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High Self Esteem and Healthy Self Care are the Keys to Love
Written By: Mark Smith


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I must have missed an important class or two along the way because it seems that for most of my life I have been missing some extremely valuable information. You know how the universe has a tendency to send messages to you from multiple sources? Well I’ve been hearing this ‘you must love yourself before you are ready to love others’ theme from each and every woman that I have spoken with for the past month. I’m thinking that it is a little known secret that only women knew about. My buddy’s never mentioned it over a beer or on the basketball court. I suspect that women have a secret club complete with a secret handshake where the foundational truth is healthy self love. How could I have missed this all these years?

I know of a little boy whose mom was very sick. She could not care for him for the first year of his life. He cried bloody murder night and day as his needs were ignored. He learned that the world was not safe. He learned that the louder you express your needs the more the world ignores you. He learned that women were not reliable sources for nurturing and care. Sadly he never bonded with his mother. He learned to take care of himself but not very well.

This little boy grew into a man. He always tried hard to do the right thing and to please God. He married a lovely woman, they had three great kids and they lived what appeared to be a normal family life. Then three years ago the starving infant hiding deep within this man-child woke up. He was vulnerable to the attention of women like his mother…unavailable, angry, withholding and unstable. The stable, caring responsible professional and community leader steadily was taken over by a needy, out of control, self-absorbed relationship addict intent on destroying his marriage and family. The problem was that deep in his soul he just didn’t feel good enough to be accepted and loved. He sought external validation and strokes at all costs. He lost his bearings, he lost his soul, and he lost his priceless marriage. He tried to ingest women in an attempt to heal the wounds of abandonment from his mother. The more he tried to fill himself up with women the more people he hurt. He could not see anyone around him. It was all about him. He didn’t even see the souls of the women he was attempting to use as drugs. They weren’t people who were allowed to be who they were. They were objects being forced into the role of Little Boy Blue’s mother.

Stanton Peele and Archie Brodsky, authors of ‘Love and Addiction’ define addiction as “an unstable state of being, marked by compulsion to deny all that you are and have in favor of some new and ecstatic experience”. Recovery from addiction is about discovering or re-discovering who you are and learning how to love and accept that person.

No one can fill your soul up. Your parents can’t do that for you anymore, even if they are still alive. Your spouse can’t even do that for you. Only you can do that for you. God can certainly help, but even He is not meant to be used as a drug to be ingested for the purpose of avoiding your pain. To have relationship with God there has to be two different entities rather than an enmeshment of beings. Ultimately we all have to face our aloneness.

So I have been sharing this message of healthy self love with Little Boy Blue. He is learning to locate his heart, his passions, and his sense of self. He is learning to look inward rather then constantly searching for a magical Ms. Goodbar who can heal his deep wounds. He is learning to take the time to heal, play and learn.

You really do need to be complete within yourself before you can truly love another. Do you love you? Count the ways…do you provide wonderful nurturing experiences for yourself, do you allow yourself enough rest, do you allow time to explore your passions, do you see yourself as an attractive worthy person who deserves to be loved well? My wish for you is for you to fall deeply in healthy love with you. I hope that this column was a gift to you. It was to me.




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This article was authored by Family Tree Counseling Associates, a marriage, individual and family counseling center serving the Indianapolis, Carmel, Fishers, Westfield and Noblesville communities in Indiana. If you would like to contact us, please fill out a contact us form or call us at 317-844-2442.
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