understanding the unlovable

“He jokingly said I should come with a warning sticker. I replied that I agreed, and that it shouldn’t be the one with red writing. Red writing creates fear, and I didn’t want to scare anyone. The message I needed to get across was “proceed with caution”, so maybe something a little less alarming, like sunflower yellow or clementine orange” – YettiSays

I just “discovered” the blog YettiSays. If you have not read it, read it. I found myself tearing up at the beautiful yet simple prose that seemed to string together the mixed emotions that have filled me at some point or another. Her writing is honest, pure… let’s say, it is raw.

One post in particular really stuck out to me – the one I quoted above. It is about feeling unlovable. About feeling like your past is so checkered with impurity that you can’t imagine someone else would want to love that. Here’s another excerpt:

“You see, I come with a lot of pieces. I know that. Some of my pieces are damaged but still functional. Some are renewed, and honey? Better than ever. Some are completely untouched. And some are what they are: painfully broken. I own behaviors that are questionable, and a past that sometimes haunts me. I attend therapy on a weekly basis, and have scars on various parts of my body that memorialize my past battle with self-hatred. I’m secretive out of self-preservation, and have a mouth on me that’s trained to destroy out of protection… and sometimes out of spite. I’m typically an annoyingly happy person, but when I have my down days, they’re bad. They’re ugly. I perform a balancing act between my ambition and my sanity daily, and more times than not, my ambition will win.

I can’t think of a better way of wording these feelings, so I will not. I will just add. I was, I am and I always will be broken. I think when you experience certain life events, you can heal wounds, but you cannot hide scars. For so long, and to a lesser, but still significant, degree today still, those scars can make you believe you are unlovable. Those who choose to fight to love you will try to convince you of otherwise, and for fleeting moments, they may succeed, but there is this lingering buzz in the back of your mind that is inexplicable. It just is. It says don’t trust it. They think they love you or care for the real you, but they don’t know everything. If they did, they’d run away. There’s the other part of you that when you do believe it, that someone could love you, wants to save them from loving you and wants to push them away to save them from getting to the point where they see your wounds and accept your pain as their own reality and bring it into their own lives. It’s as if the scars of experiences past are contagious, and if you let them in, they’ll catch the disease.

If you are a woman who has experienced this, this last paragraph, I hope, makes sense. If not, it may sound like a load of confusing horse shit. That’s alright.

Several times in my life, I have mentioned to friends things that have happened in my past. I don’t know why. Sometimes it’s as easy as ordering a pizza and other times it feels like trying to break out of a maximum security prison el chapo style. When I do tell the details of my scars, I don’t know why, but somehow I always tell the stories in a very matter-of-fact, blunt way. As if I am answering a deposition about the facts of my life. I think, because of this, and, like Yetti, my ability to have my ambition shine through, many times I don’t communicate these experiences well. One thing I’m very good at though, is regretting revealing my truth. I fear that I have scared someone away or just gave them the heads up that they should run pretty soon. When anything negative happens in the relationship in the future, be it a friendship or otherwise, I think I had said too much. I clamp up and my vulnerability is gone. I harden.

Another excerpt:

“[O]ur pieces are beautiful, and defining, and multidimensional, and interestingly jarring. So we may come with a warning sticker. It may be a little difficult to peel our layers. But with each layer you reveal, you’ll experience the rarest form of love known to mankind. You’ll experience a love we’ve fought hard to find and give…I’m secretive out of self-preservation, and have a mouth on me that’s trained to destroy out of protection… and sometimes out of spite. I’m typically an annoyingly happy person, but when I have my down days, they’re bad. They’re ugly. I perform a balancing act between my ambition and my sanity daily, and more times than not, my ambition will win. I’m petrified of the dark. Not because I was trained to sleep with a nightlight, but because someone else was trained to not take “no” for an answer.”

Yetti, thank you for this. The one thing I do know,  is that when I love, I love hard. It may take me a while to get there. To trust. I may not always believe. But when I allow myself to trust and decide that a relationship is worth holding onto, I am that person you want on your side. I am the one who listens. Who understands. Who wants to heal your wounds before they turn into scars. Who only judges enough to give you the advice that you need and keep you in line. Who means it when I say that no favor is too big and no story is too long. Sure, I’ve been trampled on when I’ve loved too hard. Yes, This creates more layers.

At a certain point, you have to stop believing you can heal scars. You can heal wounds, the scars remain. I have punished the innocent for the crimes of the guilty. I have acted out in fear of finding someone who will keep me safe. This self-preservation though, is just that. I am preserving all parts of me and my complexities are a part of me. My imperfections, my scars, my memories, are a part of me.

From those of us who have been conditioned to believe we are unlovable, a sincere thank you to those out there who know that our complexities are a gift and use this knowledge to give us the gift of love.

#metoo

27 thoughts on “understanding the unlovable”

  1. If wounds heal to form scars, then those scars are our wisdom and courage – that which makes us stronger because of what we have survived (experiences which leave wounds take many forms, so what you say here seems familiar to me even though I haven’t had the same kind of experience). So if our scars are strength we wouldn’t want to lose them.

    Love is a mode of communication characterised by openness, honesty, spontaneity and generosity. We may try to hide our scars in order to be accepted on a superficial level, but it will always be a superficial level. It will never be love. Yetti expresses it so well : “It may be a little difficult to peel our layers. But with each layer you reveal, you’ll experience the rarest form of love known to mankind. You’ll experience a love we’ve fought hard to find and give…” Because love is actually the process of being known to each other in all our damaged glory. It only happens when we feel safe enough to put down our protective barriers.

