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With every girl’s-choice dance that approached, I hid behind a fictitious smile or fake laugh as I sat through my classes, desperately pleading with all of my energy and thoughts for a girl, any girl, to ask me as her date. Yet even as I did, I knew no girl ever would. And no girl ever did. At the end of high school I was zero for fifteen. My perfect losing streak left me desperate to love and desperate to prove to myself that I was indeed lovable.
The problem was, I didn’t believe that I was loveable at all, and because I didn’t believe it, I found myself looking at time as my worst enemy.
With every girl I dated after leaving home, I got better and better at capturing her genuine interest in me. I got better and better at believing I offered value to a relationship. I got better and better at feeling like I was actually worth something.
Yet, with every start to a relationship I also grew desperate for time to slow down. With every tick of the clock, I knew it was one less tick before I was suddenly unlovable and undesirable to her. I always sensed that it was just a matter of time before the girl saw me as the person I really was. A fat loser, a natural target to be laughed at, and not actually attractive at all.
The only thing I really knew was that I wanted to love a girl, I wanted her to love me, and that if I could somehow beat the clock, she would never discover that I was all the horrible things I believed myself to be. Of course, I never thought any of these things at the time. These shadows of the past are only what I have figured out in all my long and lonely hours trying to learn how and why I ended up divorced twice.
Looking back to those years just prior to when I met my first wife, there is no doubt for me now that this was all true and that it was all going on. It took almost no time at all to decide that I was “in love” with any girl who paid the slightest bit of attention to me, and I never hesitated to blurt it out, desperate for her to say it back. Because I always did it so hastily, the girls never responded with the words I longed to hear. They never said, “I love you, too.” Usually it marked the beginning of the end. A sure-fire guarantee to kill the relationship before it could ever find its wings.
With every failed attempt, the clock grew to be more and more my enemy. Every time I said the words and didn’t hear them back, it caused me to be more desperate for reciprocation on the next go-around. I felt worthless, and I needed somebody, anybody to love me. I needed to prove to myself that I wasn’t without value.
I needed to know that somebody cared because the truth was, I knew how dangerous my situation was becoming. I knew that I was nearing the edge of a cliff that I never wanted to look over. I knew that I was on the verge of doing something dangerous or stupid to free myself from those enslaving and consuming feelings.
And there, at the peak of it all, when I was most desperate to beat the clock or suffer the consequences, I met Andrea, my first wife.
And when the day came that I said “I love you,” she said it back.
For the first time in my life, a girl said it back.
When that happened, the clock suddenly seemed as if it was strapped to a 20-ton bomb. I pulled out all the stops. I did everything I could to keep that young 19-year old girl loving me. I wooed her, I wined and dined her, and I made her love me before she had the chance not to. The clock wasn’t going to beat me on this one. Not when somebody had finally said “I love you, too.”
Marriage proposal came only months after we began dating. Three months after that, we were married.
As I stood looking at my new bride, I knew I had done it. I had beat that damned clock.
And so, I crossed the threshold of our first apartment, holding the hand of a young girl, having no idea who the hell she was. She walked across the same threshold that day, holding the hand of a 21-year old boy, also having no idea who the hell she had just committed herself to for life. We didn’t know each other, and we had no idea that we didn’t.
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This is, by far, my favorite post on SDL. (I admit, I haven't read them all, but out of the ones I have read, this IS the #1 post.
I relate to this in so many ways it is unreal. My first marriage lasted 6 years. My second didn't even make it to 2 years before he "fell in love with someone else". The feelings expressed here mirror my own. It's been 5 years since my last divorce and I've been in one semi-long term relationship since then (3 years). (That fell apart, as well....probably for some of the same reasons you have listed here.)
Thank you for putting into words what I could not. It's truly amazing what you do here, please keep doing it.
Much love from Ohio
Thank you for your honesty. It takes great courage to be willing to look so honestly at yourself and your past, and it takes even greater courage to be willing to be so vulnerable to countless others.
I truly believe that we need to be comfortable with ourselves and as whole as we can be to have healthy, loving relationships. I was blessed to be married for 23 years to a man who was truly comfortable with who he was and didn't try to be anything else for anyone else.
At one stage before our marriage, due to a conflict of faith and beliefs, it looked like we would not marry, and I thought to myself "That's it, I will just never get married." I was willing to walk away from the only man I could imagine being married to in order to be true to myself and my beliefs, and he was willing to do the same. Thankfully, we worked through that and enjoyed a wonderful marriage. Of course it had its ups and downs, but there was always an incredible respect and true enjoyment of each other. We were friends before we were ever lovers.
My beautiful husband died suddenly and unexpectedly nearly four years ago. And because I have known what a good relationship is like, I am not ready to rush into anything to just to fill up the loneliness. If anything, I will hold out for something even better; and if that doesn't come up, then I will remain happily single. I owe it to myself and my children to walk into the next relationship as whole as I can be so that it remains stable and strong.
The journey of understanding and self-discovery you have chosen to travel is worthwhile. Yes it can be darned uncomfortable, but it will bring great rewards as well. Keep being honest and keep being brave.
