Note: This post should be considered general advice, not professional help. Anyone living with severe stress or abandonment issues or PTSD should consult a professional about the best way to move forward.
I have a very high opinion of myself.
Throughout my entire life I cannot remember ever thinking a negative thing about myself such as “Lisa, you are so stupid.” “Lisa, you are worthless. Nobody could ever love you.” “Lisa you are so ugly/skinny/fat/awkward/ignorant.”
I have made mistakes, and have been through my share of drama and unfortunate circumstances in my life, including crippling anxiety and OCD and never once have I thought it to be because I am a bad person, or somebody who deserves bad things to happen to me or brought any of it upon myself. I think I am pretty great and smart and strong, and I am just not wired to put myself down.
That all sounds pretty great, right?
And yes, it’s nice. Life is certainly a lot easier when you don’t hate the person you spend 24 hours a day with.
My problem comes from the fact that despite how amazing I think I am, I have never quite believed that other people agree with me.
I grew up with parents who were not very affectionate.
They loved me in their own ways and they were not bad parents or mean to me, it’s just that they never thought it was important to make me feel it. They were living their lives not worried about what was going on in my head at all. I don’t remember my mother ever hugging me. My dad…maybe once or twice.
Nobody in my immediate, or not so immediate, family has EVER been affectionate with me or protective with me or even what I would call really kind to me, with the exception of an aunt I see every now and then and one of my grandmothers, and naturally I never appreciated that love until after she died. But even they never hugged me or “doted” on me the way most aunts and grandparents do. I have never had the kind of loyal friendship that made me feel like somebody would always fight for me and have my back. My relationship with my siblings is pretty non-existent and neither of them have ever seemed to mind that too much. My romantic relationships have consisted of me being with men who say they love me and start off being affectionate, but as time goes on, their actions never seem to continue backing it up. The list goes on and on. I am not feeling sorry for myself because many people have had it worse. It is just the way it is.
My entire life has consisted of being let down and disappointed by every relationship I have ever been in (not involving my children – who are the most amazing people on this Earth and I am so blessed to have them) and walking away from those relationships the only one who seems all that upset about the fact that they are ending.
On a very conscious level I don’t really let it bother me much. I find myself thinking “How did I get the sad misfortune of having such an emotionally void and clueless cast of characters in my life?”
But I confess that even though I don’t blame myself for the lack of love and support in my life, that doesn’t take all the sting out of it for me.
I am 45 now and am coming to the realization that I may go my whole life never feeling important to anybody and that makes me sad.
I am not one to get sad, but dwelling on this topic can take me there pretty quickly if I allow it to. It leaves a hollow place inside of me. It makes me feel like I have missed out on part of the human experience….that very human feeling of being protected and nurtured. Everybody should feel amazingly loved by somebody at least once in their lives, right? And I am beginning to doubt I ever will.
This is a pretty intimate thing to talk about and not something I have ever discussed with anybody before. However, I feel its important to write a blog post about it because I have had so many emails from other people telling me that they have similar issues with feeling unloved and I feel that it has a role in the development of anxiety. I couldn’t swear to it – I am not a doctor. But it sure seems that way.
I would lay money on the fact that it contributed to my anxiety disorder. When you grow up feeling unloved, without that warm sunshine to grow in, you just don’t tend to be as resilient as those that have the security of knowing that there are people out there who adore them and will always have their back.
I have some bitterness inside me that I try not to let out too often, but it is there.
Again, not at myself, but at other people.
I find myself frequently shaking my head at people thinking “Why do you not see how great I am? What is wrong with YOU that you close yourself off to me, or misjudge me and don’t give me a chance?” It is as if the entire world is wearing glasses that prevents them from seeing who I am. I am loyal and smart and funny. I’m awesome! But they just don’t seem to see it or care.
I get angry and resentful sometimes that I got dealt this crappy hand of family and people in my life, and it makes me want to pack up and move to where ever it is that my real life is supposed to be taking place because this current world I am in surely can’t have been meant for me.
But I can’t do that. This is my life, and these are the characters in it, so I really only have one choice…to play the hand I am dealt.
