To be loved.

So when you find out you have been betrayed, you are pierced and shattered and devastated. And you know that you know that you aren’t loved, at least in a way that makes any sense.

People that love you couldn’t do this.

People that love you couldn’t have conversations with others that are intimate. They couldn’t share details about you, your life, your children. They couldn’t complain to outsiders…to a lover…about your idiosyncrasies and how often you have sex and how well you received their various moods.

They couldn’t have conditional love that depended on what you did or didn’t do well…a love that was all about meeting responsibilities and obligations.

linebetweenlove

That’s not love.

Right?

So what is love?

I started down a journey in the quest of recovering my soul after discovering the marriage betrayals. I had to find love, and try to figure out if there had been love within my marriage once, where it went, and whether it could be again. HUSBAND was adamant that he had loved me then and now, but if that was love…

I started with my earliest memories. I was loved by my family, by my parents. So what was that love…how did I know I was loved? I began to consider the evidence, try to unwrap what made me know that I’d been loved. First…I was always TOLD I was loved. I thought back, I tried to hear the words…and some of them were difficult:

“NO! YOU CAN’T (GO THERE, HAVE THAT, DO THAT, THINK THAT) BECAUSE WE LOVE YOU, THAT’S WHY.” I remembered those moments, woven in through early childhood all the way to young adult-hood.

I got the proverbial “hmmm…4 As and 1 B…why did you get the B?” I received the “don’t embarrass me” and “I would NEVER…” along with the “take that look off your face” and “I should knock your bloody-block off” (I was not physically abused, ever). I heard the stern words “We do so much for you…you should be GRATEFUL…” I heard my dad, sitting in his recliner after dinner watching tv, saying to me with a true snarl, “How…HOW can you sit in here while your MOTHER cleans up the kitchen?”

But, I was loved. Right?

I thought about several devastating issues through my youth and adolescence and realized I had not gone to my parents, but had sought solutions on my own. I did not trust them to still love me, or love those I loved, if they knew…and I did not dare tell them anything was off as it may cost me their affection. I remembered knowing I had to shape my message to one or both of my parents and time the “ask” of whatever it was I was seeking so I didn’t rock the boat, or irritate them, or flat out make them mad. I remembered asking my father once if he minded if ‘I don’t refer to you as my dad any more’ because I was so hurt by his reaction and response to whatever was going on.

I remembered being told that of all the things I could do wrong, lying was THE WORST, but that I had to keep a family lie and the logic was that it was another family member’s lie and it wasn’t our story to tell.

But I was loved, right?

So what was the evidence, because after those thoughts I couldn’t see the love.

There was always a well-kept home. There was always a well-balanced dinner. My clothes were always washed, dried and folded. I was driven to school and extracurricular activities. I was taken to church and given presents at birthdays and Christmas.

But what I couldn’t remember was either of my parents digging deep to understand my thoughts and feelings. Or asking me what I thought about things of the heart. Or if I had dreams, or fears, or hopes.

So I was loved, right?

Wow. I took my perception and belief that I had been loved as a child and realized that I had been cared for, well. But I hadn’t been loved…L O V E D…because I’d never really even been known. Not me, not the real me with angst and excitement and joy and anxiety and confusion. That little girl, that teen, that young woman had been hidden away neatly.

distortedlove

I realized that I’d not been loved, not in a way that makes any sense.

Kind of like my marriage.

Now with my guts spilled out all over the floor of my life, and this man sitting in front of me saying he loved me, desperately wanting me to believe it, even though he was the one who had done the gutting, I realized I had no idea what love was. All I knew was that for the first time, I was bare…my soul exposed…all of me was there. My fears and hurts and distress and pain were known by the very person who had pierced me.

I could run, I could cover back up and patch up the wounds and make sure they were healed up and never exposed again. Or, I could leave them unwrapped, allow them to possibly heal but possibly fester and possibly get infected and possibly leave ugly, jagged scars.

Maybe it was shock. Maybe it was denial, or lack of being able to vision any options. But in that critical moment, with all of me uncovered for perhaps the first time ever, I decided I would stay, at least for a little while. I would stay…I would see if there was love somehow, someway. Love that made sense.

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41 thoughts on “To be loved.

  1. Yes. Is there anyone who loves me?

    How few people in the world are there, who actually know what Love is? I keep thinking how tremendously low it must be… the number of people who know that Love is not infatuation or simply keeping someone else alive and provided for. Is it just we few? How sad is it that there are so many adults who’ve gotten to this point in their lives without knowing what and how to feel Love.

    Or is it the lack of Love we felt that causes us to know what it is… because we feel the void more deeply and know exactly what the elements are?

    Or maybe they do feel Love… but they’re soft on the inside and don’t want to admit that they don’t actually love us?

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  2. “Love is union under the condition of preserving one’s integrity, one’s individuality. Love is an active power in man [sic]; a power which breaks through the walls which separate man from his fellow men, which unites him with others; love makes him overcome the sense of isolation and separateness, yet it permits him to be himself, to retain his integrity. In love the paradox occurs that two beings become one and yet remain two…Love is an activity, not a passive affect; it is a ‘standing in’; not a ‘falling for’. In the most general way, the active character of love can be described by stating that love is primarily giving not receiving…Giving fills those who love with joy”
    From Erich Fromm: The Art of Loving (1956), pp 21-22).

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  3. This was so painful to read. While I was reading, I thought “at least she had parents who loved her” but as you ask…did you really? I don’t know which would be worse…KNOWING your parents didn’t love you or thinking they did and then realizing that maybe they hadn’t loved you enough.

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  4. Love is just a word. What the person feels while using the word love is the important thing. A man can text his wife that he loves her while in bed screwing another woman. A Mother can tell her child she loves him/her while tucking them into bed. I love to eat chocolate while trying to figure out how a husband can say he loves you every day before going to work, while having an affair with a co-worker……Recipe for confusion and painful soul searching………Sweet chocolate to you SS.

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    1. Totally agree. Love is just a word….a word that has become so over-used, in so many different contexts, that society has become desensitized to what it really means, rendering the word itself almost meaningless.
      How a person really feels about another, and what a person really thinks about another, is revealed by actions and deeds that demonstrate warm and genuine interest and concern, as well as move beyond what is expected in that person’s role (i.e. parents are expected to feed and clothe their children…doing so does not automatically indicate love).
      Just my perspective, of course!

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  5. I read somewhere that Eskimos have 300 words for snow. Look at us. We use the word “love” for everything. I love your dress. I love peanut butter. I love sleeping late. What you are looking for is that small pilot light that lives inside you. When it is blown out it can relight itself. I am not talking about narcissism. I am talking about the idea that you have value just because you are you. That is self love and can only be given to a child by a nurturing caregiver. Someone who does not withhold love and makes you earn it. It should be yours by birthright. If your husband finds his self love and you yours then maybe a small miracl happens and you give it freely to each other.

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  6. Ummm. My hackles went up immediately at the image of a father reclining and snarling at his DAUGHTER to help her mother clean up. You have a brother, right, SS? Did he get the same snarling instructions? But besides that, beautifully observed. I know I was totally loved by my mother. I think I was a bit loved by my father. But nowhere near the same. His love is conditional on my being clever, fast, good, the best. Mum just loved me, warts and all.

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  7. I spent a lot of time in therapy talking about my family of origin and my role in my family. A LOT OF TIME. I know I was loved and all four of my parents are still very much alive and very much loving me in their own way of loving. I have the pleasure of knowing I was and am loved by many people. I was also used by my family. I was the oldest of, all totaled, 10 children. I have written a bit about this. I was used as a caregiver and a babysitter, and I was my sister’s keeper, back and forth between our parent’s houses, year after year. As a child I knew no different and it shaped me. I quickly stepped into the roles of wife and mother and I took really good care of my people. I had never thought much about whether I was taking care of myself or really loving myself. I just took it for granted. I was alive, and happy, of course I was taking care of myself. When my mentally ill sister, the one I had so diligently watched over her whole life, threatened to kill me in my front yard, I knew it was time to take care of me. I learned how to set up boundaries with my sister. I learned how to heal from that. The thing is, I never expected my sister to be there for me. I never expected her to take care of me in any way. On discovery day, my self image, self worth, self love, was obliterated, temporarily demolished. Through trauma therapy I realized that I had given my husband way too much responsibility, and to some extent, power over me. I had temporarily given him control over how I felt about myself. He abused that privilege and in so doing, I have learned to never give that power to anyone. I can treat him in loving ways, and he can treat me in loving ways, but the love that feeds my soul, is self love. I hope you found that love that made sense… inside yourself. ❤

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    1. Crazy Kat I can relate to a lot of that. We kind of repeat what we grew up with. I spent my first 18 yrs planning my getaway from my family and within 5 mos of arriving at college met my wh. His treatment of me was familiar in retrospect. I equated the quality of the love I got with what I assumed I deserved. The first 25 yrs of our relationship were really good, I dealt with my shit best I could, after all it was mine. Unfortunately, the very fucked up way he was raised finally bubbled up. And out if habit, we both blamed me for the problems. I see now how I facilitated his treatment of me, which very easily gave him permission to cheat. I was taught that if things went to hell, it was my fault, and good things that happened to me were because I was spoiled. It’s why I never told my family about the infidelity, I would be vilified and I just can’t deal. He just kept projecting his failures on me. Now I love myself more and know I deserve more. He was self loathing and found an ap who was the same if not more.

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      1. This is why I have found it is important to understand what love was to me…how those who “loved me” treated me…because it set me up to believe that was okay. After DDAY(s), I dug deep, and don’t want to be “loved” like that anymore. But learning that I was worthy, and how to receive, and how to give real love…wow. It has been a journey.

