July 27, 2017 at 5:56 am #160476
First of all thank you for taking the time to read this and respond in advance. It means so much to me to have support from people who do it for no other reason than because they want to help someone out.
Quick backstory, i’m 25, black male, in graduate school to become a counselor, currently working as a bicycle messenger while i’m in school. History of depression, self harm, drug abuse, and suicidal tendencies. As of the past year and half or so I have made significant improvements in my mental health which prompted me to go back to school.
I’m sure I have posted on this site before about dating, and probably a similar situation to where i’m at now. I just need something to keep me moving forward right now, as I oscillate between contentment, apathy, and full blown depression on a monthly basis. So I had recently tried dating again and met an awesome woman but she is leaving the city next year. We went on two dates over the past couple weeks, and we really hit it off. I hadn’t heard from her this week and I asked her how she was feeling about us hanging out so far, she said I was her type, that she had a great time both times we went out, but that because I was upfront about seeking a committed relationship, and she was unsure why she was even dating that she didn’t feel it was the right time right now. Before this I hadn’t dated since last december out of lack of motivation and the emotional toll it takes on me which this definitely did.
So as I was awaiting a response via text yesterday when i asked her how she felt about us dating so far, for which it took her a couple hours to respond, I had a meltdown. A part of me wanted for her to respond by saying something like “your just not interesting” or “your a loser and i don’t want to see you anymore” basically i wanted confirmation that she hated me and found me as unlovable as i find myself. Therein lies probably the most difficult issue i have dealt with in my life. During my meltdown I screamed, and cried, angry with myself that i keep having the same fucking problem over and over again in my life. I try very hard to love myself but sometimes self compassion feels more like excuses or permission to keep on fucking up. I called my sister while i was having this meltdown because i was hyperventilating and couldn’t calm down, I feel so guilty that I receive care from her and my mother so frequently and I rarely feel as if i do anything for them, even though they tell me constantly that i give them joy, support, and encouragement. I know they love me, I know i have friends that love me, but i cant feel love. It is so difficult for me to ever accept thanks and praise from people, i don’t feel worthy. I am still seeing a therapist but i don’t go as often as i used to, but i’ll probably start going back until i can figure this out. I just really need help today as i have been crying all night and morning, and have to find the strength to keep trying, even though i want to give up on life so bad.
Thank you for reading,
RichJuly 27, 2017 at 6:45 am #160484AnonymousGuest
You wrote that you “can’t feel love”, that is, you can’t feel the love your mother or sister say they feel for you, correct? The question in the title of your thread is How to FEEL love?
My question to you, if I may, is did you ever feel loved at any time in your life, do you remember?
And you don’t feel worthy. Did you ever feel worthy, at any time, for a short while?
If the answer is yes to any of the two questions, how did it feel?
anitaJuly 27, 2017 at 10:39 am #160526
I can very much relate to your post. You don’t have to answer this, if you are not comfortable, but I maybe able to provide some insight. Did you have any trauma as a child, emotional? Verbal? Abandonment? Neglect?July 27, 2017 at 10:44 am #160534
There is something else, I forgot to put in my original post to you. But can you define the word “loser” can you look it up in the dictionary? On Google? What does “loser” mean to you?July 27, 2017 at 4:24 pm #160660
Yes that is correct whenever my family tells me they love me, I know they mean it, but then I start to feel guilty mainly because I feel as if it’s not enough and I need more than just the love from my family.
The only time I can remember feeling love was with my first girlfriend of 5 years. She used to tell me she loved me at first I didn’t believe it, but soon I was able to feel it, I say the first year we were together was probably the happiest i’d ever been in my life, I loved having someone who cared how I was doing every single day, and I loved caring for her too. The best part about being in love was that I knew I had someone in my corner, who no matter how much i messed up always saw the good in me even when i couldn’t see it in myself. It also gave me something to look forward to when things weren’t going so well. There was nothing like that phone call right before bed to clear my mind and put things in perspective. That feeling faded throughout the years though.
I can admit that I did not feel worthy of her love then, and I still don’t feel worthy of love now, although objectively I believe I and every being on this planet deserves it, I myself don’t feel worthy and have never felt worthy of love. I don’t think i deserve it, but I desperately want to love and care for others, (probably so they wont abandon me, i know this is a bad trait for a future counselor to have). Every person I interact with on a daily basis be it at work, in class, on the street, I always try my best to show them love in some way.
