I tried to LOVE by the definition of love in the last post “Love is Patient, Love is Kind ~ a bit of a rant” but I was not valued for that because I (whatever I did) was never good enough. How could I have learned to understand the true and lovely meaning of this poetic bible verse “1st Corinthians 13: 4-7 Love is patient, love is kind, it does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud it is not rude it is not self seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” if I never had an example of human love that actually loved this way or presented love in some sort of balance?
People tried to tell me that Christ was this example but this was not my childhood experience. The bible tells adults to be an example of Christ ~ but where WERE those adults? I recall being “preached at” being talked down to so often the people delivering these messages were delivering them in a UN-loving way. As I child I learned that I MUST do this “love thing”~ but I didn’t learn that others must also try to achieve this standard, I only applied it to me. The fact that all people (INCLUDING ME) have equal value, was missing from my learning. What I learned was that I was not going to BE loved, but I HAD to love.
This missing information went with me into adulthood and everything I knew (right or wrong) about love went with me and I processed all relationships through the grid that I learned as a child. Things have to be RE LEARNED properly with the right definitions in place if we are to heal this gaping wound. People said things like “just put it behind you” or “Just give it to God” but nobody told me HOW to do that. I was not able to put the massive mixed messages about love or about my worth behind me until I really looked closely at how they got there and what the real truth was. And this was not a small mess, it was really huge.
This post is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to sorting some of this stuff out but one thing I learned on my journey to wholeness is that the key to my understanding the true meaning of love was by realizing what it was not.
If I am supposed to treat others the way that I would also like to be treated, then I had to begin to treat myself with respect and love too. Self love was never taught. I had to learn to regard myself the way that I was being encouraged to regard others. The first step towards self love came from the work of looking at how I arrived at “not loving” myself.
SO……Just what does that mean; what did I do?
I looked at the abusive situations I had been in. I examined them in a new way as though they had been done to me instead of that I had been a participant or somehow responsible for what had happened to me. I began with the first memory of trauma. As I have shared before, my first memory of trauma was of being sexually abused by a female babysitter when I was just over two. When I took this memory apart, revealing to my therapist everything that I remembered about it, I was shocked to realize that I thought I had a choice. Even at the age of two, I thought that I could have done something to stop it. And since I didn’t stop it, I concluded that I must have participated in it. This conclusion did not come from that one event. It came from many other times in my life when I had not been validated and my only conclusion was that it was my own fault. Self blame was how I survived. I could not blame the adults that took care of me, for without them (when we are children) there no hope.
I looked at the child sexual abuse, psychological abuse and physical abuse spiritual abuse and the trauma that I had experienced. I examined how each situation had affected me emotionally and how I adjusted in order to cope with the reality of how I was actually regarded or not regarded.
Then instead of trying to change ME which was the solution I believed in all of my life, I stopped trying to change ME and I looked at the root of the abuse and what I believed about myself because of it. I looked at WHY I blamed myself and HOW I came to blame myself. That is where I found the answers. What I changed was the false belief system that I had accepted about myself and my value.
This false belief system was given to me by many others and by many situations. Not all of them were abusive, but the grid that I viewed them through was discoloured and foggy from a very young age. I already had self esteem problems.
When I was actually able to straighten this false truth out, I was able to realize that the state that I was in emotionally and mentally was never something that I brought on myself. I was able to place the responsibility where it belonged; on those who failed me, abused me, mistreated me and devalued me. The good news is that I didn’t have to stay there forever either. I stayed there long enough to validate myself and to believe that I deserved equal value to everyone else.
Then I had to own that value. I had to embrace my own value deeply inside of me, all the way to the very core of me. I had to take apart the damage, in order to realize that I was indeed lovable and that I could love me. This took time. There were a lot of false beliefs and false definitions about love living as truth in my head. I had to take a look at it and re-wire a lot of it before I began to feel the burden of self hatred lifting. There was a lot of re-parenting involved ~ learning to love and nurture myself ~ to do and be for me what others never were for me. I had to let go of the guilt that went with not being able to “just let God do it”.
It was like a huge clean up project; I might not have been the one that caused the damage but it was my work to fix it. Love, healing and wholeness were my rewards; I found myself and I embraced the unique self that had been rejected, first by others and then by me, all my life.
Please feel welcome to contribute as much or as little as you wish in the comments.
Freedom calls from the other side of broken,