As the child of divorce, I never thought much about long-term relationships or marriage until I found myself head over heels in love with my high school sweetheart, dreaming of spending the rest of our lives together. So when he ended things with me, I was heartbroken.
At the age of 22, I found myself single for the first time in my adult life. After the tumultuous end to our four-year relationship, I vowed to stay that way.
It wasn’t so much that I was anti-relationships, although trust would certainly be an issue for me in the future. My decision to remain single was more the result of a belief I’d nestled deep inside: that I was too damaged for love.
Having someone I had loved tell me he no longer loved me—and never really had loved me the way I had loved him—left me deeply wounded. After being rejected by someone I felt I had given everything to, I labeled myself exactly that: a reject.
About a year later, I met the man who is now my husband. He was aware of my relationship aversion and pursued me still as a friend. I was quickly overtaken by his golden eyes and kind demeanor and gave myself over to dating him.
I carried my baggage into our relationship. But each time I verbalized my feelings of inadequacy and unworthiness, he would tell me this:
“You are not damaged.” And I tried my best to believe him.
My wounds were still pretty raw, and I couldn’t shake my own insecurities or memories of rejection. I still felt “too damaged” for love and ultimately broke up with him after just three months of dating.
We weren’t together anymore, but he didn’t abandon me. My husband went back to being my friend again and a good friend he was. At a time in my life when I felt very lonely, he was consistent and caring, never pressuring me to take him back or guilting me for breaking up with him.
Slowly, I realized he was a person I could trust. Slowly, I fell for him.
This time, things were different. Each time he shared with me a quality of mine he admired, I was beginning to believe him. With each compliment, each affirmation, each story of his own feelings of inadequacy, I was learning that there’s no such thing as being “too damaged” for love. With that realization, I was finally able to accept myself and my past.
My husband taught me I am worthy of love. I know now that no baggage we carry is too heavy to be thrown off for the sake of loving and being loved.