I remember turning Thirty. My sister's husband told me "best age ever .. you can be with a 22 year old or a 35 year old woman" At the time I got it. Now, after a couple of divorces, older and wiser (I am in my mid-fifties and going through my third split) I realize the folly and the beauty of time. The physical beauty of a twenty something is not enough. Lovely to look at, but lacking wisdom. I am attracted to women of my own age, as well as those 20 years younger. Time is a great thing. Finding a 60 year old woman hot to a 30 year old is not going to happen, but it happens with me. Bravo for having the strength to write such a work. The point that resonated was the sympatico in self doubt. This third split teaches me that I have to be happy with myself, I do not need anybody to "complete" me, rather I would like a mate. The human condition demands that blame be placed. Relationships are never balanced. One loves one more than the other (try and define or measure that one!), one feels like they do more than the other - and it runs on. People tire of each other. Plain and simple. I blamed myself for the demise of previous unions, I don't anymore. Like you I have a young child to make me smile, to love and to have fun with. Great permanent distraction, possibly giving me the peace I need to mend and become whole enough that I can love again. I think the strength provided in being a single father is immeasurable, teaching me more about life in my daughter's 8 short years than imaginable. Be strong. Ignore those that are negative. Revel in life.
Wow! Your honesty is wonderful. You're a great person, just for taking the time to think about things in stead of just going on the way you're used too. I really hope things will work out for you, and you can learn to love yourself.
Reading this post made me realise how lucky I am. I've been there, I fell in love with any guy who gave me the time of day, which meant I got hurt by a lot of guys. My husband has about the same story. When we met each other we had both come out of stupid relationships and were hurt a lot. We moved in together two weeks later and were engaged after three months. But we didn't have the money to get married then. We talked a lot and got to know each other. We learned each others history and know we both had low self-esteem. But, because we were honest to each other, we realised we both had so much to work on and we helped each other. 4 years later we had good jobs and better self-esteem and we realised we were still compatible, money was also better, so, we got married. This is now 3 years ago, and we're still getting happier with ourselves and each other. And we do love each other.
I believe I am very very lucky, because the story could have ended very different. I just met the right person at the wrong time, but it all worked out in the end.
People think we have the perfect marriage, well, that takes a lot of hard work, perfect honesty and even more, luck. But I think we have a good marriage, nothing's perfect, but it worked out.
And something funny? Since I am not obsessed with my weight anymore, and just learned I am not fat and ugly and I am worth being loved, I lost 30 pounds! So believing i'm not fat and ugly actually made me less fat.
I've not ever thought of it as a matter of time. It's a matter of growing into the ability to be vulnerable and to appreciate the other's vulnerability also without needing to pounce on it, to share vulnerable space in peace. It's not easy. It takes "time," obviously, but I think only as a measure of the ability to be open to life's experiences humbly and be able to learn from them. There are good days and bad days.
What to say? I very rarely get on a computer these days, instead choosing to type from my phone. After I read this and posted my comment thought, I felt the need to elaborate. You see, reading this did feel just like you had climbed into my head. Time, has always been my struggle. I know I am a worthy person and I know I love me, but sometimes I doubt the ability of others to love me. Not because I cannot find reasons that they should, but because my experiences have proven it. I think though, if time were on my side then maybe I can could find the man that I would make happy for the rest of his life in response to the happiness he gives to me.
I didn't date in high school, did not have my first kiss in high school, did not get into any of "that" kind of trouble in high school. Oh I wanted, but it was more comfortable in the world that I lived in, in my head, than it was in this world. In my head, people were nice. In my head, more than just adults thought I was worth conversation. In my head, people had not given up on me. In reality, I was liked by people around town, my parents had me on this good girl with good grades pedestal. In reality, I had acquaintances, but no real friends. I would never, and still don't most of the time, share my inner most thoughts out of fear that I would be cast out. I made one true friend in high school. In my minds eye, he would be my boyfriend. I gave him a ride home a few times a week. A couple of times we stayed out later than we should have, just talking. I let him inside the castle fortress that was, the real me. He had many troubles though and sadly, within a two months time of our friendship, he committed suicide. I was crushed and though it had no real baring on me as a person, it sure felt like the worst kind of rejection.
Grief is a crippling emotion for adults, let alone for children that believe death doesn't happen to them or their peers. I wanted to talk to someone, but no one knew I needed to, because no one knew about the world inside my head and no one would ever know. I cried in private. After all this, I fell off that pedestal that I had been put on. I took a nose dive into drinking and partying. I found a few more friends, but I didn't let them in either. They got to see the person I put out there for them to see, not me. Further into my fantasy world I went.
My first husband was not about not feeling loveable, or worrying about time. He was about rebellion. What would the good people of my home town, and my family say when I did something so big, so shocking that they would be forced to take notice. How stupid could I have been. I totally rushed into it, not knowing. I knew nothing about him. I wanted to. Within two months of starting to date, we were living together. In less than a year he asked me to marry him. We never actually got married though. Soon after I moved in, terrible secrets were revealed. When he was angry about anything or anyone, he would drink, way too much. As time went on, he was angry a lot more often. Then, he drank more, then, he was angry at ME. Now, I am a big girl, I can hold my own, but I should not have to defend myself against a man that claims to love me. That is exactly what I had to do though. He was verbally, physically and emotionally abusive to move for the next eight years. He shut me off from any friends I might have had, from my family and any friends I might have made in the future. I was imprisoned in my own home. Finally, I snapped out of it. I got away, alive, with my two daughters and I was hell bent on that never happening again.
