Is Your Love Love?

by Leandra of

So much of our worlds are inherited. Often times, what we think about ourselves, about others, how we behave and cope with emotional stress, our expectations as it relates to career, love, and life in general, and so much more are all passed down to us from the people we interact with and from what we read or hear. Children are perfect little recorders of their environments. They pick up the vocabulary, the dialect, and all the subtleties of the human behavior surrounding them. Because of that, the emotional space a child grows up in plays a major role in how they experience and demonstrate their emotions throughout life.

My last relationship was my first adult relationship, and I went into it stumbling, wanting this love, yet very fearful. Much of the time we were together, instead of placing my trust in my partner and what we were building, I was afraid to really open myself up and let him in, let him know where I’d been and what I battled with. In being dishonest with myself, I was dishonest with him. I thought I knew how to love, but I didn’t. The reality was that I didn’t know how to love myself, so I didn’t know how to love him and I felt sort of inept the whole time we were together. Why couldn’t I open up? Why couldn’t I articulate my feelings? Why was I so afraid to be vulnerable and discuss my emotions? Why couldn’t I treat him the way he deserved to be treated?
One word: dysfunction. I was dysfunctional.
My journey has brought me back home for a little while and as uncomfortable as being here has been for me, I understand the importance of this return, especially as it relates to understanding my dysfunction. In true “there’s got to be something wrong with me” fashion, I initially owned it, as though I taught it to myself how to be dysfunctional. But I didn’t; like so many others in the world, I inherited it.
Why must we be the change we wish to see in the world? Because we don’t even recognize who all is watching and learning from us, and we don’t know exactly what they’re learning. I inherited my parents’ emotional limitations. Keeping everything bottled in was a norm. So were explosive reactions, yelling, not communicating at all, making a scene of being upset yet unwilling to discuss why, being hurtful because we were hurt. It was a mess. And only now as I unfurl all this emotional junk do I understand how I can never have a healthy relationship with these behavioral patterns.
We’ve all heard that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Unfortunately, for some reason, many people believe they’re like dogs and that their personalities, after a certain point, become static. That is only true for the person who accepts it as true. In reality, we always have the power to change. Growing pains seem to keep so many stagnant, despite the rewards being worth the challenges several times over.
Continuous self-analysis is a permanent part of growth. Whatever doesn’t grow is dead. Open yourself up to more life by constantly analyzing yourself and seeing where you can grow and improve weaknesses. The way you love will be how you teach your children to love. The way you love yourself is the way you will love others. The solution to almost everything in the world is more self-love. The more you love yourself, the deeper your capacity to honestly love others. The more love others feel, the more they learn how to return it and do; it’s cyclical. Let’s be conscious to pass on love, not dysfunction.