I refer to my life as “Carrying on, despite……”, and I think that is all any of us can do.
Despite all the “negatives” in our life, we have to find a way to have a good relationship with ourselves and be content. We have to rise above it all and remind ourselves that our worth is not determined by other people, not even our parents. It certainly isn’t determined by our aunts and uncles who barely know us and only talk to us once every ten years when somebody in the family dies. Nor is it determined by our romantic partners, or friends, or our “flaws” or our physical or mental health. We determine our own worth. It’s all up to us.
Despite all the issues and circumstances we live with that make us feel unloved and unloveable, we have to find a way to love and value ourselves and keep in the forefront of our mind that we are great people who deserve just as amazing of a life as anybody else has. We have to be our own best friend, have our own back and always be loving and supporting of ourselves. We must never put ourselves down and never allow others to put us down. We must carry on, despite…
We are going to hurt and feel feelings of rejection sometimes.
We are going to feel down on ourselves and sorry for ourselves at times when we think about how we have been hurt by others.
That is okay. That is normal.
We have to acknowledge these feelings and accept them. We have been wounded. Wounds flare up sometimes and there is a good chance they always will although hopefully less and less as time goes on. They are a part of our lives, and nobody gets through this life without them.
I think a lot of us live under the impression that if we are still hurt by our wounds…if they flare up from time to time, than that must mean they are still “active” in our lives and that we need to analyze our pain and work through it some more and dwell on it. While yes, that can be true and a professional can help you make that determination if you are really struggling with emotional issues, it doesn’t mean its always true.
All physical pain does not mean something serious is going on and the same can be said for emotional pain. Sometimes emotional wounds flare up just as physical wounds do and painful feelings nag at us and get us down and it doesn’t mean that we have lurking issues that need our attention. Sometimes we have dealt with things and we have expressed our pain and moved on and the bad feelings pop back up anyway. At this point, I think the best thing to do is to feel the pain, give it a nod, and carry on despite it, with a determination to use it somehow, some way, to make our lives better. When I have emotional pain pop back up and remind me painful things about my past, I like to allow it stay for a little while…feel it….and then say “Yes, I remember that time of my life. I learned a lot from it.” And I give myself a little mental pat on the back for being a survivor and try to move my thoughts to something else.
Again, I cannot stress enough that I am not of the school of thought that you should toughen up and work through emotional pain that feels more than you can bear. So if you feel your pain is too fresh or much too painful or overwhelming for you to simply “give it a nod and carry on”, then please seek professional help from somebody who can talk with you and help guide you. You deserve to not be chained up for the rest of your life by how others have treated you or by low opinions of yourself.
Accepting our wounds isn’t the only task we face.
We also have to do some self-examination and reflection and ask ourselves some tough questions. For example, I feel lucky that I was born the kind of person whose mind doesn’t go to self blame and deprecation, but that doesn’t mean that I can automatically assume that every relationship problem I have is entirely the other person’s fault. Of course I am not referring to my relationships I had as a child, but once I became an adult.
I have had to ask myself “Could I be doing more? Am I expecting too much from people? Have I been 100% committed to building relationships with people by reaching out through phone calls or emails? Am I there for people? Am I letting my social anxiety get in the way of becoming close to people. Do I keep my commitments?” It is important to be honest with yourself and determine what role you may play in the fact that some, or all, or most of your relationships seem to be unhealthy.
I am an introvert who gets disappointed with people very easily. As an INFJ I take my relationships seriously and I tend to romanticize people and build them up in my mind and of course that is a fast recipe for disappointment. And I have had to face the fact that yes, I haven’t exactly been going out of my way to keep any relationships going with people.
I know it isn’t right, but I tend to want people to be amazed with me, yet not really go out of my way to make them feel the same from my end. I think part of the reason for that is that my old people-pleasing ways have turned me off of going out of my way to make people feel good about themselves. I did it for years…put everybody’s feelings ahead of my own…and on some level, I say “Screw that. I’m over it.” I feel like it should be my turn now.
