I sit, blank page daring me to type, not knowing how to collate the thoughts which are moving at a million miles an hour through my mind. This morning I wanted to shave all my hair off because it felt ridiculous to even try. This morning I wanted to pour acid onto my face because I felt so ugly and so frustrated that it MATTERED to me, that I wanted to make it stop – to release myself forever from the disappointment held in every. single. mirror. and force myself into a state of being where all that COULD matter was the beauty of my soul.
This afternoon I let the sun shine on my back as I dug in the earth, and I tried to bite back a cry of “It’s not fair” as my mum agreed that so, so many things have pointed to my marriage not working, and Husby and I just not being right for each other, because of the numerous systematic devastations which have undermined our relationship from the start, and from which we’ve been unable to recover.
This evening I rolled my eyes as a friend asked me whether self-hatred makes life any better. I responded somewhat snidely, that it’s to do with inbuilt patterns of behaviour and it somehow being easier to reject myself first and worse, before anyone else has the chance to hurt me.
But no – it doesn’t make life better – it reminds me I’m unlovable.
Somehow I gravitate towards the Unlovables.
I seem to recognise a ‘lack’ within them (usually perceived, rather than real) and it’s something which resonates because I find myself so lacking. My response is to gather them in, where I can, and love them (if they’ll let me).
I think it’s because I’ve been an outsider all my life, either through circumstance, intent (other people’s – not mine), or a nagging self-doubt which keeps me on the periphery. Don’t get me wrong – if I want to, I can get right up in there and be the life and soul of the party; I can keep people laughing with jokes and ribald remarks; I can take part in intelligent conversations about most things except politics and maths. But behind it all there is a sadness, a desperation to be liked and included, and a faint tinge of incredulity when I am, because I still don’t believe I belong there.
When I began blogging, I rapidly realised that I had no clue what I was getting myself into, and that it was bigger and more wonderful than I could ever have imagined. There were people who, in spite of never having met me, were able to respond to my words and to my soul, which I vomited out into the screen, rarely stopping to question whether or not it was a good idea. I craved acknowledgement and affirmation – things which were sorely lacking in my world.
I got them – somehow being sufficiently blessed with a way with words which enticed and engaged people, in spite of the incredible egocentricity with which I wrote. I loved it. I set about building a community, and spent long, wonderful hours nurturing relationships through conversations in comment boxes and on Facebook. I knew I needed a support network, and more than anything I wanted friends. I wanted people to care about me. I wanted nurture.
And the best way I knew to generate it was reciprocally – to befriend others; to care about them; to nurture them.
It worked, and over the years, my community has become a wonderful, vibrant, lively place, FULL of wonderfully nurturing people, who are no longer invested just in me, but in each other, too. They genuinely and unabashedly care.
Beautiful things have come out of my community: the Ten Things of Thankful blog hop each week. A number of them have been part of The SisterWives. Still more are part of 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion. At each turn and evolution, I see the wonder and positive impact of the good, shinybright souls who populate what I consider to be *my* portion of the Blogosphere.
And yet, in the midst of the shinybright souls and all the *twinklysparklygoodness* that we generate between us, there are those wayward spirits whose hearts echo with the sketchy emptiness of winter horizons. There are those whose unprotected feet are constantly treading the stony shoreline of their own darkness, and whose stormy seas frequently threaten to throw up a sneaker wave to drag them under.
They are the Unlovables.
I reach out – cursor still blinking, accusing me of incapability and pretension to writer-hood, pretension to worthiness of being part of this cause, and hypocrisy because how can I write about nurture when I can’t even think kind thoughts about myself – and I pick up a small, black box, which has been within arm’s reach since it arrived.
Its smooth, matt surface is still speckled with glitter, and the lid glides upwards, revealing a second, posher box, which speaks of treasure. I slide it from its casing and the faint tinkling sound from inside reminds me how precious it is. The lid lifts heavily and there, nestled in velvet, is a pendant of stars on a fine, silver chain. I gently free it from its housing and trickle it over my fingers, watching the light spark off the chain and the stars as it twists in mid-air. My fingers find the tiny clasp and I struggle for a moment to unlatch it before fastening it about my neck.
