Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Loving the Alienated

I once made the mistake of asking, "Why do you love me anyway?" He leveled me with a look and responded with a question, "Am I going to have to spank you?" And I knew he wasn't talking about any kind of fun spanking. He was irritated by the question. Annoyed that I would doubt his judgment, thereby doubting his love altogether. "Well..." I said, trying to buy time and possibly a way out of the hole I'd dug myself. "I'm just curious. I mean... I..." He rolled his eyes and said, "I love you because you like to hug me. There. Happy?" I dropped it.

But I was serious when I asked the question - not in a whiny, clingy, needy-woman way. I simply couldn't understand what it was about me that made him feel about me the way I feel about him. Because I'm a dork, that's why.

The thing is, I'm a dork like everyone else in the universe. This is not one of those Subject to Barb Only novelty ideas. We all harbor this... this ridiculous notion that we are, for so many reasons, unlovable by anyone who has a choice in the matter.

Yesterday Jessica and I got into a conversation (which I hope she won't mind me sharing some of here). We were talking about how we so clearly see our own faults. I said, "I wish I could hold up a mirror for you that shows you what a fantastic human being you are. Seriously... would I love you like I do if you weren't such an amazing person? Not bloody likely." The conversation went on and she revealed what I've heard from so many people, myself included, "I've just lived most of my life seeing everything that's wrong with myself, and thinking it far outweighs any good in me." At this point I assured her that part of why I love her is for her dark, twisty bits. I said, "Those of us who love you, love all of you."

Then I struck myself with a bit of profound wisdom that came shooting out my fingertips as I added, "Isn't it interesting that we love others unconditionally, yet we put so many conditions on ourselves."

Yes. Isn't that interesting.

A few years ago I heard lyrics to a song that struck me so hard it was as if someone had nailed me with a rock right between the eyes. The song is called Open Hearts and Doors by a (regrettably little known) group that goes by the name of Antigone Rising:

Once I was the big mistake
That one was hard to take
Draws its first breath with hesitation

Such truth. You know the unfailingly astute, ubiquitous They will tell you that the most difficult person to love is the one who needs it most. Wouldn't that be our selves? Imagine the peace we'd have within if we'd cut ourselves the same slack that we give others, if we'd shrug off our mistakes and say, "Hey. So you're human, so what. I love you."

We see evidence of others blooming when they're well loved. Why are we so illogical to think that doesn't apply to how we feel about ourselves?

If we could learn to like ourselves, even a little, maybe our cruelties and angers might melt away.
~John Steinbeck

I'll take you one step further, Mr. Steinbeck, and wager that we'd also find ourselves in damned good company.


Unfortunately, I can't find Open Hearts and Doors anywhere, but this is a lovely new tune off of Antigone Rising's new album, 23 Red. Give it a listen - this group needs a lot more airplay and attention than they get!


  1. I struggle with this issue so much. My husband always sees "beautiful" when he looks at me, so why can't I? Your words hit home tonight, as always. Thank you.

  2. Hey, Barb... I love you (no 'buts' about it) and your posts, every now and then, bring good tears to my eyes. Wow! You know what really stuffs a lot of kids up? When I was little I was taught this insidious little song, "Jesus loves me, this I know, because the bible tells me so." You know what... if the rat bastard actually existed, and was 'out there' somewhere... he'd love me because I'm inherently loveable - not because some dusty tome told him he had to. Riiiight?? xoxo

  3. But, Rachel... you ARE beautiful in so many ways.

    Kit, nothing cheeses me off more than people (and entities!) putting qualifiers on love. Fie. Yes, we are (and ought to be) loved by any being simply because we are.


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