Within a year, I had met my second husband. He told me he loved me before he even met me in person. We met online, in a chat room. When we met in person, he wooed me. Away I went again, accepting his words and not his actions, as truth. A year, to the day that we first met in person, we were married. He was already cheating on me. The next three years were filled with me doing all I could to FEEL like he loved me, instead I just heard the words. I sank into depression. I gained a lot of weight. Finally, enough was enough. I got out. The divorce took 15 months to finalize, and its been 18 moths since that happened. So its been almost three years now. It took me some time to realize what was happening.
I was choosing people for all the wrong reasons. Yes, I can make myself care about someone, heck I care about a lot of someones and way too much. So I was able to make myself love my two husbands for purely selfish reasons, but I could not, make them honestly love mebecause I never really let them know me. Now, looking back I can say that wasn't such a bad thing, because the abusive ex really got what was coming to him. The second ex, well, I don't know, if I had let him know the real me, would it have changed? I don't think so. He was living in his own fantasy as well, and in his fantasy every woman in the world wants him and it is his job to oblige that.
So today, I live in the real world, with all its challenges and rejection and all that crazy stuff. I put checks on myself so that I don't fall in love too quickly. I don't measure a man by the mental image stuck in my head, that is fantasy. I have learned perfection is too good to be true, so if they are trying to be perfect, then they are likely not being themselves and I had better wait around for the real person before I make any kind of snap decisions. I am single, happily, raising my four daughters. This is probably deeper into my head than I have let anyone ever see, even my own mother. That is okay though, because I did stop living in my fantasy world some time ago.
I know I am worthy, and I know that there is someone out there, but my heart still gets a little impatient at times. I just slow myself down, remind myself, time is the healer of all things and the maker of great loves. I want great love, not so so love. Time, is finally on my side.
That rush "into love" because we are so desperate for love, to BELONG. I recognise so well. I met my ex husband in January, got engaged in February and married in May. On our honeymoon I realised I had made a mistake but for the next 24 years I tried to fix it. I eventually had to admit, he could never love me like I needed to be loved. I then "fell in love" with two other men, in quick succession. The original need of that 21 year old girl was still very much a part of the 46 year old me. In the last two years, so much truth has set me free. I can recognise love and will not settle for anything less. The desperation is no longer a part of me. The little girl that needed her dad's love, understands how to love herself so that other's can love her too. Rushing into relationships so that we can be "loved" is only desperation. Real love is worth waiting for and if it is real, it will remain, no matter what obstacle comes into its way. I think I have found that love. We have been together for over a year, broken up three times but like a magnet we find our way back together. He calls me, his healer. I love him. He is everything that I want in a man. Our relationship has many obstacles but time will determine the future. There are no guarantees. In this instant in time, we are what the other wants and needs. Time. It is magical because it heals, one way or another.
I loved this...you gave me a light bulb moment. I was divorced 6 years ago and have had a few relationships and my motto has always been since I started dating "slow, take it slow". All those relationships failed, until now. I have been with my lovefor 18 months now and we are truly taking it slow. I have a 13yo daughter at home who I claim is the reason I am taking it slow, but it just hit me. It's not that as much as it is that I need to truly believe this will work long term. I need evidence, proof that he will be here, forever and I am willing to be there for him, forever. You said it, it "strengthens and solidifies" a good relationship. So true. We get better with time, we learn how to discuss uncomfortable things better, we share more of ourselves...but all that is with....time. Thank you, for helping me to be honest with myself. You can learn to love time.
I like this blog, but I'm having a hard time hearing him out on this one. If something happens to you so many times, maybe it IS you and not time. 8 years apart, how is that time? idk.
You remind me so much someone I know. He struggles in the same way with time (and the fear of being unloved as he becomes more known by someone) so he avoids any kind of emotional intimacy with anyone. I'm the opposite in the sense that I tend to fall in love very quickly but I don't share my feelings or even my thoughts very often so ironically it makes me just as emotionally unavailable as he is, although our methods are different. People are unavailable for their own reasons and its only by doing the work to try to figure it out for ourselves that we can ever become capable of having close and loving relationships. Everyime I see you post something new, I see you one step closer to figuring it out. Once again you have written a blog entry that solidifies why I read EVERY single thing that you write. You are honest, open and poignant in your writing. You share your stuggles, your insights and your heartache as you search not only for love but for an understanding of yourself. I have no doubt that you will find what you are looking for but in the meantime you are making the search so beautiful. Hang in there!
Well... a very good and thought provoking blog, Dan. I have been married once, and divorced once, and it took me 10 years after that divorce to attempt to date even. Once that happened, I had several bad experiences with men before running into one I THOUGHT would slow down. He only waited a week to tell me he loved me, and got depressed when I stepped back to stare at him in shock. Still, I liked him, and gave it a chance, and he lasted 4 months before threatening suicide and breaking up by blocking me from facebook and refusing to answer calls. I stopped dating again at that point. Don't worry about time. Work on patience. And learn to love yourself before trying to validate your worthiness to be loved from someone else.
I'm going through what is probably the worst time of my life right now. I needed to read this today. Thank you Dan. I'm unlovable.
Did you climb inside my head and rip that story from my memories? Save for a few differences, this is my experience.
Thank you, I have and still do feel this way sometimes... I have been divorced once and still reeling from it
Thanks for sharing so much of yourself Dan. I has to be hard to put yourself out there so much and you can definitely help all of us learn more about ourselves and our motivations. Keep up the good work!
