currently writing from: the kitchen in my PJ’s way too late in the day to admit…
"I ain’t never been in love.
I don’t know what it is.
She only knows if someone wants her.
I want them if they want me.
I only know they want me.”
- Jane Says, "Jane’s Addiction"
The home where I was raised bore no sign over the door reading “Love Lives Here.” I was unwanted from conception, born into a family wrought with mental illness, and I was powerless.
That is until the age of 6, when I was introduced to sex.
I quickly learned I couldn’t make someone love me, but I could make them want me. I discovered later getting people to want me wasn’t limited to sexual intrigue. I could also garner interest with intelligence or hard physical labor. The main point was having something to trade for attention.
Labor and Intelligence proved to have lesser return on investment than sexuality. I could gain the admiration of one or two by the fact I wasn’t afraid to get dirt under my nails – or I could enjoy the undivided attention of every man in the room with a “barely-there” outfit. Do the math.
The result? Girls hated me. Wives feared me. Church-goers pitied me. Men wanted me.
It’s not easy being a Christian tramp; to live in the bi-polar world of loving God but also wanting to be loved. I’ve already established I had written off the possibility of love, so all that was left was to be wanted. I excelled at my gift of flirtation. I’d keep boys on the hook as long as I could – each time giving a little more than the last. However, as my pursuer rounded first, second, and third base in slow-motion, sometimes taking weeks, other times months, I would call time-out right before he reached “home base.” The boy would leave angry and empty-handed despite my promise of paradise.
Fate can be cruel.
Just as those boys eventually realized that the promise was empty - nothing to be gained from their investment, I discovered the same thing as I got older:
Wrinkles emerged, hair thinned, spider-veins appeared.
My power was leaving and I still didn’t feel loved or wanted! I had gained nothing!
Its cruelty didn’t stop there:
My ability to work hard was diminished by a back injury and age began to obscure my intelligence like a sheer fog.
My marriage was failing and I was angry.
My husband tried to convince me of his love – as did dear friends. I resented my husband as I was confident his “love” was contingent on my performance. As far as my friends, I simply thought they were being polite.
I wanted desperately to be loved. Just loved for who I am. I was surrounded by people who were telling me, pleading with me to know, I am loved, but as ‘Jane says:’
“I ain’t never been in love.
I don’t know what it is… I only know they want me.”
2 weeks ago, my therapist asked me why I thought no one loves me. The answer was simple: “I’m unlovable.” Not because of anything I’ve done – it’s just who I am. From the moment the ‘positive’ showed up on my mother’s pregnancy test, I’ve been hated and unwanted. It’s been a pretty constant narrative since, so it’s not an unreasonable conclusion.
“It sounds like the conclusion a 6-year-old girl would make. And a quite reasonable one with the information she had. But she didn’t know to consider that perhaps it was the people around her who had a problem – people who were broken and didn’t know how to love.”
My whole world flipped upside-down.
I left her office that day, my head spinning as truth pushed out years of lies and took its rightful place:
I am deeply loved – by my husband, my friends, my coworkers. I’ve had neighbors, teachers, all kinds of people who have truly loved me. My value isn’t in my body, my sexuality, my labor, or my intelligence. It’s in being me.
And… A critical part of my healing is in YOU being you.
I didn’t share this for your pity. I hate pity. I shared it to empower you and, in-turn, that we both may be made whole. I want you to be you so I can trust who I see. I want to know you’re not being “polite.” We’ve all been hurt by each other. I want us to be healed by each other.
You have beliefs about yourself that are based in lies. What are they? What is it that your loved ones always try to tell you but you reject?
That you’re kind? Smart? That they love being around you? That you’re beautiful, even when you “ugly cry”?
I’m not talking about the jacked-up whack-jobs in your world. We’ve all got those. I mean the ones that you’ve chosen to be closest to you because you trust them the most.
Learn to trust them on their judgment of you.
You are loved.
I am loved.
Let’s take the risk to love others.
Nicodemus asked Jesus “How can a man be born when he’s old? Can he enter his mother’s womb a second time and be born?”
I write these words on the day of my 48th year of my birth, yet I feel I’ve just been born.