Love Feels Like Love

Image of young lady with glasses and curly hair, appearing sad, sitting outdoors against a brick wall. Text states: Marlene Dillon Empowerment Specialist "Healthy relationships help you love yourself more. Pay attention when your relationship makes you feel bad about yourself."

There’s a meme that’s been circulating around FB for a while that states, “If you see a woman that has everything going for herself and you’re not ready to add value to her life, just admire her from afar. Please don’t interrupt her greatness.” I’m not sure who wrote it (or I’d tag them and give them credit), but it really resonates with me and my experience.

When I saw the post, today, I was preparing to repost it with my own caption —”… that means you, narcissists”—but decided this was a great opportunity to share a bit of my own story and offer someone the opportunity to run for the hills if they can relate.

It took me over a decade to realize that one of my past relationships was not only unhealthy and “toxic,” it was actually emotionally abusive, narcissistic, and codependent.

I remember meeting this guy, he seemed to have a really great personality. I saw him as a colleague, and maybe a friend. I wasn’t focused on being in a relationship at that time, and I wasn’t attracted to him. He was just cool to hang out with and talk to.

I was focused on me when I met him. I had just gotten to a place of feeling comfortable with myself, and was at peace being single. I had just cleared up my credit and paid off my debts. I was doing well, but I didn’t realize it. I was too busy comparing myself to others. I was winning but really insecure.

In retrospect, I think he picked up on that. We connected very quickly as friends. I was new to the area and didn’t know a lot of people, so the time we spent together made me feel less lonely. We’d sit and chat, but I didn’t feel like he was hitting on me. We were getting closer, though. I started to ignore the fact that I wasn’t attracted to him and focused on how easy conversation was. He shared about his past and I developed compassion for him. I began to think, “He’s such a great guy. He just needs someone to love him.”

He rapidly fast tracked our friendship into a relationship by professing his love very early, followed by guilt-tripping me for not feeling the same. Being someone who prides herself in being nice, I didn’t want to keep hurting his feelings, so I pushed myself to catch up.

Before I knew it, I was fully in a relationship I never wanted, forgot about my plans, my goals, and my intentions. As soon as I was all in, the nice guy role disappeared and he began to tear down my self-esteem. I know this isn’t my typical upbeat post, but I feel it can empower someone to walk or run away before they end up deep in something that leaves them as a shell of who they were.

I had no idea. I just thought he was an “angry at the world” type, but that as long as that anger wasn’t turned toward me, I was okay. I didn’t realize that from the beginning I was being manipulated into giving up my hopes, dreams, personality, identity, autonomy, friends, and family. I was torn down constantly and didn’t even realize it was happening. The constant criticism and continuous demands for me to give and do more were my norm. The guilt-tripping and expectations for me to prove my loyalty was so constant that I didn’t even recognize what was happening. I just knew that I couldn’t get it right, I was never doing enough to make him happy. He constantly told me how he was wasting his time with me and that he could be with other people but was stuck with me, and I believed him. He fed me that narrative so much that I stopped seeing the truth.

This relationship ended a long time ago, but it was just months ago that I read this article on a website that described my relationship as if our years together had been recorded and transcribed. As I scrolled that page I realized our “relationship” was nothing more than the standard narcissist script.

I wrote this post for the person who is in a relationship that makes them feel bad. I’m not talking about the, “We’ve been together so long that we’ve lost our spark,” kind of feel bad. I’m talking about the kind of relationship where no matter what you do, you can’t seem to get it right. Where you walk on eggshells because you never know what will piss them off. The kind of relationship where they demean you in public. The kind of relationship where you feel worse about yourself the longer you’re in it. The kind of relationship where you feel relieved every time they leave the house.

If you remember nothing else from this post, remember that “love feels like love.” Love doesn’t feel like being bullied and it doesn’t feel like being afraid. It doesn’t feel like your belly constantly in knots. (Butterflies feel different.) Regardless of what you’ve been told, you are worthy of love. You are not a problem. You can be loved totally as you are by someone. You don’t have to be more, smarter, thinner, taller, shorter, more outgoing, quieter, or whatever else to be loved. You are worthy of love right now and you deserve to be in a situation that feels like love. True love causes you to love yourself more as you witness them seeing the beauty of who you are. We are ALL worthy of that kind of love.

I am leaving some links below (including the one that caused me to discover the nature of the relationship I was in). If you know someone who may benefit from this post, or the links, please share. Most people would never know that I went through this so don’t assume that there is no one you know who needs this post.

Sending you much love.

Marlene Dillon Empowerment Specialist

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Published by Marlene Dillon Empowerment Specialist

Marlene Dillon is the CEO of MDillon Designs & Publishing. I teach girls to believe in themselves and choose relationships that support their goals. I teach children that their dreams are possible and that they are lovable. I teach parents to communicate with their children in healthy ways. In short, I.U.S.E. people. Inspire. Uplift. Support. Empower.

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