Blissfully Informed Hippie Chick

Encouraging people to think critically about everything.

What is love? 

on August 4, 2017

I have been experiencing an awakening of self, healing my past trauma and uncovering my authentic self. Part of my “becoming” has been realizing that I treated myself as if I were a servant, and was treated as one in return. I considered my own needs last, if at all. I was resentful of it, but I think I knew I was allowing it to continue, so I blamed myself. 
But it’s not my fault. Not entirely. My responsibility lies in healing that part of me, because I didn’t choose to be this way. I was taught this by the people when I was young who subjected me to emotional and physical trauma…”subjected” me…this word has deeper meaning to me now. “Subjected”…”subject”…a person under the rule of someone else. My parents, as most parents still do, treated me like a subject. A thing to be owned. 
“MY child”. 
The language that we use to describe the people in our lives is so possessive…”MY husband”, “MY mom”, “MY friend”. We treat them like possessions, too. “You can’t do that, you’re MINE!” We try to control them, and we say it’s out of love. And we do it to our kids most of all. It’s like we measure love in degrees of control. We’ve all seen that meme…

This is the perfect example of control being equated with love.  This is the stuff that the majority of parents cheer for! What’s interesting is that if you replace a few key words, it somehow becomes something that we readily recognize as terrifying, and not love at all…

I know, I know, “But that’s different! It’s two adults! Kids need to be controlled!” I would like to remind you real quick that it wasn’t even 100 years ago that men knew that women needed to be controlled. It wasn’t even 200 years ago that people knew that slaves needed to be controlled. We see these abuses for what they are now: terrible acts of violence and oppression, the theft of freedom and autonomy. Huge swaths of humanity branded “less than”, “unintelligent”, “subhuman”. That’s exactly what we’re still doing to our children, though. In every tiny little way, we are sending the message to our kids that they’re stupid, inexperienced, and incapable. “You don’t know what you want or need!” “You can’t do that.” “Let me do that for you.” This creates an endless loop of self-doubt and lack of confidence. Then we stack on top of that loop an endless barrage of commands: “Take out the trash, go get dressed, do your homework, go to school, walk the dog, come over here, listen to me, do what I say, don’t talk back, go to your room…” And we expect this to be done right now! If we’re met with resistance, we start to use biting sarcasm and insults, wrapped in absolutes: “Oh my God, just do the dishes! Can’t you see they need to be done? Why can you never just do them? It’s not that hard! You think I want to do the dishes?” To finish it off, we use blame and shame and try to convince them that they’re responsible for our emotions: “Fine, don’t do the dishes, I’ll do the dishes, just like always. I’m the only one who does anything around here. No one ever helps me. I guess you guys just don’t love me. You make me so angry and sad.” 

How do I know? Because I’m guilty of it, too. It was done to me, and I’ve been doing it to my kids. I have to stop. I know this because I can see now what it did to me. I feel responsible for everyone’s emotions. I run around trying to prevent anyone from ever needing anything. I just do everything myself. I wash everyone’s laundry, I cook everyone’s food, I wash everyone’s dishes, I pick up everyone’s trash and dirty dishes and toys and dirty clothes and I put them all away. All the time. I’m so burnt out. I had convinced myself for a long time that I loved this life. I wanted to love it, because I thought that if I didn’t keep everyone happy, they wouldn’t love me. Because growing up the way I did, with authoritarian parents, taught me that love is conditional. It also taught me that all self-interest is “bad”. I know now that true love doesn’t possess those qualities. 

A dear friend of mine has told me repeatedly, “Love is allowance.” Allowance is the opposite of control. In order to really love anyone else, though, we must first love ourselves. We must allow ourselves to BE. 
I’m learning to love myself. I’m learning that I have worth. I’m learning that subservience isn’t love. I’m learning that I’m not responsible for other’s happiness or anger or disappointment. I’m learning to respect myself. I’m learning to not take responsibility for things that aren’t mine. I’m learning to stand up for myself and say “no”. I’m learning that I don’t have to help everyone all the time. I’m learning that my needs and wants are no less valuable than anyone else’s. 
And so, this morning, as I began picking up my two older children’s trash from their snack last night, I stopped myself. I literally told myself, out loud, “No! Stop! What are you doing? You don’t have to do that! Put it back!” I listened to myself. I put everything back on the kitchen counter where it was, and I symbolically embraced myself. 


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