From as young as I can remember, I had been over-extending myself and attempting many different things (careers, schools, diets) to prove that I was worthy of love. As a child, my earliest memories of my most significant relationships were of my sisters telling me; they hated me, that I was ugly, taunting me, and excluding me. My mother, though she loved us, was unable to end their abuse, and my father was absent. Through these early experiences, I developed a great anxiety and the idea that I had to work hard with people for them to like or love me, even if I had just met them or if they treated me terribly. I normalized toxic behavior and decided it was worth enduring if it meant people would accept me into their lives and allow me to be "one of them". This way of thinking and behavior attracted self-serving men and women to me. These people recognized my low self-esteem as something that they could use for themselves. As a result, I endured even more abuse from people who understood I didn't know my self-worth. I didn't realize that my low self-esteem, coupled with the need to prove my worth to people who had no real understanding of their own self-worth, attracted the worst types of people into my life. And when the pain would become almost unbearable and I would develop the courage to say something about the poor way I was being treated, my anxieties would take over and remind me that if I spoke out, this person would remind the world how worthless and unlovable I was, and even more people would want nothing to do with me. Eventually, I came to recognize that I had been reliving that sad cycle from the perspective of that little girl who just wanted to be loved and accepted all those years ago. I now know that when you truly love someone, you do not wish to drain them or make them work for your love, you wish to pour into them and them into you. You do not constantly, belittle, act spitefully toward, or speak ill of those you truly love, and that includes yourself! It was when I stopped asking for people to love me and began to take a step back and work on myself, did I finally begin to attract love and the loving people and relationships into my life that I had been searching for all along. Now, at 30 I can say with confidence that I am headed in the right direction. I do not hate anyone who treated me poorly, as I know that was only a reflection of how they truly felt about themselves. I bless all who could not love me the way I needed to be loved, and I send them on their way!