Today’s Self-Love Saturday is dedicated to my boyfriend, Devin. This past Tuesday, we celebrated our 3-year anniversary—I can’t believe it! He and I have been through so much together—moving into different places, changing life goals, arguments, sadness, joy, surf injuries, and so much more. Without him, I doubt this entire project would even exist! While there are many people I have to thank, today’s post is about Devin, and one of the most incredible lessons he has taught me: how to love, and be loved, unconditionally.
Old Thought Patterns
I used to believe love was conditional. If I got to x weight, if I did y, if I got z grade on an exam, then I was lovable. I set conditions for my self-worth, and if I didn’t meet them, I was angry with myself. Funnily enough though, even when I met the criteria for x, y, or z, there was another x, y, or z right around the corner. Conditions for my self-esteem came and went, but my actual self-esteem never seemed to improve.
In the beginning of our relationship, I told Devin about this. I told him that I was afraid if I didn’t measure up, then I wasn’t good enough to love. I told him about feeling this need to be a “perfect” girlfriend so I’d deserve love, while being an imperfect girlfriend meant I didn’t deserve anything, especially not his kindness. Devin listened to all of this, my fear of inadequacy, that other people’s love for me was a result of my own ability to live up to who they wanted or needed to me, and my fear of how fragile and unstable this made me. The belief that love was something to be earned from another person, and constantly maintained, was anxiety-provoking. At any moment, I was afraid to be abandoned, afraid to be unworthy, and afraid that the person I was, the person I am, was unlovable.
Four Simple Words
He listened to all of this, my fears and anxieties, and he said something, at the time, that completely blew my mind.
“I love you unconditionally”.
That’s it. Four simple words. Four words that, honestly, made me cry for their sincerity and simplicity. The idea that I could be loved, by another person, in this way, was like going into an alternate universe. Four words that, to this day, I can hold in my heart, always, and know are not constricted by any kind of criteria or rules or changeable standards. Devin is my rock, in so many ways, and those four words are at the core of how much he has helped me grow.
Because, honestly, we’re like any other couple. We have disagreements and arguments. Some days I annoy him to the umpteenth degree, and he for me. But that foundation, that shared knowledge we have between each other that, at the end of the day, there is always going to be love, holds us together through every up and down.
Self-love comes from within, but surrounding yourself with people who can respect and appreciate your journey, without judgement or criticism, is a huge part of the journey towards also loving yourself. Trying to create self-love in a toxic environment is like trying to build a glass house in a hurricane. I was trying, for so long, to build that glass house, until I realized that I was constantly putting myself into a hurricane. Devin has loved me unconditionally, letting me figure out who I am and who I want to be with patience, respect, and an endless amount of support. Finding people who are your oasis, rather than your storm, is part of building the foundation for loving yourself.
So, thank you, Devin, for 3 of the best years of my life. Thank you for 3 years of personal growth, encouragement, and shared joy. Thank you for your unconditional love, because you’ve taught me so much about what love truly means, and I wouldn’t trade that lesson for anything else in this whole wide and beautiful world.
And to you, dear reader, I send unconditional love. I deserve it, and you do too. Keep shining your light, and know that I love you.
Header Image Credit: @meggcain