Steve: Folks, I’ve asked Linda Steiner to join us as a contributing editor. Her own blog is: The Power of Social Consciousness at http://drlinsteiner.wordpress.com/ Please join us in welcoming her.
Hi Steve –
I just read your post and feel the need to comment to you directly. I am well aware of what you’re describing and want to make a few comments that you can take or leave at your discretion.
First of all – the classic approach-avoid scenario that you describe in relation to intimacy is VERY common and VERY normal in situations where children are raised in homes that display both Love and Rejection (or at the least – repeated disappointment).
But, it isn’t really so much Love/Hate – as it is Love/Fear. There are only two energetic forces – Love and Fear – all other negative emotions (including hate) are simply manifestations that arise out of fear.
I was raised by an alcoholic mother and my father committed suicide when I was 9 years old. My mother would be sober during the day (Love) but then every night would transform into a mother from hell and scare the crap out of me and abuse me (Fear). As I grew older and entered into intimate relationships as an adult – I went through the same process – approach (because I knew love was possible) but then avoid (because I had learned that the love never lasted).
These feelings are very primal – they are reflexive – and are often triggered “pre-cognitively” (before thinking). They are like knee-jerk responses. Ironically, sometimes things are the hardest when everything is going well in our relationships because we are consciously or unconsciously waiting for the other shoe to drop. Sometimes, we may even go so far as to sabotage the good just to make sure the pattern that we expect plays out – rather than waiting for it to happen.
Please know that Hate is simply not going on. Anger is the same way. It’s like reducing fractions – Hate is 4/8 – Anger 2/4 – but when reduced to the smallest extent possible – we have Fear at 1/2. Fear is the “sponsoring” emotion. And of course when it really comes to down to it – Fear is just the absence of Love.
Just like darkness and light. Darkness really has no substance in and of itself. Unlike light – darkness only appears as the absence of light. Picture a darkened hallway (like a motel corridor). You have no light in the hallway – but each room, behind each door, is lit. If you open one of the doors – the darkness doesn’t spill into the lighted room – it’s quite the other way around.
I’ve been where you are and have only recently come to terms with it. I cared for my mother here for 13 years, and finally in hospice, she passed away last April – in fact (talk about sychronicity) today is the 1 year anniversary of her death. Despite all the childhood abuse, I forgave her and realized that she sincerely loved me to the best of her ability.
Many of us feel that our childhood has long passed – it is no longer a part of us and we should just “grow up.” But just like a tree, our early years are still buried beneath the outer rings of maturity and remain part of our core. In many ways, the inner rungs of our youth form the very foundation upon which our adult lives are formed.
Now, as we react and respond to buried feelings triggered by childhood events, we must reach deep within ourselves with love toward that wounded inner child. Know that you are only reacting to the “Little Steve” who is buried deep inside and is finally ready to transcend all the childhood pain. Connect to your Higher Self and reach out your hand to him. Tell him you love him and that’s it’s okay now – he is safe. Ultimately – there is only love to be concerned with – and there is more than an ample supply to draw upon.
We must forgive our parents – as their journeys were their own and we may never know what it was like to walk a mile in their shoes. Realize that whatever drama ensued within your family acted as a catalyst for growth – and ultimately, you have your parents and all their problems to thank for making you who you are today.
And perhaps most importantly – forgive yourself. Don’t harbor any guilt over feelings toward them that represent your pain. Our pain is the gateway to growth – for one never evolves from the sanctuary of a complacent comfort zone. Like labor pains, the end result of tragedy is the birth of new perspective, strength and compassion and our doorway to a more expansive expression of self.