Somewhere along the way, along with being battered with the message that “abused people abuse people” and should, therefore, remain childless, I also received the message that broken people should never enter into a marriage relationship. Evidently, you aren’t supposed to get intimately close to anyone unless you are whole. Frankly, both messages were devastating and gut-wrenching. But I think the idea that I, as a broken person, would actually be harming another person by entering into a relationship with them, would truly be asking something unfair of them to ask that they love me, was the most gutting message I have ever had thrown at me. And I’ve had a few doosy messages tossed my way.
I tried to swallow it. But it was too big.
You see, I didn’t break myself. I was broken. Mostly by my abusive parents. So my broken state wasn’t due to my poor choices or stupidity. It was because of what was done to me. By the people who were supposed to love and protect me. But who destroyed me instead.
And the last thing I ever wanted was for someone else to be hurt because of me…being me.
For a person who doesn’t want to be a burden, doesn’t want to get their “goo” on anyone because it might hurt them, the thought that just by being who I am; screwed up, hurt, wounded mess of a person, would mean I had to isolate myself to keep anyone from being touched by my awfulness, well, that’s really a horrible, staggering thought. It means I’m the problem. I’m an atomic bomb. I’m napalm. I’m every bit as horrible as I ever thought I was, plus more. I should probably die. Alone.
It’s a fairly appalling feeling…to feel as if you are unworthy of love because you have been badly broken. To feel you are so defective due to the abuse you suffered and somehow managed to survive that you shouldn’t expect anyone to want or cherish you. To realize that doing so is unfair to them. It’s asking too much of them. It’s unrealistic. Unfair. That because of who you are, to ask for or to want to be loved is actually a horrible thing to do.
It’s crushing. Gut-wrenching. Soul deadening. Numbing. Paralyzing.
This is how I have lived most of my life. In the state of desiring to be loved, wanting to be wanted, needing love and acceptance, but knowing that asking to be loved was asking too much. Knowing it was a wrong and selfish thing to do. Knowing that fragmented people, like me, are not only too hard to love, but we are toxic to others and shouldn’t allow ourselves to be in a relationship because it’s unhealthy for those who get too close to us.
Causing damage to another person is the one thing, the one really, really big thing, that I never, ever, ever wanted to do. I knew how painful it was, to be stabbed in the heart. To be ripped to shreds. I never wanted to cause anyone else that kind of destructive pain. To learn this is what I was doing by longing to be loved and wanted was mortifying.
When I first heard this message, I was in church. The pastor is a person I respect greatly; I respect him still, to this day, more than almost everyone else I know. Coming from a person I trust and respect made the sting even more painful. I couldn’t ignore what he said. I couldn’t disregard it out of hand because of questioning his judgment or wisdom for some reason. Just the opposite. He was a wise and caring spiritual authority. Someone worth listening to. So I had to listen.
I was sitting next to my husband at the time. We had been married about 9 years and things weren’t great. He had informed me during our first year of marriage that he didn’t love me, which had utterly massacred me. I felt myself die inside when he spoke those words and even though I went through the motions for years afterward, I was never the same. I knew I wasn’t fooling anyone, although I tried to at least fool myself. But at the time, I was still working diligently to be a good wife, doing everything I could to earn money so he wouldn’t have to while attempting to do wifely things like clean the house and occasionally cook a nice meal. It was getting harder and harder to do the things that were expected of me. I knew he wasn’t happy with me. I knew he didn’t even really like me. He snorted in disdain at most of what I said or did. Most of what I wanted. He made it explicitly clear that he didn’t want to listen to my problems or hear anything about what was inside of me. Didn’t want to know my pain. So I kept my mouth shut and didn’t talk about who I was or what I felt. I tried not to be a bother. I tried to not rock the boat. I tried to be worth keeping around. I tried.
Yes, I tried extremely hard to perform well. Including participating in a sexual relationship. But that was getting harder too because I was starting to feel very much like a prostitute. A body required to perform sexual acts with a man who was essentially a stranger. A stranger who didn’t want to know me. Just wanted to use me for his gratification. We were still having sex at the time I heard the message, but it wasn’t frequent or fulfilling like it had been in the beginning. Not for either one of us.
Listening to the pastor talk about how wrong it was for a broken person to be in a relationship, I knew my husband was gloating. He was feeling justified. Justified for not loving me. He was a martyr who was carrying an impossibly heavy and horrible load. Because I was obviously unreasonable to have ever expected love from him. I was not worthy. My brokenness disqualified me from being cherished, cared for, wanted, accepted, or loved. He was a hero for allowing me to stay around.
It also reinforced the message I thought I had received from God when my husband first told me he didn’t love me. A message that said the most I could ever hope for was to be tolerated. It was the best God could do for someone as utterly despicable as me. It was as if God was telling him that day in church it was okeydokey that he didn’t love me and treated me like dirt. What should I expect? Nothing. That’s what I should expect. Nothing. I was getting what I deserved. Actually, I was getting BETTER than I deserved, because I was in SOME kind of a relationship and that was more than I ever had a right to ask for. So I needed to keep my mouth shut and get on with it. Be thankful for his tolerance. Be grateful he didn’t dump me in the street.
Thirteen years later, he did. Dump me in the street, that is. When he fell in love with someone else. Now, I had what I deserved. No one.
I still want to be loved. I know it’s wrong, since I’m still a broken, wounded fiasco. But I don’t want to be alone. I long to share my heart, life, and mind with someone who might actually like me and want to be around me from time to time. Someone who might want to hold my hand occasionally. Or who might enjoy kissing me because they think I’m kind of special.
What do you do when your deepest, most intimate desires are reprehensible?
What can you do when you’re a wounded debacle who can’t seem to heal, when you know you’re toxic and should never, ever be in a relationship with another human being, but you are SO alone and the longing to connect with someone else is SO wrenching, you can barely tolerate it? What should you do when you are unfit to be loved because you are damaged and fragmented, but you desperately want to love and be loved?
What do you do when intelligent, accomplished people, people you trust and admire, tell you it’s wrong, unscrupulous, selfish, and horrible for you to be in a profound, committed relationship with someone, with a mate, but something deep inside of you tells you that being loved like that, deeply and wholly, is the one thing that will heal your broken soul? What if your heart whispers that love is the only cure; the only remedy; the only answer to your dilemma? What if this means you can’t be cured because, toxic catastrophe that you are, no one can ever love you without dreadfully damaging themselves?
You do what you must. You stay shattered. Isolated. And lonely.
You heed the message. Because you are broken, you can’t be loved.