“How Can Anyone Love Me with All My Issues?”

Via Christine "Cissy" White
on May 6, 2015
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face down feeling bad

That’s the question I asked.

It’s the mold that grew on my moist heart and kept me from opening myself up. It’s what I worried about in my early 20s and why I avoided dating.

I didn’t believe I could be me, who required a flow chart and three hours to explain my family or origin “situation” and who also had anxiety at times. I couldn’t think of me and the words catch, find, desirable or chosen in the same lifetime, never mind the same sentence.

Honest and alone, or fake with a companion? I didn’t like either choice but they were the only choices I thought existed.

I’m not telling people I have mentally ill, alcoholic father, complex relationships with some of my family, difficulty with some sexual positions and am a little sensitive to too much drinking. No way.

This may not be a surprise but my beliefs weren’t all that great for my relationships.

I wish someone had said to me: “The question isn’t if anyone can love your damaged self, it’s whether you can accept and love yourself unconditionally.”

The truth was I didn’t like, love or believe in me.

I didn’t accept my history. I wasn’t loving with myself. I had no compassion for my anxiety. If didn’t like or love myself, how could others love me?

I was hoping to find someone who could love me better than I did.

I saw my complications as only baggage, terrible and negative. I saw what I came with as debris, burdens and contagious toxins and that it would be dangerous for others to get close to me. What, that’s not sexy? That’s not attractive, compelling or appealing?

I get it now, but I didn’t when I was younger.

Now I see that I am a warrior, resilient and sort of spellbinding at times. I navigated obstacle courses that required getting on all fours, muddy, messy and fighting like hell. And I did—while going to school, working and helping take care of others too.

Those are some worthwhile traits and experiences—assets even—not something I needed to apologize for.

But there was one person who didn’t know or trust or believe that: me.

Without me as an ally I didn’t have a chance, and I didn’t clue into this for a long time. Instead, I compared myself to others who were living different lives, who had different paths and histories. Of course we weren’t the same.

I could only see where I fell short, and how I didn’t compare. I judged myself for failing to have as much as joy or spontaneity without seeing that I also had more depth and responsibility.

I was taking care of my Nana who was sick with ovarian cancer. I was battling post-traumatic stress and learning way too much about loss, going to too many funerals in my early 20s. Then, my sister bumped into the biological father we hadn’t seen since we were toddlers.

It was a lot. It wasn’t odd that I had anxiety, it was pretty remarkable that I kept it together as well as I did.

My early 20s weren’t spent happy, carefree or wild. But they weren’t wasted. They were meaningful, deep and important.

I spent more time with grandmother than many get to in a lifetime. I got to do fingerpaints with my cousin and drink iced coffee and plant flowers with my aunt. I learned about loss and grief and how to prioritize, juggle jobs, school and my budget.

I learned to practice resilience, self-reliance, and learned how much I needed friends, creativity, and a healing tribe. I’ve never run out of material to write about and doubt I ever will. My experiences from childhood on shaped my life and still do.

I was able to create a life with animals, flowers, loved ones, writing, family and a small cottage near the ocean that is more often than not charming, loving and inspiring. I learned to be a parent that I am proud of—not perfect, but good enough and that’s a victory. I got to experience the joy of mothering and I’m grateful.

I’m able to take care of my own child, self, house and budget. I can drive myself to the airport and light my pilot when it goes out. I feel sexually, professionally and financially free, creative and empowered at midlife. And I eat pretty well and do yoga.

Actually I’m sort of amazing.

The question never was how can anyone love me and all my baggage?

The question is: why did I doubt myself? The question is: how come I failed to be my own ally?

Wondering how someone can love a pathetic me with too many bags and issues isn’t helpful. With the exact same life I might have asked, who is better than me at packing, dreaming, traveling and helping others do the same?

Really, the question never was, how can someone love me, but why did I expect them to love me when I did not?

I hope you learn to love yourself faster than I did. You don’t have to do anything to be lovable and no matter the past, you need not prove yourself worthy. You are already lovable.

If you aren’t sure, just practice knowing how someone could love you by loving yourself. Or, as my daughter says, find a way to “deal with your awesomeness…. bam!”

