Why do some women (or men) stay, when others see the red flags and veer away? That’s because we get in life what we think we are worth. If we think we are not good enough, unloveable, then we attract those who treat us as unworthy of being loved. But, if that person is as insecure and needy as we are, then we can place all our attention and focus on them. By making it our mission to rescue them, we don’t have to face our insecurities. It’s our smoke screen to avoid facing our inner demons.
A relationship like this is never going to be a healthy one. Zero self-esteem often goes hand in hand with a fear of abandonment. This fear comes from somewhere in our childhood, when our emotional needs are not fully met. Being with someone more screwed up than we are, gives us a guarantee they are never going to leave us. We won’t be abandoned again. But that’s an illusion.
Unless we believe we are worth loving, we won’t allow anyone into our lives who is capable of doing so in a healthy way. We have to break the cycle. If not, even if we don’t go back to them, we’ll go straight into the next relationship that has those familiar patterns to us. Another abusive or dysfunctional one. We need to hug our frightened inner child.
It’s time now to learn how to love yourself. That starts with nurturing your inner child. Click To Tweet
Think back to a time when you still had innocence as a child. Picture yourself before you put that protective armour around you. When you felt confident and free. I see a child who was full of energy, always giggling, singing and dancing, who was confident and free and had a life full of promise ahead of her.
Although my overriding memories of my childhood are happy ones. When I was young, if I had an opinion of my own, my mother told me I was wrong. She’d shut me down, telling me I was ‘too young to understand and she was too busy to explain it to me!’ Tell me I was being too sensitive, if I showed any emotions. If I calmly stood my ground, she wouldn’t hear my side. But get angry and say ‘why do my daughters always argue with me!’
Or she’d declare: ‘You’re your father’s daughter’! In other words, I inherited the things she didn’t like about me from him. I pushed all emotions deep inside. Besides, if my mother was telling me I was wrong, I couldn’t trust my gut instincts anymore. So, I learnt to ignore them and the pain I felt inside. My mother dominated my father and he was also unavailable emotionally to me.
When I transported myself back to that little girl, I cried and cried. I saw this frightened little child. This one who tried to please everyone, who swallowed her own feelings, to keep the peace at all times. The giggling, energetic one was still there somewhere deep inside, but whose spirit was now crushed.
This also led to a release of anger for the first time in my life: how could my ex have been violent towards her? Why didn’t my parents protect me? It was like I stood up for myself, for the first time. This wasn’t good enough. They all let me down.
It was taking that child in my arms and hugging her. Telling her, ‘it’s okay’. ‘You weren’t to blame’.
I looked at her now with appreciation for her ability to always be positive, to see the good in others. Her core values were admirable. She was still there in me. And she had survived and found the courage to leave an abusive relationship. She’d found inner strength she never knew she had.
It was time to start to love and appreciate her. What do you love and appreciate about yourself? What do you see?
Learning to love yourself is the most important thing you will ever do, as trust me everything follows from that. As painful and as hard as this is, once you understand where your insecurities came from, why you have low self-esteem and face those fears down, your insecurities will start to melt away. And little by little you begin to love yourself.
I started by doing one nice thing for myself every day. I read every book I could lay my hands on about the dynamics of dysfunctional and abusive relationships, co-dependency and building self-esteem. Then I had to teach her to trust her instincts again. To set healthier boundaries. To learn to say ‘no, that isn’t good enough for me’ when someone crossed them.
You only attract someone equal to what you think you are worth. When you work hard on yourself to build that right up, abusive people, who previously saw a chink in your armour, will see you and run a mile. They’ll see that you know they’re not good enough for you. That they cannot push your boundaries down.
Those people who are self-confident and don’t need you to rescue them, will no longer terrify you. And among them will be the one, like I have since found. The person who treats you with kindness and respect. The one who meets your emotional needs and brings out the best in you. The guy (or girl) who allows you to be vulnerable, but safe. They’ll never use that vulnerability as a weapon against you.
Sure, they could walk away any day. But you’ll no longer fear that. You’ll just figure it’s not meant to be. You’ll still be there. And you’ll be enough to meet all your own emotional needs, with or without a partner. You were always enough.
Are you avoiding facing your inner fears? Ready to nurture your inner child? Let me know in the comments below.