The attraction of rejection

Since my separation and divorce from my ex-husband I have not had a serious relationship with anyone else. I got hurt so badly that I decided it would be best to be alone. Not in the least because I nearly lost my children and I wanted to protect them from any more trauma.

But slowly as I recovered, I turned my thoughts to why I am always attracted to emotionally unavailable, distant, violent and manipulative men. I have had a few relationships with loving, kind and caring men but after a short while I felt uncomfortable, anxious and basically ran for the hills. Breaking hearts as I did. For which I feel very guilty and if any of you read this: I am sorry.

I have discovered that as I have never known unconditional love, as a child, I have not learned to love myself. Only if a child has the experience of unconditional love from a parent or carer from birth they will develop a sense of self-love. I have clearly been taught the opposite. I witnessed terrible violence against my sister, and was told to shut up and stay out of it. When I was 2 my sister was adopted, which subconsciously told me I must have not been good enough if they went all that way to adopt another child. She then got a lot of attention, mostly negative but still attention as I was the ‘good’ child. But the biggest overriding message was that I couldn’t trust my parents, they did not keep us safe, they violated our trust and loyalty towards them by abusing and starving my sister and neglecting both of our emotional needs and allowing it to continue. This is a very powerful message of rejection and abandonment which to me clearly said: ‘you are worthless and you are not worthy of love’.

‘Attraction Rejection’, pencil and ink on paper, Mayola 2020

Then when I grew up it felt safe to be with people who weren’t interested in me, who didn’t show care and protection and love. And when somebody did show interest, care and love it felt very uncomfortable, uneasy and scary. So I ran. Instead it felt much better to have my internal message of self-hate enforced by violent, abusive, manipulative men, because I actually believed it to be the truth!

So the inevitable conclusion is, that if I want to experience true love I have to start learning to love myself. Only once I feel comfortable with that feeling, I can allow somebody else to love me back and be in a successful mutually loving relationship. But how do I go about that? For decades I have worked on enforcing the feeling of worthlessness and self-loathing, and I have come some way of practising self-love by looking after myself better, live healthier, engage in therapy and support but I don’t think I have even scratched the surface of starting to love myself more.

The evidence of that lies in that I am still attracted to unhealthy men, bad boys, tough guys, emotionally damaged men who are in one way or another not emotionally available. Still, I am very comfortable in my own company, I look after myself physically and mentally and I don’t engage in risky behaviour anymore. But I just don’t know what the next step is, except that I have to draw boundaries and stick to them.

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