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On Rising from the Ashes and Cutting Unhealthy Ties [Dear DBN]


The hardest person to love in this life is often the one you spend the most time with – yourself.  This week, how to forgive yourself for mistakes made and learn when to fight for more.

I feel that we have similar experiences. I was sexually/physically abused and a few months ago broken hearted. I have engaged in meaningless sex, drugs, drinking, self harm. Yesterday, I had sex with two guys basically back to back while I was fucked up. How do you be okay with yourself? I’ve made so many mistakes this year, but will I ever be able to one day look back and forgive myself for all I’ve done? Who would love me? If I’m not sure I could ever love myself.

You are looking at a picture you painted in this past with the darkest brushstrokes, hiding the light that shined through the cracks. Get out of the bleak museum of your heart and look at who you are: a sincere, honest, hopeful person begging to get her light back.  You started this question by acknowledging that we had similar pasts, and we do.  But remember that you’re also asking me how to recover, implying you know that I did.  Did the girl I was deserve to be loved? To forgive herself? You bet your WiFi connection she did because that’s how and why you’re talking to her now.  You don’t love a book chapter by chapter, you love it for its journey.

There are times when a bad memory will course through you like electric shock, slumping your shoulders into a pool of shame and regret.  There are trigger scents and songs that will remind you of lines on mirrors, ceilings you didn’t recognize, words that should have never been spoken.  You can crumble under the what was I thinking, the how could I, or the when did I become that person… or you can remember that the best stories are the underdog stories, the stories of triumph and overcoming and changing your future for the better.  You can remember that if you can survive it, if you can acknowledge it, then you can beat it.

You forgive yourself when you start ambitiously trying to better yourself, and slowly but surely you will fall back in love with your resilience, your strength, and your hope.  Reach out to someone you can trust and ask them to hold your hand.  You can claw your way out of this, but it’s a hell of a lot easier when someone can pull you the first few feet.

So I relate strongly to your “love like a phoenix” prose. I have a friend, a man, in my life who’s one of my best friends. He and I are both very honest with each other, like more honest than I’ve been with anyone for a long time. However, at times he treats me not the way a best friend/sometimes more should. To cut to the chase, many of my other friends don’t like him and don’t like to see me with him. So at what point do I agree with them?

For a second let’s think about your best friend.  She’s always hanging around this guy who occasionally says nice things to her, listens well enough to know she’d rather see an action flick than a drama, and has a propensity for rocking her world.  But every now and then again… he just doesn’t call her.  He doesn’t invite her to the party. He ignores her calls.  Are you not enraged?  She’s your best friend – she deserves someone who grovels at her feet!  She deserves someone who would love her the way you do – without pretense and games.

Now, how does the song go?  Flip it and reverse it?  You’re the best friend.  You’re the girl getting the sweet nothings one night and ignored the next.  And your friends know you deserve better, but do you know it?  It’s easy to settle into a rhythm that feels remotely pleasing because the search can feel worse, but you’ll never get what you deserve when you keep your docket full of what you don’t.  People can change and be better, but they never will unless you give them reason to.  You don’t need to do what your friends say, but you should take how they feel into account because how they feel is often passionately in your defense and your counsel will tell you to settle if you should – but it sounds like they think you can win a sweeter deal.

CollegeCandy is excited to announce that we’ve partnered up with one of our favorite Tumblrs, DateByNumbers, to bring you some of her very best advice. Each week she’ll tackle your questions. Life, love, sex, the real world…nothing will be off limits. To submit a question of your own, visit her “Ask” page and keep an eye on CollegeCandy every Thursday afternoon!

    I've written for Teen Vogue, Thought Catalog, Leveled Magazine, College Candy, How About We, and have been featured on several HuffPost Live segments. Creator and leader of Bold Moves October featured on xoJane and Neil Gaiman's blog. Both Neil and Jane appreciate boldness. I specialize in pep talks, very long bike rides, and matching my lipstick to my heels.