Too Broken to Be Loved: The Story I Tell Myself
If you have experienced emotional abuse, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.
My first long-term boyfriend said, “I feel bad for anyone who ever has to date you.” I remember it so clearly. I can still feel it sting my core. Since then, I have carried this as my truth. Before my family knew what my first ex was like, they would say he was an angel for putting up with me. It probably made me stay longer than I should have. Because I deserved it. I was a lot. I had anxiety attacks. I had trust issues. So I deserved the threatening of suicide. Being screamed at. Having walls punched near me. Hearing threats. I deserved the police coming to the apartment. I deserved walking on eggshells. I deserved it. It was my fault, he said. That he did what he did. I caused him to be this way. I turned him bad. But he loved me, ya know. So he stuck around.
When we broke up, my mental health was in shambles. I slowly tried gathering all the pieces together and would be vulnerable and open up again. Around a year later, my following ex climbed into the picture.
My following ex was more removed. When I had anxiety attacks, he would get mad and act embarrassed. He said he didn’t like people who fished for compliments when I needed reassurance. There was limited communication. I was someone he put up with who he could leave at a minute’s notice. I begged him to stay and to love me anyway. I swore I could get better. I did get better. I could be better for him. I will be more adventurous. I will try all the things. Just didn’t want him to leave me. He ended up leaving. On the last night, he told me he only ever had sex with me because I was there, not because it was me.
Fast-forward a few years and time working on my mental health and going through my one-night stands, I’m here. Still broken. Nothing ever healed. I thought I was better. I almost stopped wanting to go to therapy. I thought I was healed. I’m so self-aware now that I don’t need anything or anyone. I got this.
But deep down, I knew I was closed off. That I only had one-night stands because I couldn’t bear the thought of being open to someone. The few times I thought it could work out with someone, it never actually worked out. It was too much, they said. They found someone new, but I was really great, they said. They weren’t feeling it.
Somehow through these experiences, I was supposed to convince myself that I was worthy of love. How? It seemed counterintuitive. I obviously wasn’t lovable. I was obviously a bit too broken to be loved. My pieces didn’t match up anymore. No one could help me put them back together. I was going to be alone.
Then this new guy rolled around. Younger and different. I was in a good spot in my life, and he pursued me. He was sweet. I still had to convince myself he liked me. When I agreed to a date, I was nervous. I didn’t like that feeling. I don’t like being nervous because that means I can be hurt. I went anyway.
It turned into something quickly. Things were easy and natural with him. We were different, but we also clicked. I could be open and be myself around him. But it only lasted for a short while. He moved to another country to pursue a dream. I couldn’t fault him. I only supported, and I still do. It is the right decision for him.
It left us in limbo. We aren’t together. But we can still talk. Who knows how much we should talk? It should not be a surprise my mental health was no good at this. I messaged too much or too little. I cut conversations short because I felt I was a burden.
When he was here, I was sure he cared and liked me. Now he is far, and we aren’t together, so I wasn’t sure anymore. I kept saying the wrong things. And accusing him of not caring or liking me or not wanting to talk to me. I was constantly questioning. And he didn’t have to deal with it. But he did for a while. Until he didn’t.
It’s funny because that moment came a day after I felt OK about everything. I had therapy, and I was ready to talk to him. I wanted to tell him I was having difficulty dating because I only wanted to date him. I wanted to tell him we have a rare connection, and I didn’t want to let that go. I wanted to tell him I care about him and support him. I wanted to tell him I knew he cared about me, too. That maybe we can try something long distance or friends or whatever. I just knew I wanted him in my life. But, I also knew I needed a conversation because I couldn’t live in limbo.
Instead, my anxiety and depression couldn’t hold back and I lashed out. I told him I didn’t want him to be nice to me because of pity or guilt of him hurting me. So I told him to stop talking to me then. I told him he didn’t care. I told him I felt foolish and how my anxieties were right. He said he didn’t know what to say because I was completely wrong. I told him good luck and good night.
So it should come as no surprise that now he wants space because I make him feel awful after our conversations. I obviously did that. And he didn’t even do anything wrong that caused it. I projected my fears and created a story in my mind that fit that.
I decided he didn’t care anymore and was nice because he pitied me. I believed it to my core the other night. I was so confident it was true that I cried. I looked for evidence to support my story.
The story that he cared and that we were just in a shitty complicated situation, I couldn’t believe it. How could he still care? He left. I’m stuck here. There was no way a good guy like him could like a person like me. So I pushed him away. I had him find out I’m too broken to be loved early. Now I can say that I was right. See? I am too broken to be loved. This guy who was lovely and said he cared left me anyway.
It was me protecting myself. But I’m still hurt. I’m still alone. I’m still scared instead of trying something new. Instead of being open to the idea this guy could actually like me, I sabotaged it. I pushed him away. He had every right to need space. I have to give it to him.
I don’t know what is going to happen. And that’s also scary for me. Giving him space is terrifying. I’m convinced he will find someone else and forget about me in a few days, so I’m trying to set up all the dates. Definitely not healthy, but just hoping for the best seems awful.
I could use the time to heal, and I’ll probably do that, too. I’m not sure if I have learned my lesson yet. But, I know I need to heal the part that believes I’m too broken to be loved. But I don’t want to lose another person because of it.
Original photo by author