to sit with all the feelings, just observe them, do alot of writing and praying, and try to love myself by knocking off the things that hurt me… the things I create, promote and allow in my life. Starting with gratitude daily… and not superficially but remembering how fortunate I truly am in this life. Reading this blog and re-reading the posts that are words of life for me right now, are very helpful. I’m hoping that as I stop eating, drinking & breathing so much negativity – what comes out of me will be less toxic, and I will stop poisoning myself. If I am going to really learn to love myself and care about me, I’m going to need to reduce my poor behaviors, I am not a good friend to me, so its understandable I don’t like this person a whole bunch.

    • jewells says:

      Speak Of; Much of what you said rings true for me too. I’ve been a real beatch at times, gone the opposite of people pleasing as that wasn’t working. I haven’t been consistent in practicing kindness, least of all to myself. Tis true, if we don’t treat and feed ourselves well, we are not filling our own cups to then impart goodness outwards. Good points to ponder, thank you :)

      • I'm the one you speak of says:

        Jewells – I am trying some radical honesty, along with radical self-care. If I can’t be honest with myself about who I am and who I am becoming, and keep looking at how other people’s poor choices and behavior have impacted me, as I have allowed, I cannot change or grow. I did the NC class with Natalie, on-line. She had powerful words for me, and I was reluctant to take all that in at the time. One of her points was about how much of my time and energy and thoughts go toward the AC, his faults, and his new life and rehashing over and over what I should have done, and how that would have worked, if only…my one false move, wanting to eat my words, etc.
        You know the story. I think what was originally a break-up process and grieving, became a self inflicted pain habit, that I’ve kept up for years now. It will take time to change this habit, and it starts with my thoughts. There’s a term I like – “Taking your thoughts captive” – and I have to round those thoughts up, tame them, corral them, break them – like wild horses they carry me to dark places. I don’t need to keep analyzing those thoughts, ruminating, because they are not rooted in anything but fear and regret – at this point I don’t think they are true, only warped remnants of hurt, now mixed with resentment. So rather than keep arguing with myself, I am trying to put those thoughts down, they aren’t shiny things I need to keep examining. Once again, I think this is a way to love me, and if everything I did and said was chosen to honor and love myself, I would be nicer, and more content. I am making choices everyday, mindfully, to be a good lover of me.

        • jewells says:

          Speak Of; yes, I’m working on the negative thought patterns with my therapist. It is indeed that our internalized thoughts drive our low self esteem and poor choices that then affirm them and keep the cycle going. I have had extremely poor relationship skills and I’ve had enough. I came here out of the worst type of relationship, the MM. It blew me wide open, affected me more drastically than any before. Through the process have to get a grip on where I’ve gone wrong with every other one up to that point. I’ve had EUMs that I had no problem flicking off, but I’ve also saboutagued other relationships that were going well and bailed because they were going too well so I think my negative dialogue decided that there was something wrong with them or that the shoe would drop eventually so cut out while the going’s good. Time to change ALL that and restart with new information about myself and others abilities and what to actually look for and not base compatibility on the wrong things. I am losing regret for ‘what was’ or ‘what wasn’t’ cause it was what it was and it brought me to the point of no return to a brighter and better life :)

          • I'm the one you speak of says:

            Hi Jewells – Thanks for your responses, I am in need of the new tapes to play in my head. My therapist said I need to have a better narrative, that the story I tell myself cannot be this tired, blaming, remorseful one. She encouraged me to nurture myself. So I am reading, taking baths, cut off Facebook, playing with my grandchild, attending services at my church, and doing yoga. Noticing what pleases me and doing more of that. All these things feel like I am feeding myself, filling the love tank. Next step is some art, maybe finish all the scrapbooks I started, and throwing stuff away – un-cluttering my heart, mind and home. I am almost 50, and have lost 40+ lbs this year, and I in the best shape of my life, there really isn’t much to cry over. Crying and this pity party have just become a really bad habit, like the house guest who never leaves, I ‘m done. Time to kick the habit, lose the swollen red eyes and live as I am supposed to. I’ve spend three years being mad/sad, and I’m ready to be happy and content. Thanks again. I love your phrase “It was what it was” – somehow that is a comforting thought whereas “it is what it is” just makes me panic, like I need to do something to change what it is. It was what is was, indeed! PS: thanks Natalie.. always grateful for this site.

