Love, Respect, Relationship and Equality ~ Is Self Help Selfish?


Submerged by Frej Laugesen

When I reach out my hand to yours, what do I have to offer you but my own experience, strength and hope?

Sometimes I go on rants. Everyone who knows me well enough knows this truth about me. I like to go on regarding what I feel strongly about, backing it up with all sorts of examples and insightful new ways to look at things. My rants are always truth based, but I base my truth differently than a lot of other people do. My truth is based on my new definitions of love, respect, relationship and equality. I have learned these new definitions over the years of my own process and journey to wholeness. My favorite rants are around the topics how do we learn to love, how do we learn self love and how our experiences determine our belief systems.

 I was not taught to love by being loved. I was taught by empty words. There was an obligation ticket attached to the love. I was guilted, and shamed with statements such as “after all I have done for you” and “you think you are so hard done by” and “you are so ungrateful”. Throw a bunch of other false beliefs in the mix along with all that and what you have is a disaster waiting to happen.

My definition of relationship based on the examples that I had, was no better. Then I got married (to someone who had similar false definitions of love and relationship) and had kids of my own. How was I to teach them when my own foundation was so faulty!

My kids used to believe that my love was proven when I baked them cookies or pie, or bought them the DVD they desired. They thought that I loved them if I drove them to their friends’ house, let them have a sleep over and didn’t make them clean up their own messes.

My husband used to believe that I proved my respect for him by putting all his wishes and desires ahead of mine, and supporting all his needs as more important than mine. Our relationship ran smoothly if I never questioned his decisions, made sure that I did not confront him about anything, didn’t interfere with his 12-16 hour per day work schedule and well… the list goes on.  If I was running things at home the way that he liked them ran, then I loved him. I had no idea what equality meant. It was just a word that I didn’t give much thought to.

It didn’t occur to me but by this definition of love, my husband and children rarely loved me. By my own definition, I was a good wife and mother because I gave and gave of myself and never expected anything in return. ( I was a slave disguised as a loving servant.) However, I could not understand why I struggled with chronic depression if things were so great in my life. I was exhausted, and didn’t really know why. I constantly dreamed of going on a long vacation all by myself. I longed for more out of life and felt guilty for it. I had to learn the right way to lead by example. In taking care of myself, my children and husband were introduced to my real value and therefore they learned something about their own real value.

There is an even worse statement then “self help is selfish”, and that is the statement that counseling therapy is selfish. When I loved myself enough to get some help for my mental health, myself, my husband and our children were saved from the destination we were headed towards. We didn’t know that we were on a destructive path, we only thought that I was. (This sounds funny now, but it is true) My husband will tell anyone he meets today that by my decision to get help, I have impacted him and our children in such a deep way that our lives are 100% better than they were before.

And to think that it all started with self help

From my heart to yours ~ Darlene Ouimet

4 response to "Love, Respect, Relationship and Equality ~ Is Self Help Selfish?"

  1. By: Kimberly (Kimi) Posted: 13th September

    Thank you, Darlene! I really appreciate your feedback. Can you steer me towards the recovery materials? <3

  2. By: Kimberly (Kimi) Posted: 13th September

    I began my journey towards healing a few months ago. I am having a hard time. My husband is so angry at me. In my healing from sexual abuse I can’t stand to be touched sexually so we have not had sex in months. He keeps confronting me. This morning he told me to stay sleeping somewhere else. He said that I’m being selfish and my healing is selfish. It’s taking too long. The thought of being intimate makes me cringe so do I pretend and just silently go along with it to appease him? I feel so alone and I don’t have a therapist right now…:(

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 13th September

      Hi Kimi!
      Welcome to EFB ~ I hate it when the people that are supposed to love us add more harm when we are trying to heal. when it comes to a man not understanding your recovery from sexual abuse by insisting on having sex with you, that is really tragic. There is a lot of stuff about recovery in the pages of this site but you may need to get in person support for this particular situation. In my opinion your husband is wrong and he needs some help to see how he is causing you more damage by his lack of patience and understanding.
      Hugs, Darlene

  3. By: Jeanette Posted: 10th February

    Darlene, I’m looking forward to the fruit of the interior labor!!! I haven’t gotten there yet, not where the relationships have come into their proper places, where I am operating as this whole, healthy person. But I know it’s right in front of me and so I press on. It is me, Jeanette, that has to reach this place of self respect, and then in turn I will be able to accept nothing less than that same respect from those around me. OH SO HARD! But going to be OH SO WORTH IT!!!

    Thank you for sharing how you were able to come to this place in your life and giving that light at the end of the tunnel! So important to have this from each other as we travel together!


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