You are a very courageous man. I stumbled upon your blog throug someone sharing your jokes. At age 47 I started thinking I know quite a bit about life..and rasing kids. REading your blog, I am amazed at your wisdom, your courage and your wonderful parenting. I shared one of your pieces with a 73 year old friend..we both shook our heads in wonder at your courage and insight. Many people live an entire life without learning what you have, your special journey is an inspiration. God bless you.
Amazing...I found myself relating to this blog completely. You are a beautiful man with a truly loving heart ❤
I am, I suspect considerably older than most of your readers, at 54, I have been married for two thirds of my life. I turned 18 one may, graduated from high shool that june, and married that july, the summer of 77 was big in my life. I was not pregnant, laughing here as it is a question often thought if not asked, but had our first daughter when i was 20 followed by one more at 22. In the time we have been married, my husband has worked as a childcare counselor, sheriffs deputy, store owner, farm worker, warehouse man, project manager for a major manufacturing company and now a gm for a diverse mid sized company that eats about 60 hours of our week. In my eyes, he has been of the same importance in each of those roles, maybe the harder ones, the ones where he was least compensated but worked as I did to live where we chose to raise our children, maybe those times shine a bit more brightly. We have had not enough money, more than we needed, and bounced between those places on more than one occasion. I have worked as a youth counselor, shop person, pregnancy outreach person, in school aid, painter, and during all of these roles we both focused on active parenting and family life. Time is such an interesting thing. When there is too much of it, like the long spaces waiting for aging parents to slip back into this world while we waited for lucid moments to be recognized, or when you are waiting to hear outcomes that will break your heart or lift your spirit, and when there is too little as when the good bye time finally comes. In a marriage time beats its own rhythm like a heartbeat, a soft drum, a ticking clock. The time it takes waiting for a response when something hard has been shared, eye to eye and breath to breath. the time between when your child leaps into something new, and the safety net encompasses them and you know they are their own person and time says step back here and move forward there. If you are in something a LONG time, like a relationship with someone you met when you were twelve, it may look easy. It may look like you have missed the hard stuff because you made a promise a long time ago and it stuck. The truth is, you make that promise over and over again. If you are lucky, it is fluid and flexible and maybe the business guy and the artist are not who you started out as, but maybe it you are very lucky they still work. No one can make you happy, but if you are blessed, someone can share in your happiness and you in theirs. No one can give you a sense of self, but if you are lucky, you will stand with someone with whom you are happy bear witness to their life. Mirrors tell one story, you can't replace your sense of self with someone's perception of you, though you can delight in their recognition. not everything is intended to last a lifetime. A short marriage can still have been a good one. There isn't a duration prize for staying with someone when it isn't a good place to be. If though, it is solid in basis, over time it will ebb and flow in strength. When you hit the hard places, if you ride it through like a wave, you might just find with time it again becomes that amazing place you know you want to be. good luck. I am enjoying your blog having daughters not sons, I like to read about love and life from your view.
three words, my friend. You. Are. Worthy. You're worthy of reciprocated love. You're worthy of owning a blissful heart. You're worthy to see the beauty in all things because your heart is happy. You're worthy of so much, yet you still believe differently. Loving yourself is a challenge some days, but once you do, everything around you is clear, bright and beautiful. Just remember--you are worthy. =)
Wow! I feel like I just read a post written by me. But better stated. My mom went through three divorces. I was abused by my older brother. My mom knew about it, but didn't protect me. So I grew up believing I wasn't deserving of love. That all men eventually abandoned or hurt you. I myself have two failed marriages under my belt and I know at the core is my belief that I don't deserve to be loved. That innate fear that someday the people I love will realize I am unloveable and eventually hurt or leave me because that is what everyone in my life as a child basically did. My first marriage lasted 3 years, my second almost 15. Both were doomed to end in divorce because although outloud I said I deserved love and went through all kinds of self-talk (and lots of expensive counseling) to try to convince myself I am loveable and deserving, in the deepest darkest parts of my soul I never truly bought into it. Perhaps I projected my feeling of being unloveable to my spouses and it was too difficult for them to not eventually feel the same way about me that I did/do. I honestly don't know for sure, but I it seems to make sense. All I know is that I have failed at two marriages. My mother failed at three and my dad at four (and who knows how many more he would have failed at if he hadn't of died in his early fifties). Perhaps marital success isn't in the cards for me. What I do know for certain is that although I want to love and be loved, I have a stronger desire to not hurt or be hurt. I have caused a lot of pain and anguish for those I love and don't want to cause more. So I intend to stay single until I find that miracle cure. It's not an easy choice though, because for some reason just deciding not to be in a relationship has somehow made me more attractive. And for a person whose self-esteem has always come from the love/attention of others, choosing to turn away from that attention does not come naturally. Anyways, I'll keep a close eye on your blog to see if you ever happen across the cure/answer. Until then I wish you, me and all the other worthless hearts some peace in the knowledge of what "caused" our divorces, and the hope someday/somehow we will be able to find true love and know that we deserve it.
I appreciate you posting this - it was interesting to read the insight you've developed in reflecting back on several events in your life and how earlier experiences shape your belief structures about yourself and the world. Having went through similar experiences (bullying as a kid/teen, initiating emotional intimacy too quickly, moving from relationship to relationship), one of the things that has helped - to a degree - is just trying to get to know myself and be ok with who I am outside the context of a relationship. It's difficult though, the beliefs about being worthless, being unlovable, they're persistent. But recognizing feelings are not facts and challenging those thoughts help. Thanks again.
I was in the same relationship for 26 years- I am 43 yrs old. I completely relate to the "time" issue. You are a very powerful writer and I greatly enjoy your posts.