            • I'm the one you speak of says:

              Also Jewells, I’m glad you are here, and healing from your MM relationship. It hurts, and this is a good place to find heart repair materials and tools. Take care, I’m wishing us both success as we learn to love a really wonderful person – ourselves!

              • jewells says:

                Thanks Speak Of, I wish the same for you. I am definitely on the mend in a furious way. I also have been thinking about creating some art, but I also have some home renos and decluttering to do!

  26. Demke says:

    Sadheart- It’s a very unfortunate situation, without a doubt, I’m sorry you are going through this, and sorry for the man who you love. I understand and agree with a lot of what Magnolia said though.

    Maybe the best thing to do is just ‘let go’, let him be. You are trying your best to be there for him, and he just keeps pushing you away. For whatever his reasons are, it’s not fair to you. You can let him know that during this difficult time in his life, if he needs a ‘friend’, you will be there for him. It is your life too. That’s not selfish. What more can you do? So respect his wishes, stop feeling selfish because you’ve been anything but.

    Say everything you need to say to him… But leave it as ‘if he needs a friend, you will be there’ but you’re not his punching bag. Set some boundaries. Put your foot down. And start to put the focus back on your life.

  27. Hopeful says:

    Funny, I ask myself that same question on a regular basis. When I was 16, I was in a family counseling session. I was asked a particular question by the counselor, not that I remember the question. I clearly remember my response, “I don’t love anyone, not even myself. I am 58 and absolutely nothing has changed. People pleasing, oh yeah, big check mark, different situations generated with the same results. I asked my EUM did he not want to see me anymore on Sunday. He said he didn’t know. he enjoyed the friendship, and yes, the sex, but didn’t want to hurt me. Hmpf… he didn’t worry about that 17 yrs ago, why now all of a sudden. Days before he told me he could not give me what I want when I told him I was afraid of being a convenience for him, one day he’d end it and I would never see him again. I told him I missed him so. Of course I was invited to his house as many times before, to have spaghetti, my favorite. Then we know what dessert was. Now I am beating myself up as I always do. Used, yep, I feel it. But I was in so much pain when he said he didn’t know if he wanted to see me anymore. I couldn’t stand it, the invitation to dinner eased the pain. Why, oh why do I do this over and over again? I have not heArd from him today, so I. Eat myself up some more because 1. I did it again, knowing I shouldn’t. 2. Did he just use me again, regrets that he too, went for it, and now doesn’t want to really want to see me anymore. I am a complete and total F/Up Mess. I have driven all my friends and family away. My condition, situation, lashing out, crying, depressing, they do not want me around nor do they want to deal with it. Who would? I try, think I’m doing ok, then bam, an ugly self defeating, self harming, and beating up of me and others too. I am disabled now and facing losing everything I have. I have nowhere to go. I’ve done all of what Nat talks about, all of it. I do hate myself, I feel so lost, alone and scared. I try, then fail, then try and fail again. I would like to love me and everyone else to. I am angry, in physical and emotional pain. My world is crumbling down around me…

  28. Amy says:

    Nat you crack me up…”easier said than done” LOL seriously!! the BS that we feed ourselves because we’re afraid of change, discomfort, whatever the hell it is we’re afraid of on any given day. I am so VERY very guilty of this!!

    One thing I have managed to do is to identify that shrill bitchy voice in my head that tells me how much I suck, how fat, lazy, unsuccessful, weird, etc. I am. It’s my never happy, never pleased, invalidating mother.

    Last year I managed to finally tell her off, in real life. She told me to “shut up” when I called her on some BS, and I told her that she does not get to say that to me anymore.