How will anyone you love ever be able to get over you?

That’s the question.


Relephant Read:

Why Do You Love Me? A Real Man’s Reply.

Bonus: How to love yourself:


Author: Christine “Cissy” White

Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: Britt-knee/Flickr




About Christine "Cissy" White

Christine “Cissy” Whiteknows it's possible to live, love and parent well after being raised in hell. Possible but not easy. Her work has been widely published in places such as The Boston Globe, Ms. Magazine online, Spirituality & Health, The Mighty & To Write Love on Her Arms. She speaks about developmental trauma, expressive writing and the lifelong impact of adverse childhood experiences. Her motto is "It's not trauma informed if it's not informed by trauma survivors." She's founder of Heal Write Now, co-collaborator of the #FacesOfPTSD campaign and Group Manager of Parenting with ACEs on the ACEsConnectionNetwork. Find her on Heal Write Now on Facebook: Facebook page Email [email protected] to contact Christine "Cissy" White.


22 Responses to ““How Can Anyone Love Me with All My Issues?””

  1. Ellie BT says:

    Cissy! My word, you are a brave warrior wonder woman! I LOVE this piece. You show us all how possible – and important – it is to be REAL and who you actually are. Beautifully written…and with tons of insight and honesty. Thank you for sharing your heart on the page! xo

  2. I forgot to write that the "Deal with your awesomeness" said by my 12-year old comes with a sassy finger snap!

  3. Thank you ELLIE!!!

  4. Haley says:

    It is so rare to read something that truly changes you – something that wakes you up on the inside and shakes you down to your very core. This was one of those reads for me.
    Thank you for sharing this piece. Thank you for the reminder that there are no prerequisites to loving yourself. This came at a time when I really needed it, and I couldn't be more grateful that I stumbled upon it.
    Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go brush up on more techniques to "deal with my awesomeness." (Bam!)

    A fellow warrior.

  5. Haley,
    I LOVE this comment. BAM! Yes, utterly lovable as is – already. COMPLETELY. The harder that is to believe – the more practice we need. But it's a practice that totally pays off and is the more joyful kind of healing. SO glad it spoke to you!!! Words are nutrition to my soul and to think I wrote an apple for another being – it makes me SO SO SO SO SO happy. BAM BAM BAM!

  6. Christine says:

    Sitting here on my own porch balcony in my little cottage on the water at 31 years old, battling PTSD from 10 years of a relationship with a narcissist, and currently pushing someone away who’s healthy and truly loves me despite my “baggage,” I am truly in tears. They’re both tears of validation – of belonging – and of sadness. Because, although I may have just read the most perfect words that describe my own inner journey, I have yet to figure out how to build that bridge to true self-love. As a writer, survivor, and fellow warrior, thank you for taking the time to follow your soul and write this article and post it. You didn’t have to. We all have untold stories in us that we can believe aren’t important enough to share. Thank you for sharing one of yours. It’s life-changing for me today.

  7. Jennifer says:

    Thank You. I needed this and more today. I have just been stabbed in the heart as another relationship ends and I refuse to not learn from it this time. It was like an epiphany to me this time. I am getting hurt because I am choosing men that don't respect me or care about me because I don't respect or care about myself. That is a hard pill to swallow.
    I have done some great strong things in my life but I belittle them down and take them as a negative instead of a positive. Why am I not seeing it from the survivors bench instead of the losers bench?
    Once in a while the confidence peaks out and I think when I heal this crap I will be an unstoppable woman……Wait a minute. I am unstoppable now.
    I am not sure how to fully attain this feeling of self love but I am on the journey now and I am glad to be on it with all of you other Rockstar women.
    I will learn to deal with my Awesomeness!