Even though I love my parents very much, honestly I did not always feel loved by them, i mean they kept food on the table, roof over our head, etc. But the majority of my childhood was spent in isolation while my mom was depressed, and my dad worked way too much. I’m no stranger to trauma i witnessed some intense domestic fights, lots of broken glass and furniture, I’ve been knocked out cold by my dad once, arrested and harassed by police, had knives pulled on me, etc. Your average story growing up in the hood basically. It wasn’t even until a couple years ago i knew that was even trauma, i just thought it was normal, until i got to college and seen the huge gap between working class kids and middle and upper class kids.
When I say loser, i was just using it as synonym for someone who has nothing going for them, a loner, an outcast, which I do consider myself to be honestly. I personally don’t use the word in reference to others (except apparently in my own head to describe myself as I am my own worst enemy).July 27, 2017 at 8:36 pm #160686
It sounds very much like what I have: Reactive Attachment Disorder. This is very common when we do not get the love of nurturing we need from a Primary caretaker. It can wreak havoc on our adult lives, making us feel like we “don’t belong” “on the outside looking in” “Isolated” “worthless” “not able to know what love is, because we never experienced it as a child. Not able to accept love. Getting into co-dependent relationships, unstable relationships.
I did not receive love in my early years. I just knew chaos, instability, a mother who severely neglected, verbally abused me and abandoned me and my siblings over and over often leaving us alone to fend for ourselves in a seedy motel while she would fire our nanny and go out days of drinking binges. My father, did his best, but he too, was unavailable due to travelling for business. He would come home to find us very unkempt, filthy house, beer bottles everywhere, nanny gone. He was beside himself and put my mother in a rehabilitative center, which she would run away from. We were taken away from her by the courts. By then we were six, and the damage had been done.
I was raised by my Dad’s sister and brother in law, a lovely, happy, well to do Midwestern couple who loved me. I do not remember loving them back. I did not know how. I wish that they had seen I was very troubled, self harmed and sent me to a child Psychiatrist. To this day, it baffles me. I guess what’s important is that I am very self aware and am in intensive therapy, as I have several mental health diagnosis, stemming from my childhood.
There **is** hope. It takes hard work, but you can learn to love Rich. It took me a long time to stop self harming, suicidal ideation, but with Psychotherapy and CBT, DBT, I finally have learned to love myself. Several years ago, I had my first long term relationship. It did not work out, as he had to move out of the country, but it was the longest relationship I have been able to maintain. I no longer consider myself worthless, a loser, unloveable, etc. And you can too. There is help, as well as self help books and work books, on Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). Just have hope and faith. Keep us posted.July 28, 2017 at 6:07 am #160716AnonymousGuest
Your statement in your second post: “Every person I interact with on a daily basis be it at work, in class, on the street, I always try my best to show them love in some way.” is evident in your first post on this thread: thanking and expressing appreciation to the reader in advance, at the beginning and ending of your very first post.
Here is what you wrote (re-arranged):
“The majority of my childhood was spent in isolation while my mom was depressed, and my dad worked way too much. History of depression, self harm, drug abuse, and suicidal tendencies. I oscillate between contentment, apathy, and full blown depression on a monthly basis. I cant feel love, don’t feel worthy. Whenever my family tells me they love me, I know they mean it, but I feel guilty because I need more than just the love from my family.”
My input: you didn’t feel love as a child because most often, you were not loved. When your father was at work he wasn’t there to love you. Same with your mother: when she was depressed, she was not there to love you. The evidence of the lack of love you grew up with, the proof of it, is in the pudding, as the saying goes. Your history of depression, self harm, drug abuse, and suicidal tendencies as well as your current periodic full blown depression.
The reason you don’t feel love is because there was no love, or there was too little of it mixed in with abundance of the lack of it. It is not that you “need more than just the love from (your) family. What it is, you need love.
“How to FEEL love?” My answer, at this point: first, you need to recognize where it is not, and then, where it is.
anitaJuly 28, 2017 at 7:36 am #160730
Thank you for sharing your story with me, it is often helpful for me to know I am not the only one struggling with these types of issues, and that healing is possible. In regards to RAD when my therapist first started seeing me that was one of his early tentative diagnosis. Although, I don’t really feel having a name or specific diagnosis is important to what I am going through, obviously something went wrong with my childhood in terms of lack of love. I still just feel so guilty blaming my parents sometimes, because they had their own issues, and I know they did their best, they just weren’t ready to be raising children.
