I was talking to my therapist about love and the conditions people in my life have placed on it. Most of them don't feel like conditions. It's not an overt "I only love you if..." statement. Most of the time, it comes in the form of a "I don't support/agree with/understand X, but love you anyway." It becomes a love in spite of not because of.
As I was listing off some of the moments I've noticed recently, my therapist suggested that, perhaps, I was also placing conditions on loving myself.
[Insert brain explosion here]
There are certain things we've all heard that become internalized extremely quickly:
I never quite realized how easy it is to take those statements and let them become stipulations on your own self-love. I'm no psychologist, but I wouldn't at all be surprised if a lot of (at least my) self-loathing and guilt and frustration comes from buying into these, and not letting ourselves feel good until we've accomplished them.
That's the thing: there's literally no way to reach these impossible standards.
Telling ourselves we can't be happy or love ourselves unless we're perfect or thin or working 60 hours a week, or whatever--that's not healthy. And it's just as painful as someone else setting conditions on when and how they love you. Maybe even more so, since it's such a subtle, internal process that we often don't notice it. I certainly didn't.
I kept telling myself I had to wait to put effort into this endeavor because I didn't feel queer enough, or deep enough into the popular sides of pop culture. I kept letting myself push off the happiness this work brings me because I didn't feel I could do it perfectly enough.
I wish I could say just recognizing the limitations we place on our own self-love would make them go away. It won't.
But realizing the conditions we set on loving ourselves is a huge first step toward actually allowing ourselves to be happy in a world that prefers us miserable.
So jump in with me: what conditions have you set on your own love? What social pressures are holding you back from doing things that make you happy? Tell me in the comments and we can sob together.
Nonir is a queer pagan nerd and writes about various things in those realms.