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One of my favorite writers, April Green, wrote a short poem that really spoke to me:
And the moon looked down at her and said: “you are too full of everything that makes you whole to ever be loved in halves.”
I sent it to my friend, Sarah Snow, who is known for creating visually inspiring videos, each one with a resonating message. She was just as inspired, and we connected with April. Sarah, alongside artist Donna Adi, created a video with a profound message about what it’s like when the person you love doesn’t love you back.
The response to the video, with over two million views, clearly shows the number of people who can relate to this message, especially those of us living with a mental illness.
As confident as I may appear to many people, it is difficult to admit that I have always accepted being loved in halves, until now. A lot of it has to do with growing up in a society that made me feel so wrong for living with bipolar disorder. I realized I was not the only one by far, who has felt unlovable and undeserving of genuine love. It led me to post this question on my Instagram:
Why do those of us living with a mental illness accept being loved in halves?
The 15 responses show the pain of feeling unlovable, but also the depth of individuals living with a mental illness. It shows the damage of stigma being that we are punished for merely being born different.
Sharing the answers on my Instastory would not do these words justice. The following are the answers sent to me in response to my question.
Why do we accept being loved in halves?
“Because the stigma around mental illness makes me feel like I’m not worthy of being entirely loved.”
“Because we don’t believe we are full of everything, even though we are. We are never taught self-love when you live with a mental illness.”
“Because we are treated lesser than others, so we act lesser than others. I was in a relationship for years where my boyfriend loved me some days and others he didn’t. One day he’d embrace my mental illness and emotions, and the next he blamed me for them. I was so insecure and accepted being loved in halves. I thought he was right but have finally realized he is wrong.”
“Because we are told by society that we are monsters, and who would love a monster whole?”
“Because people only want that part of us that contributes color to their world.”
“Because fear and doubt in all forms get in the way of our wellness and our relationships. The cure to fear is information. The thing about mental illness is that staying in reality can be a challenge at times.”
“Because you accept the love you think you deserve.”
“Because we think it’s what we deserve or it’s the most we could ever hope for.”
“Because we think or feel that ‘something is better than nothing.’ It’s all about the other person and also about our own heart. How you are on the inside, reflects how you are on the outside.”
“Because we are afraid the ‘the other half’ of us is not worthy of someone else’s love.”
“Because we feel like others are ‘better’ than us and that’s what we deserve.”
“Because when we cannot love ourselves, we accept a half love. It’s better than not being loved at all. In reality, we need to learn to love ourselves and all our flaws before we try to compensate with the half love from others. It is way easier said than done.”
“Because we feel broken and not worthy of being loved completely.”
“Because we think it’s better than not being loved at all.”
Do not accept being loved in halves.
If they think you are too much, it’s because they are not enough. If they give you half of their time, then they are not worth all of your time. If they can only love you in halves, in moments that are convenient for them, then they don’t deserve the beauty you have to offer. If they cannot accept our dark, then they will not enjoy our light. Do not allow others to dictate your self-worth.
People who love you in halves are people who fear feeling, and when it comes to matters of the heart, those of us with a mental illness take that risk. We are not bad; we are bold.
The most important thing we can do is learn to love ourselves whole, and that confidence comes when we embrace our mental illness, instead of punishing ourselves for it.
Write the words of April Green over and over again, and place them where you can remind yourself daily that you are too full of everything that makes you whole to ever be loved in halves.