“Many of my research participants who had gone through a painful breakup or divorce, been betrayed by a partner, or experienced a distant or uncaring relationship with a parent or family member spoke about responding to their pain with a story about being unlovable—a narrative questioning if they were worthy of being loved.
This may be the most dangerous conspiracy theory of all. If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the past thirteen years, it’s this: Just because someone isn’t willing or able to love us, it doesn’t mean that we are unlovable.” Brene Brown on her new book, Rising Strong.
In the early days after the separation, this was a very real struggle for me. I would lie awake at night, going over and over in my mind where I went wrong. I would try to figure out what was so inherently wrong with me that provoked the rejection I was experiencing. It hurt so much, and I wanted to figure it out so I could ease the pain. On some level, I thought if I could fix my flaws, it could all be okay.
It took some time for me to realize it wasn’t about me. My counselor helped me with this. My former husband either wasn’t willing or wasn’t able to love me. I have some thoughts about the “why” of that, but really, it doesn’t matter anymore. Coming to terms with that reality was very freeing to me. I no longer needed to spend tremendous amounts of energy trying so hard to be who he seemed to want me to be, and change in ways that would hopefully cause him to notice me. No wonder all of those efforts had no effect. He was either unwilling or unable to love me.
I started to allow myself to see who I really was. I took off the lens I had been looking at myself through for over twenty years…. the lens of his opinion of me. I looked at myself through my own lens. I began to write in a journal about my good qualities, my strengths, my interests. I remembered and wrote about what gives me joy and makes me feel alive. I did not allow words of judgement towards myself. I chose to think about myself in positive terms.
A friend of mine suggested to me to start each day by making eye contact with myself in the mirror and saying to myself, “You are worth it.” At first, it was excruciatingly uncomfortable to do this. But, I persisted. Eventually, it felt more comfortable. After a while, I noticed a little smile on my lips when I said it. One day, I said it with conviction. I realized I truly meant it. I felt such joy! This was a turning point for me.
I am worth it.
I am lovable.
I am worthy of love.
And, so are you.
Believe it, and live your life from this truth. It changes things when you do.