When we are loved we
are afraid love will vanish.
When we are alone we are
afraid love will never return.
~ Audre Lorde
Love is a precious feeling and experience. It is (in the best of cases) the first thing you experienced as a baby with, from and for your caregivers, a feeling that helped you, in your state of total dependence, to feel safe in the world. Yet throughout childhood, you inevitably felt some degree of loves loss, in ways big and/or small. There are smaller ways like not being seen or your needs not being met well at times. And there are large ways: neglect, abuse and abandonment. Yet they all have an impact on what you came to expect from a relationship.
These childhood experiences give you a unique idea and felt sense of what love is, and what it has ( or doesn't have) to offer. Childhood experiences also inform your ability to love and value yourself, your sense of being lovable and of deserving ( or not) love from yourself and others.
Love often feels elusive, and like a thing that you have to "find," "get," "discover," "search for," "deserve" or "keep." The apps and dating sites look like catalogs of people, hopefully containing one who will love you and who you will love.
Many people spend a lot of time being anxious about love: If you are single, wondering when and how it will appear, afraid you will never meet anyone you could truly love or who will love you. And if you are in relationship, there is often the fear that they will leave you in any number of ways. Fear related to childhood experiences of the fickleness and fragility of love, may lurk just below the surface, often infusing your life with worry, doubt and fear.
You may ask yourself if you will ever have that mythical love that is in so many songs, movies and other forms of popular culture, that love that is free from fear, doubt, anguish and worry? What would have to change within you to allow yourself to be open and have an easier time with the unknown, to learn to love yourself and feel that you deserve to be loved? What seismic shift within would allow you to breathe freely whether you are alone or in relationship?
If you would like to explore your relationship to love,
call me for a free phone consultation.
Peggy Handler, MFT, is a psychotherapist in San Francisco's Noe Valley