I tell my husband that never before has anyone:
- loved me as he does
- told me he’s proud of me
- treated me as well as he does
- believed in me as he does
- shown devotion and loyalty to me as he does
His reply is, “You let me.”
The truth is, I do let him. And it took me a long time to lower the barriers inside me that keep love at bay. Over the many years we’ve been together, I’ve bumped into barrier after unexpected barrier. I tell him when I hit another one. And I work through it with his support and care.
At first, I was uncomfortable being truly loved and adored. Of course, it’s what I always wanted and longed for. Having it has been a whole new world.
Parents are supposed to be our first example of healthy, loving relationships. However, many parents didn’t get that from their parents and are unable to step up because they just don’t know how. And their parents didn’t know, either. The goal here is not to blame our parents or theirs, but to understand the intergenerational traumas so we can finally put a stop to that sh!t in this generation.
Fortunately, many parents put forth their best efforts for their children. At times, it’s enough, and sometimes it’s not. Many parents are really good at putting a roof, food, and activities over their kids’ heads, but are not emotionally present and therefore unable to teach the language of feelings, why they matter, and how to integrate feelings into daily life.
I have heard so many variations of, “My childhood was great. Mom was there when I got home from school (maybe she even made cookies).” Or “My parents supported and pushed me academically, which has helped me to be successful.” But as I dig deeper, it becomes clear that no one was there emotionally, to teach feelings and how to deal with them, to help with interpersonal issues that arose, or to buffer dysfunction when it came up.
Here’s the deal, readers: whatever did or didn’t happen in your upbringing, it’s up to you to say, “Enough!” and get to work ending your family’s intergenerational trauma.
You may begin by seeking your love barriers, as Rumi put it. Be kind, gentle, and go slowly as you enter rough territory.
It’s not simple, easy, or even fun to seek out areas of our being that are wounded and therefore guarded. Wait! Forget I brought it up, and go back to ignoring your wants, needs, pains, difficulties, desires, hopes and dreams.
I don’t actually recommend that.
We’re not a culture that embraces personal growth (unless it will help in your career), or to discuss the hard stuff from loving yourself to mortality. This needs to change in order for you to be emotionally healthy, and for our community and the world at large to be healthy.
This is a long-term journey. Please, start now.