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.
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