One story in a series questioning if We Make Ourselves Unlovable.
I had a friend, Mia, that I met in late middle school who had this ability to be unlovable regardless of how much she wanted to be loved. She was madly in love with another member of our group and they never ended up together. Thinking back on those years, it doesn’t make sense. They were best friends, were good to each other, took care of each other, everyone’s parents got along. It was ideal. That’s the kind of love people can’t even fantasize about. What happened? Mia used the defense of disconnecting.
I was listening to my CD’s from high school and came across my Cardigans CDs, my favorite band. I was listening to the song Communication and suddenly was reminded of Mia. The last time her and I spoke, she was tortured, depressed, frustrated, in despair and hopeless. She was watching her best friend, who she loves so deeply, get married. All those feelings flooded back in while I was driving that night.
I remember the two of them, how they were, how they spoke to each other, and as the counselor of the group in high school, all the things between them. Mia told me one time while we were out at the local mall that she didn’t know how to keep the connection with Dean.
“I love him today, I love him from far away though. I don’t know what else I’m supposed to do.”
Back then, my advice was to just ask him out. This doesn’t work, it didn’t work. She would get close to him, be with him all the time, go through the good and bad times, watch him date other girls, be there when they broke up, and then disconnect from him when they got too close. Dean would stay there, they would rebuild this part of their relationship, get closer and closer and then Mia would disconnect. Over and over this happened. Mia knew how to talk, to say so much, but didn’t know how to let herself be loved. Worse, when she was being loved the way she wanted, when she was found, she would stop it and disconnect.
Mia told me our Senior year that her and Dean weren’t together mostly because of religion and how we were all taught abstinence and not sex ed.
“I’m controlled by guilt, that’s all it fucking is Adam!”
She was confused that she loved someone so much, but was told that her sexual urges for him were sins, from the Devil, and that was part of the reason she disconnected. She felt guilty for wanting him, felt guilty for what her parents would think, her private school, her church, her youth group leaders. Guilt and Shame took over. Mia also had one of those fake happy home lives. Her parents acted perfect out in the community, made her dress perfectly, were the “Golden Couple” of the community. It was bullshit though, as it usually is. Her parents were vicious to each other, tore each other down continuously behind closed doors. I remember being at her house once hearing her parents fight. Mia just broke down when it started.
Mia wasn’t ever taught how to be loved. Where had she seen it? Not at home, not at church, not at school, not in the culture. She knew how to love by doing the inverse of her parents, but that wasn’t enough. It’s only half of what’s needed. The feelings of the unknown, the unknowingness of the unknown, were more frightening than being alone and stuck in the repetition of getting close, disconnecting, then getting close again. We’re never taught how to let ourselves be loved. Who’s seen someone let themselves be loved? This damns us to repeat broken patterns and create relationships that are used for survival and not for creating love.
She married a trucker who is home for a week or so and away for long periods of time and she’s an airline pilot, home for a period of time, then gone for a period of time. It was devastating to hear that because, just as her parent’s relationship, her marriage looks great from the outside, but there is an inner turmoil happening. They don’t fight, they’re good to each other as a couple, but she’s stuck in that repetition that tortured her in high school. She connects and gets close to her husband, but one of them has to leave for work, and the disconnect happens, just to be rebuilt when they both happen to be home, she disconnects because of work and it starts all over again.
This analysis of this relationship is unsatisfactory because nothing else can be known. The big question here is why did Mia fight being loved? Dr. Stephen Mitchell in his book Can Love Lost speaks about a male client of his that runs from relationships that get too deep and mentions that, “There were always moments when he was in danger of feeling something deeply in her presence. He began to realize that it wasn’t so much that he hated her, but that he hated her loving him, because her love opened up possibilities of his developing feelings for her that frightened him. Brett’s difficulties with relationships derived from his inability to integrate desire and love (pp.33).” Where we love we will not desire, and where we desire we will not love.