I'm incredibly shocked, yet thrilled, that you (especially as a man) are willing to bare it all here. The things you say cause me, and I'm sure countless other people, an opportunity to think, evaluate and hopefully change where needed...let alone extend some grace and understanding to other people. Just stumbling across your blog today I'm quite fascinated. Thank you for pursuing this as the end result is many, many people hopefully getting healthier.
Sad story. Sorry you went through this. I was lucky -a- not to have the bullying and unloved experience you had, and -b- to have been blessed with a natural desire and a community that encouraged introspection, and marrying someone you were compatible with. I did years of self introspection, both to become a psychologically whole person, and also to figure out who I was and what kind of person I needed to marry. Thankfully, this has worked out quite well for me so far! I am in school becoming a therapist with the particular goal of training high schoolers in mental health and happiness skills, and relationship skills, including knowing yourself and dating with your brain.
Thank you for sharing your story.
I have been divorced for about a year and a half, and the day he walked away I knew that I had some serious soul searching and healing to do. I work out myself by talking it out with someone or writing, like you, and while talking to my ever patient mother I had a realization that for me, I found to be 100% true. Each of us has this empty space inside us that we absolutely must find a way to fill. We all find different ways to fill it. We try love. Food. Exercise. Hobbies. Shopping. Writing. Alcohol. Drugs. Sex. Anything. Anything to get rid of that horrible emptiness inside us. These feelings are magnified when we have temporarily filled that space with something and then lose it, for example a failed marriage. The only thing that I have found that can fill that empty space to overflowing forever is Christ. I'm not talking about becoming a zealot or devoting every second to it, but the only thing that I have found that is available to me at anytime, night or day, and that always works is to feel Christ's love for me. That sweet Savior died to save my soul, why? Because he LOVES me. I am enough to him. I have two sweet little twin babies from my marriage and as I look at them and think of the love that I have for them, imperfect as it is because I am an imperfect being, I think about my Father in Heaven and how much he must love me with his perfect love. I am a daughter of Heavenly Father, and He loves me and I love Him. I am the Child of a King. I am a princess. When I feel that incredible love that he has for his precious and prized daughter, I can't help but realize that I am enough. It doesn't matter what anyone else thinks. I am enough. The closer I try to get to my Lord the more I feel that love and the more I actually believe it. I am of infinite value. The worth of my soul is great in the eyes of God. That knowledge has made every ounce of difference to me. I no longer feel the need to fill a void in my soul. Of course I still would love for my twins to have a father, and I would love to not spend the rest of my days alone, however at least I know that if I do find someone now, it isn't out of desperation and it isn't to fill that emptiness inside me.
I too had someone pretend to be interested in me when i was younger while his friends laughed. It hurt. I was married for awhile and yes at a young age. My marriage probably should have ended sooner than it did for more reson than i want to explain here. But i was afraid to be alone and was afraid of not being loved for me. I almost made the mistake of falling and staying with the next guy i dated after me and my ex split. Im glad i didnt and i can look back at that relationship with more fondness than i would have otherwise. I relized i needed to figure out who i was and who i am and be happy with my self fisrt before startting another relationship. And i am happy though at time i do miss being with someone. Others have expressed interest in me but none hold my interest. Sometimes i wonder if i just need to get to know someone first or if im just scared of falling too fast or what. Things i have to explore yet i guess or will learn. I just today found this blog and i dont usually read or reply to them. But u intreguied me. Sorry about the spelling on my mobile phone and its being silly. Lol anyways i feel like u touch home and i understand. Please learn about yourself and love yourself first before starting a relationship and dont be afraid of who u are. And i'LL TRY TO STAY THAT WAY FOR MYSELF too.
There is nothing wrong with you, trust me, other than the fact that you are a hopeless romantic. You dont need to be married to feel loved. Getting married so young, so quickly and to girls you hardly knew, its hardly surprising both marraiges ended in divorce, you practically sabotaged them from the outset. Most people ( whether they had bullying issues or not) would have had the same statitsics. Dont be so hard on yourself. Next person you meet, take it slow. love is like a fire, you need lots of kindling!! Start it right and it will burn brightly for as long as it's meant to.
I haven't figured myself out yet, I guess. I'm a single mom who has never been married. I loved my dad as a child; my mom and I didn't really get along. She was always pretty judgmental and bitter and negative. Towards everyone, though, not just myself. So I don't know that I felt worthless as much as I just felt lost.
I was an average kid. I had average grades, an average amount of "rebellion," an average amount of pot smoking, an average amount of boyfriends, an average amount of being bullied... I pulled through all of it, and a decade later, I'm floating in a weird place. I have an opposite problem as you, though, where I can't seem to bring myself to love people. I mean, sure I love my family. And I love my daughter more than life itself. But I can't depend on other people to love me back.
I had a boyfriend through the last half of high school and on into college. We broke up after 4 years. I loved him at the time, and I was pretty upset. I had never thought once about marrying him, though. I never imagined having kids with him or growing up to be his only woman. After our break-up, at 21, I found myself in the arms of a mutual friend. I had known him for years and years, and I felt safe-ish. He is the father of my daughter. A drunken night when I convinced myself that pain over missing someone was weakness and that I didn't need love. Now I'm living with a different guy who absolutely adores me. We never fight, we don't say mean things. We have a house and he has two children of his own from a previous marriage. But I refuse to be married. He has already told a woman he would love her until the day he dies, gave her his last name, and now he's living with me, seeing his kids one night a week and every other weekend and on holidays, and I can't help but wonder how I'm supposed to fit into all of this. I love him, but I have a hard time doing so. We have separate bank accounts, separate goals.. I even kept all of my DVDs that are duplicates of his, "just in case."
