It’s not that people can’t love you if you don’t love yourself. It’s that you won’t feel it because it’ll always seem like you don’t deserve it.
Until the sun rises in the west and sets in the east. Until the rivers run dry, and the mountains blow in the wind like leaves…
People with lower self esteem are more likely to sabotage themselves when something good happens to them because they feel that they don’t deserve it.
would you tell a person with a broken leg that they’re “just not trying hard enough” to walk up the stairs?
would you tell a person with a fever to “just try harder” to lower their body temperature?
would you tell someone with a sore tooth to “suck it up” and eat that piece of fudge?
Developing the ability to piss other people off (or even to RISK pissing them off) without knuckling under is pretty much the Holy Grail of emotionally abused kids, I think. We are programmed to respond at the first sign of displeasure, and we don’t have the faith in ourselves and our decisions to weather the storm– or even a mild sprinkle– so we tend to freak out as if the world was ending if a cloud crosses the sun. We freak out about the possibility that we’re wrong, that we’re doing the wrong things, that we’re making the wrong choices, that we’ll make someone angry, because there’s this awful certainty lurking at the back of our minds that says “If you do the wrong thing, you will be in TROUBLE.” And being in TROUBLE is the worst thing, ever, because that part of our brain is forever three years old where our parents are our whole world and being in TROUBLE is the end of everything.
It takes a lot of practice to gain that sort of gut-level knowledge that we’re strong enough to handle this stuff and that the world doesn’t end if someone else is angry at us. It’s not an innate quality that some people have and some don’t; people who grow up in non-abusive homes learn it when they’re young, is all, and the rest of us have to learn it when we’re grown up. And it sucks, and it’s not fair, and it’s not fun, but there’s no getting around it, and you can do it, you CAN.
You can piss people off.
You can be wrong.
You can fuck up.
You can do stuff that everyone thinks is weird.
AND IT IS ALL OKAY. The world won’t end. You will still be a good person. And the likelihood is that most of the things you do WON’T be wrong, and WON’T piss people off, and WON’T be up-fuckery, and WON’T be weird, but if it is? The hell with it; fix it, if necessary, and move on.