Saturday, February 14, 2015

"Learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all" if we are to be happy

One of the saddest, most heartbreaking things about being a victim of child sexual abuse (#incest) is that most of us grow up hating ourselves. Despite every effort, sometimes for years, to find something  we like about ourselves, let alone love about ourselves, we continue to find fault with ourselves. Why? Most likely because our abusers' voices keep screaming at us, reminding us we are worthless, unloveable unless we do what they want us to do. So we did it, even though it felt wrong, bad, but each time we gave in to them, we hated what was happening and hated ourselves for succumbing, being too weak to stand up to them. Then, if no-one knew what was going on and we didn't have therapy as a child or even as young adults to turn our thinking around, we grew into adulthood, middle age and even old age, if not hating ourselves, then at least, not loving ourselves either. 

When that happens, so many of us wonder why we fall in love with the wrong person and get hurt time and again. The reason is simple: we don't value ourselves enough. We don't consider ourselves worthy of love. So we sell out to what seems like the best of the worst choices. 

But you know, we don't have to do that. We can stop that from being our pattern by turning off those voices in our heads and replacing them with kinder, loving voices, the ones long ago buried inside us when we were children. Except, sadly, for those abused as infants, most young children actually really like themselves - a lot! It's narcissistic and it's perfectly natural. As young children, we want what we want and feel we should have it. Of course, parents will ultimately teach us that we can't always have what we want and that it's not acceptable to be narcissistic and think of ourselves before all others. And that's quite okay because as we get older, we understand why what they are saying is right and necessary. But abuse victims haven't had time, in many cases, to follow that more natural route to good self-love. Their journey to healthy self-love has been rudely blocked. They are plunged into self-loathing instead of brought gently from narcissism to healthy self-love. 

So now, how do we get ourselves back on track? We must begin by drinking deeply and often from the cup of self-love. I'm not talking about being selfish or narcissistic. I'm saying if a challenge comes our way, if an opportunity to move forward in our careers or personal life presents itself, we have to tell ourselves "Yes, I can do this" instead of "No, I can't". Every "NO" is disbelief in ourselves. It deepens our insecurity, feeds our negativity about ourselves and moves us further from healthy self-love. And why is self-love so important? Because without loving ourselves, we can't fully love others. We need to deems ourselves worthy of their love. By taking on more and more chances to prove our worth to ourselves, the more we are saying "Yes, I can" and "Yes, I'm okay" and "Yes, I'm loveable". It's that profound truth that Whitney Houston sung to us that "learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all". And that love is vital to happiness. 

That's what I did for the 40 plus years after I finally got away from my abuser, my father. Every time I heard his voice telling me I couldn't do this or have that, I replaced his voice with my own child's voice that said "yes, I can do this and yes, I can have that." And I added one more thing: "And you're not going to stop me!" I became a bit narcissistic again I suppose. But I needed to go there first before I could finally love myself as I had the right to love myself all along. 

I hope you'll watch my video above. It's based on the journey to self-love that I recounted in my second memoir "Learning to Love Myself". Everyone praised me for speaking out from under incest in my first book, "No Tears for my Father" but this second book is just as important, maybe even more so because of the hope it offers victims that we can have a better tomorrow. On this Valentine's Day, 2015, I wish you love. 

SPECIAL OFFER: Visit my website store at and order your copy, printed or digital format of "LEARNING TO LOVE MYSELF" before February 17, 2015 and save 20% on your purchase when you type "tearsofjoy" into the coupon box on checkout. (no quotation marks!)