marjorie-gavan-archidiocese de bordeaux

The Girl Who Can’t Be Loved

It’s now covered in a haze, but five years ago, I truly believed I could never recover much less forget. It was not my heart that was broken, it was my soul. A torment, so finite it manifested as physical pain. I was constantly suffering from stomach and chest pains. I could hardly eat that within two months my weight dropped from 100 to 82 lbs. I sleep on my stomach, but in those days, I slept curled on my side like a baby. Crying was normal, laughing felt awkward. I tried to cope with karaokes, guitar, and poetry. There was never a night I didn’t cry myself to sleep, never a day I stopped begging the gods and angels for respite. I didn’t ask god, why me? I asked, what is the purpose of this misery?

The girl that built a wall around her

Some of my close friends told me that I have a wall. They could easily come up with several adjectives to describe me but friendly was never one of them. I’m not comfortable talking with strangers like they’re my old friends, not that it doesn’t happen, but those few encounters are the exceptions rather than the rule. If I don’t have to talk to someone then I don’t. People say that I’m unforthcoming and hard to approach; if they’re too intimidated, they don’t try anymore.

To be honest, I don’t really give a fudge. When I become privy of the talks people do behind my back of my seeming coldness and arrogance, I’m more intrigued than offended. I’m aware that I do come off as standoffish to people I barely know, but I don’t consider myself an arrogant person. I do have pride and the capability to not take shit from anyone, but I don’t possess a distorted sense of superiority over other humans. But I cannot make a case against ‘coldness,’ I’d be the first to admit that I lack warmth and could work on having sensitivity.  

I’m a doubting Thomas, I take things with a grain of salt. It’s a must for me to see the evidence, make an observation, and verify the sources before I accede to an argument or a claim. Many times, a person would air an opinion or share information, but when I find loopholes, I’d be quick to point it out. I’m logic-driven, thus I have little patience for people who are given to half-baked theories and unsubstantiated stories. And I used to be so blunt, I hurt many feelings. The only way anyone could make me back down is when I’m presented with facts.

Let’s talk about feelings. There was a time in my life when the mere idea of feelings makes me cringe. I’m horrible at it, I never really knew how to handle it well. I think it’s one if not the main reason my depression lingered more than it should because I couldn’t process feelings the way normal people do. All of a sudden, I got all these emotions swirling inside my chest that I couldn’t make sense of.

Simply put, a great display of emotion makes me quite uncomfortable regardless if the emotion in question is mine.  

It’s because of these qualities that I have a wall. I’m not the kind of person who lets down her guard easily. Trusting is a process; I gauge people by their characters, not so much for what they can or cannot do. I search for shared values and interests before I let someone in.

The girl who cannot be loved

I have always felt like I lack the necessary ingredient to build a romantic relationship, affection. Sure, I deem some men attractive, but to acknowledge a fact, in this case, a man’s features that trigger the dilation of pupils is different from wanting said man to be my forever-after. A beautiful man can make me nervous, but it doesn’t necessarily spell sleepless nights.

There’s a reason for this ‘disorder’ one that is deeply rooted in childhood.

I grew up wanting love and stockpiling heartaches from people who could not reciprocate my feelings. In high school, I had many crushes and I watched them all chase other girls. I could only stare at them from afar, deathly afraid to show my feelings. I thought I was ugly and not good enough because what else could be the reason? Boys only go after the pretty girls; light-skinned, radiant smile, commanding presence. I, on the other hand, hang out with the average girls, my fellow plain janes. In the time where everyone seemed to be having their first love, I remained single and unwanted.  

But the lack of display of affection runs in our family. We were not brought up to kiss and hug, we do not greet or give each other gifts on special occasions. My siblings and I were raised through corporal punishment by a turbulent mother and an unpredictable father.

Seven years before our first brother was born, there were just the three of us, the eldest, me, and the youngest sister. Big sister was the black sheep of the family who chased troubles like they were drugs. I couldn’t count on my fingers the times she left home, only to return months later. Defiant and out of control, she spent a good part of her teenage years skipping classes, sneaking out at night, basically everything that she wanted to the chagrin of our parents. Our parents have done all punishments imaginable to her, yet she remained relentless in her pursuit to live on her own terms.

