I didn’t truly know love until I had kids.
Up until then, I thought emotions were for the mentally weak (I know that sounds terrible). I couldn’t fathom why anyone would want to walk around “feeling” all the time when you could just suck it up and move on. I just figured I was stronger than most.
My emotions could pretty much be categorized as some form of either excitement or anger. Sad was never an option. I didn’t even know when I had hurt feelings; I just got mad.
But then I had my son and other feelings began to surface.
Scary, vulnerable love. Fear. Sadness. And eventually the worst one, loneliness.
I didn’t like the way any of it made me feel so I kept most of it inside, including the scary, vulnerable love. When I allowed myself to peek into my heart, it just made me feel broken, unloved, and alone.
Parenting is like having a mirror held up to you every minute.
It’s confronting your own childhood all over again. But I couldn’t make sense of how I’d become so guarded and also so trapped inside. When I searched my past for answers, I had none. No abuse. No major loss. No significant trauma. My parents weren’t even divorced.
It took me a long time to figure it out because I refused to acknowledge that I had suffered. Watching other people with so many valid reasons for their pain, I felt like my life story had nothing of consequence to explain my feelings.
Here’s what I have learned about trauma though. One person’s painful life experience is no better or worse than someone else’s. What matters is how it affects you, changes you, and keeps you from feeling loved and lovable. I have met people just like me who can’t check a traditional trauma box, but who still feel alone and unloved.
It could be a painful sentence someone said. A mistake made once and carried a thousand times forward. A disappointment about what a relationship could have been or should have been.
First, you have to acknowledge that those things we’ve labeled insignificant left a lasting impression. They were our traumas. They made us feel unloved and unworthy. That’s why they matter.
We have to pull up those events and process them so we can move forward without the wall we built in reaction.
Honestly, a lot of the reason I was willing to face my past was for my kids. I could see the way fear of big feelings was making them feel rejected, abandoned, and even unworthy. They deserved more than that. And so did I.
I'm super excited to announce that Love Forward starts March 4! If you find yourself stuck in painful relationship patterns, this seven-day course will help you move toward deeper, loving connection. You can find more information here.