I don't understand any of it myself. I don't want to need someone to love me. And what's worse is, I'm sure both of my parents did love me. They never got divorced, my dad was always around.. we never had any deep dark secrets, like drug or alcohol issues, or abuse, or mistresses. There was nothing. But I'm still encased in armor, worried about letting anyone in and making a fool of myself.
I think love is always a gamble, and that time is a good thing for relationships: it reveals weaknesses and strengths, cementing good relationships and causing the fragile ones to blow up (preferably before we become too deeply entangled in them).
Like you, I grew up thinking I was pretty worthless. I still feel that, sometimes, but for me the solution was never looking for others' validation. I have spent my whole life expecting people either to hate me or (most likely) be indifferent towards me. I have always had loving friends and family, but I knew that they loved me in spite of my qualities, not because of them. I do the best I can to contribute more upside than downside to the relationships I have had, and I have been surprised and delighted when people have responded by accepting me with open arms (as they do, on occasion).
Looking back, I think my successful relationships have several things in common. (1) They all started with low or no expectations. I never expected people to like me, let alone love me. (This is true even when I think of my parents, though I must say they have always shown love for me. I accepted that love without feeling that I had any right to it, any obligation to feel hurt if I didn't get it.) I did not go on a single date until I was 26 years old. I asked a girl once, and she agreed initially but then backed down. I was not surprised. I did not resent it. I figured she knew herself well enough to know I was no good for her (or at least not as good as whatever else she had going on). When I finally met the woman who became my wife, we spent 2 years engaged, talking on the phone every night when we were apart and seeing one another days at a time when we in the same state. We never had sex (since we were brought up to save it for the honeymoon), and we didn't really have expectations about what sex or married life would be like.
(2) They all involve continuous, rigorously honest communication. My wife and I didn't have many expectations of married life when we first met and starting seeing one another, but it didn't take long for us to start talking about what vague ideas we did have. We talked a lot. We were very honest. We disagreed. We discussed our disagreements and found them less important than our agreements (which we also discussed). By the time we finally got married, I felt like I knew her really well. The only relationships I have that compare, in terms of emotional investment and openness, are with family and one or two longstanding friends. And I don't keep up with these relationships as diligently as I keep up with my wife. We still talk.
(3) They all improve over time. My wife and I didn't start out as great friends, with intimate knowledge of one another. My best friends and closest family didn't begin as close to me as they are now. History is cruel to some relationships: the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune drive some of us apart, even when we desperately want to be together. It is kind to others, throwing some people back in your lap over and over until you have a stronger bond for all the shit you have been through together. I feel like the really great relationships I have had have been the ones that embrace and build history. Life is crazy. Bad stuff happens. Because of all the work my wife and I have put into our mutual understanding, the bad stuff that has attacked us has driven us together (where it could just as easily have driven us apart: and it may yet do so; there is no way of guaranteeing that we won't be completely swamped by some unforeseen circumstance that destroys what we have spent the last few years lovingly building together).
Unlike some people, I don't think that "losing" at the marriage game (even multiple times) is necessarily an indication that someone is morally deficient (a douchebag or whatever). Much of life is random. We play the hands we are given, and sometimes life deals some pretty crappy hands. It sounds to me as though you are doing the best you can with the one you have, and you are finding some success (some relationships with other people that are more positive than negative, for you and for them). Your life has meaning, and their lives are enriched because of you. That is something you can always be happy about, no matter what particular relationships you make or don't make with people towards whom you feel a romantic attraction.
We all make mistakes. The trick is learning from them, as it seems that you are. Thanks for sharing with us.
When I was young, I don't remember my age but I wasn't older than 9, I had an disingenuous "friend." He was the first friend I can recall ever making in my entire life. I didn't realize it at at first, but his betrayal has poisoned my self-image for many years. I finally realized it at 20 years old. And one year after that, I find this article.
I was, and to be honest, still am reluctant to trust anyone. Not even my own mother. I have never had a best friend, been on a first date, had a first kiss, and until last month, shared a hug with someone that wasn't a family member. Now I know exactly what's been poisoned, and what needs to change. I don't know how I will change it, or even if, as you ponder, I merely need time to dissolve it away.
Unlike you, I didn't fear time. I waited patiently. I have an overabundance of it patience, it is one of my superhuman traits. Though, like you, I have struggled to convince myself that I am truly valuable, and worthy of being loved by someone.
I'm not sure that I would have ever known what was wrong, had I not come across your article. And I thank that you wrote it, despite yourself.
Thanks for posting. Growing up, I lived with only my dad from the ages of about 11-17. He was a great father in terms of providing and protecting as well as loving, but was and is very emotionally unstable and miserable. He has been through many relationships which he has dragged me though. They would end, he would be angry and alone, and I would be the only person there in his life outside of work and the occasional one-night stand. Along with his emotional instability and depression, and with me being the only person in his life, I was at the receiving end of his misery. He would constantly put me down, control me, yell at me, pick at me, anything just to take his anger out. Never physical, but very emotionally abusive. It definitely took it's toll on my self-esteem and outlook on life. At such a young age it's a shame but also a blessing. I was so fortunate that I was able to open my eyes and get out of the unhealthy environment.
