In counseling, I'm processing the difference between compassion and co-dependence. When people hurt me, I often see them as wounded, hurting people and I instinctively want to make it better for THEM. And I think there is a fairness in that, a goodness. However, how much of that is because I feel that my self-worth is tied up in them seeing me as worthy? I think alot! And that's how I end up in relationships where I accept less than what is best for me. I end up accepting things from friends and spouses that diminish my value because I don't, deep down, believe I'm worthy of being treated better. I somehow see that I "deserve" to be last on the list.
I think part of this is my religious background. I was sort of raised in a religious environment where I was taught to put myself last. My parents surely didn't put me last, it's not that. But it wasn't considered "Christian" to expect certain things for yourself. When someone hurt you, turn the other cheek. Repay evil with kindness. And you know what? I'm passing it on to my kids too. When someone is mean to them, I use that old expression that I learned in Sunday school, "Heap coals of kindness onto them." Why am I teaching my children that the meaner someone is to you, the nicer you should be to them? Isn't this pretty much what led me to be devalued in the first place, somewhat of a doormat for the past few years?
In fact, I think Jesus was trying to tell us the importance of loving OURSELVES FIRST when He said, "Love others as you love yourself." If we are to know how to love others, then JESUS tells us that we must know how to love ourselves. If I loved others the way I love myself, always putting them last and expecting them to take hurt upon hurt without regard for their own feelings, then I'd have no one in my life at all.
For now, I'm really trying to learn how to love myself the way I love others. I have to learn to protect myself the way I protect others. I have to see myself as the hurting little girl that I see in my friends when they are angry or cross the line with me. I have to learn these things and it's SO difficult and so painful and so lonely and so hard. But there's no shortcut to it. I want the blessing I know God has for me at the end of the road. I don't want to miss it because I took a shortcut through the pain, but oh, dear, the pain!
38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[a]