FROM THE FUCKBUCKET: “Can you love someone else when you’re not able to love yourself”
Welcome to "From the Fuckbucket," my newest experiment in blog subseries, in which I respond more fully to anonymous questions deposited in the Fuckbucket at Smut Slams.
If anyone thinks that Smut Slams are pure, unadulterated filth, just non-stop sexual sewage filling up the room, let me disabuse you of that notion. Sometimes we get tender questions in the Fuckbucket, like this one:
“Is it possible to love someone else when you’re not able to love yourself?”
Short answer: yes, and it’s necessary.
There are many ideas out there in self-help land that are actually not very helpful, ideas like “you attract the things that you think about,” or “if you focus really hard, you can feel money actually vibrating,” or “if you eat nothing but cabbage soup for the next three weeks you will finally be over your childhood trauma and coincidentally lose some weight, which is only a symbol of your baggage, of course you don’t care about losing weight, that’s so shallow, but HOORAY, you’ll be able to fit into your high school prom dress again, YOU WILL FINALLY BE FREE.”
The notion that you have to healed from a world of self-doubt before you can love anyone else falls in this category of bullshit things.
First of all, “loving yourself” is not a final destination. It is not a perfect ending place. No one gets there and they’re done. The world would never allow that. There are always things to fight against, to keep from internalizing. Our society is built on us continually teeter-tottering, finding new things to hate about ourselves and then seeking other things to make ourselves feel better.
There will be points in that journey, perhaps whole vast stretches, where we don’t love ourselves, not even half-way, where we are struggling to see any good in ourselves at all. At those times, I believe, not only is it possible to love someone else, but it’s essential.
Loving someone else is practice in being merciful. I personally am so much easier on friends for things that I would metaphorically flay myself for. I can fucking stew in my own juices for weeks or months about trifling mistakes, rehashing the situation over and over again and actually losing sleep over it. But when a loved one fucks up, I will go to extra trouble to persuade them that it’s not such a big deal (and really it isn’t). Something about that extra distance gives me perspective and space.
This is why you can love someone when you can’t love yourself. There is more room in your heart for other people. More importantly, in answer to this Fuckbucket question, it gives you practice in making more room in your heart. When you love other people, give them the support and encouragement and forgiveness, you are practicing that skill, of loving in spite of “imperfection.” You are practicing holding multiple and possibly contradictory ideas in your head at once about the other person: they are fucked up in some ways, but they are still worthy of my love. And someday, hopefully soon and often, hopefully when you need it, you will see that you are just like them, in that way.
Here’s the thing: I believe practicing that generous, forgiving love with people eventually helps us make room for loving ourselves in that same way. Doesn’t have to—lots of people don’t make that psychological leap—but it certainly can.
So please: if you are holding back from new or ongoing relationships because you are feeling bad about yourself: don’t. I mean, do get your counseling or your meds on and talk with someone. Loving other people should not be your escape hatch from dealing with your own stuff. But don’t automatically cut yourself off from the beautiful flow of humanity because you have something “flawed” to offer.
You are totally good enough for love.
(For people who are totally looking for steaming-hot ridiculous filth, don’t worry. The same Fuckbucket that gave us that question, also yielded up a detailed question about differences in the cum of my different lovers, as well as a confession about falling asleep with a butt plug in.)
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