In your posts of the 31 do-not's in a marriage, I see a lot of him and his actions. Practically all of them. He would also rush into relationships. As I've gotten older, I've come to realize and understand all the things he would say. He was always scared of a relationship ending and always the pessimist, yet he always needed to have someone. He always needed the security. After reading this post, it all comes together. His problem is Time. And not with just relationships, but everything in life.
As for me, I'm only 20 years old. I've been in 1 relationship which is to be considered "high school sweethearts." The whole time I was so afraid of it ending and turning out like my dad. It constantly ate at me and I had constant anxiety. I built a constant wall and I was subconsciously condemning myself to my father's habits. It didn't help that my ex had his own mommy issues and was a great guy, yet a terrible boyfriend. I became even more insecure trying to live up to what I thought I had to be for him and his family. It screwed me up even more. After that ended when I was almost 18, I was completely devastated. It was a typical first love's heartbreak. Add the emotional issues I had and It took me a long time to pick myself up and move on.
The thought of relationships scared me yet I craved someone. I wanted to feel accepted and loved, which I had never felt. After about a year and a half of being single, I was finally okay and happy to be single. In a way I always wanted someone, but only if it was for the right reasons. But I was happy with being single and I was focusing on school and didn't really want much to do with relationships. I was able to take my dads experiences and my few experiences and analyze them. I am not like my dad and I am so grateful I had the strength to pull myself up and not pick up his habits. I was able to build myself up and learn to love myself and appreciate who I am. I still have a little work to do, but I'm pretty happy with who I am. However, I have kept the fear of time. It's hard to turn negative thoughts into positive. It's hard to tell and convince myself to not be afraid of time.
Then I met my current boyfriend, who is 23. He's lived a very stable life, and is a very stable person. He's not what I would typically go for in a guy. We have a lot of separate interests, yet we have common interests and continually find more in common. I have never felt so loved and appreciated by someone, and this time I know it's genuine. He grew up with my cousin and they're best friends. My family loves him. I know my cousin wouldn't set me up with someone unworthy. He accepts me and has taught me so much in so little time already. He's taught me a lot of things about myself without even knowing it. I do realize we are young, and that our goals and wants will most likely change. I get scared with the amount of divorce statistics and all the horror stories of marriage.I get scared love will fade,and I get scared that he will turn into someone else when we progress in our relationship, such as moving in with eachother or marriage. Thats what always happened with my dad; he changed and became his miserable self. Call me a fool, but I still have high hopes for our success.
Yet everyone says you have to go through tons of relationships to find the right one. Or people will say your 20's are too young and your 30's is when you for sure know what you want. I'm still a little afraid of time. Sometimes I catch myself freaking out and imagining scenario's where it will go wrong and that most people are right, that we are too young to ever work out. I catch myself fearing time.
Until I read your post, I couldn't quite place what I was afraid of. Naturally I'm scared of losing my boyfriend, but positive thinking has helped me overcome that. Knowing that I'll be okay if things do end has helped me overcome this fear. Yet there was still some anxiety, some fear. And now I realize that I am afraid of time and the time it will end, and here I catch myself caught up in my dads habits, which I've been so against.
I can only hope I overcome this. Instead of fearing time, I want to embrace it. I want to make sure we have plenty of time to make sure we want to be together. To make sure we go through plenty of obstacles and survive them together. I don't want to rush into things, and I can only hope that time will bring us together. It's scary, but I've met a guy who is worth facing time for. And know that I know what my biggest fear is, it's time to face it.
Thank you so much. As cheesy as it is, you have truly helped me.
Everyone wants the same thing and it's so easy. Time, attention, communication, affection and GOD. We love because we are loved..I was married for 29 years..loveless. Now divorced myself and nursing a broken heart..a player with 5 notches on his marital belt (yes, I was naive..believing the words..the flowers..the kisses..the "I love you's") don't just throw that phrase around. Don't feel bad Dan, at least you know how to love and have learned what not to do. My fairy tale is over. I pray you find Miss Right. No one wants to die alone.
It's hard to feel and believe someone else's love for us when we don't love ourselves. I went through a string of miserable, long-term, live-in relationships that may as well have been marriages and divorces (three of them) plus one actual marriage and divorce, always wondering why they were broken and convinced I did not deserve to be happy. So the fact that you threw a ceremony into your relationships is no reason to beat yourself up. I am 34, and finally found the man I'm compatible with, the glorious one who time makes the relationship with stronger and deeper. He can be exactly who he is and I can be exactly who I am and we delight in that and both breathe easily, knowing we don't have to change to please each other. Yet he did not come into my life until I spent time in therapy and time alone learning how to first love and respect myself, and I see that attitude growing in your writing. I think our relationships reflect how we feel about ourselves. If you hate yourself, you will make unhealthy choices and stay in unhealthy situations. Give yourself the same kindness, understanding, and forgiveness you give other people, and settle for nothing less than being able to entirely be yourself with another person, warts and all.
I stayed in an emotionally abusive and fundamentally loveless marriage for 22 years, believing IU could not make it on my own and that no one could every truly love me. Your discussion of the weird effects of time and the feeling of worthlessness is well-written and relevant. Thanks so much.
I wonder... If everyone was this transparent, would we all be happier? Emerson said that "Envy is ignorance. Imitation is suicide."
