Oy, what a way to start the week. This question has been overriding all my writing this morning. Writing that will unlikely make the light of day due to its very personal nature. The weekend was pleasant as the wife and I began the Christmas visiting season with her family on Saturday. Unfortunately just prior to that we had a falling out that made the time with family somewhat unpleasant. Having a smile that does not feel authentic on your face for 6 hours can be exhausting. However, I find watching my wife being pleasant and hospitable despite her anger with me can be just as tiring.
The nature of self worth, self esteem, personal valuation can lead one down many paths in this short life. Being selfish, making selfish choices that are hurtful and degrading to the one you love the most on the planet generally comes back to one’s feelings towards the your own self. That old cliche has some truth to it nonetheless. “You can’t love others unless you love yourself.” The Bible directs the man of faith to “Love your wife as you love yourself.” To be accurate, the complete passage from Ephesians is urging the reader towards a sacrificial type of love; as when Christ sacrificed himself for all of humanity on the Cross where he died. With that as our model, so we should love our wives.
In light of these words and traditional knowledge can we say offer up any reasons why we cannot muster up enough self esteem to love our wives as they undoubtedly deserve? Is it our lack of love in childhood? The book “Running on Empty” by Jonice Webb PhD has been a compelling read. She says that “emotional neglect” can be a far more insidious trauma because it is not taken as seriously as mental, sexual, and physical abuse, and yet many therapists claim it is much harder to treat successfully.
My family of origin certainly did not express many emotions, positive or negative during my formative years. When I became a teen, I withdrew emotionally and found relationships elsewhere. Not much healthier but it was all I thought I needed. If there was a street gang back then for middle class depressed pothead living in a small prairie town, I would have been a good candidate. It was not until I was in my forties that I found out that I had deep needs to hear overt words of love and affirmation. I found real faith in a loving community that was open about showing love and unconditional acceptance. I was at a place of desperation at that moment and a fell into the arms of God willingly and fully surrendering.
A lot of healing has taken place from my faith journey, but there is more to come. Freud called it the “Id”, some call it the “Inner Child”, some just the authentic, real, unchanging soul, the “SELF”. It is the part of us that lasts, that is perfect, shares space with God, and is ultimately what each one of us is journeying back to in this life. As one comes to know the SELF, one is healed of self loathing, self condemnation, depression, anxiety, and comes to possess peace, the lasting kind.
There will be more to come on this blog about my journey. Ultimately, everything that I write here will be connected to my journey. I would really like to know your thoughts on loving one’s self, and loving others.
Please share your stories of hurt, hope and healing.