I know so many child abuse survivors who feel unloved. I used to be one of them. Even though I could see that people in my life loved me, I could not feel it, so I still felt empty inside. I eventually realized that the only one preventing myself from feeling loved was me.
When you are an abused child, it might be true that the people in your life do not love you. In my case, many of them did, but it was always “in their own way.” I ached for someone to love me wholeheartedly for who I was rather than with a qualifier attached. However, as you grow into adulthood, you are the one who chooses who is in your life, and you are the one who makes the choices about the types of relationships to nurture.
If you are a parent, then you already have one person who entered into your life with the capacity to love you. Children are born with the ability to love: It is the adults who can stomp that ability out of them. For me, opening my heart to allow myself to feel my son’s love helped me to risk feeling love from others.
For me, choosing to feel love meant becoming vulnerable, and that was very hard for me to do. It took an active choice to push through my fears and insecurities before I could open myself up to receiving love.
The other part of the equation is learning how to love yourself. Until you love yourself, your ability to feel the love of others will be limited. Even more importantly, your ability to trust the love of others will be impeded because how can you trust someone who loves you when you believe that you are unlovable? For me, learning how to love myself was a huge step toward being able to feel love from others.
Of course, trust is a whole different ballgame, so I will get into that in my next post.
Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt