My Friends Tell Me They Love Me and I Don't Believe Them

I’m uncomfortable with the idea of people loving me.

Every single time someone tells me they care about me, it floors me. My mind violently struggles against the thought, and it ultimately rejects it. Whether it comes from a new friend or one I’ve known for five, 10, 15 or more years. It’s not that I simply don’t care about them. I do. Deeply. That’s not the problem. I know I care about them. After all, they’re kind, funny, thoughtful and so many more beautiful words could be said to describe them. But how could they ever love me? That’s what I struggle with. That’s where I’m stuck. Because they are a light in my life, but I feel like I bring nothing but darkness to theirs. So I silently question every single smile, every single laugh, every single compliment, every single moment of friendship.

I want to be able to embrace the warmth of the good moments so very badly. But ultimately, the idea that someone could love me, simply for who I am, feels like a distant concept — always just out of my reach. Don’t get me wrong, my friends have told me they love me. And again, I love them too — dearly. But depression and anxiety convince me they’re lying. Or if they are sincere, that it’ll only be a matter of time before they change their mind. That when they see the real me, the me who is struggling so much, they will run for dear life.

With my mind, I know this: my friends love me. However, I can never quite let that thought reach my heart. Even just writing it feels strange. And even after hearing it said by my friends themselves, I can only manage to call those words a thought, not fact. You see, I can’t help but question if they’re really true and if my friends will stick around for much longer. I can’t help but question if they’re even my friends at all. Sometimes, I feel fairly certain, but the feeling always fades. Somewhere along the way, my heart seems to lock it out.

Loving me is hard work and I simply do not feel like I am worth the effort.

Knowing that someone cares for me is a two-edged sword — on one hand, I want to let myself be comforted and reached by that thought, that feeling. On the other hand, though, it comes with a burden of responsibility I’m not sure I can handle. It’s the reason why I often disappear for days, weeks, even months at a time from the lives of people I deeply care about. And even when I feel extremely lonely, I retreat within myself instead of reaching outwards. I simply cannot bear to face them in my current state. I cannot bear to tell them I am not, in fact, better when they ask me how I’m doing. And I cannot bear to lie to them and tell them I am doing better either. So, I avoid them altogether. I feel it’s safest for everyone involved. I place so much pressure on myself to not worry those around me. It’s gotten to the point where I push aside my sadness with such skill that they will never see me break. From the outside looking in, I will seem bright and happy and functional. Unbreakable, even. But although they can’t see it, I guarantee I am in pieces. And I feel like I must protect them from me and my sharp edges.

Friend, if you’re reading this, I want you to know I am still here and still fighting to believe you — this article is proof of that. Please don’t give up on me.

Unsplash photo via Christopher Campbell

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