Lesbians and gay men all over the world know what it’s like to trust someone who seems to need their help and be bitten by that same someone because of their sexual orientation. That’s the basic meaning of this Jamaican proverb: sometimes we help people who seemingly need us and those are the same ones who happen to hurt us. This of course doesn’t mean that we must not help others, but that we must be discerning and careful. We shouldn’t allow ourselves to believe that just because we have the good sense to rise above issues of sexual orientation and accept people as they are, that all people are that accepting or sensible.
Truthfully though, the main lesson to be learnt here is one of self respect and self-love. One of the main reasons that gay men become caught in situations like this and get ‘bitten’, is often an issue of seeking love and acceptance. Some people think that the love you give, returns to you and this is true… within reason. There is a greater truth that we must all observe though, and that is “All love begins with love of self.” We can’t give what we don’t have and so if you don’t love yourself- you don’t have enough love in you to give anyone else. This means that we must build up that sense of self and develop enough self respect and love to prevent ourselves from giving other people the power to hurt us in the name of love.
In other words, there is no virtue in continuously trying to prove yourselves worthy of anyone’s love and respect. You already are worthy of it. Anyone who doesn’t shower you with it or at least give it to you in a decent way does not in turn deserve your time and energy. Or as it says in the Bible, “Cast not your pearls before swine.”
So if you are giving what you think is love and not receiving back, love then maybe what you are giving is not really love. And you may not love yourself enough to realize that what you are calling love is really ‘emotional neediness’ or ‘lack of self-worth’ or ‘be somebody-itis.’ If it’s love, then it feels good to give it and it feels good to receive it. As long as you feel that you are twisting up yourself in a cycle of painful giving and receiving and questioning whether or not you are appreciated or valued, you really need to check yourself with this love thing. Start a love party with yourself. Ask, “If I loved myself, would I really do this or put up with that?” If the answer is no then just stop doing what you’re doing and find some other mawga dog to shower your love on – and by the way, let that new mawga dog be you!
Nicholas Stephen Bruce