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Archive for the ‘Loving Self’ Category

Purple flowers (c) Lynda BernhardtI have come to the realization that I still do not love my body. My feelings toward my body became distorted after a childhood filled with child abuse. I used to hate my body, but no longer feel that way. I believed that the absence of hatred was the same thing as loving my body, but I am realizing that it is not. While the cessation of hating my body was a huge positive step, it was not enough. I still need to learn to love my body.

I have stopped having negative thoughts to deride my body, and that was a huge step for me. I do practice yoga on a regular basis, although it has been more intermittent of late. I cannot even tell you why because I feel so much better whenever I commit to doing yoga every single day.

I see the lack of love toward my body in the little things. I will disregard my body’s need to use the bathroom while I focus on other things, even when there really is no good reason to wait to use the bathroom. I will eat foods that are tasty but not very nutritious, even when I have tasty healthier foods sitting the refrigerator. I will stay up past my bedtime for no real reason – just to do it.

None of these things is earth shattering. It is not as if I have a death wish or anything. In most respects, I treat my body much better than I used to. Nevertheless, stopping being harmful is not the same thing as showing love. It is a step in the right direction, but it is not love.

So, I am going to try A-G-A-I-N to be more loving toward my body. My body really has served me well. I am in much better physical shape than I probably deserve to be in light of the things my body has endured, both from my abusers and from me.

In the past, one thing that has worked for me is to think of my body as my child – as an entity separate from myself. If I would not let my child do something to his own body, then I should not let myself treat my own body that way. I will try that again and see how it goes.

Related Topic:

How to Love Body After Childhood Abuse

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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Orange Flowers (c) Lynda Bernhardt

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

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Sleeping Cat (c) Lynda Bernhardt

When you are struggling with your emotions, it can be easy to forget about taking good care of yourself. What do I mean by self-care? Self-care includes –

  • Eating a healthy breakfast, lunch, and dinner
  • Getting 8+ hours of sleep a night
  • Napping, as needed
  • Setting aside time to rest

Self-care focuses on meeting your physical needs, which can be a challenge when you are struggling with processing your abuse history.

Eating Well

Now is the time to focus on what you are putting into your body. It is easy to live off French fries and hamburgers when you are in a lot of emotional pain. Try to resist the temptation to do this and, instead, put good “fuel” into your body. Also, try not to skip meals, even if you do not feel like eating because you are so upset about your past. It is easy to neglect physical needs like eating when you are so focused on your emotions, but your body needs to be nurtured so you will have the energy to heal.

Sleep

Getting adequate sleep is very important as you focus on healing. I really struggled with this because I had so many nightmares. I would stay up hours past my bedtime because I simply did not want to experience more flashbacks or nightmares.

If you are struggling with insomnia, then build naptime into your daily routine. I found that I could sleep well during the afternoon without facing nightmares, so my body could recharge during a nap even if I could not recharge it at night.

Rest

Rest is not the same thing as sleep. Rest means that you are awake but enabling your mind and body to be idle. This is a foreign concept for many people, particularly those who stay busy to avoid facing their emotions. Yoga and meditation helped me learn how to achieve a state of rest. The more rest time you build into your routine, the better able you will be to process the painful emotions.

Related Topic:

Positive Coping Tools for Healing from Childhood Abuse

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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