    It seems to me that the most precious gift we can cultivate is that of unconditional self-acceptance. If we have that as a solid basis from which to interact with others, then we don’t need to shut ourselves off protectively as much. And a major part of other people not being scared by our dark places is to have become comfortable enough with them ourselves. Other people often take their cue from us. I’ve learned this through talking about my own experiences of mental illness. If I’ve grown comfortable enough with something I experienced – which at the time was terrifying – to talk about it calmly and casually, and even with humour, then the other person is less likely to respond with discomfort to what I’m saying, and I would like to think they can feel less afraid of the “craziness” in themselves.

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  2. I gotta tell ya that this post has truly touched me – and not only the post but many of the comments that followed. Who knew when I clicked on the title that I would be impacted so greatly. I, too, have felt unlovable. Not borne of emotional or physical abuse but a result of living with a physical disability. There was always a feeling growing up that I wouldn’t be loved. Why choose me when there are those who are “normal”? If it weren’t for my family and my faith, I could have easily been crushed beneath the weight of feeling unlovable. It is relentlessly heavy at times. I think, though, my personal experiences are why I gravitate toward others who feel the same. In fact, I’m married to someone whom most would deem unlovable, even unlikable. He is my “Eeyore”, as I call him. He pushes people away because of so much rejection he’s experienced in his own life. His walls are excessively fortified and most give up on breaking through. Like the one who previously commented, I am glad my husband and I have each other to give each other strength, to reveal to each other just how lovable each of us is, and to encourage each other to open up more and more to others every day. Thank you for this post! And thank you for stopping by my blog, liking my latest post and pointing me in your direction!

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  3. A lot of snapping my fingers to this but especially to “if you let them in, they’ll catch the disease.” And I don’t think I communicate these feelings as best I can either…I think it’s hard to find the right words/phrasing to get exactly what you want to get across. Like I’ll do it in a blunt way too, maybe cuz I wanna get to the point, but it may not be the best way for whoever’s listening to fully understand

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  4. I really loved reading this, and couldn’t agree more with you. “You can heal wounds, the scars remain” is such a good way of putting it. So glad someone else also feels like they’ve said too much when something goes wrong, even if it’s not true.

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  5. My favorite part of this writing, besides the blunt openness, is the sort of “journey” you described. The beginning explained your mindset of being unlovable but then changing direction into embracing that while you may be unlovable to some, to the right people you are the person they want at their side. Your imperfections in that situation clearly become a strength others can benefit from.

    Thank you for writing this. I wrote a post yesterday about Exercising Love by not simply picking the easiest people to love, but loving the people who aren’t as easy to love. As a man, I had one idea of the post, but a woman commented and said her problem isn’t loving others, even the hard ones, but is receiving love. I want to become more well-rounded and find the things that are present across all sexes, races, or religions. You have given me a great insight.

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    1. Thank you Kyle! I’m going to head to your site now and read what you wrote this minute! I can Whole-heartedly agree with your description of what this woman has said. I struggled writing the #metoo at the end because I do believe this is not just a result of physical sexual abuse I have incurred, but also emotional abuse along the way. In some ways, I think the emotional abuse being present throughout a lot of my life numbed the effects of the physical.

      The best way for me to describe it, is that no, I don’t find it easy to love others automatically. I have a wall up, but once I allow myself, or rather, determine, that I can trust someone, that wall crumbles down. The harder part, as you note, is the layers that must pulled back to allow myself to be loved back. It is very complex and I truly appreciate your comment. I think you’re so right that this is such a common misconception. So many of us push others away before wonderful men, as I’m sure you are, can discover this.

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      1. I’m looking forward to diving into this topic of receiving love more. I mentioned in my first comment that “as a man” I had one idea for the post..what I meant by that was that I rarely question if people will love me so I always receive it well. I almost expect it as conceited as that sounds. But now I see the big issue around love maybe isn’t really giving it but receiving it so you can keep giving it.

        It’s shameful as a man to see all of the #metoo posts a while back. The physical aspect definitely has appeal and benefit but I’m afraid men use that to fill their own voids and in turn create mutual damage. I’m sorry you and so man others experienced that.

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  6. I get the same feeling. Been to the lowest point (hopefully that is) of my life and abruptly struck up to its best. I was so hurt and mad for falling for someone that I am not supposed to. Suddenly the world turns and odds were in my favor but cant hardly accept it. I could not believe I deserve the love that I was just dreaming of and also could not accept the fact that someone has to get hurt. I did not mean to break someone’s heart. I’d rather get hurt and get away from it. But heavens did not give it to me that way. I had to work hard for the best love I have now and live up with the ghost of guilt. I am hurt as she was. For being guilty of the crime I did not mean to commit. I got the wound that I have done for myself, I am living with the scar left by my own crime. For something that I couldn’t blame to anyone. For the love that is worth all the pain.

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  7. Oh yes. I too answer matter of factly and often with joy and laughter. Deep down I think it’s a nervous laughter of unbelief myself. Here I am sharing unbelievable stories and wondering if I am being taken seriously. My husband and I both were deemed unlovable. I think that’s why we fit together perfectly. Beautiful blog. I will have to check it out.

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