Years ago I was the poster-child for people pleasing, perfectionism and insecurity. I thought the only way to receive love, affection, and acceptance was from doing nice things for others, for always going above and beyond, for always putting myself last. I didn’t realize that I could be loved and appreciated for just being me. I didn’t think I was enough.
Thankfully I realized before my insecurities won. Before the battle was over…
In college I had a secret crush… Josh was the guy I would never have. The gorgeous, kind, funny, intelligent, ambitious, all-around amazing guy that I swooned over, but knew in my heart that WE would never be a reality. I was too dumpy, too poor, too unattractive, too weird to have a guy like that. I know, sounds like a movie or TV show, but for me it was my life.
So when we first started dating I was shocked. Then when we first became a couple I became terrified.
Everyday I felt like we were a house of cards balanced on top of a shaky table. A gust of wind and we’d be over. He’d see me for who I was. Then that would be that.
So, when Josh and I first became a couple I would lay awake in bed thinking of things I could do to make him happy: gifts I could give, words I could say, declarations I could make. This wasn’t done in love though – it was done in fear. Honestly, I was petrified that the next morning he’d wake up and realize that I wasn’t good enough. That I wasn’t pretty enough, smart enough, funny enough, loveable enough. So I planned vacations, gifts, outings, adventures, moments filled with love. I thought if I kept giving, I could make up for all that I lacked.
Along with pouring my heart into the relationship, I was on constant alert for any warning signs that he was tired of me, done with me, not in love with me. Every girl he spoke to in class was a potential enemy. Every late night worked was a potential act of withdrawal. Every missed call was a potential brush off.
My mission was to create the perfect relationship so that he wouldn’t leave me. So I hid my true emotions, my true personality. Never argued or disagreed. Never complained or vented. I never let any imperfections show. I was a Stepford Girlfriend of my own making.
I lived in fear and insecurity always bending over backwards, so far that I lost my footing and fell, hard. Hiding out and crying in my car was the first sign that I couldn’t keep up this charade of perfection. Couldn’t keep hiding my true self, my true feelings, my true desires.
It came to the point where I realized that I was losing myself in the attempt to hold onto someone else. I wasn’t ready to give up on the relationship. But I was definitely not ready to give up on myself.
So, I sought support and went to counseling.
I told the truth. Shared my feelings, my fears, my beliefs, my insecurities. Every Monday and Thursday I sat curled up at the end of a couch, tissues balled up in my fists, face red with embarrassment and pain, and opened up my heart.
Shedding the weight of every worry and fear gave me a bit of strength back. Helped me regain my balance.
Admitting the truth to Josh wasn’t as easy. I felt like I was playing Russian Roulette: I had a 50-50 chance he’d love me or leave me. By the time I was ready to take that chance though I knew that if he left me it’d be okay – I still had myself. Something I had lost in the making of us.
It’s easy to lose yourself in a relationship. It’s easy to get so wrapped up in making another person happy that you forget about yourself. Sometimes it’s easier to be an US than a ME.
That was five years ago and we’ve never been happier and stronger than we are now. And best of all, I’ve never been happier or stronger.
Losing yourself is easy. Finding yourself is hard BUT the beauty and the magic that comes from loving yourself first is incredible.
Learning to love myself helped me realize my true potential
Helped me connect with my authentic self
Helped me understand my heart and my past
Helped me put two feet on the ground
Helped me embrace the journey in front of me
Learning to love myself was the tipping point into self-confidence, strength, and openness. I became more adventurous – willing to look goofy or make a mistake. I became more mindful and trusting. Most of all, I became more focused on my own happiness, nourishment, fulfillment and beauty.
By putting the focus on ME I helped us become a better US. By making my happiness a priority I turned on the light inside me. Now I shine bright, with him by my side.
Erin Madore is known for her radiant energy, bright smile and genuine compassion.
After moving past her own barriers to happiness she knew that she could help other people though the same mindful yet bold approach she used to create a joyful, engaging life.
She is a writer, Life Coach and Reiki guide dedicated to comforting, empowering and inspiring others.
A New England woman at heart, Erin lives in Boston where you can often find her with a cup of coffee in one hand, and her other hand over her heart.