When Love Can’t Get In

I started therapy five years ago because I was having flashbacks that were making my life hard.  I couldn’t shake the images that were in my head, and I walked through the days full of fear.  I didn’t know who I could trust and who I couldn’t trust, so I erred on the side of trusting no one.

I had friends, but I didn’t share much of my inner life with them.  I went to 12-step meetings, but I said as little as possible when I was there.  I went through life with a deep, deep fear that something bad would happen to me or someone in my family.  I worked hard to look “perfect” on the outside…calm, happy, put-together…but my inner world was full of turmoil.

After a lifetime of denying my feelings, running away, numbing myself, I was finally, completely and utterly wrecked.

Five years later, it’s easier for me to trust people.  I have real friends. I rarely have flashbacks, and when I do, I can almost always use the healthy coping skills I’ve learned to get through them.  I feel so much safer in the world than I ever have.

But one thing hasn’t changed, and I’m afraid it never will.

I can’t allow myself to be loved.

I know that there are people around me who love me.  My sons, my husband, my friends.  They show me with their actions and tell me with their words, but it bounces off of me like arrows off a granite statue.  It seems like there is no way for the love to get IN.

And I’m not sure what to do about it.

When I was a child love wasn’t safe.  I learned to not wish for it, to accept that I couldn’t have it, to believe that I didn’t deserve it.

But I’m not a child anymore.

I feel sad that I still struggle with this, and I wish I knew the answer.

Maybe it will never change, and there IS no answer.

And maybe that’s okay.

Or maybe the answer is in noticing the way that the love I have for my family and friends fills the empty space inside.

Maybe the answer is somewhere in the hugs I give my boys, the books we read together, the food I nourish them with, the quiet time we share.

Maybe the answer is in sharing stories with my friends, in laughter and in exercise classes, in me, too and I understand.

Maybe the answer is in giving my husband a backrub after a long day, in dinner out while the kids watch a movie at home, in twenty years of moving through life together.

What if when the love can’t get in, the answer is in reaching out: not to receive, but to give?

It hurts to know that the child-me grew up without love.  When I’m not careful, I can get caught up in the unfairness of it, but those feelings lead me to bad coping skills, to isolation, to loneliness.

So what if instead of getting lost in that pain and letting it define me, I get brave and open my heart?  What if I love the people around me, and trust the love that spills into the hurt places in my own Self?

Elbert Hubbard wrote, the love we give away is the only love we keep.

It’s easy for me to love the people around me, and maybe the answer is just that simple.

Choose to trust.

Allow myself to feel the love that’s already here.

And discover grace, again.

About the Author: My blog, goodenoughgrace.com tells the day-to-day story of my journey from being wrecked to discovering a world full of grace and love.

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