Self love is a funny thing.

..I think I love myself.  It doesn’t make me good, bad, or indifferent.  But I’ve learned to be happy with who I am and what I am– and I do love the person I’ve become.  But who I am, you see, is not only about me.  It is also about the people around me.

Now, I’ll admit the people around me used to say less about me than today.  I used to be much less discriminating in who I kept closest to me.  The problem is I want to like everyone; I still, to an extent, am guilty of wanting to be liked by everyone.  But sometimes it’s okay to say that something, or something that someone does, is not okay.

I am still inclined to find the good in anyone.  And if you are like that, well, I won’t try to discourage that aspect of you.  But it means you might need a tool to help you in life, like I do.

I’ve- more recently than I might like to admit- stopped freely allowing just anyone and everyone to be close to me.  Because I know that who I choose to focus my attentions on is more about me.  It’s about the value system I believe in and what I choose to nurture and support in the world.

Look, I don’t know if people are good or not.

I wish I could wave a magic wand and the person would glow “blue” if they were good and “green” if they were bad.  (Or probably purple.  Evil things always glow purple, have you noticed?)  Certainly I can’t make that determination based on specific cultural norms.  I don’t care whether you are a granola mom (is that a thing?) or a junk food mom.  I mean, yeah, feed your kids somewhat healthy, but if you feed them nothing but marshmallows, that isn’t my problem.  I’m learning to pick up on red flags, but I’m not going to bother with how you do a good job.

Because it’s not my job to tell you how to be a good person.  Even if I could.  Nonetheless, I’d rather not get hurt by allowing myself to keep around untrustworthy, narcissistic persons that belittle me and try to keep me down.  So what do I do?  I can rely on my “trusted people” to protect me.  But I don’t always want to rely on what people tell me- even those whose word I accept nearly without question- so I look to another method to assess for myself.

I look to see who you keep around you.  And how you treat them.

Who are your friends? How do you treat your partner? How do you treat your family?  I believe you will treat me at least the same, if not worse, than those you love.  Certainly I have no faith you’ll treat me better.  Why would you treat me better than your own spouse?  Your own child?  If I am considering a relationship of any kind with you, as your friend, your romantic partner, or your business associate, I’ll look to this as an indicator of our future together.

I will want to see that you have someone around you who is good to you– and you are good to them. Yes, I know that not everyone in your life will be good.  But I need to see that you have more than destructive persons in your network.  And if you want to have a happy, loving life, you need that for yourself.  Find good people, if you must, and ask them to be near you.  Someone will say yes, I promise you.  But you do need to ask and make effort.  Sometimes this is a lifetime journey (in fact, I’d say it probably nearly always is!)

Because you may not have all good, loving people in your life– and  you may not treat everyone wonderfully.

Now perhaps those close to you are hurtful to you.  So you are distant, unkind, even outright cruel. That is okay.  I do not need you to shield your abusers, in order to seem like you are the good one. I’d prefer in fact, if you had the ability to stand up for yourself (though I understand if you do not.)  But please, trust that I, and others will see if they treat you poorly– and one of us will speak up if we have to do so.  And if we don’t, you can speak up first.

I simply want, if you say someone is good and important to you, to see you show that. I want to see you loving your girlfriend, your spouse, yes,”even” just your friends.  I want to see what it means to you to be good to somebody.  If you treat someone as disposable, that means I may be disposable, too.  So please, let me see that– or tell me that I am the first person to ask you how you are and what you want, and maybe I’ll be okay being that first person in your life to be there for you.

I will judge you based on the company you keep.  Because that tells me more about you than you could tell me about you.

It isn’t that I think you are lying.  But I don’t know you yet.  Trust for me isn’t some fragile gift that can be broken “in a moment.”  It’s built over time.  When it happens, it lasts, and very little can break it.  Which means I need to be around you for a long time.  And in order to last that long with you, I need some positivity.  It’s draining…to be negative all the time.  To be surrounded by negative energy.

I care about your associations. The labels you choose. The people you keep near. That really does say something about you.  You needn’t worry about finding the “right” label, but if your labels mean something, consider if that is what you want to say about yourself.  If it is not, perhaps it is time to reconsider the label?  The best friend you have?  The social group you choose? I judge for my own self preservation.  It’s nothing personal.  I promise.

I wish you well, one and all.  For now?

…who do you keep around?