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The Challenge of Accepting Love When I Don't Feel Like I Deserve It

It was one of those nights when I was horribly depressed.

My partner had come from work and drove through horrible Manila traffic to see me and make sure that I was OK. While we were having the brownie a la mode I wanted, I felt a sudden gush of guilt.

I became horribly aware of his efforts to be with me, to make sure I was OK, and to ensure that I feel loved. That he made sure he was always within an arm’s reach. That he tried his hardest to comfort me when I was crying. That he made sure I was never really alone. That he drove for at least an hour to get to me, and that he needed to drive me for at least another hour to where I needed to be (home with my mom), before driving back home for another hour.

I was looking at him there, thinking Do I really deserve this? I started thinking that, maybe, I’m not worth the effort. I’m volatile, unstable and not very special. Maybe I was more of a burden than anything. I had this thinking that, for me to be loved, I had to conform to a standard. I had to be able to give something in return.

I feel that whatever I have to give would never be enough. I feel very afraid of the kind of life he will lead with me: the possibility of children also having bipolar and/or ADHD, the constant emotional rides, the insecurity. Other people might see me as “high functioning,” but I feel that he will be the one to see me in my ugliest, most vulnerable state. I’m afraid that he will come to regret his decision to stay with me later on.

What shattered me was what he told me when I said I wasn’t worth loving. He said, “That’s not for you to decide.”

It was true. Sometimes, we get absorbed with the idea that we have to be lovable that we no longer allow ourselves to be loved. With this, we undermine the other’s capability to love by setting limits on what they can and cannot love. That they cannot possibly love us because we are not good enough to love.

But shouldn’t love be without conditions and prerequisites? Isn’t the nature of love this unquestioning affection that says “I love you just because.” No questions. You are loved, not because you earned it, and not because you will return it. You are loved in a way that transcends bounds and without seeking for any reason.

When we were young, we were taught that for us to be loved, we have to be good enough, pretty enough, smart enough. We were told that we had to work hard for that love. In turn this makes us feel that we are not deserving, so when we are faced with an unquestioning love, we feel that we have to refuse.

The challenge then, is how to accept love when we feel that we least deserve it. To look at ourselves beyond our disorder and see that we are truly worth it, even if we think we are not. Most importantly, to see ourselves in the eyes of others who love us, and not only through our own hateful eyes.

The Mighty is asking the following: What do you want your past, current or future partner to know about being with someone with your disability, disease or mental illness? Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

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