How many of us can honestly say we’ve made it through life with no regrets? It seems almost inevitable that we’ll make some poor decision, say something wrong, or choose the wrong door at some point. But what do you do when it feels like your choices make you unlovable?
Years ago, I sat on a hilltop in North Dakota with my then-boyfriend. I knew within hours of my plane landing that this relationship wasn’t going to work out. We weren’t connecting, and I had followed him all over his rain-soaked farm more like a lost duckling than an endearing girlfriend. As the wind whipped against the side of the truck, he stared out the windshield, tears welling in his eyes. I stared out the window trying to gain my own composure. “It’s alright,” I told him, “I’m used to not being chosen.”
Melodramatic? Perhaps. But in that moment, it is exactly how I felt. I would never find a man willing to look past my mistakes and see me. I was used to being unchosen. It had taken 27 years to find a man even willing to entertain interest and here I was sitting right beside him dreading the remainder of the weekend before I flew home. I was never going to find someone.
Part of my life is standing on a stage and sharing my story of a broken home, sexual addiction, and poor self-esteem. It’s basically a stereotypical man’s worst nightmare—a girl with daddy issues, who might be unfaithful, and hates her body. I was fairly convinced, no man in his right mind would choose this.
Some men expressed interest, but it was always purely sexual and objectifying. I started to wonder if I would ever find a man who wanted to get to know me as a person, not just as a sex object. Could anyone see past my “daddy issues?”
Eventually, I did find someone, and we are recently engaged, but it has not been easy.
When you spend so long convincing yourself that no one could ever love you, it takes a lot of grit and grace to believe someone actually does. One of the biggest hurdles for my fiancé hasn’t been correcting what he has done, but instead trying to fight against the years of fear built up in my own heart.
When you spend so long convincing yourself that no one could ever love you, it takes a lot of grit and grace to believe someone actually does.
It’s been one of the most painful, yet healing, processes of my life. If you’re in a similar place wondering if you could ever be loved, here’s what I want you to say to you. While I’ll talk about my fiancé, these are also applicable to friendships and family relationships as well.
1. Lose the Labels
Stop defining yourself by failures or shortcomings. We’re so good (or bad) at labeling ourselves. We walk around clothed in lies about who we are, our value, and our worth. We wear labels like: fat, ugly, stupid, slut, messed up, and we let those labels dictate how we live our lives. “No, you can’t do that because you’re (insert label here).”
No man will ever want you because your daddy left.
You won’t be a good wife because you’re not a size zero.
You’re too opinionated to be in a relationship.
You have too much anxiety.
Imagine, for instance, you were out trying on clothes. If you put on a dress that was way too tight and wouldn’t even zip in the back, you wouldn’t leave the store in it, right? No! You would keep shopping until you found something that fit, flattered, and made you feel good. At least I hope that’s what you would do!
We don’t do that with labels, though. When it comes to labels, instead of taking off the labels that don’t fit, flatter, or make us feel good, we walk around with bad ones, half-zipped up, making us feel exposed, embarrassed, and uncomfortable. What label is it that makes you feel unworthy? Get rid of it, and replace it with something better.
2. Don’t Fear Vulnerability
In his book, The Four Loves, C.S. Lewis says, “To love at all is to be vulnerable.”
Obviously, you want to be wise and not put yourself in a risky situation. But for many of us who struggle with feeling unlovable, we aren’t willing to take a risk at all. The situation could be completely safe, but we’re already walking away because it doesn’t seem worth it. We’re afraid he might leave or that he might hurt us.
We’re so good (or bad) at labeling ourselves. We walk around clothed in lies about who we are, our value, and our worth.
When I first started dating my fiancé, I was convinced he was in it for all of the wrong reasons, and I kept trying to push him away. I hurled insults at him and accused him of things he never did or said. When I stopped to think about it, though, my own fear was making me misinterpret his actions. I was looking for the monsters and seeing them everywhere.
If I was convinced I was unlovable and men only want one thing, then I had no choice but to believe that he was a bad man who didn’t really love me. Believing that was easier than the risk of believing he was sincere. Allowing myself to be loved has been hard but so healing.
3. Be Willing to Heal Together
Not a single one of us has a perfect life. Each of us has fears and insecurities. We have reasons we might struggle to trust. One common lie we can believe is that we have to have it all figured out before we can be in a healthy relationship. While it’s true that you might want to be mostly healed, by its nature, a relationship is going to reveal additional layers of healing that are needed. It’s almost like deepening the healing that is already there.
That’s okay. Don’t shy away from those deep places. Don’t hide them and feel you have to work through them alone. Be willing to heal together.
My fiancé and I both have areas of our lives that we thought were healed. Being in a relationship with each other has led to healing we didn’t even know we needed. Your brokenness doesn’t make you unlovable. It may even make you uniquely capable and qualified to love someone well. Don’t get in a relationship with someone just to fix them, but don’t fear your own brokenness in a relationship either.
None of us have it all together; let go of the lie that says you aren’t worthy of being known and loved. No matter what your past, you are not unlovable.
Don’t miss this podcast episode of This Grit and Grace Life, Does Your Self-Confidence Need a Boost? – 018.
You’ll also like 3 Ways Positive Self-Talk Can Improve Your Life, Overcoming Shame in the Grit and Grace Life, 5 Helpful Tips for Loving Your Body the Way It Is, 2 Ways to Break Free From Self-Sabotage, and Have You Ever Said It? “I’m Not Good Enough.”.
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