Dan, a couple thoughts. First, you need to stop apologizing every time you post a 'serious' letter; personally, I love them and I guarantee I'm not alone. Second, you need to stop beating yourself up over your past. I get it - you thought you were inherently unlovable. So did many of us. And you did things you wish you could take back. Same here. Believe me, there are things I find it difficult to believe that God can forgive me for. But at the end of the day, the *very act of sharing these lessons* is valuable and important, and the suffering you went through was meaningful if only for that reason! You are an inspiration, just by being you, just by sharing your experiences, thoughts, and feelings. Third, please accept yourself for who you are. You don't need to be perfect. You don't need to be heterosexual. Heck, you don't even need to be metrosexual! Be yourself. You are kind, you are expressive, you are a good dad, a good friend, a good man. You are lovable. And p.s., from your pics on the website, you are cute, too. :)
Your perspective on life really blows my mind. Your thoughts seem so well thunked! Thanks for sharing so much of your life on this blog. Well done.
Awesome. I think most, if not all of us feel the exact same way. I've found that even "the beautiful people" feel like the fat, ugly kid a lot of the time. I walked away from my true love, probably my soul mate, when I was young, because of that time bomb you mentioned. Everything he did to prove he loved me just made me think he was under some kind of spell that would eventually break. I started to be terrified that it would break the day after our wedding, or maybe 5 years in, so I broke it off before we could get married. Like you, that's not what it looked like to him, or to the outside world, but that's what happened.
I met a guy who hadn't had a lot of female attention, and he seemed crazy about me. I liked him okay and figured I could love him in time, and I figured he'd always appreciate me, so I married him...waaaayyyy too soon after breaking up with the other guy. After reading your thoughts, I believe my husband was just like you, even more so than I was. We hung in there, prayed, fought, got counseling, did everything we could to stay together, and it took 17 years for the marriage to finally end. (Well, legally, anyway. As they say, it was really over long before that.)
Oh, and in the meantime, my old beau looked me up. He still loves me, go figure. It's too late now because he's married and has kids. It was very healing for me to actually know that he didn't forget me after all those years, though. It really helped me to see things differently. The one thing I have resolved is that I will never, ever again get engaged to someone I haven't dated for AT LEAST a year, probably longer.
It took me a lot longer to learn these lessons than it is taking you. You're doing great! Keep up the good work.
Oh Gosh! So many of us can relate.
In high school, I never had dates. No boy wanted to be seen with a 'crippled' girl' as I walked differently because of my cerebral palsy. I endured the stares and snickers. No boy would take the time to get pass the exterior and see although, I walked, stood and talked funny I was a REAL person with REAL feelings. I wanted the same thing as everyone else. Acceptance. Love. Go to a dance with a boy.
I acted like it didn't bother me but it tore me up inside. At one point, I wanted to fit in so much that I came up with this imaginary boyfriend I would tell my friends I spent time with so they wouldn't feel sorry for me.
I lied to myself and everyone else that it was okay with me. I had other dreams to pursue that didn't involve love.I lied and said I didn't need love.
Then I met my first husband. He was the FIRST guy who told me he loved me, I was pretty and my walking etc wasn't a problem for him. We dated a few years and we married. I KNEW we shouldn't have married but what if I didn't marry this person and no one else would want me? I do believe he truly loved me. I convinced myself that I loved him. We got married. During my the wedding reception line as I thanked everyone for coming etc I was crying. Not because I was happy but because I knew the wedding was a big mistake. Nine months later he was arrested and I got my out of the marriage. I made it that it was his fault because of the arrest.
Several months after the divorce I met my second husband. He accepted me and asked me to marry him within a few months but after the first marriage I refused. We moved in together because I thought it was the next best thing to marriage and I didn't want to lose him. What if I didn't commit to him, he would find someone more desirable than I? So I hung on to him and finally after 5 years of living together I married him and I felt loved. We loved each other so very much. 24 years later the marriage dissolved from so many factors. I still sometimes wonder what the hell happened. I don't think its that we fell out of love, we changed drastically after our child was born. I struggled 10 extra years to make it work because I was so afraid to be alone and not loved. I think having my child helped because I was loved unconditionally by her.
I just wanted to share my story and thanks for sharng yours. Alot of times I may not comment but I read your blog and can relate to so many things you write. This one hit home for me with what I call grasping for love in all the wrong ways. God bless.
@StephMiller no one can make you believe you are loveable. That is a step that only you can take in your journey through life. A thought to consider. It is just a perception that you are unloveable. Another thought: while you BELIEVE you are unloveable, you will not respond to those who do or would love you because you will reject their love because you BELIEVE you are unloveable. No one will be able to PROVE to you, that you are indeed loveable because you will not BELIEVE THEM, because in your MIND, you will remain unloveable.
If your husband is divorcing you, for another woman (I am guessing) then perhaps he has been trying to love you for years but you have not been able to believe him. He needed to love you but you were unable to receive his love. But I am guessing because I look at your picture and I see a woman who so desperately wants to love. It is not enough to want to love. You can pour out so much love but you need to receive it too. That is how intimacy is created.
If I have jumped to conclusions and I have got it all wrong, I apologize profusely and will not be offended if you wish to set me straight. I am just guessing. Perhaps I should have just asked, instead?????
Actually, he was already in my life, and had been my friend for a couple of years while we both struggled with broken relationships. Both of us went through alone times of healing and introspection, which changed our mindsets and attitudes in a way that allowed us to see the world around us and each other in a new light.