Sometimes the people that we would most expect to love and accept us—those we’re connected to by blood or family line—can be the very people who cause us the most pain and suffering. We see pictures and hear stories on social media and the news of blissfully happy families and are faced with the realization that it may not be like that for us in our own families.
The scars of rejection and/or boundary trampling run deep and can affect our lives and our view of ourselves in massive unpleasant ways if we don’t deal with them. Studies have shown that whether it’s physical abuse or emotional abuse (such as lack of respect for personal boundaries, the silent treatment, constant criticism, unwillingness to let children become separate individual selves, etc.), the negative effects on a child’s brain are similar. And the word “child” means up to the age of eighteen. Whether you have been physically abused, emotionally abused, or both, you need to know that it’s not your fault. Being mistreated by the people who are supposed to love you and care for you does tremendous damage to a young person’s (or any person’s) psyche.
If you’re relating to any of this, please remember a few things:
Your worth does not depend on another person’s ability (or inability) to love you properly. Your worth comes from the fact that you were made by a loving Creator who sees great beauty in you. You are precious simply because you exist…because of who you are, not because of what you do or don’t do.
You do not have to earn anyone’s love. It can feel that way when you’ve been programmed to think that you have to jump through hoops to win people’s approval and love, but it’s not true. In fact, we could go so far as to say it’s a lie. Don’t waste your time and energy running after anyone. They may come around one day, but don’t sit and wait for it.
Try not to take it personally. That’s easier said than done, but your family members are likely broken people who don’t know how to love because someone in their lives behaved similarly toward them. The good news is: the cycle can end with you.
Even Jesus was rejected by his family. They questioned who he was and were offended at his claims and his authority to talk as he did. Some of them believed in him, but some didn’t see who he was at all. They felt threatened by him and even ridiculed him. So, in a way, if you’ve had that happen to you, you’re in good company.
Those who try to manipulate you do not have your best interests in mind. Don’t be fooled. Tune in to your intuition. People who truly care about you do not make you feel uneasy. Don’t allow yourself to be guilted into doing and saying things you don’t want to do and say for fear of meeting with someone’s disapproval. You shouldn’t need to win their approval to begin with.
There are people who love you and care about you. Sometimes we forget this because we are busy wanting our family of origin to love us. But if we change our focus and look around, we’re sure to find people who know how to love us and don’t play games with our emotions to meet their own unmet needs. Move towards those who emotionally support you, not those who drain you and cause you to lose focus.
Sometimes family isn’t made up of people in your family of origin. A lot of times we feel safer, closer and more accepted by people who have no relation to us whatsoever. When you’ve had a rejecting encounter with your blood family, it’s important to get around those who treat you with dignity as soon as possible.
Consider talking with a counselor or therapist. It’s important to face the pain and work through stuff so we don’t stay stuck in patterns of thinking and behavior that may be left over from unhealed family wounds. It can be important not just for us, but for all the other relationships we will have. We don’t want our unhealed hurts to come out at people who never did us any harm. Chances are that those who don’t treat you right have never seen a counselor or therapist and have therefore never done their own inner work. The fruits of this are obvious. You can break that pattern.
No family is perfect. In all those photos you see on social media where everyone looks so happy, keep in mind, that’s just a snapshot. Everyone has their issues whether you hear about them or not.
You’re not alone. Look around and remember that oftentimes those in our lives who do know how to care for us are God with skin on. Underneath all our pain, there is a loving presence in the universe. You may not see it as God, but behind all the darkness, there is a force of love that calls to us and accepts us as we are. That loving presence will sustain you when all other sources of love are unavailable or gone. It is this presence that runs beneath every current of your life and accepts, rather than rejects, you. This is the presence that ever and always will call you “Beloved.”
** Picture credits:
Nuriko Kun (top)
The Wounded Squirrel by John Aster Fitzgerald
Crown by Shabby Scraps