I’m incapable of love. I came to this realization after breaking off with the second love of my life. It’s a dissonance. How can I yearn so much for love, but be unable to love. The only person in my life that I could have learned to be unloving from is my mom. Growing up, my mom wasn’t bad. When we were very, very, very poor she still gave us the necessities of life. She took care of us the best she could. As a matter of fact, she did much better than her mother, who abandoned her and her siblings. So she actually grew up as an orphan and had to work since very young. She doesn’t seem to resent her mother. She actually tried to look for her siblings a while ago, to no avail. I feel that she has come to a point in her life where she can feel. But somehow, for us, her children, it’s a little too late. We are who she raised us up to be. Unloving. My sister has temper problems and mood changes and is constantly jealous of the love she thinks my brother and I receive more of. Our one other brother is also jealous of the love that he thinks we receive more of. But when my brother and I talk to each other, we have come to the truth that our mom does not love anybody. Nobody. She does not love our dad. She does not love us. It has always been that way. Perhaps she feels more now, but it is not love. She just understands a little bit more.
When I was younger, I remember being happy, vibrant, playful, and having all the qualities of a child. I was unafraid. I was unafraid of rejection, unafraid of happiness, unafraid of the possibility of pain, unafraid of loving others, unafraid of liking others, unafraid of asking others if I could play with them even if they rejected me. But that was 9 year old me. Then 10 year old me started to realize things. 10 year old me started to remember all the times her sister was abusive and mean. 10 year old me started to become afraid the only sister she had. 10 year old me started to hate the only sister she had. she avoided her like the plague. and when her sister got married and moved away, she was relieved. when her sister came back to visit, she forgot all the past trauma and forgave her sister because he sister was kind and happy again.
But then 10 year old me started growing even more. Her parents were never proud of her. When 10 year old me came home from soccer games, the question was always “did you lose?” 10 year old me’s siblings started forcing her to do things. and would be stern with her when she was happy. 10 year old me got scared. if she couldn’t swing on the swing and be happy when taking a photograph, then what else was there. if she had to be serious at times like that, then what was the joy of life. 10 year old me was happiest when playing outside, even by herself. But she was even happier going to school, being with her friends, going to the library with her beloved closest brother. Then 10 year old me became 11. 11 year old me was more sensitive, more reserved, more shy. Suddenly, she recognized all the flaws people were pointing out to her. But still, it did not faze her at first. She was still relatively happy. She still had lots of friends. She still loved going to school. Her parents and siblings still cared about her, from her perspective. 11 year old me got a little bit shyer day by day. Becoming more and more different from 8 year old me, 9 year old me, and 10 year old me.
11 year old me eventually turned 12. That year, her mom, tired of the cold weather of the midwest, wanted to move to the sunshine state, where her married sister had moved away to. Although she was still afraid of her sister, remember all those times she was mean, she did not see any reason to not like her sister. Her sister was still her sister. So together the family of four moved to the sunshine state. It was hard at first. Leaving the beautiful small town and arriving at a metropolitan area with no soft grass in sight. Just dried up brown leaves resembling grass at some point. The trees weren’t as green. There weren’t as many squirrels. Where were the dandelions? Where were the berry plants, the creeks, the rivers? More importantly, where was the library?
Those were the most lonely days of 12 year old me. No books to read, no friends to talk to, no grass to play on. 12 year old me never went anywhere, was not allowed to go anywhere except school and home. 12 year old me still loved going to school, but a little less. She had a hard time making friends. People did not like the way she smiled. Her teeth were not pretty. So 12 year old me stopped smiling. 12 year old me stopped being happy. 12 year old me started going to the school library every morning and checking out as many books as she could to fill up her loneliness at home. At least in books, she could live however she wanted, and she could be whoever she wanted. She was beautiful, smart, brave, adventurous. She was all the heroines and heroes.
12 year old me made lots of friends in six grade, despite being ugly. 12 year old me was good in school. 12 year old me got a lot of awards. 12 year old me was still happy but with new nagging feelings of loneliness. Then 12 year old me turned 13.
