At some point, everyone you love will leave you, or you will leave them — whether it be through death, through betrayal, or through simply drifting away. It's a very difficult truth to accept. The only person who will truly be with you day in and day out until the bitter end is yourself.
I'm a people-pleasing extrovert. The companionship and approval of others are staple ingredients in my daily emotional diet. It has often gotten to the point where I am so focused on who everyone else wants me to be, and the things I can do with other people, that I lose a firm sense of self and the ability to sit alone in silence. Being alone is unsettling. I tend to listen to music or put on a show to avoid the roaring thunder of my own thoughts, of emptiness.
Realizing that I'm the only person who's unconditionally there for me was painful, because I have never fulfilled my own emotional needs. Other people have always done a better job of validating me, encouraging me, and satisfying my voracious appetite for approval. It made me feel desperate. If the bonds I had with everyone I loved would eventually fade away, how then would I get fulfillment? When I wondered why I couldn't meet my own needs, I realized that it was because I didn't even like myself. Someone I hate couldn't possibly provide me with emotional gratification.
That's when I had to make a conscious effort to love myself more--so I could be my own best friend, my own lover, my own rescuer. I was tired of passing myself from person to person like an empty cup begging to be filled. I changed my internal monologue from hateful degradation to soothing encouragement by asking myself, "would I say ever say this to a friend?" If I wouldn't say it to somebody else, I wouldn't say it to myself. I started having conversations with myself, laughing at my own jokes, and making an effort to spend more time alone instead of compulsively seeking out company. I started learning to be my own best friend.
It's not easy, and I don't expect it ever will be. I'll always have people-pleasing, overly accommodating tendencies. I'll always be an extrovert, which means that I'll always feel wilted if I spend too many hours by myself. Learning to encourage and validate myself is a lifelong process, but I've reached the milestone of at least wanting to try. I can tell myself, "I want to love you" and actually mean it. It's a beautiful first step.