    Now, when that voice in my head kicks in when I’m feeling sad, lonely, and blaming myself for everything under the sun, I tell that voice to STFU.

    Is it easy? NO! Is this like a bad habit, scratching a bug bite when everything in your logical brain says “don’t scratch”.. YES.

    I still fight with myself constantly, battling that voice that’s forever telling me that I will NEVER meet anyone decent because all the “good men” want (everything that I’m not).

    The problem is that I’m focusing on the wrong damned problem!!

    I shouldn’t NEED a man in my life to feel happy, to feel whole, to feel alive.

    This whole needing someone else in my life to “complete me” is the biggest lie I’ve told myself – and has caused me decades of misery. I think there were probably 2 men in my life aside from my scatterbrained (but kind) father, that I can say that I truly loved. I let both go because I was afraid of conflict, I was the “unavailable” one.

    All the others should have been chucked in the bin.

    Now in my 40s I’m finally waking up and smelling the coffee (and the toast burning!) and realizing that if I keep doing what I’ve always done – I’ll just end up with another pile of crumbs. I am quirky, and loud, and overweight, and have a few wrinkles but I’m also funny, warm, intelligent, and a good friend.

    I just need to be a better friend to myself.

    One day at a time.

  29. PurplyLily says:

    Happy New Year everyone!

    Im not sure if you remember me but I used to post here a while ago – maybe 5 months ago. Still here, still reading BR (everyday!), still reading your posts but had to take a bit of time off to settle into a new job, get motivated to workout (9 lbs lost so far!) and shifting to love and respect myself.

    I hope you are all fine – Learner, Miskwa, Grace,Lilia,Yoghurt and the others that have helped me in the past. And NML, of course. Thank you for every word of kindness and support you gave me in 2012 – I could not have done it without you.

    NML, thank you for this topic on respect and loving yourself. I am a work in progress but I can see such a major change in who I am and how I treat myself, all happened over the past 8 months. My first choice was to be genuine, more genuine than I was which helped me find a wonderful me. It is lovely to be happy again and I know its not because of some major change but that I was able to look at myself and take pride in who I am. I busted so many of my boundaries and didnt like who I am…my self-esteem is getting stronger but I still have a lot of work to do. WE can do it. Each one of us can. We are strong, beautiful and amazing people and no EU can take that away from us.

    NML, thanks to you I have set up some strong boundaries and stood my ground both personally (particular incident involving my controlling dad over Christmas) and at work. I lost a few friends in the process but I have not felt happier better.

    I havent gotten back to dating but have met a few men…sparks that didnt turn into flames but I realised before it got too intense and walked away (who knew I could!!) and even warned a friend about an EU who was trying to capture her attention – just found out yesterday that I was right all along, he was an EU chasing her while secretly being in love with his best friend – who is a lesbian. Yes, go figure!

    And to everyone who is hurting now, my biggest hugs. You will get thru this. Please stay NC, it is the most powerful thing you can do. The most nurturing thing to do – for yourself.

    • yoghurt says:

      Heya purplelily – thanks for the shout! Really glad you’re good.

      I love your point about being genuine. I found that concept really helpful too – specially when I realised that all the martyrdom and saintliness was really just fake.

  30. Tinkerbell says:

    Sadheart. I’m deeply sorry for what you are experiencing with your bf. You’ve received a lot of advice. Your actions have shown him that you are deeply empathetic. On that note, I agree with what Dancing Queen has advised you as far as dialogue between you and he. It cuts through the crap quickly and thoroughly, letting him know that you are human, that you don’t feel that his treatment of you is warranted because he is ill, and that you will not continue to accept it. Practice in front of the mirror beforehand. One on one therapy definitely is a good direction in which to go.

  31. Rosie says:

    Lilly, I’m so happy for you! Yes, I don’t know either what shift takes place or how it happens but I’m glad for you that it’s happened. Ongoing prayers for your continued healing and grieving for your baby.