13 year old me had to move yet again. This time a few miles away to a different city in the metropolitan area. 13 year old me, her brother, her mom, and her father moved into a brand new, roomy house with her sister and brother in law. 13 year old me had never, ever had her own room or own bed before, and it did not change. 13 year old me did not find it to be odd to still have to sleep in the same bed with her mom. 13 year old me was still blissfully happy, blissfuly unaware. The only difference was, awareness and nagging feelings of loneliness kept creeping in. 13 year old me tried to get along with everyone, tried to please everyone, tried to be quiet and tried not to make a mess in her sister’s brand new house. She tried to avoid her sister and brother in a law as much as possible. But nothing she ever did was good enough. Something was always wrong. She ate too much of other people’s food without asking. She was always hogging the tv. She was always unhelpful around the house. She was always lazy. 13 year old me’s mom tried to tell her to be more thoughtful around the house. So she tried her best. But still, her parents and her sister still had frequent fights and arguments with each other, the details to which 13 year old me was unaware of.
Then darkness came. 13 year old me’s brother started becoming suicidal. 13 year old me didn’t understand. What was wrong with her brother, she asked herself. The only answer she could come up with after countless hours of talking to him was that he was sad. So 13 year old me got into an argument with her parents trying to defend her brothers condition. “He’s just unhappy, he’s just sad” she told her parents. “Why can’t you just get him help,” she asked her parents, not knowing what help meant, but just knew that is what her brother wanted. Help. At 17 years old, her brother wanted to be helped. And it wasn’t just all of a sudden. 13 year old me was just never aware up until that point. She was always blissfully happy in her own little world. “Why can’t you just help him. Why do you have to yell at him all the time,” she sobbed. Thinking that maybe if they stopped yelling at him and telling him to do better in school would help him.
Somewhere along the way, 13 year old me became suicidal as well. There were so many problems in her family and in that house that she did not understand. Why was her brother so sad. And why did her parents not try to understand and help him. Why did her sister dislike her so much? Why was her sister nice to her one moment and violent the next moment? She did not understand. She just knew she felt so much pain in her heart that she had never felt before. 13 year old me thought about going to the big intersection near the house and throwing herself in front of a car. She even wrote up a note.
25 year old me doesn’t remember very vividly what happened after that incident. Perhaps it was too much pain, too much trauma in a short period and 13 year old me just shut it out as much as possible. To try to forget about an explainable period in her life where she didn’t understand. No one tried to explain to her anything. So she shut herself out and started living life on her computer and in her books even more. She started to retreat into herself more and more. If she did nothing and said nothing, then no one would bother her, yell at her, berate her, scold her. All she had to do was stay out of the way. So she stayed out of the way. She did everything she was asked and nothing more. She got great grades and made new friends, but fewer this time. 13 year old me now had a hard time getting rejected, getting criticized. She followed all the rules at school, acquiesced to everything, and was terrified when she did something wrong or got in trouble. She was no longer as happy going to school. She hated getting called on or being pointed out at. She did not like getting recognition. She was afraid her classmates would dislike her for doing better than them. So she never accepted recognition, she never believed she was smarter than anyone, never believed she was better than anyone. She just wanted to be left alone.
Then 13 year old me turned 14. Somewhere around that time her family decided to move into an apartment away from her sister and brother in law. That was the happiest days of her life. She felt like she was freed from being suppressed. So 14 year old happily moved away with her brother, mother, and father into a small apartment. She still did not have her own bed, let alone her own room. Neither did her brother. She was used to it, and still did not mind.
14 year old me was happy again. But now, she did not like going to school as much. She did not enjoy it. It was getting harder. She wasn’t as good at math as she thought. She struggled, and cried and cried and cried. She was getting a C in Algebra 1. She cried and cried and cried. It was going to be transferred to her high school records. She would start off high school with a C, without having taken any classes. So she shut out her algebra 1 class. She doesn’t remember even now what her final grade was.
Then she turned 15 and started high school. By this time, she started to get feelings of sadness. Unexplained sadness. Sometimes she would get sad, it seemed, for no reason at all. She would cry for no reason at all. She made new friends at her high school, but it was extremely difficult. She was so shy, reserved, and unhappy. But she still managed to make friends. She still strived for straight A’s, having forgotten about her Algebra 1 nightmare. But this time, it wasn’t math that made her cry yet again, it was English. She wasn’t doing well in grammar. Her honors english class was too difficult for her. So she sat outside before soccer practice and cried and cried and cried.
She wasn’t good at soccer either. Having not had the chance to play ever since she was 11 years old. So she quit soccer and joined the tennis team. She was good at tennis. Good for having played only for fun with her brother and father on occasions when she was bored and wanted to go outside.
15 year old me managed to do well in English class despite struggling so much with grammar. She did well in all of her classes. And then she was happy again. But outwardly, she did not show her happiness. She walked around school with her head down, her eyes on the ground, and her face displaying a stoic disposition. She followed the rules even better now. She was good at following rules. She never spoke out, she never talked when she wasn’t suppose to, she never raised her hand. She was getting good at becoming invisible. Good at just being there. Good at blending in. She desperately wanted to blend in, to fit in, to not stand out. To be left alone.
So school went on like that. It was no longer enjoyable. 15 year old me liked going home. The few hours that her parents weren’t home, and her brother was in class at the university. Those few quiet hours where she could just relax and be herself. Her true self. Not the facade she put on for the world. Not the acquiescing, timid, shy girl who did not want to displease anyone.
She escaped into her virtual world. Watching movies, watching tv series, watching, reading, and listening to music. Anything she could do to just be herself, but in the safety of her home, in the safety of being unknown.
But nothing was ever quite the same. Her parents would get into arguments and somehow it would turn ugly towards her. Suddenly, an argument between the two of them would turn into a nitpicking session and criticism of her and her brother. This time around though, 15 year old me understood. She understood that her mom was taking out her frustrations on her. But no matter how much she understood, it did not take the pain away. The pain of being blamed for everything that was wrong. The blame for being unhelpful, doing nothing, being spoiled, being lazy, having been cared for too much. Whenever my mom got angry, she always had the habit of bringing up her children and my dad’s children. She always referred to my half sister and my two half brothers as her children, while my brother and I were my dad’s children. It was always us against them. My brother, my father and me against her and her children.
It was as if my brother and I were not her children. When she got angry, she resented us, it seemed like to me, for no reason other than being my father’s children. We were too spoiled, too protected, too cared for. We got everything while the others got close to nothing.
So 15 year old me learned to avoid her mom and dad when they got into arguments. She tried to stay out of there way, lest her mom’s wrath turned unto her and her brother. But rarely did it work. There was always something they did wrong. Always something that 15 year old me’s mother was unsatisfied about. 15 year old me tried to be less visible to her parents and especially to her mother. She tried to stay out of her way now as well. The one person she loved the most since she was very young was now the source of her pain and anguish. So she stopped loving her mother. Perhaps it wasn’t at 15. Perhaps her love for her mother started fading much earlier than that. And at 15, she was finally aware enough to come to the conclusion, that if her mother loved her, she wouldn’t always berate her, yell at her, and say that she wasn’t her child. She wouldn’t threaten to run away, to kill herself, to never come back. If 15 year old me’s mother loved her, she wouldn’t say those things.
So 15 year old forgot what love felt like. She forgot about how much love she felt when she was 8. How much her mom loved her so much when she was younger. She forgot about her mom’s love. She decided that it was not love. Her mom cared about her, but that’s all it was. She cared because she had to. It was not love, and it had never been love.
15 year old me joined the marching band the first year of high school as well. She made lots of marching band friends. Marching band was happiness for her. It was a struggle, having not played the flute since she was 11. She was bad at being on beat. She was bad at keeping time. But she got by. She liked marching band, even though she was bad at music.
Then she turned 16. There was no fanfare. No one knew it was her birthday. She just kept it to herself. So she got by. It was harder now to get straight A’s. So she stopped caring as much. She still got great grades, but whenever it wasn’t what she wanted, she stopped caring in order to block to pain of being a failure, not being good enough, not being what her parents expected her to be. She didn’t show her parents her report cards. She hardly spoke to them, if at all. She stopped being close with her brother as well. They still went to the bookstore a lot together, but because he knew how to drive and she didn’t. 16 year old me was in the routine of school, after school activity, and home. She had no friends outside of school. And figured it was pointless to try, because the answer would always be no. No 16 year old me could not go to someone else’s house. No, 16 year old me cannot go outside with friends. No 16 year old me cannot wander around the streets and become a delinquent.
16 year old me learned to stop asking her parents for things completely. She only asked when she knew for certain that the answer was yes. She stopped telling her parents anything, unless she absolutely had to.
16 year old me turned 17.
17 year old me was getting better. She had friends who told her that they loved her. At first, it was odd. She didn’t know how to respond. She thought it was odd that people who didn’t know her well could love her. So she figured that it was just something that everyone said, but did not mean. So she would respond with a “thanks”. She could not say it back. She had never told anyone she loved them before. By this time, she had already forgotten about love in the real world. She saw love on tv and in movies. But that was just acting. She did not know what real love was. So when her friends told her that they loved her, she did not feel it. As time went by, she started to awkwardly practice saying it to her friends. Sometimes she said thanks, and sometimes she said it back. 17 year old me never initiated love. 17 year old me had many crushes. On basketball players, on soccer players, and almost every good looking guy she saw. But she liked them because she admired their skills, their coolness, their confidence. She admired in them everything she did not have. So she yearned for them. Perhaps she yearned to be like them. To be cool, to be confident, to be exceptionally skilled, to be easy going, friendly.
17 year old me got her first boyfriend the junior year in pre calclulus class. She had her ideals, skinny, cool, japanese pretty boys from the mangas and the movies she watched so much of. But here he was, not her ideal type. American. But she liked him and thought he was good looking and funny, so gave him a chance. She did not hold his hands much. In fact, she disliked it. She disliked holding his hands in the hallway. She disliked being hugged. She disliked being smothered with affection. SHe did not like any of it. So they had problems. The boy was understanding though. He supported her, he wrote her love notes, walked her to class. But the boy could not penetrate into her heart. She had no feelings. She did not know what those were. She could laugh and be happy. But those feelings did not last long. She was always sad and depressed those days as much as she was happy.
So a month went by and she felt suffocated. She did not understand. Why did he need to hold her hand all the time, why did he need to be with her all the time. Why did he love her so much. It was all so new. Another month went by, and another. The third month, 17 year old me broke the boy’s heart. 17 year old me broke up with the boy. She broke up with him having never kissed him.
She was free again. She could be herself again. She didn’t have to examine her feelings. She didn’t have to open her heart.
Then 17 year old me fell in love for the first time ever. The second boy was her friend. Her confidant. They talked all the time online. They only had one class together, but since he had dated her best friend, they got closer to each other. She liked his comforting words and understanding. She felt connected to him. He was cool, and she admired him. So they went to a school dance together, and by that time, she was infatuated with him and in love. She had her first kiss with him. And she was happy again.
But that happiness did not last long. 17 year old me was controlling without knowing it. 17 year old me had become a negative person without knowing it. 17 year old me was mean without knowing it.
So the second boy broke up with 17 year old me after a month.
17 year old me was devastated. Someone she thought she had loved, and had loved her could break up with her out of nowhere. She did not see it coming. She saw no signs. Nothing. 17 year old me turned 18 before the school year ended. That summer, she cried and cried and cried. She was miserable and saw no way out. But she endured through it.
18 year old me then got a job. Her first job. She was miserable, but she figured that it would help her. The hiring manager saw that she was unusually shy and asked her if she thought she could do it. 18 year old me replied “I can try”. The manager reprimanded her with a “there is no trying, there is only doing.” So she said yes. He gave 18 year old me a job. She was ecstatic that someone would give her such a chance. So then her heart started to heal a little. She made money, bought new clothes and tried to become more confident, more easy going, more fun, more open.
In reality, it was an act. But she wanted to make him regret breaking up with her. 18 year old me was vengeful. 18 year old me was toxic. 18 year old me was unforgiving. 18 year old me wanted others to feel the pain I felt. 18 year old me was childish. 18 year old me had become like her mom. Controlling and unforgiving.
18 year old me was still miserable by the start of the senior year. Everything was harder now. Calculus was the most difficult. But 18 year old me did well at first. So 18 year old me decided to put her midterm report card on the the second boy’s car windshield, as a reminder that “hey, even without you, i’m doing well. look at how great i am.” And it worked. 18 year old me’s first love came back to her. He talked to her again. And then officially asked her out in October of senior year. But everything after that was a daze. 18 year old me had won. 18 year old me had succeeded in getting what she wanted. But she was still unhappy.
She was resentful that the second boy could not love her before. Why did he not love her before, she constantly wondered. Why did he truly love her now, as she could tell for sure this time, but he could not love her before. Was she unlovable before? 18 year old me ruminated and ruminated over that question. It became an obsession.
So she hurt her first love. She found faults with him. She made him cry. She made him cry over and over. But he still loved her. She abused him emotionally, but he still persevered in his love for her. She was not mean all the time. But she was not nice most of the time. She withheld love, she withheld affection, she withheld anything she could to be in control. She threatened and cried.
So their relationship lasted off and on for 4 years.
