What is that longing for family and love? Is that real love? Is it a longing for something that is missing or for a belief in something that doesn’t exist?
All my life, in my mind’s eye, I saw a small child, looking through the curtains of a huge picture window at a family of happy people who all loved each other and longed to be together. She could see how happy they were to be with each other. They were laughing as they gathered around the dining room table, smiling at each other and paying attention to each other. The mother always looked at the children when they talked to her, and she smiled and listened intently and with interest. They mattered to each other.
But the little girl was on the outside looking in. She was not welcome to be part of that warmth and love and total acceptance that they had with each other. Would her mother ever look at her like that? Would her family ever be interested in her? Would her father ever want to know who she is, what her gifts and interests are, who her friends are?
Who was that child standing in the cold and rain, shivering cold, hungry and in need of a bath, all alone outside at the age of around four? Why have I had this image in my mind for as long as I can remember? This child longs for love. This child longs for acceptance from the people that don’t even know she is out there in the cold. She might as well not exist. She didn’t feel loved, accepted, valued or even valid. She felt invalid, devalued, insignificant, and lonely.
I remember when I was in my early forties and realized that child was me and those were the feelings that I had about myself, growing up and well into my adult hood. I truly believed that I might as well not exist and that I didn’t matter and that I didn’t deserve to be part of a wonderful life of any sort. (Especially not the image of life that I saw in my imagination inside that house.) I believed that it (my life and unhappiness) was my fault; I was not good enough, and I grew exhausted from my efforts to be good enough.
Growing up with such negative beliefs about myself led me to relationships with others who also treated me with little significance. My value was mostly in how well I could serve others. My approval came from doing the cooking and things like that. No one really noticed me as a person. No one really cared about my dreams or desires and I didn’t care about them either because I had lived so long without being encouraged, and without being noticed. I lived so long without being loved in the true definition of love ~ how on earth was I to love myself?
I had a tough week and was visited by my old belief system. Suddenly I saw the little girl standing in the rain, on the outside looking in, in need of a bath and shivering cold, so utterly alone. I realized that I was feeling those old feelings; that longing for something that I think is missing some days. In the past, I think that this longing was to be seen as valid and significant and to be regarded as though I could contribute to my world. The mistake I made is that I thought that this feeling of affirmation would come through others. I thought that others had to validate me. I believed that if others finally noticed my gifts, and acknowledged them, that I would finally BE. This is the lie that held me back for a long time. It is nothing more than the false belief that if others see me as valuable then I am good enough; then I am loved.
My family of origin does not know who I am and it is their loss. It is not my handicap anymore. When I saw the little girl in the rain on the outside looking in, I knew that my old belief system was visiting; that is all it is.
It is hard to sort the truth from the false, but it is worth every effort. Today I define my worth and I love myself.
May you love and celebrate yourself today!