One of the core negative messages I’ve carried with me for many years is that I’m unlovable. It doesn’t matter where it came from – and it came from many things and for many reasons. What matters is that it became my belief and it colored all of my relationships. Psychology Today wrote this article on 5 Reasons I Hate Me. At the top of the list is the belief that I am unlovable.
The journey has been long to get to the point that I feel lovable. And there are more than a couple of things I learned along the way that helped me unravel the truth of this belief. The article above mentions that this belief becomes like the snake that eats its tail. Because I feel unlovable, I don’t get the love I need. When I don’t get the love I need it confirms that I’m unlovable. I kept choosing people that were not capable of love because I was so desperate to find love. I felt it was an elusive golden coin that I didn’t deserve, so I took any shiny penny I could pick up. Most were poor substitutes for love. And when I don’t think I deserve your love, I will turn myself inside out to get it. I’m not even me anymore; I’m a caricature of myself … and of you.
I have learned that my intuition is right most of the time. Through the years, people would tell me that I was imagining rejection or being ostracized. I would try to accept that belief but there were so many things that would happen, sarcastic things that would be said about me, and other indicators that I wasn’t accepted or loved for the way I am. In my trying to get rid of my supposed misconceptions of reality, I kept putting myself in the same situations over and over again with the same people who were not capable of loving me. Over the years and as I’ve been put back in situations with some of the same people again, I’ve realized that my intuition was dead on. I wasn’t loved by them. I just interpreted it wrong because I hadn’t enough of the real thing to realize that it was not me that was unlovable. There was plenty of love for me, I was just looking for love in all the wrong places.
I’ve also learned that there are many reasons that people don’t love a particular person. People trigger my old baggage sometimes, and it has nothing to do with them, but it makes it difficult for me to be around them. There are also people I just don’t like. There is nothing wrong with them. We just don’t click. There is nothing wrong with me either because I don’t want to be around them. There are times in my life when I’m just too busy, too drained, too emotionally distraught myself to give much love. None of these have anything to do with the person in question or whether they are lovable or not. I’m just not able to love them right now or because of my own stuff. I have to assume I’m not the only person on the planet in this situation. And I’m probably on the receiving end of their stuff, too.
The answer for me was to cast a wider net and work on my own issues. As I understood myself more, I began to understand others and could give more grace. I still feel unlovable at times. When I’m rejected or ostracized, it comes down on me really hard, and, let’s face it, rejection actually happens a lot. In a given day, I can run into one or two people who are too busy to talk, have too much on their mind or are just irritated with me or the situation at hand to interact with me. All of this feels like rejection. But, I’m not so desperate for love anymore. I know where to get it, and I feel pretty comfortable that I’m loveable…. just not by everybody. When my cup is full, I can offer a lot more grace to others, and I’m not so needy and hungry.
In my 12 Step program, there is a saying about finding love. If you need bread, don’t go to the hardware store. I love that saying, and it’s made me think about looking for love in the right places. A man in our group said the other day that he was encouraged to “go shopping where they have lots of bread.” My sponsor also reminds me frequently when I’m banging my head against a closed door to “stop going to that dry well.” It’s amazing how much those phrases can re-direct me from old patterns. They are so simple. They remind me that I’m not imagining things. I can trust my feelings about people. I can face reality with a lot more hope. I can love myself a lot more when I feel like I’m dependable. It helps me unravel that noose of unlovableness and be more comfortable in my own skin. And, really…. if I’m trying to please you so you love me, you’re not seeing me at all anyway. We are both getting eaten by the snake.