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      2. Lemon Drop. It sounds like you have created a better life for yourself. I hope you continue to grow and feel worthy of good, honest, loving relationships. I also hope you realize you by your actions did not give your wh permission to cheat. That was all on him. And yes, they tend to seek out other broken people to cheat with. Healthy people wouldn’t participate. I believe my h was very content married to me while cheating because I took care of everything for him while he was away… house, kids, finances, business, and I was trusting. I was trained by my family to take care of things, mostly people. xx

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  8. I grew up in an abusive household. Both physically and verbally. I now work with a lot of women trying to leave their abusers. But when they finally find the strength, their abusers typically (before they do the hurting again) will beg, plead, love bomb these women. The women then stay because they think that yes, this man does love me. He now claims he NEEDS her, she is his SAVIOR, he ALWAYS loved her even as he abused her. And they stay for no other reason then “love”. It seems as if your husband never physically harmed you but the mindfuck is similar. I think you are strong for doing what you are doing. But your husbands words make my skin crawl.
    He should be acknowledging that he did not love you. Love does not hurt you. We are fallible people but years of abuse is not a mistake and is not love.
    Whether physical or emotional I believe the justifications from abusers are the same and when they tell you they loved you while they abused you is a huge red flag.

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  9. OMG, this is so deep and raw, I feel your words, my eyes are blurry with tears… I too have spend many hours after this betrayal and all the others in the past, from parents to husband to ex-boy friends and i really don’t think any of them ever loved me, they said they did, but i can’t see how the evidence supports their words of love… you are brave, so very brave. I want so to be loved but I just can’t stay where the pain is… you are so brave… love and hugs to you. M.

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      1. I’m sure you are right, a lot of people don’t know what love is but there are some basic rules about love that I feel everyone can understand. if you love you don’t treat the subject of your love like crap, you don’t lie, you don’t cheat…. I will never understand how he could do what he did and still claim to love… guess we are all different… hugs and love to you 🙂 Michelle

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  10. Wow, can I relate. I was loved, as long as I helped out, never complained, brought home good grades. Anything emotion based – and God help me, I’m an artist so everything is emotion based – was invalidated. My feelings are hurt? That’s because I’m dramatic. You got into a fight with a friend/boyfriend? It’s because you’re difficult. My feelings were irrelevant since I was a small child. That way they neatly ‘dealt’ with my problems by blaming them on me. Which of course grew into me telling them nothing and sometimes trusting in adults who I should not have. My concerns were minuscule, invalidated, laughed at. Exactly what my husband did to me right before, during and after the affair. ‘Lemondrop, you don’t like that I mention this coworker so much? It’s because you’re unstable and overly sensitive and always looking for trouble. You are so selfish that you have time to focus on nonsense and looking for trouble while I work my ass off for you. You’re a spoiled entitled brat who’s never satisfied.’ That behaviour hurt me to my core, both from my parents and from wh. It hurts writing it out, but it’s power is waning, slowly.

    I’ve learned that there’s really only 1 person I can depend on to look out for my safety and it’s me. That’s heartbreaking after 45+ yrs of people saying the words and not following through. I was in the process of accepting the shit parent/child relationship I was dealt when my marriage exploded. I still cry when a friend tells me she and her mom are going on vacation together, or are meeting for mani pedis and coffee. I’ve never had that and never will. So I’m building that for my kids and I’ve always explained to them why and what I missed. No concern of theirs can ever be met with eye rolling and dismissal. They deserve what I didn’t have.

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  11. I can’t give you enough praise for putting your feelings into words, I wish I could write like you. Everyday gets a little easier. Based on your writings you seam to be a very strong women and you will come out the end stronger. After my world changed, the things we all say we are going to do some day, I DID, these experiences helped me tremendously and if I can give you any advice, be selfish with your time. I dont mean forget your kids/work/etc……it’s time for you.

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      1. I havent been on WordPress for a while, it sometimes throws me back into a funk. I’m reading the post where you tell your kids, I feel for you, just reading this brings back that nauseous numb fealing I felt for the first six months after discovery. I’m nearing the end of my journey after 2 years from discovery.

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  12. This has made me see love alternatively. I think deep down I’m still romantic about love, I want it to be easy and wonderful like a disney movie. But this post makes me question every love I’ve ever openly claimed to. My parents have also said they love me, they’ve cared for me, they know me and yet I don’t believe it’s unconditional. That’s what love is to me, It’s unconditional. No matter how much you want to cast aside someone that has hurt you, doesn’t understand you, when you love them you can’t do it because loving them, you need them near and to be safely rested in your mind always. Love in general though fucking sucks… in the most atrociously appealing way. I can’t imagine a feeling better and yet so hard to grasp.

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    1. You describe it just like I’ve experienced it…it fucking sucks yet in the most atrociously appealing way. I’m not giving up, but I’m not settling either. Sounds like you aren’t either. HUGS.

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