  8. Dear Christine & Jennifer.
    What beautiful posts and growth. The journey to self-love need not be fast or instant. For me, it was just starting with the questions: How would i respond to a friend? And using that voice within myself.
    Or asking – "What if i already saw myself as whole – even while pained or conflicted or whatever?"
    It wasn't fast or instant but it shifted from being a FIGHT to get over the past to a willingness to be with all of myself, experiences and emotions. Including the parts I didn't always like or love and at first – just tolerating them and not trying to run or beat the hell out of them.
    It took a LONG time and a lot of practice to shift from feeling basically like a mess to like I'm on my own side, just another human, part of the people tribe. I hope that helps. It sounds like you are both open, self-aware, growing and experiencing life. It's enough that you're warriors, writers, rockstars, humans – ALREADY. Some parts certainly feel better than others but it doesn't mean YOU are better or have more value when it's easier than when it's harder. That's my two cents – keep on Dealing with Your Awesomeness. BAM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  9. Kelly says:

    I don’t know how you reached into my head an pulled out some of my life but you did. And I’m almost in tears seeing how someone who battled through life can be strong, loving, confident, and most of all happy. I struggle with the same mind set as you “How could anyone love me?” But the truth is I don’t love myself Which is what makes me wonder about my husband and how he could love me. I definitely need to do more yoga and maybe take a class if I can afford it. You really are an inspiration for someone like me. Someone who still fights with the past. Live on in love and light.

  10. cha says:

    fudge. i can relate. currently experiencing the same thing.

  11. Nena says:

    I sure do relate to that! I’m still struggling with the self love bit.

  12. c says:

    It's one struggle worth fighting for. It gets easier. The rewards pay off. It's so worth it!!! YOU are so worth it!

  13. Kris says:

    WOW! Thank you so much – This is coming from a 20something that really needed to read this. Love and light to you.

  14. Curly girl says:

    This was such a great read! At 56, with help I'm just finally learning to love me as I am and not to wait until I'm thinner, richer, prettier, worthier… This struck a nerve and brought tears. A timely article for me and I think everyone should read it and take heart and love ourselves and all our awesomeness starting yesterday. BAM!

    Much love,
    Curly girl

  15. Cecilia says:

    I’ve tried being true to myself and that’s actually been hurting my romantic relationships more then anything else. I have bipolar 1 with psychotic features, ptsd, and generalized anxiety. I’m now at the point where the only men in my life are my best friends. No matter how long I wait to disclose, my diagnoses scare off all of my potential partners. It also doesn’t help that I’ve been poly for close to 6 years now.

    I’ve pretty much given up on dating. Although I’m true to myself and honest about who and what I am, I’m finding that I’m attracting men who would rather write me off as “crazy” then try to show understanding and compassion.

  16. Confesor Lopez says:

    Love this!!!

  17. ritu says:

    I have been dealing with a similar situation. Broken family and difficult childhood. I thought no one can love my broken self. No one wants that kind of baggage when they already have their own battles to fight. I wish I came across this article sooner. But better late than never. Thanks Christine. This has helped a lot. Will be turning to this piece of advice whenever the going gets tough.

    Much love,

  18. Alicia says:

    I’m twenty six. My birthday was two weeks ago. By 21 I had had two children, watched my father fight tuberculous and the treatment that almost killed him, and stage four cancer and the chemo that almost killed him too, took care of a terminally ill child, buried that child, left an abusive marriage, started dating my (now) fiance, who is a packaged deal with a teenager who has aspergers, adopted my nephew, and was disowned by the entirety of my dad’s side of the family, and my mother’s parents and brother, because I came out.

    I really fucking needed to see this because I’m still drowning in it all. Namaste

  19. temsy says:


  20. amanda says:

    I ultimately live in a mans world as a pseudo femanist trying to see the balance in both sides. This article speaks to me in a way that a positive comment will enforce but will also make me question. The love from others is so half heartedly comforting yet personally conflicting. I feel the same, I understand the same. I love myself for my unrelenting drive/story/stupidity (kinda..lol) but am baffled how others could and want to. I question it all, a gift but a curse. However yes, it’s possible. Figuring out that divide just drives me to no end…namaste

  21. Elissa says:

    Loved this!! I can totally relate to thoughts in this! Finally realizing why am I wondering “do they like me?” I should be asking if I like them! Do you have a site or blog I can follow? Feel free to check out my blog I just started… my journey to self love

  22. Jan says:

    Isn’t it great to remember that an Almighty God created us, and loves us just as we are?