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Hello everyone! The last blog in this series is very personal to me. It's been a long journey to uncover a thought stronghold that has plagued me for a good part of my life. I can only imagine how many people on this planet struggle with the identity “Unlovable.” It is a powerful and dangerous identity. In the mind of a human, it's fortifications and “city walls” are high and strong – built of and on many hurts, disappointments, and struggles. In fact, it can be the stronghold from which all other strongholds of the mind are born – as was the case with me.
I want to share where I've come from and where I am now. I write this both from a place of freedom and as a warning. Be careful the thoughts you let linger. Be careful of who and what speak into your life. It has taken me over 20 years to be free of the identity “Unlovable.” I do not want that for any of you.
“Your daddy will be gone for about two more weeks”, my mom told me as I walked in the door from school. I was maybe 6 or 7 years old at the time. Dad was always gone for his job. It's not something he could help, and it's not anything he had any control over – it just was. Dad would have loved to have been home more than away. I see that now with my adult brain, but at age 6 you don't see it that way, or at least I didn't. You always wonder if maybe your dad doesn't like you so he stays away. You wonder why he leaves you mom by herself all the time. My mom never told us our dad didn't like us or love us, and my dad was always happy to be back with his family. However, the 6-year-old brain does many things with an absent parent, even if that parent intends no harm by their absence. I can honestly tell you “he must not like me this is why he must stay away all the time” began to develop as a thought pattern in my brain at that early age. The first foundational thought about a man I ever had was about how much he supposedly didn't like me. It gets worse before it gets better. Stay with me.
Fast forward to fourth grade, four years later and to Timothy and Morgan. Timothy and Morgan were classmates of mine. They prided themselves, especially Timothy (the ring leader), in telling everyone what was wrong with them. My adult brain sees this as the childhood foolishness and bullying that it was now, but 9 and 10 year old Elizabeth didn't know how to take her two male classmates back then. I will never forget the day I was playing Transformers with Timothy and Morgan. We stopped playing because we were board and recess wasn't over yet. Timothy looked at me for a long minute and then said without any provocation or warning, “You know you really are an ugly duckling. You look different than all the other girls.” Morgan (the follower) chimed in, “yes, why do you look like that?” Both boys laughed and then turned around and walked away. My 10-year-old heart was stunned and broken. I stood there taking in what they had said. This has not been the first time they had said cruel things to me. You see at the age of 10 I looked more like I was 13. Trust me it wasn't easy at that age. The second foundational thought was layed by two silly boys. I have just recently realized how much their words, words I tried to forget, have affected me in ways I was not aware. My sincere hope is that Timothy and Morgan grew up to be men who were kinder - for their sake and that of the women they would encounter. And by the way, I have forgiven those silly boys. Their words don't belong to me anymore.
Elizabeth enters Middle School. I prided myself in my intelligence and my studies. However, I can tell you middle school boys do not look for intelligence or the ability to study. I didn't get many dates. I didn't get a lot of attention from the boys my age. It was at the age of 14 or 15 that I solidified the foundation for the identity “Unlovable” unknown to anyone, even in my family. I decided I wasn't good enough for the boys my age. I continued to do well in school throughout high school and readied myself for college.
I graduated from high school in 1995. I was 18 years old. Surely the grown men would take notice of me for me. I did all the things. I had nice hair, wore makeup, had nice clothes, was friendly enough and could have great conversations. I dated some in college but nothing lasted very long. I remember being told by one guy that I was “intimidating.” I can remember coming home from that date and actually thinking the word “unlovable” about myself. I shared this with no one. The word became a part of my psyche in my early 20s. I would spend the next 20 plus years believing I was unlovable. The foundation had been layed in my childhood and my teen years. I began to build my “city called Unlovable” in my early 20s.
I want to pause here and say that I believe had I shared this with my parents or a counselor, I think I could have avoided a lot of pain in my life. However, I grew up in a time when mental health was not talked about frequently. You didn't talk about how you felt much or what your perspective of yourself was, you just dealt with it. My church was not talking about such things either. They were not against such things, but they didn't talk about it much.
It has always amazed me what burdens we can carry through our lives and actually function. I graduated from college, got a nursing job and went on with my life. All the while I believed I was “unlovable” and my relationship choices proved that whether they be friends or dating interests. I kept friends who weren't friends – they were just using me in many situations. I dated men I had no business with, some of them with very serious emotional and relational problems including addiction. **I married an abusive man later on in my 30s. His behavior and his treatment of me reinforced my city walls and layed more bricks on my “City of Unlovable.” Why did I involve myself with such people you ask? When you believe you are unlovable, you will do just about anything to be loved and to feel like you are seen. You will go against your values. You will accept behavior you would not otherwise accept. You will accept treatment you would not otherwise accept. You will let men berate you, hit you, and in some cases threaten you with other bodily harm because you don't feel like you deserve anything better. Afterall, you are “unlovable” and this is the best there is out there for you and it's your fault you are mistreated. Yes, I really had that perception in my head. Of course, this perception is all a lie but when you are standing in the the middle of your “City of Unlovable”, it seems pretty logical to you.
In 2018, 4 years after my late husband died, I stopped dating altogether. I was engaging in some behavior that was not like me at all and frankly could have been dangerous to my health. I knew something was very wrong. It was that year that I began my journey to what I believe is real healing – not the glossing over I had done to that point. This journey has not been easy. Writing about it over the years has not been easy. Going to counseling and dealing with all of my 20 years of stuffed emotions and pain has not been easy. Looking back to find the roots of my thoughts and my pain has not been easy. Letting go has not been easy. I'm still letting go. I'm still finding roots. I'm still writing. Writing these words for you tonight was not easy and I've had tears in my eyes most of the time. Choosing to destroy my well-built “City of Unlovable” was not easy. How did I do that, you might ask? The first step is acknowledging the thought is there and it is taking up too much space in your head. I did this two weeks ago. I know have to begin to look at how and why it got there in the first place and I have some good ideas as you have been reading about no doubt. My work is not done, for you see, I have to destroy the foundation. Bad foundations do not yield good buildings – whether they be actual buildings or our lives. You can't build anything good on a left-over bad foundation. You have to clear the land so to speak. I have to clear the space in my head and begin to lay new foundations based on actual truth. Not every thought you think makes it true about you or anyone else for that matter. Truth is not as subjective as you might it is either. There is only one source of Truth I will build any foundation on from now on and that is God's truth about me. He says I am lovable so therefore I am! He says I am His so therefore I am! And His son Jesus died for me to prove it just like he died for you to prove it (John 3:16)! I have nothing to lose but fear, doubt, confusion, and chaos. I won't live in those things any longer. I have a much better foundation and his name is Jesus Christ. I get to choose! You get to choose!
I will close with some questions for you.
What “city” have you built in your mind that is literally or figuratively killing you? What names have you let others and/or life situations call you that do not belong to you anymore? What names do you need to denounce and release? I've been doing a lot of this lately and it makes a difference to write it down and say it out loud! What we denounce and release no longer has power over us. What we tear down can free us! I have been freed and can now make space for a better foundation! You can too my friends! You have nothing to lose but heartache. Go, be free, and learn who you truly are!
Isaiah 41:b NIV; “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name. You are mine."
**Note: You can read my story in my book The Road Less Traveled: A Story of Love, Pain, Hope and Everything In Between. Available on Amazon in all formats!