    • Lilly says:

      Rosie, thank you so much. There are certainly peaks and troughs and I’m not sure if the sadness I feel for my son will ever go away. My feelings about the MM, however, will especially if I let them. They have diminished so much. It’s as if there’s a small hole in a tyre and the air is almost completely gone (if that makes any sense!).

  32. Naritty says:

    I’ve been following BR and all you commentators for a few months now, and this is my first time commenting. I can’t express how valuable this site and the comments have been to me – THANK YOU Natalie and to all of you that so bravely share your stories on here.
    I wanted to add a few observations/suggestions in response to Sadheart,
    I think the issue here is that your boyfriend doesn’t know how to cope with the diagnosis, which is understandable. So I think he may need to see a therapist/social worker to help him through the illness. Maybe there’s a social worker at the hospital where he receives treatment that he can talk to? You can not help him develop healthy and effective coping styles on your own, only a trained professional can do that. This is not on you!
    Secondly, who else is in his social support group besides you? Are you the only one helping him/caring for him through this period? If so, that is an extreme responsibility and pressure for both of you. Are there any other sources of support/other people that he can lean on during this period?
    Thirdly, I would not go back to that support group, if I were you. As the others have noted, I think it’s reinforcing your sense of shame over thinking about your needs in this situation – and by the way of course you have to think about your needs in this situation.
    Good luck to you and I hope you are able to seek the one-on-one counseling that you need.

  33. marie83 says:

    I’m feeling very angry today, i have been thinking a lot about how much s**t i put up with and how little he valued, respected me and it makes me feel mad, mad at him, mad at me, i could scream

    • jewells says:

      I hear you Marie, each time I have an epiphany about an incident or a behaviour I get the same feelings. Only thing to do is talk to a trusted friend, go for a walk, feel it and the underlying message, take on the information and thank the feeling for informing you as to how you betrayed yourself by letting him bust your boundary and let go of the feeling. Sitting with trees is healing, try and walk in nature, it is all healing. I get pieces here and there, and now find I have fewer and fewer moments of emotional turmoil as a result of reading Natalie’s words and all the wonderful women here sharing their stories that give me insight and strength. I know things can only get better.

  34. Cleo says:

    I have an experience to share about ‘letting it out’. Last night after reading a lot of Nat’s past posts… I got to journaling… and reversed my habit of always seeing the good in him (see, I still struggle call him “ex”). I started documenting all the crap I put up with, excused, whatever … for the past 11+ years. Suddenly, after about 30 min of that, I felt ill – like you feel when you realize “that stomach bug has found ME”. Visiting the toilet about 40 min later… I kept saying to myself …let out the poison, let it all out … God has big plans for me … let it all out … and sure enough the episode passed pretty quickly. Whatever was bothering my tum, exited. And I felt oddly, at peace, and went back to bed and had the best most solid 3.5 hours of sleep I’ve had in weeks! Been starting night sweats a bit … Anyway … I’d resisted that exercise for YEARS. “See the positive in him” and all that. Denial. That’s what it’s been …and it’s painful to write it, for sure. I’ve been making a mistake returning to this source of pain which I was sure would be my consistent source of love … Only recently have I (with the help of a therapist) come to see … He was playing the part of my mother … that same mother referenced by Amy … the parallels are just eery … just starting to scratch surface on that one …

    Grateful to find like-minded, and wounded, souls, on a path to healing and learning to respect and love myself ….

  35. Gina says:

    I am learning to like and love myself more as I focus on providing and meeting my own emotional needs; rather than looking outwardly to others to fill the void for me. At times it can feel strange and unnatural, but anything that takes us out of our comfort zone usually does. Although I still have a ways to go, facing my fears and taking responsibility for my emotional health and well-being is a definite boost to my self-esteem.

    Onward and upward :-)

  36. teachable says:

    I don’t kmow HOW to like this ill & frail me. I don’t even know this person. I’ve never really met this version of me before. not even in my darkest times. And actually, I don’t like this version of me much at all from what I’m experiencing so far. I want the old me, the strong healthy me back, not this well, I don’t know how to describe it really, ‘wrung out’ me I suppose, a kind of pale shadow of my former self. I still have no income here, it’s been a month now, not even for food, although I’m working on it, as best I can. Friends have kindly purchased some groceries here & there. I cant afford my medications which has made me really ill & I’m just hoping a break will come soon.

