But baby, you could try

Way back when, probably high school, my friend Danielle and I used to lay in the dark and listen to Babybird songs. I went through a phase where I really loved Babybird, but one song was always my favourite. It’s called “Unlovable.”

You can’t love me – I’m unloveable. But baby, you could try.

I can’t love you – but you’re so loveable. But baby, let me try.

“Unloveable,” babybird

I don’t know when the idea crept into my head that I was unloveable. It’s strange, I’ve always felt like this was the thing you don’t talk about. Like if you tell people “I don’t feel loveable,” they’ll assume you’re insecure and desperate and all these things that are supposedly “bad.”

Me, age two.

And at my lowest points I am all those things.

I don’t think many people would assume this about me. I’m fairly confident most of the time. I know what I’m good at and what I’m not. I know all this in my head – I am an academic so there’s things I know that don’t translate into things I feel.

I know I am loveable.

Sometimes I don’t feel it.

I can see the threads of this idea through so many periods of my life. Always trying a little too hard, a little bit on edge, a little unsure. I’ve realized that I think that loving me, dating me, being friends with me is a compromise, a chore.

That people do it either because they must or because they’re just good, good people.

I was always someone’s project. I spent so many of my younger years scared and shy and reckless and hurt and lost that people felt they had to swoop in to save me. Save me from myself. Maybe they didn’t even mean it that way. But I always felt like the little bird you find and nurture back to health.

But I never felt like I took flight.

I can never quite seem to shake the cold tendrils of insecurity off my soul. I can’t seem to part with this idea that I, myself, at my core, am not loveable. It makes me so sad. Sad for the ways these hurts took root and sad that no matter how much people try, I assume they have one foot out the door.

When you don’t feel loveable, you try to do enough to stack the odds in your favour. But there’s no rest. It’s always doing or worrying. It doesn’t matter how long someone has been in your life. It could be twelve years, it could be 6 months – you will always assume the worst.

Age 8 (I think – just counted the candles)

I have the most amazing people in my life. I know this. It makes me sad that an unanswered text or a short response makes me immediately go into a tailspin: they’re leaving, they’re leaving, they’ve realized I’m a fraud.

Of course, there were people who left. There were people I pushed so hard to get them away from me. There were people who relished in how hard I would work to be loveable and they reaped the benefits until I asked for something in return. And then they left.

I’ve been on a journey of sorts in the last year and a half. Lots of digging and soul-searching, acceptance and healing. And these feelings keep bubbling back up to the surface as I do that work because when I tug at one thread it pulls at another and on it goes. There are some hurts that never go away completely. But they stop throbbing. They stop keeping me awake at night. They stop making me feel like I am always just gasping for breath.

I wish I could go back in time, find my younger self, and just whisper over and over:

“You are enough. You are loveable. You’ll get there, baby. You’ll get there.”

But it won’t always be this way, I’m sure. Your mind is like a muscle. I’ve worked one set of muscles for 27 years, and now I’m trying to work on others. Nothing is an overnight process. So I sit in the insecurity. I breathe it in and let it surround me, and then I gather the courage to say “Enough.”

I go through the practice of reminding myself that even if people leave, even if they abandon me, even if they don’t love me, it doesn’t make me unloveable. It just means they left. Or it wasn’t the right time. Or any other million reasons things fall apart.

Sometimes I start a post and my fingers are flying and all these emotions come out but I struggle to find the point. What is the point?

I feel unloveable.

And yet, here I am:

Loved.

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