Self Care

Courtesy of Marla, the Healing Adventuress at Wound to Well-being

I grew up with mixed messages regarding healthy sexuality, relationships, receiving and feelings of contentment, joy and love. My first recollection of my parents’ demonstration of love was my mom doing dishes, my dad walking up behind her and wrapping his arms around her and her dismissing him with a look of disapproval while pushing him away. I don’t recall any loving gestures between the two of them and that disconnection flowed through to us kids. We were taught to hide our emotions and to take care of our mother’s emotional needs. I learnt to close down to my feelings in my body and my emotions. I didn’t allow my anger to rise because it wasn’t allowed to be voiced (from my experience, I didn’t show my mom pain because I saw satisfaction on her face when I did) and I didn’t allow myself to feel it internally but I did express it externally in the form of my behaviours. I physically hurt myself, got into fights, was kicked out of school twice, ran away, did drugs, stole from people, and had sex. All these behaviours were a cry out for someone to notice me and pay attention to me regardless of what consequences could arise.

My mom read my diary, made an assumption, and, called me a slut. That declared to me that I really was no good. I looked at myself as a sinner and I was shameful of my sexual feelings, masturbation and sexual activity. I didn’t trust any human contact especially from a male as I thought their attention was an invitation for sex and if he showed me attention, I thought I owed it to him to give in to his needs.

My life has consisted of struggling to uncover myself from the heavy, wet blanket of the stigma of discouragement. The outcome of this self-loathing? The emotional barrier of disconnection to the core of who I was, what I deserved, what I wanted to let in and what I wanted to give out, became a way of being. My identity became one of not being good enough and a belief that I was the burden in relationships. So, I shut down to aspects of myself. I wore an invisible shield to protect me from the emotional pain I expected to receive. I felt alone, misunderstood and invisible.

Why this emotional disconnection?

Our sexuality is a huge component of how we see our self in the big picture of life; our view of sexuality has been influenced by our parents, teachers, friends and the media. It is a fundamental aspect of an individual’s personality or identity. Sexuality involves the whole person: body, mind and spirit. The need for love and for close and trusting relationships is fundamental to being human. Either you learnt to expect to receive love through your childhood, or, you learnt to expect discouragement moving forward in relationships.

The key to intimacy is the closeness, acceptance and trust that exist between two people, not whether they are sexually involved. Early in life, it’s important to form close relationships with family members and friends that are emotionally and spiritually intimate, but involve no sexual activity. These relationships will lead to healthy adult sexuality of love and intimacy. Some people describe sexuality as a language of love, a force that draws people out of themselves toward others. In this sense, there is no unhealthy dependency for love, games to be played or rules to be adhered to. There are no demands to be made. Connections to pure acceptance are made.

Is it a struggle to gain acceptance and love?

Did you grow up lacking positive experiences surrounding your sense of self within the context of sexual orientation and sexual feeling? Were you shamed for how you felt, thought, verbalized and expressed through your actions of individualism? Do you trust putting yourself out there? Do you easily accept approval from others? Would you ask for support and expect to receive it? Are you always searching for approval from those that won’t give it to you?

Are you encouraged to live full out in self-expression?

“As we feel more self-assured that we can find a safe haven within our own being, there is less risk and little to lose. Relationships then feel less scary, less dangerous.” John Amodeo, Ph.D. Love and Betray

The more we feel safe inside to know that we are good enough as we are, then the safer we feel investing in relationships. We trust that we will be respected. We trust that our needs and desires will be met with curiosity. We easily allow our hearts to open to the unknown. And, we flourish.

It is your birthright to feel complete in your body and in your sense of self.