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feeling unlovable

Is there anything worse than feeling unlovable?

by Matt Pappas

As is typical of me and my writing, the inspiration for this post came from a recent session, talking about relationships. I don’t know that I can say that I was planning on talking about this topic going into the session, but that’s what it morphed into. That’s one thing about working with a professional, it keeps you on your toes.

This post is likely to be pretty deep and very self-revealing, so I just want to put that out there from the get go. Talking about feeling unlovable can be very triggering; I know it is for me.

During this chat I came to the realization that deep down inside, on a cellular level, I feel totally unlovable. I don’t deserve to be loved the way that others do. I believe that is the first time I’ve actually admitted it out loud. Looking back at the situations that transpired in my life to cause this feeling, it’s beginning to make sense.

Case in point, I was asked to remember a time when someone did something just for me. An act that a person did for me and for no other self-motivating reason on their part. As I pondered this for a minute, I recalled 1 particular time that happened not long ago. Relatively speaking.

The act that I remember was my 40th birthday surprise party. I was 39 and it was late summer when my wife at the time began to plan this epic party for me. She saved up money from tips at her job to help pay the rental on the fire hall. She invited my coworkers, family, and a bunch of my friends all secretly.  She got my favorite local DJ to agree to emcee the party. This dude is my kind of people, long 80’s hair, loves to rock, and loves all things retro. 

She lined up catering from a local friend who owned a pizza shop, and secured some other trays of various awesome party food. A mutual friend who is an incredibly talented cake decorator, worked on this amazing sheet cake of KISS. Gene, Paul, Peter, and Ace and the big KISS logo in the middle. There was beer, soda, crazy dance lights, and all the trimmings for an awesome time.

She worked hard to pull all this together in secret because she loved me. The night came and it was a good time. I had a blast talking with people and just hanging out and reminiscing. Everyone was there to celebrate me. She, my wife, put her heart and soul into this party and I was eternally grateful. After all something of this magnitude had never been done for me before.

I was in awe of her selflessness, even though I already knew she was a giving person to begin with.

Here is where the whole feeling of this post ties together. That was the most epic thing anyone had ever done for me. I felt loved and appreciated by many that night. I was on cloud 9, and in fact I can still remember it like it was yesterday.

5 months later my marriage fell apart, and I was alone again. The person who gave their all and I trying to regain a feeling of being loved instead of feeling unlovablethought loved me like no other could, took my life and turned it upside down.

So why am I unlovable? Why do I have problems with relationships now? Because if you do something nice for me, I’m screwed! It might not be tomorrow, or next week, but it’s coming. I’m waiting for the rug to get ripped out from under me and my world to come crashing down again.

That’s just the way it is for people who are close to me. When you go over and above to do something nice for me just because; the end is near and it’s going to hit me like a freight train.

So how do I stop that from happening? My walls are fortified even more. The guards at the gate of my castle (my inner self) are doubled and even tripled. The moat around the castle is widened and deepened, and the drawbridge has extra padlocks on it.  No way you are getting in to hurt me again!

I will keep you at arm’s length and only let you get so close. This way I am protecting myself from getting blindsided.

Is there any hope for this feeling? Is there chance to feel lovable and to allow someone to care for me the way that I want and desire?

If you would have asked me that question yesterday, I probably would have told you, “not likely”. After tonight though, some things have been put into perspective.

There is hope! I’m taking steps to change this and I didn’t even realize it. By reaching out and encouraging others and receiving the love back that they give, these unlovable feelings are slowly weakening over time. It’s not a quick thing but I can see some definite progress.

As I let people in to my castle just a little at a time, I’m learning to accept their love and support which is helping me to realize that I’m not unlovable. If these people can reciprocate the same type of love that I am sending out, how can I not be worthy of receiving it? I know that I am genuine and I feel that they are as well.

The survivor community, and my trusted friend/colleague are giving back everything I am sending out. How awesome is it to realize that?! It’s pretty mind blowing to me quite honestly! 

Perhaps there is hope; not everyone who is kind to me or does something nice to me is out to screw me over. Just maybe they are doing it out of the same kind of love and heartfelt compassion that I am.

That, my friends, is an amazing feeling to me! I am just starting to grasp this as I type it out and I can feel myself being a little more empowered even as we speak.

I am not unlovable; you are not unlovable. Not everyone is out to get us and rip our hearts out. There are people that care and are as genuine as we are. We just have to be able to trust, make ourselves vulnerable, and learn to accept that love back.



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Don June 20, 2016 - 1:52 pm

Thank you for sharing this. I learned that if someone did something nice for you, then there was always strings attached (especially if money was involved). The strings could be anything from my silence to having to do something I didn’t want to do. They would be called in for redemption at any time and I had no say in it. I’m very weary of others. I don’t fully trust many people and I’ve always got that watching eye out on guard.

I realize, I’m not always the easiest person to live within a relationship either. I get hurt easily and often I feel like no one loves me, even if they do. I struggle hard with that and sometimes feel very alone. The only thing I never feel that with is animals.

Matt June 20, 2016 - 2:17 pm

You and me both man, but I can tell from knowing you the length of time that I have to date, you are an awesome dude. Nobody is perfect and our baggage from the past haunts us. You are stronger than you probably think man! Always remember that.

As far as that whole not trusting people, looking back at my marriages I see where I just did not fully trust my other half even though time and time again they would tell me that I should, nothing was wrong, they love me, etc etc. I tend to feel now that the constant insecurity and lack of trust likely played some role in the ending of each one, regardless of how it happened. People say that isn’t the case, but try telling my mind that.

Don June 21, 2016 - 1:16 pm

I try to share it with my partner and that helps I think. I go through this a lot and it often makes me feel like I’m just a messed up person. The things that were done to me and how they were done has made this part of my life, a difficult journey. It has gotten better for me, but I still hit periods of time where I find my cave and put the “DO NOT DISTURB” sign on the door. The mind sometimes just has a mind of its own.

Steve Sparks June 21, 2016 - 3:19 pm

I discovered unconditional love the very first time in my mid 30s. I’ve now been blessed with 32 years of marriage to a beautiful person, inside and out. She showed me by example how to love deeply. It took many years to accept that someone could love me the way she does. When someone is damaged from growing up in a loveless home, we are wired for emotional numbness to protect ourselves. Now, in my later years, peace of mind is a gift from heaven. Love is the answer. Best wishes,

Joy Richardson June 24, 2016 - 8:05 pm

There are so many things that are loveable about you Smiles!

Accepting ourselves means accepting the gray area. - Surviving My Past July 11, 2016 - 9:31 am

[…] negative means that we continue to feed the low self-esteem, lack of confidence, and feeling that we aren’t capable of loving or being loved. We are stuck and we stay […]


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