Depression Made Me Believe People-Pleasing Was Love

I have been in love many times in my life. I have fallen hard and I have fallen fast. Unfortunately the “me” who was in love all those times wasn’t really me. I have come to learn — with the help of a very special person — that what I had wasn’t love. My depression and anxiety have impacted a lot of aspects of my personality, but I think the most damaging thing they have done is make me a people-pleaser.

The “me” that was in love all those times wasn’t really me. Yes, that person had my face. She had my laugh and smile but not the real emotions that went with them. I’ve come to learn the girl who was in love was nothing but a copy of me. This copy may have looked like me, but inside she was whatever her partner wanted her to be. I dated a guy who loved guns, so I magically became OK with them. I dated a hardline conservative and slowly my views shifted. They hated cats so I gradually stopped liking cats. All the while I would smile and tell people I was in love. I really did think I was at the time, but when the relationships ended, I would have a moment of devastation and then move on. Sometimes the devastation was longer than others because I really did care about each and every one of them, but it was not love.

The thing I realized is I never felt the real me deserved love. I always felt I had to hold things back or change things about myself in order to be loved. This is where the people-pleasing came in. If I wanted love or acceptance, I would have to prove myself to people. I would have to be what they wanted. In truth, I must have been the “perfect” girlfriend because I accepted every flaw in each partner and more than that, I altered myself to match their desires.

It is only after my most recent breakup that I have made all of these realizations. After this breakup, I saw what real love was. I saw the way my first boyfriend and longtime friend stood by me. I began to see how I never felt I had to hide things around him. He knew every part of me I had deemed awful, unloveable and shameful and yet he still loved me. It is because of him that I know what love is. I may still be fighting against people-pleasing in other aspects of my life, but at least now I know what real love looks like. Love is unconditional and constant.

 You can follow this journey on TranQool’s blog.

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Thinkstock photo via Max5799.

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