I have, for the most part, given up on relationships. I’ve decided I don’t “do” relationships very well.  I am alienated from all the people I truly love and care about except my husband.  This is mostly due to the slow and gradual removal of myself from opportunities to interact rather than a mutually agreed upon decision to end the relationships.  When I interact with people it is inevitable I will say or do the “wrong” thing or I eventually decide the relationship requires more than I am able or willing to give.  I’ve been called selfish and I am beginning to believe it.  I have spent my entire life catering to the wants, needs, beliefs, opinions, and demands of others to no avail.  I am accused of living my entire life for myself without any care for those I love.  So, those I love feel unloved by me and I, myself, feel I have wasted my life trying to prove I do love . No one really seems to like the real me and no one wants to spend time with me unless it’s doing exactly what they want to do (and when they want to do it).  The very few times I’ve exerted my own preferences in relationships have resulted in me either giving in or facing complete emotional abandonment by the other person (withdrawal of love as punishment).  But I am selfish.  There is a part of me that believes that I matter too–that my sole purpose in life is not always to defer to others.  If there has ever been a disagreement between myself and someone I care about, I’ve been expected to give in and put myself last.  I’ve been told this many times by others–that I need to “be the bigger person” and give in.  I am told this is what I should want to do if I love someone.  I have done exactly this nine out of ten times in dealing with those I love.  However, the one time I might not give in and might decide to do what I believe is in my own best interest then it is I who have wronged the other and I am forever reminded of how much I have failed the people I love.  If giving into to another proves we love them then truly no one but my husband really loves me (or he, I).  There has not been anyone I’ve had a relationship with that has ever graciously given in to me in the few times I’ve held my ground (or let my mask slip).  I have consistently had to fight “tooth and nail” for the remaining shreds of my dignity, self-worth, and emotional wellbeing.  Would not the rule of proving love go both ways?  Not in my relationships.  I am the only one required to prove my love.  Because of the requirement that I am automatically last priority in any relationship I am in, then I have simply decided I want no more.  Yes, I do get lonely sometimes but it’s not the kind of loneliness that makes me want to compromise myself or be a door mat.  Little by little I am learning to enjoy my own company and am turning more to God for the emotional support I need.  I know God knows me inside and out and I have no doubt God loves me in spite of the many times I have surely disappointed him.  It’s not a conditional love or a love with strings attached.  It’s a love that has no connection to whether I have earned it or not.  God’s love is because I am me–no more and no less (what a relief).