life has been strange lately. I’m not really sure how to tell you everything that has happened, but it’s been a lot and it’s been stressful, tiring, and time consuming. however, I’m not here to talk about myself today; I’m here to talk about you.
you recently asked me to write to you about loving people that hurt you, especially those that are close to you. if I’m being honest, I’ve been reluctant to talk to you about this because it’s something I’m still learning to do, and something that I’ll probably keep learning over the course of my life. but, you asked and it’s my job to produce, so here I am.
- know who you are: over the course of my life (which has felt like many years, but hasn’t been that many at all), I’ve felt a lot of hurt because of others. I spent the first 15 years blindly trusting others and letting them walk all over me because I wanted to be the person that people loved. what people thought of me mattered, and it would make me physically sick if I knew that anyone hated me. the big problem was that I didn’t know myself, and I didn’t love myself. I sought that love from other people, from my achievements, from people’s praises, from being liked. I didn’t know myself, or who I was. it took me losing 90% of my friends on my 16th birthday, to actually spend some time alone with myself. getting to know who I was, what my values were, and why I spent so much time trying to find love and acceptance from others. while I was focusing the attention on me, and trying to gain the love of others, I didn’t really have the time or energy to fully love or invest in others. don’t get me wrong, I was and am a loving person, I actually believe it’s in my DNA. it’s a gift from God, because love pours out of me, and it’s one of the things I like about myself; but I couldn’t really love others while I didn’t know who I was.
I only truly learnt what it meant to love people in 2016. that was my year of love and finding who I was. I did a lot of soul searching and loving on myself, and others, even when I didn’t want to. personally, I don’t believe the saying ‘nobody will love you until you love yourself‘ or ‘you can’t love others until you love yourself.’ I think that’s absolute bull. I’ve had many friends and family that have stuck with me through the times I hated myself; I learnt to love and know myself through loving others. I loved others before I learnt to love myself. it took others loving me for me to learn to love myself, too.
so, friend I want you to do some soul searching – if you do know yourself, and if you don’t. I want you to know who you are and to make room for growth and for love, because their important steps in you loving others and yourself.
- feel your emotions: while being hurt by others, I spent the time burying my emotions. I learnt from society that showing or feeling emotions meant that I was weak for crying, being upset or being vulnerable with others. last year, 2016, I learnt that there is strength in weakness, and that feeling your emotions wasn’t and isn’t a bad thing. you may be asking, ‘Abiy, what does this have to do with loving others?’ well friend, it has a lot to do with loving others. when you give room for vulnerability and accepting and letting your emotions just be (especially when others hurts you), you give room to allow yourself to heal, and in turn to love and forgive that person for what they’ve done. for me, this is the most important step, because I’ve learnt that when I hold my emotions in, and I harbour anger, hate and hurt towards another person – it isn’t hurting them, but rather me. in feeling my emotions, letting them pass and letting them go, I give room only to love and to move on from the situation, and with my life.
- learn that we don’t get to choose who does or doesn’t deserve love: I think this was the hardest thing for me to get my head around. the deal is, that no matter what someone does to me, or to those that I love: I don’t get to choose whether that person does or doesn’t deserve love. only God gets that choice, and in the end God loves all of us equally and vastly, so who am I to say that that person doesn’t deserve my love, especially when God loves them just as much as He loves me? love isn’t a feeling. it’s a choice, and it’s an action and in every situation that arises that causes us to act in a hurtful or angry way, we must choose love, regardless of how the person behaves towards us. sometimes, that may mean being the bigger person, it may mean forgiving that person or it may mean walking away. in the end, you can still love that person – up close, or from afar. but in the end, it all comes down to the fact that we are all human, and we don’t get to choose who deserves love. we love, because we are loved and in loving others we have won. love always wins, and in choosing it you will win continuously; but you don’t get to choose who deserves love. that person is loved, no matter what they do to you or what you do to them. you don’t have the right or the say in choosing whether they deserve to be loved or not, because they are loved. it’s a fact, and it can’t be changed.
- we are all the same, but we are also very different: this may not make sense now, but I promise you it will once I’ve explained. here’s the thing – you are human, just like me but, we are very different people. whether that be because of our eye colour, our hair texture, our skin colour, our DNA, our smile, our personality, the way we laugh, the way we write, how our eyes look when we smile, the foods that we prefer, where we were born. we are the same, but different. now, in knowing that can you see that it makes it easier to love people, but it also makes it extremely hard? I think that we tend to forget that people aren’t us. we may both be human, but we don’t think the same way and we don’t have the same experiences. within that, I think it’s important for me to acknowledge and accept this fact when it comes to the people I meet, and the people in my life. there is a reason behind why they may act or behave the way they do – I may know that reason, or I may not. either way, that person still deserves love and respect, even if they hurt me. I understand that some people can be malicious, because they get joy out of it, but that doesn’t mean that everyone is like that. for at least 90% of the population (this is just a guess, so don’t actually hold me to this), I can guess that there is a reason for them to act horribly towards another human being. it could be because of their background, or who they’ve previously come across. I take from this fact, and I embrace it. I embrace the fact that I can’t love everyone the same way, because we have different love languages, but I can love them in the best way that I can, and as much as I can. for me, that means giving my time to someone and showing them that I love them. it’s important to remember that not everyone is you, and not everyone acts or thinks the way that you do. so before you choose to cut someone off, or forever hold a grudge; stop and think about what they have been through or what they may be going through and ask yourself how can I love this person in the best way possible? I guarantee that you will surprise yourself, and you’ll also surprise that person.
- give yourself the time and space to heal: in removing myself from hurtful situations or people, I realised that it allowed me to love that person better and in a different way. I spent time loving and forgiving them from afar, before I could love and forgive them up close. it’s important to process and evaluate the situation (and your emotions) first, before trying to blindly love or forgive that person. love, but be wise.
I wish I could give you more, but this is all I have for now. this is all I know from my experiences, and they have been my foundation in accepting and loving people as they are, and for what they’ve done to me. in the end, for me, it all boils down to the fact that God loves us all the same and that we are all human and fall short. people hurt us, they hurt us a lot but that doesn’t mean that you continuously cut off everybody that hurts you. it’s inevitable that the people that are close to you will hurt you, you can’t avoid that. especially, when you start to get close with someone and you begin to know them really well – both of your flaws are exposed to one another, your emotions are exposed and we may do or say things to get back at that person; but in the end, you’ve got to choose where you go from there. yes, people may hurt you, but it doesn’t mean that you cut off everybody that does. things can be healed, and it’s important to choose love over everything, in every situation. sometimes, that is tough love, sometimes it’s a gentle love, or sometimes it’s loving from afar. whichever love you choose, remember:
love has already won, and that you are deeply and dearly loved yourself.