    I’ve decided even if I don’t really like this ill me, I’m going to enact a skill from my REAL self skillset, hardline next week b.c I need looking after. I intend to ask for help. I mean really ask for & get hopefully some medical assistance. I can’t go on like this. It’s just too difficult.

    • I'm the one you speak of says:

      Teachable – I was at a point where I needed to speak to a close loved one and lay it out straight, that I was bordering on suicide, and that my red eyes were not allergies, that I was crying most of the time, and isolating so I could cry. On the worst night, I just showed up at my best friends house and stayed over, not really telling her much but knowing I couldn’t be alone, it wasn’t safe. Thinking back I wish I had just checked in to the hospital for a bit, and got some crisis intervention, and management. I needed to take time off work, and get continued help. I think I would have begun healing much quicker and more effectively, had I done that. I hope you feel better soon, and that you have caring people around you. When I did tell someone how deep my depression was, they already really knew, but didn’t want to upset me by asking, so it created a close bond between us, and that is not a secret I carry anymore. I have found the mental health professionals I have seen have been compassionate and truly supportive and understanding, and I only wish I sought help sooner, and alleviated some of my suffering. My very best strongest healing thoughts are sent your way, Teachable. I hope this week is one of relief for you.

  37. miskwa says:

    Good job with the dissertation, wish I could help as I am a kick ass, no holds barred editor. Yep, your part of Toronto has probably changed, it is very true that you can never truly go home again. You have to decide what is really important and what is less so. I agree that if you are living somewhere you do not wanna be for the sake of another, you won’t be happy and the relationship is doomed. To many of us, sense of place is very important. I often think I am whoring myself for the sake of the almighty dollar, the cool house on the hill, health insurance. On the other hand, walking away, loosing that retirement, forcing myself to take a job at half my salary in a field I no longer want to be in and being stuck in a city/suburb, never affording to retire, what sort of life is that for someone that needs to grow her own food, cut wood, be in deep woods? Yep, I might meet intelligent, fit men, but I’d be dirt poor and hating my life. And they’d be city men wanting a city life. Just read a native poet who said “an Indian can reside in the city but they can never live there”. Yep, I wish we could through some magical process import intelligent, healthy folk to our respective towns who want to escape city life and learn new ways, get rid of slums, dead cars, etc, take care of downtrodden and mentally ill, and live in true community. Things are interesting here, a major shakeup in administration has but my sustainability center at risk, my dad broke his arm so I just made all manner of long distance arrangements for him, I was offered an administrative post which, practicing self love, I turned down (too much desk work, less pay, no summer off), and am not sure if sabbatical is gonna happen. The good thing is that AC is gone for a month and perhaps for good.

  38. Sanntay says:

    Thank you, yoghurt, for your insight. I guess I did not clarify in my post that once I was dismissed, I realized I was invited over primarily for his physical release. I had previously decided that I was done with him, but somehow I got sucked in by the desire to be with him that night…even if it didn’t result in us being naked – pitiful, I know. But I certainly had the perspective you described going in…he gets laid, I get laid (everyone is happy) yet in the midst of this I would still be treated like a real person, not some blow up doll. As I said, I predicted that it probably wouldn’t end well, and that’s my fault, for being foolish and ignoring my instincts. I certainly do not put sex above anything else in life, it’s just that I was feeling lonely, needy, horny. Previous to him, I hadn’t had been without sex for a year. After my 4-year relationship ended, I decided that I would take a break, and basically stay in my secret cave where no one could to get to me, and no one could hurt me. But once someone that I actually liked started paying me some attention, I emerged from my cave feeling like maybe I do have it going on…maybe I could have sex like a man, knowing in my heart of hearts that I wanted a real relationship, but again, ignoring my instincts for the sake of getting some d*ck. As for my attitude toward sex, I am a one-man-woman, so I’m not out there spreading myself around, but yet I didn’t flinch at the idea that he was sexing others – I guess I was impressed that he was actually forthcoming about it. Maybe if I was sleeping with other people, I probably wouldn’t have been so attached, or available, for that matter. He always knew what to say, never promised me anything, just made me feel like it was all good, he even declared one time that I’m an awesome person that he cares for very deeply and that he’d started to feel like he was in my way of finding the love I want and deserve. That should have been my wake up call right there telling me to HEAD FOR THE HILLS AND DON’T LOOK BACK…but no, I went back for more. I can now say, after having been dismissed that way, feeling totally devalued and discarded, I KNOW FOR SURE THAT I AM DONE. I have spent too much time tormenting myself over this, wasting my tears because of a severe lapse in judgment. The hardest part will be deflecting his glances, his jokes, his compliments, and his invites at work, and to just keep moving on a path to healing, but I know I can do it. My lesson learned: I am not equipped for such arrangements, and I will NEVER again get involved with a co-worker. This was my first time and, due to all the suffering I’ve endured, will most certainly be my last.