I never return phone calls and I am always behind on my text messages and I don’t send Christmas cards. The little things that relationships need to endure, I am terrible at. Another reason why could be because I have been let down and hurt so many times that I figure “Why bother? This person is just going to hurt me and let me down so why should I send them a birthday card?” Either way, it’s not hard to see why people would think I am not interested in maintaining a relationship with them. It is something I try to work on but I have to say that being an introvert who likes to be alone, while also craving deep and meaningful relationships with people whom you expect to meet your high expectations is not an easy trick to pull off. I acknowledge that. I accept my responsibility in the manner and I try to do better. It is difficult to do because old habits die-hard, and there are so many “challenging” relationships in my life that it is hard to know which ones are worth “trying” for and which ones aren’t.
We have to look at the relationships in our lives and ask ourselves which are worth fighting for and which aren’t? Which relationships are worth trying to strengthen at the risk of getting hurt again and which are best to just sever all together? Who has shown a genuine interest in being a part of your life, even if they may turn around and screw it up later? Who leaves you feeling awful every time you talk to them, no matter what the topic of conversation is? These are all questions to ask yourself to determine who to invest your time in and who isn’t. Listen to your heart and choose wisely.
My parents are both gone now but I talk to them and have shed a million tears yelling at them and asking “Why? Why did you not love me? Why did you go and die and abandon me without making it up to me? How could you leave me like this?”
And we have cleared the air..as much as you can when only one of you is living.
I have made peace and I have told them I forgive them. And I like to think things are good between us now. Sometimes to be able to carry on smoothly, you have to drop a lot of baggage. Don’t be afraid of those powerful emotions that well up and cause you to cry in those gut wrenching sobs. Sometimes the only way out of a storm is to go through it. Shedding tears and feeling those feels, until your head is pounding and you have a “crying hangover” is some of the most effective therapy there is, in my opinion.
Expressing yourself honestly to those that hurt you, if they are still alive, can also be very effective. Its a scary thing to do. It takes courage. It takes risking being hurt again. Just try to remember its not about them or what their reaction is…it’s about you saying what you have to say. But that is a very personal decision, and there is no right or wrong answer as to whether or not you should do it.
When all is said and done, I deal with my feelings of being unloved by trying to love myself enough for everybody.
It’s not everything. It’s not a cure-all. But its…enough. (Loving yourself never cures any problem completely. But there isn’t a problem that exists that it can’t help make better.) The painful feelings come from time to time but I try not to dwell and I focus on what I DO have. I have my kids. I have me. I may not get to feel what its like to be “adored” by somebody but I have what not very many other people have…a great, healthy relationship with myself. I genuinely know and like myself and I feel like that is the most important part of our journey here on this Earth. Everything else is just icing. And who know…maybe someday I will get my icing. Maybe the time just isn’t right yet. But either way, I will be okay.
And you will be too.
Carry on, despite the fact that you may have been dealt a crappy hand and focus on the journey ahead of you, not on where you have been. My absolute favorite thing about life is that every day – ANY day – something amazing can happen, and nothing in my past has the power to change that. I keep an open mind, an open heart, I don’t spend too much time dwelling on the negatives in my life, and I focus on becoming the best person I can possibly be.
If nothing else changed in my life and it stayed exactly as it was until the end of my days, I would consider myself a success story. I have faced the challenges, risen to the occasion and left the world a warrior. No love from any other person could ever feel better than that, right?
Forgive me for this long, long post. I try my best to keep them shorter but I have so much to say on topics such as this. Thank you so much to all who send me your emails and share your stories about your childhood and feelings of abandonment and insecurity and emotional pain. It helps me realize I am not alone and they give me great inspiration for future posts. I don’t answer you all back personally, but I do read every single one and they usually bring tears to my eyes because they mean so much to me, so please keep sending them and vent to me if you need somebody to listen to and if you would like some personal feedback from me I promise I will do the best I can.
Give yourself a big hug and tell yourself that you love yourself. Do it. Right now.
That right there is all that matters.
Have an amazing day, and NO WORRIES!!