Our parents dealt with the problem that is my sister for many years. But I thirsted so much for my parents’ affection, I was sort of envious of all the attention that she was getting. I know how twisted that sounds but it’s the truth. Yet, I was not as daring as my sister, I didn’t have it in me to defy our parents.

Our younger sister, on the other hand, was doted on being the bunso in the family at that time. There was this day when I saw her lying down with a spherical toy in her mouth. I was suddenly gripped with fear that she would accidentally swallow the thing that I pried it away from her. My sister grew mad and started crying, calling the attention of our mother. Little sis told mother what I had done for which I received a good beating. Mama never cared to listen to my explanation. I remember crying in one corner, my young mind trying to understand what I could have done wrong.

My first memory of rejection was when Mama got pregnant with my young brother. Little sis pressed her ear against our mother’s belly to hear the baby’s kicking. Curious, I tried to do the same thing, but Mama grew mad and shoved me aside running expletives. I was shocked and confused. I didn’t cry but I do recall feeling a dull ache in my heart.

From then on, I stopped trying to express affection to anyone.

The girl who thought she found love

I thought he was the one.

As an NBSB (no-boyfriend-since-birth) and a girl who always wanted love, meeting someone who seemed to genuinely like me felt strange but exciting to me. There was a guy who showered me with compliments, even using self-deprecation to make it seem like he didn’t deserve a woman like me.

I’ve known him a long time through an online community and we were friends on Facebook. Twice, he sent me a message inviting me to meet; both times I ignored because he wasn’t really my type. A few years passed, he started making his presence felt on my Facebook wall by liking and commenting on my posts. I didn’t think much of it until a common friend, a girl I used to be close with, noticed. She advised me to give him a chance. I shrugged and thought, Oh well, why not?

It all started by regular chats on Yahoo Messenger and at first, I couldn’t feel a thing. But he seemed truly interested in me that I started paying attention. It wasn’t until we met in person that my feelings grew.

I remember the first time he told me the three words that I had been waiting all my life, I love you. I didn’t expect that I would hear this and be miserable. The day he said it, he was also telling me that we should stop communicating because he couldn’t make a commitment. He was still seeing his ex-girlfriend and despite saying that he loved me, he ultimately chose her.

I knew right there and then that he didn’t love me. Thank god for emojis, he didn’t witness the mess that I was in that moment. I wish he didn’t say it. I had been waiting for those three words all my life, only to hear it being dropped carelessly by a person who didn’t even mean it.  

I cried for three years, a long time for something that was short-lived. I thought I could never get over him.

I kept all these heartbreaks in the attic of my mind. It was like having things that you knew you wouldn’t use anymore but you kept them anyway, thinking you’d find some use for them in the future. But unlike an old object, I have no use for these heartaches, yet I didn’t know how to liberate myself from them. Hence, they accumulated and slowly ate away my self-esteem.

This is the root of my decade-long depression; I couldn’t express my love but wanted badly to be loved in return. Falling for this person who couldn’t love me was the last straw; I was completely devastated.

The girl who chose to love herself

2016, I had a breakthrough. It was not an immediate realization, I went through the days as usual. While having one of my reflections one day, I felt for my heart and found it was no longer broken. I have unchained myself from all the pain I had been lugging along all these years.

He suddenly came to mind but I could no longer feel the bitterness of his leaving. In my mind, I said to him, “It took me a long time and I don’t remember the exact date, but in 2016, I can finally say with certainty, I don’t love you anymore. I’m sorry that it took this long, but I’m finally here.

“How you love yourself is how you teach others to love you”

― Rupi Kaur

I was able to move on when I started to chip at my wall. I made new friends and let go of the old who either didn’t want to be with me anymore or were bad for me. I kept my close friends who loved me even in my most unlovable state. And the grandest of all decisions, I forgave everyone who hurt me, deliberately or unconsciously, including myself.

My inner world is rich with dreams, but it was time to step out of my comfort zone and make them a reality. Thus, I packed my bag and went wherever I wanted within the Philippines and overseas. I stopped regarding travel as a tool to deal with my pain but a way to appreciate the beauty of the world, to understand other people, and to discover different cultures.

In exploring the world, I went beyond myself and made all my sorrows small. In my pursuit, I have learned to love myself and alleviate the agony of being alone. I no longer expect people to give me what I need. What I couldn’t get from others, I gave to myself.

Recovery didn’t come from loving another. It comes from loving oneself.

To the girl who is reading this

In the end, we all want love. To be with someone to go home to, to feel those warm fuzzies of knowing there is someone who sees his whole world in your eyes. Love is beautiful, there is no shame in wanting it.

“If you have the ability to love, love yourself first.”

― Charles Bukowski

But there is a danger in asking it from another when you don’t even know how to give it to yourself. It may sound cliché but it’s true, not knowing how to love yourself triggers all kinds of miseries. And so with all the love that you have in your heart don’t ever forget to love “you.”

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  1. I love this, Relate. NBSB din. I also cried for three years because of a love I thought I lost but was never really mine in the first place. What’s your MBTI? Feeling ko same tayo INFJ ka din. 🙂 We need a lot of time to get into a relationship or to decide that we love a person. That’s why it’s also difficult to move on.

    Lahat din ng emotional issues natin as adults are rooted from childhood. Ang hirap mag heal kasi we want to protect our parents or those who hurt us from people’s judgement. So we keep it to ourselves and unconsciously build walls to prevent others from poking our wounds. LOL.

    Self-love talaga ang solusyon. Pag hindi mo na kailangan ng validation ng ibang tao, sapat na na tanggap mo ang sarili mo, yun nagsta-start ang healing.

    Thanks for this post, Glad I’m not alone.

  2. Beautiful writing, as always Marge. Thank you for courageously sharing this part of yourself with us. While reading your posts throughout the years, I had little glimpses of your tensed relationship with your Mom . The circumstances are different but this is something we have in common. This somehow stirred up a theory in my head as to why she has these preferences but this is better discussed over coffee. As I was scrolling through the comments, I found myself nodding along Sam’s observations about Introverted Intuitive personalities being very good in building a wall around them. Guilty of that too, it serves as a fort to protect oneself which is deeply rooted from the past.

  3. Four things. How you built that wall. Who you grew up with. Why you found love and lost it. When you realized the greatest love.

    The girl that built wall round her. People of your personality type, usually the introverted intuitive, are very good at building a wall around them. The complexity of the wall, its height, and its thickness, differs from one person to another.

    The girl that cannot be loved. Obviously the wall rooted from your experience as a child. It makes me cringe how you’ve been raised by your mother, though it has been a common thing, in a usual family environment, that the middle child is least love. Of course, not in all cases. Just my observation. But maybe, just maybe, even your mother, the character she has, has her own story that made her to what she is. She sounds way to cruel and a bit selfish, if not very.

    The girl who thought she found love. It sounds cliche, but believe it or not, the love you found and lost made you more persistent in life.

    The girl who chose to love herself. I am happy for you. You found the greatest love of all.

    The girl who’s reading this. I am not girl.

    1. I cannot sum up the character of my mother in just one post, she does have her good points, it’s just that my hard exterior and fear of rejections were rooted by how she treated me as a child. Since it has something to do with the topic of this post, this part of her character has been highlighted. Of course, it is not all her fault, but sadly, a lot of my personal issues growing up had been caused by these incidents that I remember so well.

      She, herself, had been raised by a tough father, which inevitably hardened her character. I’m not sure though if it’s enough to justify why she treated me differently from my younger sis at that time.

      She’s the only one who knows the answer.

  4. Chipping away a self made wall is terrifying but worth it for the people who are there for you through the good and bad.

    As a fellow NBSB girl and someone who’s also trying to practice loving herself, I salute you for this corageous post.

  5. Love every piece of this writing, Marge. Although I couldn’t relate to most of them, except for the heartbreak part, I still love it. I’m a big fan of your writing, expressive and genuine. We all have to move on, eventually, forget the past and whatever hurt us, and one day, we may never realised, we’re in good state, a state we never thought we could ever be. Love is a misery, regardless where it’s from, family, lovers, friends, strangers. But love is also a beautiful thing that couldn’t be exchanged for anything. I also feel you about your turbulent mom as you say, she’s someone I think I can’t call mother, maybe only by words tho but just by heart, or blood. You are a strong amazing woman and know that I got you, I’ll be your extra. ?

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