As far as how my early childhood has affected my current relationships (or lack thereof) I find myself getting really emotionally invested in whoever i’m dating, even something as short as a few weeks has the potential to completely floor me because I am so desperate for love, and the hope is what hurts the most. I don’t let my desperation show like I used to, i’m not blowing up peoples phones, or trying to spend everyday with the person. At this point I understand I need to patient and take things slowly if I really want a strong bond with someone. It’s just that right now I need some relief, that’s why I used to smoke so much weed, and cut myself, it was like a hug from the inside out. Of course that is only temporary however, and the problem returns.
I’ve been learning to love myself over the past few years since me and my first Ex broke up, it has been tough but i have stopped cutting, i no longer smoke everyday, I don’t stay in bed all day, i take care of my body, meditate, reach out to people, etc. I’ve gotten really good at putting one foot in front of the other, even this morning I was sobbing while cooking breakfast, and getting ready to go to work, but i’m going to do it, and i’m going to show love today.
I guess sometimes I just need some attention, I need for someone to be like “damn, your pretty amazing for going through all that and still standing”. To Anita’s earlier point In a way I guess that is what love feels like to me, it feels like support, admiration, or recognition, I’m not sure if that’s correct or not, but that’s what i think love is.
I don’t know what you mean by where it is and where it is not? I know love is within me because i share it as much as possible, love for myself is a little more difficult. I don’t quite know where love isn’t because I believe we all have love within us, just some have a harder time accessing than others. Though, I feel like I have the potential to love even when I’m depressed, does that alone make me worth being loved?July 28, 2017 at 8:19 am #160744AnonymousGuest
BY “first, you need to recognize where it is not, and then, where it is” I meant that during your childhood (and maybe still), your mother did not love you and your father did not love you.
How do I know? Because you came out of your childhood unloved. If either one loved you, their love didn’t reach you; you didn’t receive it. There is no value to love unless it is received by the supposed loved one. You were a very eager child, eager for love. You still are. And so, I have no doubt that if there was love for you, you would have received it.
I think that you expressed guilt for not receiving, presently, love expressed by your mother and sister. I am suggesting that guilt is unjustified because there is or has been no love sent your way, therefore, no love to receive.
What do you think?
anitaJuly 28, 2017 at 8:32 am #160746TatjanaParticipant
Because I can relate to many things you said, I will assume things in my answer. Please do tell me if I’m wrong.
Anyway, I was raised by loving parents. I have a sister that I love. There were tough things in my childhood, but I believe this is true for everyone. My parents, in my early years, were particularly stressed, and even as a baby, judging from what they told me, I could feel it. They were never very good with pedagogy, but they taught me very important things (about helping others, mostly), and most of all, kept me very sheltered.
I am a very sensitive person because 1) that’s who I am; 2) my parents never encouraged independence. This led to me feeling very insecure about things I could and couldn’t do. Mostly I felt like I couldn’t do many things. Also, the tension between wanting to be my own person, my own selfish person at times, and wanting to be a good, helpful person, started building up.
I am a humanitarian worker. Just like you, I thought helping others was who I was, and I was terrified, and still am, of people seeing my true, sometimes ugly self. I spent my life giving love, on everybody else’s terms, and then resenting the fact that I wasn’t receiving it. Then I suffered my first break-up, and then I started suffering from various mental illnesses that were very self-destructive.
The reason for all this, the reason for depression, in my opinion, is the tension in your beliefs. You want to be loved, yet you think that’s completely incompatible with being a good person. Cause in your head, a good person is someone who gives, not someone who receives. I binge-eat to hold on to the rejection that makes me the “good” person that I am. The one that gives, and then self-destructs.
I don’t know how to overcome this. I know you’re not alone. And I know that the solution probably doesn’t lie in something very radical, or perfect. It’s about balancing these two things in your personality. You seem to be very self-aware, and you seem to actually care about other people. It’s not a big act, or a big lie; but the more you push love away, paradoxically, the more giving love will be draining and will seem like something you do just to feel good about yourself. It’s not. You are a caring person, accept that fact; but you’re also someone with needs. it’s not even a matter of “taking care of yourself”, being the best person you can be, etc. It’s a matter of, if you don’t do this, you won’t survive. So go deep. CBT is very good for these kind of things.
