Thinking about connection this morning. Brene Brown, in her TED talk on vulnerability says that after you’ve been a social worker for 10 years, you know that the reason we are here is for connection. It’s the basic premise of her work. She goes on to say how her research (6 years of it) proves how so many negative emotions are outgrowths of the fear that something about us, or something we have done, will cause us to be not worthy of love and connection.
I think it starts with our family of origin. I was blessed to be born into a family who never ever made me doubt for a minute or even a second, whether I was worthy of love and connection. I took it for granted, that all children got this from their parents. It took a long marriage to someone whose parents were incapable of unconditional love, to understand the ramifications of that one seemingly small, but actually enormous and boundless thing, having or not having unconditional love. The shame that my ex experienced crept into every corner and facet of his life. I truly believe that because he felt so unworthy of love and connection, that he believed that anyone who professed to love him, like myself or our son, either wanted something from him or was just stupid. And in the end, this is how he lived. He treated me like I was stupid and sought to protect himself from me by excluding me from all things financial. He was sure one day i would leave him….
A self fulfilling prophecy, I would say. Of course I would eventually realize I was not part of any equation involving the two of us. That apparently I was there to serve him, yet only to reap the benefits which he chose to give me, which in the end were none, because I was, in his fearful mind, stupid and/or (alternatingly) out to take him.
Although, it was the abuse of my son that really moved me to get out of the marriage. I realized at some point that if I didn’t get out, and offer my son a clear choice of love vs. fear, that I would lose him forever, and quite possibly condemn him to a very unhappy life. I realized it when he was 9. It took me until he was 14 to actually put together an exit plan.
All of that pain, though, every bit of it originated in my ex’s belief that since his parents could not unconditionally love him (Love for them had to be earned, and could quickly be taken away. They thought it was motivation.) that he simply was not worthy of it. When I realized this, my anger at him turned to sorrow for him. I can’t imagine living a whole life, not ever believing you were worthy of love and connection. Is there a more painful way to live?
Some people can figure it out. Some people can find a pathway to a creator that unconditionally loves us, or realize that we are all connected. That there is a vast ocean of love, that we can all dip into. Some people manage to figure out that the lessons they were taught were just wrong, and that the people that taught them were flawed people doing the best they knew how.
Since I have been out of the marriage, I tried once or twice, when my ex opened the door, to show him a different way to see the world, and a way to rebuild a relationship with our son. He has so far been unable to hear it, or see it. I think some progress may have been made, that maybe he no longer believes me to be the cause of all his problems, although I don’t know this for a fact, and I do know that he doesn’t have any good answers to why he is in the dire straits he is in.
I have a friend, who had a similar childhood, who has tried to reconnect with a sibling now that their parents have both passed. I wish this person much luck with this endeavor. I hope it happens. I also am real, and know it’s chances are slim. And my job, if I have one at all, is to make sure this person knows, no matter what the outcome that they are worthy of love and belonging. That they are enough. Just because they are, because they exist, and for no other reason.
You are enough.
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