You see….I always thought love meant total sacrifice. Doing absolutely everything in your power to ensure the happiness of those you share your life with. This was the model of love I followed for years….decades. What I hadn’t yet realized is loving yourself first is the most important way to love others.I simply cannot fulfill the ominous task of loving others more than myself. Doing so leaves an emotional void coupled with a dysfunctional view of my true authentic self. I would avoid confronting real feelings and repress emotions just to keep the peace ignoring my own need to vent and repair my broken heart. When I did share my thoughts, they were often met with criticism which I certainly would take personally. All my emotions came with regret larger than I could validate. I felt unworthy of my own feelings. This was not love.
My epiphany came with the simple term “co-dependence”, a defense system that adapts our egos to meet our emotional needs for childhood survival. I had put into place a learned habit of co-dependent destructive nurturing wrapped up in a web of guilt, shame, anger and fear that convinced me I had no value apart from a relationship. I was taught to bear this burden of inner conflict and perfectionism in the name of christian faith, a burden that chained itself relentlessly to my heart for over thirty years. It finally broke me.
The road to recovering my true authentic self is a delicate dance of forgiveness, healing, honesty and reflection requiring hours of writing just to grasp the depths of insidiously addictive behavior. I write to understand myself. It’s the only way I can sort through the wounds. Learning to love myself for real without the expectations that had previously ruled in my heart. Breaking free. Letting go. Honesty. Real love. ❤