I reach back into the box and take out the two folded, glitter-coated sheets of paper, proclaiming friendship in red ink. Care. Affection. Nurturing. Thankfulness. Acknowledgement. Love…
It’s not that the Unlovables are necessarily unlovely. In fact, I think that they’re rather a wonderful bunch (sometimes I even think that about me!!). If I cast my mind around the people I would include in this category of society (and you can be guaranteed that in any society where people have time to think beyond the provision of their basic needs, there will be those who, for whatever reason, feel inherently ‘less than’ (and yes, I know that this kind of thought process is a luxury, because we have abundance, and time to dwell (conversely, not helping us at all))) I see some of the most caring, most creative, most nurturing people I know.
They are often the most determined to have an impact in life, sometimes for themselves, but usually in championing other people, or supporting them. They are the thinkers whose minds are full of beauty and broken mirrors, giving them windows into the world which others are unable to see. They have spirits full of poetry and music and pain. They see darkness in the world and try to the extent of their limits to bring light.
And they often sink, mired in the impossibilities of trying to stay afloat whilst throwing all their lifejackets to those they deem more important or more worthy. They withdraw, worn out from all the being, which is necessary every day to try to make the world a little brighter. They revisit well-trodden neural pathways of low self-esteem and disappointment that they will never be the person they wish they were; never able to accept that others might find them wonderful, entrancing, beautiful human beings.
They require effort, and so much nurture, and to some this will seem like attention-seeking behaviour, or determined self-hatred, or stubborn self-sufficiency. It can often be distancing, self-pitying, ridiculous or even a little pathetic. It disturbs; it has tantrums; it flies in the face of friendships and spits at them, screaming “I’m nothing, how could you possibly love me? Your opinions are stupid and irrelevant because I will never, ever, ever be good enough.”
Often the temptation is to give up. Because constant messages of self-loathing get boring; the attention-seeking might be innovative but is still the ‘same old’; and it’s tiring to sit up at night and listen while someone cries and is desperate for love but yours glances off them.
Eventually you might be forced to give up if the relationship gets too much and becomes toxic – as Darwin Prophet once said, there is an “absurdity of love’s intricate thread of gold binding the weaving of lives meant to touch, not to hold”
It’s a path of loneliness; of constantly rejecting yourself first and worst, to mitigate the hurt, should anyone else do it. It’s a life of constant self-doubt and battle against the idea that others are better, and that we are trespassing on their kindness. It’s moments of hearing small, wicked voices whispering that perhaps they’d all be better off without us. It’s an awful thing, to be Unlovable…and yet, The Village needs us.
It needs the Unlovables to notice the cracks and smudges of darkness in other people, and reach out to them.
It needs the Unlovables to understand, instinctively, the humanity in everyone, and to genuinely (exhaustingly) care.
It needs the Unlovables to keep seeking the Good in life and, with an energy borne of desperation, to keep shining those beacons of hope in a stormy world.
It needs the Unlovables and their precarious sense of self to connect with others and draw them in, forming bonds and support networks and generating relationships.
It needs the Unlovables and the way they turn their fragility and vulnerability into something beautiful in an effort to redeem it.
It needs the Unlovables to remind the world that beyond the business of survival, the most treacherous place to be embattled is within the emotional landscape of your own mind.
It needs the Unlovables to send glitter across the world to let someone know they matter, or to write a song which speaks to the soul, or to very gently bind someone back together with sticky-tape friendship and in spite of all the brokenness, love them, anyway.
But the Village needs everyone to evoke, and encourage, nurture – because if everyone was okay, then it wouldn’t be necessary.
Together, we’re stronger.
As the words finally flow from my mind to the screen, my hands frequently slip from the keys to touch my necklace, tracing the chain across my collarbones and embossing my fingertips with the outline of the stars, pausing to lift the pendant so that I can once again read the legend around the edge (“Live your own life…follow your own star”) grounding myself with a physical reminder that in this instance, and so many others, I am loved.
And I write.
This month, 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion continues to work toward a better world with a particular focus on Building from Bullying, as well as the broader topic of compassion.
Write a post relevant to this month’s focus – Nurturing – and add it to the link-up right here by clicking the blue button below. The co-hosts for the linkie are
American Indian Mom, Finding Ninee The Quiet Muse, Chronically Sick Manic Mother, Just Gene’o, Driftwood Gardens,Getting Literal, Head Heart Health, The Meaning of Me, Paper,Pen,Pad, Blogitudes, 1000Speak, YvonneSpence
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