On Loving Yourself and Others
There is a common saying: “You cannot love others till you love yourself.” It just occurred to me that in order to love others, it is not enough that you love yourself. You have first to allow others to love you.
I noticed that people who have difficulty showing love to others also have difficulty accepting love from others. They squirm when someone shows affection. They are uncomfortable with intimacy. When a man or woman tries to get close, they find ways to undermine, or even flee the situation. It is too threatening. Too “hot,” and so too dangerous. They invent some lame excuse that leads to escape.
This to me looks like “do not show me you love me, so I do not have to reciprocate.“ The whole experience of a loving relationship here is “outside” the comfort zone.
The result is a most painful dilemma. On the one hand, there is a great desire for love. After all love is a basic human need that we all have. But at the same time, it is frightening: Desperately wanting… and desperately pushing away what we so desperately desire.
One unfortunate result of this conflict we have is that knowing but not knowing, we edge away and marry the wrong person, a person who cannot show love either. Or we marry someone who loves, but we push him or her away and reject his or her love repetitively… In both cases, it is to the detriment of having an intimate, caring marriage.
What is the cause of this behavior? In my experience, it is fear. Apparently, in the past to love or to be loved (for some of us) was an exceedingly painful experience. Not at all filled with joy. But marked by deep wounds and permanent scars.
Of course, I am not speaking hypothetically.
I am afraid this is my case.
I watched the people I loved the most and that loved me endlessly, my grandparents, taken to the trains of Treblinka never to return. We have a name for it: “The Holocaust.” But, the name itself is distancing. My mother as a consequence of the Holocaust had repetitive, periodic heart attacks, which proved not to be a real heart attack but something that resembled one, but who knew. Not I, a child, who only feared that he, would lose his mother as well.
So love for me is very scary. People you love, or who love you, disappear. So, better to close your heart to survive. Or treat those that show love with suspicion.
But is this just my problem or the problem of holocaust survivors in general? And if so, what are the socio political repercussions of this trauma? Any impact on the so called peace talks Secretary Kerry is trying to mediate now?
Just thinking ….
Dr. Ichak Kalderon Adizes