18 year old me turned 19 and graduated from high school in 4th place. Her dad asked her why she could not retain her 3rd place position she had told him about. Her dad asked her why she couldn’t be like her best friend, M. Why couldn’t she be valedictorian? So 19 year old me answered, “because I am not M. because I cannot be like her.” So 19 year old me applied to college and went to the nearest one.
19 year old me struggled with classes, got decent grades and turned 20.
20 year old me struggled with classes and got bad grades. Still, life went on, listlessly, unhappily. 20 year old me no longer cared about school. 20 year old me could no longer study well, focus well, concetrate well. So 20 year old me did nothing.
20 year old me turned 21 and started to get better. Tried harder. Struggled harder. Then 22 year old me hit a turning point. Her first love was breaking up with her for good this time. She had manipulated and controlled him one too many times. He was fed up. So she became suicidal. But 22 year old me was not brave enough to die. Her first love called the police on her and they came to her house. By that time, her mother had gotten a job up north with her brothers, so she did not live with them, but they were still connected. Her mother cut off ties and financial assistance for a while. 22 year old me finally grew up, realizing that the person she loved had called the police on her. She no longer had feelings for him after that.
22 year old me turned 23 and her mom talked to her again, gave her money again after realizing that 23 year old me wasn’t pregnant.
23 year old me went on to improve in school and got better socially.
23 year old me turned 24 and was becoming a better and better person everyday.
So 24 year old me decided to try to date again. She had nothing to lose. Her coworker had gone on a couple of dates with hot guys on the app Tinder. So 24 year old me wanted to try to go on dates with hot guys too. And to work on her problems of being shy.
By then, she had gotten her teeth fixed, had been practicing the art of makeup and had become good at fashion.
24 year old me went on her first date in November of last year. She had expected nothing. She wanted to only have dinner and company, because she was starting to feel extremely lonely again. So she went on her first date, full of anxiety. She thought her date was a bit forward. But it was fun nonetheless. So he asked her to go on a second date. And then a third date, and fourth date. 24 year old me and the third man got along very well. He was the same age. So they dated through December and January.
24 year old me started to keep all records of their most eventufl dates and of her feelings so she could look back on them to learn about herself in the future… in case… was always at the back of her mind. “in case”, she thought. After January passed, she started having doubts. Doubts of her ability to be in a relationship. Doubts of relationships. Her brain nagged at her. Told her again and again about all the horror stories of happy couples who broke up. Often times 20, 30, 40 years later. She got more and more scared. By February, 24 year old me was scared beyond reason. All her entries became volatile. One day, she would be happy and swear to give her all into the relationship. Into this third man. Then when something upset her, she would write about her fears and doubts about the third man and the relationship. 24 year old me became more and more unable to reason with her brain.
She could not control it. She could not reason it. She knew how she felt. She knew how she should feel. She knew what she should do. She knew how she should treat this third man. But everyday, it became harder and harder. Especially when they could not be in contact for long periods of time. She could not fight with her brain. In the end, she did not win the fight. She broke up with her third love four times in the relationship in six months. 24 year old me turned 25. 25 year old me was bad again. 25 year old me was childish again. She had worked so hard to build herself up. But she was back where she was 2 and a half years ago. She felt like she could not escape. As if it was her fate to forever live in fear.
She was scared that her second love was going to leave her for someone better in the future. She could not live with the projected devastation if that ever happened. She was afraid that she could not love someone for that long. She was afraid that she would become unattractive to him. She was afraid of being left. She was afraid of being inadequate. She was afraid of everything there was to be afraid of.
So here she is, 25 year old me. Depressed. Unable to change. Unable to fight her unreasonable brain.
25 year old me begged her first love to love her again. But he said he did not love her. He said he was done. And when he is done, he is done. 25 year old me’s second love is incapable of crying. And 25 year old me is incapable of love.
So 25 year old me went to the sunshine bridge and looked over the edge in the darkness of the early morning. She looked, and she was deathly afraid. She became nauseous and her brain scared itself into reason. Her brain at that moment, stopped nagging her of what she could be missing now that her second love was out of her life. But her brain stopped. Her brain told her that he was just going to let her die. Her brain told her that there was no reason to have feelings for someone who was going to let her die. So her brain stopped nagging her. But she was still sad. So she went nearby to the fishing pier and sat on the rocks. The warm water splashed at her feet and her brain was terrified. It did not want to jump into that water. It did not want to slowly slip into that water. It was afraid of the darkness beneath. So she got back into her car and drove home before dawn. She fell asleep and woke up with no feelings. She finally won. She finally won over her brain.