The refrain from a Taylor Swift song repeats in my head as I write this, “I knew you’d come back to me,” and no, I don’t mean an ex. It’s issues coming back to me from which I need to heal.
I grew up in a dysfunctional family and wrote a fictionalized account of it in The Illusion of a Girl. Growing up, I envisioned a functioning family for myself and strove to achieve it. I also went to therapy to work through my most pressing issues at the time, but what I didn’t realize was my healing journey would be similar to peeling an onion. With one layer removed, the next issue would present itself. Even now when I’ve reached my fiftieth year, I’m still peeling the onion of healing.
I successfully avoided the big, obvious things. I didn’t marry a drug or alcohol abuser of any kind. I didn’t marry an abusive man, but I did marry a man who would betray me. Was it my childhood experiences driving my choice or just chance? I did have a gut feeling to walk away from my first husband when we initially met, but I ignored it. (Don’t ignore your gut! It knows more than you do!) My father and mother had betrayed me in different ways growing up, so was I preconditioned to choose another betrayer without realizing it?
I think so and here’s why. I still hadn’t gotten to the point where I truly loved and accepted myself. For me, it’s been the biggest hurdle in healing and I’m still working on it. When you grow up in an abusive home, it distorts how you perceive and feel about yourself.
One of the best ways I question if something is good or appropriate for me is asking myself, “Would I be agreeable to this if it were for my children?” That’s my measure, my unconditional love for my children. I’m working on applying that love to myself. For me, this was a groundbreaking realization. Shouldn’t we love ourselves as much as we love our children? YES! Shouldn’t we treat ourselves as well as we treat our children? YES!
Don’t have kids yet? Think of someone or something you love above all else.
I can only speak to my journey and what I practice to heal from it. Self-discovery and awareness is critical. As Socrates recommends, know thyself.
Everyone needs to work on loving themselves in my opinion; it’s critical to living your best life. I share my healing journey in the hopes it helps others. You can check out my book and blog on healing from dysfunctional family at www.illusionofagirl.com.