Who taught you how to love yourself?

It was most likely your parents. Another question. Whoever was the first person to say, ‘I love you’, did their actions match their words?

I love you rolls off the tongue, but so many of us were raised by people who did not love themselves. No make that, hated themselves, and therefore treated us in ways that were not loving.

Let me tell you a story about Stuckie!

Stuckie the sloth showed up in a recent sand tray session with my therapist. The session was about expressing my stuck anger and rage.

I started by choosing objects and toys from the Tupperware containers around the sand tray. As I got creative, it was clear that I had visibly split the sand tray in half. One side was covered in angry mess, and the other was just sand.

‘And what’s this?’ she pointed to a big black pig. ‘I don’t know….’ I thought hard.

Then she picked up the stone next to the big, black pig and said, ‘This one flew out of a box and I thought it might be for you. What is it?’ I picked up the stone and examined it. It had a hole on one side and what looked like a sad face on the other.

‘It looks like a sloth!’ I declared. ‘I want to protect him. I feel sad for him.’ I added.

My therapist nodded and smiled. ‘I think this is your Mum’s anger at your Dad,’ she pointed at the pig. ‘What is the sloth doing then?’ ‘He’s stuck between the two of them!’ I exclaimed getting real insight into my job as emotional shock absorber and referee for my parents. I cried realising how unfair this was. I couldn’t do right for doing wrong.

‘You didn’t have a good role model for anger,’ she comforted. ‘You had that…’ she pointed to the mess. ‘…. which was terrifying, or that….’ she pointed to the empty sand ‘…which was passive and shut down. Neither of those were healthy and nobody taught you.’

‘But they punished me for being angry,’ I protested.

She nodded. ‘I’m sorry. You had every right to be angry about that.’

When I got home, I looked up the meaning of the Sloth and discovered that it is such a smart creature that has ‘an uncanny way of escaping predators’. I was also excited to discover that the Sloth can hold its breath under water for more than 40 minutes! In my book ‘Stuck Between Two Worlds’, (gosh that title has a whole new meaning now!), I wrote:

“I love swimming under water. My dad is a strong swimmer and he taught me to swim like a dolphin. I can hold my breath for a whole length of the swimming pool. I love disappearing into the blurry depths. It’s a peacefulness that surrounds me, like I’m hiding from the world and nobody will think to look there. It’s not like the protection of the greasy sunscreen lotion they smother on me every holiday. It’s a different kind of protection—it’s more safe and secure. It’s almost like an invisible hug. I often wish that feeling would last longer than being under the water.”

This is me writing about my dissociation (freeze response) as a child.

I used to hold my breath and tense my body in anticipation of the emotional chaos and the smacks. I also would regularly disconnect from my experience because well if you weren’t being exactly what my Mum needed you to be, you were going to get more emotional chaos and smacks.

That meant saying, ‘I love you,’ when I felt worried, angry and terrified. It made everything okay again.

Our bodies were, and still are amazing . They want to help us and give us what we need. They protect us and at all times have good intent. Obviously as a child I couldn’t protect myself from the emotional chaos, smacks and the unspoken anger between my parents. I had to check out to find my own safety. As an adult, I don’t have to endure this anymore. Life is not an endurance test. We’re here to enjoy it.

It’s hard to love life when you believe a lie about love. 

I was taught that love is about putting others first, it’s about feeling responsible for other people’s feelings and it’s about hurt and pain. It isn’t, but you can re-write your blueprint for love. If you’re feeling stuck in a rut & want to reset your energy, this is exactly what you need!

You Got the Love

You Got the Love is a 30-day journal experience that will deepen your connection with yourself & infuse your life with more self-love.
It’s for highly sensitive souls who want to heal through writing, reconnect with their intuition and feel more peaceful inside.
Is it time to cultivate a deeper connection with yourself? It’s time to get to know yourself through loving, kind eyes. If you start today, imagine where you’ll be in 30 days time. You won’t regret a single minute! I promise.  


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