A Source of the Pain

Up until the last few years, there have been so many times that I wondered why no one could love me. I still look back and I’m lost in a world of confusion, sadness and struggling to understand what it was about me that made some of the people in my life not only have no love for me but to actually hate and despise me. One of those people hated me from when I was a very little girl. There was no way that I could have consciously done anything to make anyone hate me at that point, so there must be something about me to instill such strong negative feelings.

Now, when I look back on my marriage, I fully realize the one I loved never fully loved me back. I was a representative of what the world expected of him at that point in his life. I have come to realize I was his way of keeping up appearances so he could continue to live the life he really wanted to live. This was the other life I found out about throughout our marriage, but especially after he died.

I was never enough. I was never anything worth protecting, admiring or even treating with respect in any way. I was a cover story, and nothing more, to the one I loved and an unfortunate part of life to others where they had to “put up with me”. It really has been the way of life for me with several of the key players. There has been at least one person who felt this way towards me for as long as I can remember. That is a lifetime of learning that I was not loved or even valued. Don’t get me wrong, my mom loved and loves me with everything she has to give. I also know my brothers love me. But to not be loved by my dad because I was a female as well as his feelings that I took too much of my mom’s time away from him, is not something I can understand now, let alone when I was a child who was looking to him for love.

Once you’ve been hurt, you’re so scared to get attached again, you have a fear that every person is going to break your heart.

A couple of years into our marriage, the one I loved told me he would only open doors for me if I had a dress or skirt on. He was being honest and he only opened doors for me when I was dressed like he wanted, which, sadly, became less and less like anything I would even want to be caught dead in. They were not modest clothes at al and got only worse as the years went on. I never did well with wearing dresses and skirts to begin with since my dad used to tell me, while I was growing up, that women were of no value except to serve men. So, I grew up thinking I was worthless as a person and the one I loved took it to another level by telling me how I was supposed to serve him by dressing the way he wanted me to dress, regardless of how wearing these clothes made me feel.

Not too long after he started with his door manipulation, he started to add on that I was the furthest thing from a lady. * This statement was added when I fought him over the clothes he had chosen for me. These were some of the most painful things he said and did where I was concerned. It made it clear to me that he thought very little of me and I had no value with him and reinforced in my head and heart that women were nothing, which only grew my feelings of no value.

No big surprise that I was confused and didn’t understand what love was supposed to feel or look like.

Words and actions said that contradict the love that is expressed just don’t work. All they do is build a barrier between you and the one you claim to love and trust is never built. Trust and real love go hand-in-hand. You can’t have a truly loving relationship without trust. You don’t want to take away from what you say or do to show others your love by what you say or do.

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My dog gave me a great example recently of building trust and love. His picture is above. His name is Lucas. On this day, he was following me while I cut the back yard. The importance of this picture is that it took years to get him to this point. He used to stay as far away from the mower as he possibly could, while still being able to see me, and refused to come near until I’d put it away. Even up to last year, he would only come up to me occasionally to get a petting and give me a kiss, then run away. This day, though, I noticed that he was following me. I had built trust with him. He knew that I was not going to let him be hurt by the mower and that I would give him love and allow a kiss or two when he came near. I never yelled at him or forced him to be near the mower and, slowly, trust was built. I had always called him to me when he walked a little closer and when he got to the point of coming up to me, I made sure to try to pet him and talk to him. I respected him and helped him work through his fear while continuing to let him know he could trust me and that he was loved. That’s trust built by love.

I know that is not the love I was given by so many and I, unfortunately, still have automatic responses with people. I am consciously trying to change or, at least, challenge these responses, but they have been with me and have grown with me for as long as I can remember. It is hard, sometimes, for others to understand why I still feel this way.

I’m not totally sure why I can’t fully feel the love others have towards me. One of my friends told me she realized it was like I was trapped in a DEEP chasm that was dug around me. All the love that has been and is shown and given to me are like pebbles being thrown into the chasm of hurt that I have felt by these specific key players in my life. I think that is a good representation of how I feel.

The thing is I don’t want to live this way, but I have no idea how to change it. It’s like the paradigm of my life. Everything I do or say has this basic thought behind it. While I don’t have this thought always at the forefront of my mind, it’s there in the back of my mind always. I know this because it can so easily come to my thoughts.

Why can’t I ever fully grasp how anyone can love me? It has nothing to do with those in my life now. I think part of it is that I never learned how to truly be loved. For example, in the wedding ceremony, you promise to love, honor and cherish each other. But I never really experienced that in my marriage. Another example is when I read stories where the man truly loves the lady or I see it in some of my friend’s marriages. While it makes me beyond happy, especially where my friends are concerned, it sometimes hits me that I’ve never felt that feeling of being truly cherished in a romantic relationship or in a fatherly way. That is an empty hole.

The one blessing in all of this, though, is that I have always had One Person Who I have known and never questioned His love for me – God. I don’t always understand His love, because my thoughts sometimes get in the way, but it has brought me through everything in my life. He gives true love.

This is His definition of love: Love is patient and kind; it does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a) This is the love God has always given me and the only love He ever gives.

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What it comes down to is that I don’t want to live my life with walls up from the trust issues I’ve learned. I want, with everything in me, to be fully present in my life and the lives of others. I want to give the love I have been given by my Father in Heaven and I want to laugh and truly live. I also want to learn how to receive love.

There are so many things I do and don’t do based on all that has been said and done by those who never really loved me. I realize that this is allowing them to influence my life all the time. I need to figure out how to make this stop. As my counselor told me recently, I need to start with small steps to build familiarity to the point where the new ways of living feel right and comfortable. That’s really all it takes. Small steps to make a huge difference in my life and in the lives of the ones I love. There is hope in these small changes and I know that I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13) I hold on closely to that hope as I take that first small step.

Joanna Lynn

* In his suicide letter, the one I loved said that he thought I was a lady and told me several attributes about myself that he had always loved. It really did mean something to me because he said it in the same letter that he said he’d admitted all his sins to God and asked for forgiveness. I knew he was searching his soul and going through the actions and comments of his life. He also never was able to negate what he said. From the conversations we had during the final four days of his life, I believe he was being honest. I guess I’ll never know for sure until I meet him in Heaven, but, at that point, I doubt it will matter.

 

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