Thursday, August 18, 2011

Someone on my side.

holding hands

For most of my adult life, I’ve been looking for support from those around me, the lack of which has attributed to my low self-esteem. I have parents who rarely say ‘good job,’ so I never felt successful and feel I never will be. I had an ex-boyfriend who would try to hold my hand through everything, making me feel like I couldn't do things on my own.

My parents are not the greatest motivators, nor are they good at being supportive; they’re much better at pointing out my shortcomings than my accomplishments. My ex-boyfriend – whom I only mention because there should be a certain level of support in a relationship – was intent on ‘helping’ and ‘fixing’ things, becoming overly-involved in my quests to get healthy and find a job. It reached a point where he would become disappointed and resentful when I didn’t make a sufficient amount of progress, which eventually became one of the reasons our relationship didn’t last.

Until recently, the only taste I'd had of true encouragement is from my friends, particularly my four best friends from college. They give me a pat on the back for a job well done, even for the smallest things, and have been incredibly supportive despite the mess my life has been for the past few years. Unfortunately, I don't talk to or see them on a daily basis and they are incredibly busy with their own lives, so I don't have them cheering me on in my day-to-day life.

That all changed when I started dating E. Even before we were officially a couple, I casually mentioned that I struggle with health and anxiety issues; his immediate response was to tell me he wanted to be there for me (although I attribute some of that to him wanting to win me over). But since then, I've realized he truly means it. The greatest example came the other day, when I was working on my job search. I wasn’t even applying to jobs yet, just looking up possibilities, but when I told E what I was up to he sent me a couple of encouraging texts. They were simple messages, like ‘keep it up’ and ‘I’ll be here to support you,’ yet they had such an incredible impact.

I can remember telling my ex countless times, “I need you to get out of problem-solving mode and stop ‘helping,’ I just need you to be there for me and listen and say ‘good job’ every once in a while.” He could never do it. Over and over I argue with my parents, pleading with them to stop pointing out all of my downfalls and recognize a job well done. They can't do it.

So when, on a random weekday afternoon, my boyfriend texted me to essentially say you’ve got this and I’ve got your back, I could’ve cried. I actually am crying as I type this. Because that’s what I’ve been missing and that’s what I’ve really needed. Because someone said outright that they know I’m capable of something, they trust I can do it on my own, but that they are there for me to lean on as I go along. Because it is exactly what I’ve been asking of people my entire life.

I didn’t intend on this post coinciding with an anniversary of sorts, but it was actually around this time last year that E first approached me to hang out. Of course, I said no the first time, mainly because I felt my life was in complete shambles and I was in no condition to be in a relationship. Little did I realize that he was going to be the one to help me put everything back together again.