I’ve Been Badly Hurt. How Do I Open My Heart To Love?

When things are going badly or have gone badly for a long time, it can feel easier not to believe in love.

Through emotional abuse, I experienced love as just bait in a trap. Closing myself off from other people became a survival tactic for me to protect myself from betrayal, disappointment, and abandonment.

As a result, I tend to reject the loving words people tell me: That I am loved and lovable. I close myself off from love out of fear that I will be hurt again.

But the thing is, love, joy, and hope are like water. We can’t live without these things. And it isn’t enough to just take a few sips just to alleviate thirst—you need to drink much more than that to be healthy. I know I need to love and be loved to be fully myself.

So, when I start to close up and isolate myself again, here’s what I do:

I think about how the people I’ve let into my life are different from those who hurt and abused me. I think about how they have patiently built trust with me and have taken care not to lose my trust.

I think of things about them that make me smile and laugh. I think about how, while we’re often apart, they still hold me in their hearts.

With these thoughts to encourage me, I can better realize that abuse isn’t my reality anymore. I know there are people in my life who care about me. Their reassurances have given me the words to tell my abusive inner-critics, who tell me that I’m unlovable, to stop lying, shut up, and go away.

When I do these things, even in my deepest depressions, I can still believe in love.


is a daytime worker and nighttime artist who loves the simple things. She draws and writes to make sense of all the hurt in the world, hoping to offer healing and understanding for anyone who follows her journey. I believe in love because it breathes life into everything.
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