Please let me know if it’s unclear. I’m trying to organise my own thoughts and it’s actually good to talk to someone who seems to mirror some of my behaviours.
Good luck with everything. Take it slowly with that girl.July 28, 2017 at 12:12 pm #160808
We are all worthy of being loved. Depression is only a part of who you are, not your identity. So, yes, just because you have a mental health diagnosis, makes you worthy of being loved. I for one, don’t think I could love a perfect human being or someone who did not have vulnerabilities like I do. Keep us posted.
July 28, 2017 at 3:29 pm #160830
- This reply was modified 6 years, 2 months ago by Eliana.
Thanks again for the responses, reading through these is really helping me externalize some of my issues.
As much as I hate to admit it I think your spot on in regards to me not receiving love. Though I know my parents loved me as a child and still do, I didn’t feel and receive it. Probably because they did not receive the love they deserved as children, and they did not know how to properly express love and care for my emotional needs as a child. I believe what Love meant to them was providing me with basic needs. As I grow older, I can see the co-dependence within their relationship, and it explains a lot for why I turned out the way I did, and my sister too in her relationships.
As far as the guilt I feel for currently receiving love from my mom and sister, the way you explained it is very helpful and the guilt is indeed unjustified. Essentially what your saying is how could I know how to receive and feel love now if I was never taught how? If so that makes a lot of sense to me.
For me its just hard sometimes to blame my parents for all of my emotional problems, because I know they did their best with what little emotional intelligence, and self awareness they possessed, yes they made a lot of mistakes, but I’m still grateful for them and wouldn’t have it any other way. If I never went through all that crap I would have never gotten into social work and counseling as a profession to help others in similar situations see what is possible. I’m hoping i’m going to be the one to break the cycle in my family.
“you want to be loved, yet you think that’s completely incompatible with being a good person. Cause in your head, a good person is someone who gives, not someone who receives”
Again spot on, not in regards to other people though this only applies to me. I know plenty of good people who receive, but when it comes to me there is a stark double standard I apply to myself. I don’t want to be a recipient because subconsciously I know how it feels to love (give) and not receive it back, therefore I give as much as possible. As far as the girl we aren’t going to continue dating unfortunately, i don’t know if that was clear in my first post. It really hurts me though because I think had her circumstances been different there could have been something great there. Which is not a feeling I have had with most women I’ve dated since my first girlfriend. The fact that I only got to see her twice before she called it off, hurts bad too, because it was giving me something to look forward to, and now I don’t have much to look forward to at this point. Work has been helping though being on a bicycle for work requires me to tune out my thoughts and be present, i just dread coming home.July 28, 2017 at 3:43 pm #160834
So now that I’ve sorted out mostly why I Don’t feel love, how can i open myself to being more receptive of love, and feeling lovable?
Also I am very thankful for the responses here, this is giving me some sliver of hope that at least there is a possibility of someone loving me, even with all my issues.
July 28, 2017 at 6:46 pm #160842
- This reply was modified 6 years, 2 months ago by noname.
I guess what helped me was to let go of judgements and expectations, and be appreciative for all that you are. You are whole just being you. You don’t need someone to complete you. Another thing that helped me is try to see the other person as you. It helps shifts your perspective of people. Try incorporating this thought into your life and notice how much more compassionate, patient and understanding you are with your loved ones and complete strangers. There really are no perfect solutions, or answers, but this is what helped me and alot of Post Traumatic Stress Psychotherapy. Keep us posted with your thoughts..July 29, 2017 at 5:36 am #160884AnonymousGuest
You wrote: “I believe what Love meant to them was providing me with basic needs”- so you were loved as a living thing that needs food, clothing, a bed to sleep in, a roof above. But alas, that living thing needs to be seen as a feeling being, seen when scared and sad and hurt and glad… seen and comforted, seen and validated, seen and shown empathy.
“How to FEEL love?”- that last word, empathy, once you feel empathy for yourself, see that lonely child that you were and feel pain for him, wishing you could be there for him, hold him, comfort him… that is feeling love.