  39. Sanntay says:

    Correction: I had been without sex for an entire year previous to this casual arrangement.

  40. Acceptance says:

    Nathalie thanks for your insightful post. Since my break up a year and a half ago I spent a lot of time reading and re-reading the articles on this site and the words finally sank in. I relapsed on No Contact often and STILL arrived at a place where I like and love myself. Eventually I could actually see his sorry ass trying to BS me so he could spend just one more night on his pedestal; when I shined the light on his nonsense… POOF… both the AC and the connection disappeared in a puff of smoke.

    I have since realized that I was so hungry for love that I was willing to lie, cheat and steal for it – from myself unfortunately – and that if I lived in a no BS zone and took the time to treat myself like my own best friend that eventually I wouldn’t have to fake it anymore. Thank you Nathalie, you were right… if I met me I WOULD like me :)

    Blessings from Montreal.

  41. teachable says:

    Thanks Im the One You Speak Of. I cant post about everything going on here, but it’s a lot, far more, than I have posted even. And ALL of it is incredibly complicated. There are no close loved ones to help me, curtesy of my upbringing. I’ve spent 20+ years nurturing what I THOUGHT were supportive r.ships with some extended family, only to find, when the chips are down, they despite knowing how desperate my situation is, are no-where to be found. I realise now, but of course, that is the case. This is the SAME extended family who stood by & did NOTHING to intervene, when I was dumped in an awful orphanage aged 3yo, only to endure, the most gross forms abuse & neglect, until I finally escaped, as a young teenager. Knowing that my extended family don’t REALLY care, & just SAY they do, whilst doing NOTHING ie not a visit or ph call even, to see how I’m.holding up, despite living only a 40 min drive away, only adds to my sadness.

    When what I am going through is all over, I’d like to relocate to a new city, or country even, FOR GOOD, as I realise, I was staying here for family reasons, to no avail. I will not be able to get away fast enough. I was someone who did not run from my childhood. I stayed right where all the terrible things happened & made, what was before this, a good life for myself. It wont be running now though. it will be giving myself the GIFT of a new start, in an area, where I am not constantly reminded, of all my life has lacked, compared to others, not from my background.

    I do have a support worker visiting regularly at home. He is.my lifeline. I just pray this will all be over soon ie the situation causing this chaos. I’ve had a very hard life, & I’ve done the work to deserve happiness. there is no happiness here for me. I will find it again eventually, if I hang in there & don’t give up.

30-Day Project: Dealing With Tricky Family Members

Tired of dealing with family drama or waiting for them to spontaneously combust in to changed people? Need to find ways to step back and take proactive steps to redefine the relationship from your end? This 30-Day project will help you do just that.

30-Day Project: Dealing With Tricky Family Members

Tired of dealing with family drama or waiting for them to spontaneously combust in to changed people? Need to find ways to step back and take proactive steps to redefine the relationship from your end? This 30-Day project will help you do just that.