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I was raised by caregivers who believed in the efficacy of tough love.
They would celebrate my accomplishments at school elaborately and proudly to others, yet privately I never felt loved, or that they were proud of me. I felt like a trophy.
With the best of intentions, they encouraged me to achieve academically—because they wanted me to have a better life than they had. If there were any perceived failures in my school reports, their reaction was strong and emotionally charged.
As a child, I felt like I could never live up to their expectations. But, because I was emotionally dependent on them, seeking their love and approval, I was always willing to do anything to please them.
Now, as an adult, I am able to rationalize, take perspective, and understand why they raised me that way. But, the trauma from my upbringing has a little life of its own sometimes—taunting me like a bully would about my inadequacy.
While they raised me with the intention of equipping me with the necessary mental faculty and stamina to thrive and be a successful human being—I just never felt truly loved or cared for as a child.
It is only when I started to have relationships with the opposite sex that I realized how negatively I was impacted by my upbringing.
I turned out to be an insecure partner who excessively needed adoration, affection, and attention. I sought from them my emotional fix, which I felt had never been fulfilled.
Men were only attractive to me when I had to chase them. The more they were avoidant, the more I was motivated to show that I was good enough for them.
I was willing to lose myself in a relationship—yet I did not know what kind of love I wanted.
I broke up with one guy because he couldn’t make me believe that I was good enough for him.
An ex broke up with me because he felt exhausted at always being the “giver” in our relationship, and another, because he could not take my spiraling insecurity.
I did not have a frame of reference for how it feels to be sufficiently loved, feel good enough, and be loved for who I am unconditionally. So, I went seeking a love I knew nothing about and became like a whirlwind, wrecking whoever I came across.
I used to dismiss the literature about the importance of healing from ones trauma. But, seeing a pattern in how my relationships went south, I just couldn’t afford to ignore the gaping wound of my inner child anymore.
I finally developed emotional awareness after having an honest, uncomfortable, and painful retrospection and introspection of my failed relationships over the years—it was a long time coming.
From this awareness, I wrote a poem:
You were given life, was raised but felt unloved.
Grew up to seek the warmth of love you never had.
It didn’t matter if it was only a fraction you’d receive.
You lived long without it, so you think you’ll manage.
But when love is given to you in excess, you still want more.
And when given less or enough of it—either way, you feel ignored.
How to give or receive love properly; you can’t figure out.
All your attempts to give and get it tends to go south.
Please know, you only have to correct how you rehearse.
Look no further and practice with your self first.
Love your self like how deeply you yearned to be loved
And it shall reflect the kind of love you really want to have.
I will love again for sure—but, until I am healed fully, I will tread lightly.