Some thoughts about Self Love

Sorry for the wait, and welcome to my new followers, thanks to you guys I am almost at 170 and I didn’t even post for like a week.

Let’s talk about something that’s been catching my eye recently.

A lot of people in this culture, specifically Western culture, are now promoting the idea that you are enough for yourself.

Perhaps one of the most recent, famous examples is in the sequel to the iconic Frozen, as some of you know, my personal favorite movie.

Now the first movie is awesome, and I will dab on them haters over that, no one talks me out of liking a good movie just because it was over hyped (blame marketing analysts for that), and I finally, after forestalling for a year, watched Frozen 2.

I’ve heard about 50-50 good/bad opinions on this film, some people liked it, some hated it, pretty much everyone agrees it can’t compare to the original, standard sequel stuff, unless you’re STAR WARS.

But if you care at all about Disney, you probably already knew that, so I’ll cut to the chase:

The conclusion of this movie, despite some excellent ideas int he middle and beginning, is abominable. Elsa is told by her mom (by the way, how was her mom even there? It’s never explained if she was magic, or if Elsa was just remembering her, or whatever) that she is all she needs. She’s the answer she’s been looking for.

I, up till that point, might have been anticipating the answer to Elsa’s search, but at that point, I’m thinking “Bullcrap.”

Elsa starts this movie with a relatable problem just like int he first, she feels she’s not what she’s meant to be, and she feels the call of something more, something beyond herself. So she goes to look for it, and discovers a lot of truths about her world she didn’t know before…and the answer is, HERSELF? Talk about being disappointed.

I mean, put yourself in her place, you go off expecting to find someone, this voice calling you, and then you’re told “no, the voice was just you the whole time”…aren’t you doing to be disappointed?

Look, if I wanted to find myself, I wouldn’t have left home chasing someone else’s voice.

If it comes to it, how can she be hearing her own voice call her? If she’s the spirit…ugh, it just doesn’t make sense.

But it strikes me that it’s a product of our culture. I’m sure I’m not the first person to say so, but I haven’t seen anyone else talking about it yet, so I’ll give my take.

It’s known as the message of Self Love, usually. I don’t need anyone else’s approval, if I’m okay with who I am, etc. Accept yourself, love yourself, and so on and so forth.

In a world where we are addicted to screens, and spend hours alone in our rooms, even if we’re chatting online, physically we’re alone, perhaps it makes sense that we are feeding ourselves the lie that we are all we need.

I know many people, particularly women, embrace that lie, after failed relationships, and being hurt by their fathers, or mothers, and hearing the whole feminist speel, we want to feel empowered. I am my own answer, etc. Self Help,here we come

I used to think that way too. If you’ve been following my journey on this blood of this year and my life falling in on me, you probably noticed how much I’ve talked about how I can’t do this alone.

Yeah, being alone trying to love myself is what got me into this, along with my dad’s abuse, and my family’s neglect.

Actually, people like me are terrible at self care. I’m programmed to feel guilty if I ever prioritize myself. You take a church background, and add to it two parents who don’t model self care or healthy expressions of feelings, needs, or wants, and you get a child who is afraid to feel, want, or need anything. Feelings are scary.

But I read it in books as I searched for answers as a young teen, that I need to affirm myself. And my therapist told me the same thing. Other people have told me that too.

Crap, if that was enough, I’d be fine.

Contrary to what’s usual for victims of abuse, I don’t actually treat myself badly or think I’m rubbish. I have confidence in my intelligence, appearance, and kindness as a person. I don’t think I’m terrible. Not consciously anyway. I’m satisifeid with myslef on an averge day when it comes to the outer things, the thigns we want people to see us for.

I never have been one to hate on myself openly. I was a feisty little girl, and still am. I didn’t take crap frome people or my dad as a kid, I still don’t.

And that is why I can tell ouuo form the depths of my heart, that that was not enough.

i respected myself, I stood up for myself, I did everything I could to excape my situation: And I have lived through a year of hellish emotional issues and physical issues. STress, panic attacks, anxiwet , depression, suidical thoughts, self hatered. tension with my family, PLUS COVID!

If anyone should know that Self Love is not enough, it should be me. We cannot heal ourselves. We cannot even begin to do it. I loathe it when I hear peopel tell hurting people that they need to love themselves more. IT will never, ever, set them free.

(Before I move on, I wan to say I am not putting down Self Love it self. Of course it’s important, the Bible teaches that, but it’s important for other reasons than to give healing and meaning to our lives, we’re told to care for ourselves because we recognize our body and our life is a gift form God, created to be loved and to love Him, and we accept that, and love ourselves. It’s not a solution to our problems, just a return to what’s natural and right.)

One reason self love does not work is because we do ont see ourselves very clearly aat any itme,. Maybe you’ve heard teh analogy that we see hundreds of faces every day and the face we see the least is our own. Even when we do, it’s only through a mirror. You cannot look yourself int he face without help. SOme see this as a picture of how little we know ourselves, and how we need help to even know what we know.

And it’s true, if you can’t look at yourself clearly, how can you really know enough to say you love yourself?

G. K. Chestron worte in “Orthodoxy” that a manw ho believes fully in himslef is insane. He is compeltely convicned o f his own idea, he might think he was a poached egg, and beleive fully in his own judgment, so he believea in himslef…but he’s crazy.

Hitler bleieved in himself, you might say. HE certaily didn’t believe in God.

And in your own life, the people who believe the most int hemselve are not often your favorite peopel, are they? Narcissists cannot be questiong, ethey are always rigth, they believe that…and nobody likes them. They are insufferable prigs.

People with BDP often (unless they are trying to overcome it) beleive fully that they are alwasy the victim, and cannot be convicnec otherwise.

Really, who doesn’t prefer a little insecurity to the idea that we don’t need anyone.

We all like to say “I don’t need anyone” but when we are around someone who broadcasts that message to us, are we not completely uncomfortable? I know I am. I mean, why do they even need me to be around them.

Even basic companionship is a need we have, even if it’s expressed more as a desire. What we want and what we need are often the same thing, so if you say “I need no one but myself” you are essentially saying “I want no one but myself around me” and who wants to be around someone who hates people? (Am I making any social recluses uncomfortable yet? Hey, I’m not judging, I’m hardly antisocial but I get tired of people often).

C. S. Lewis also cautions us against the dangers of not caring what other people think of us in “Mere Christianity” when he write his chapter about Pride. He points out that if we truly cease to care what people think it is usually because we see them all as below us. You’ll hear this quite often now, “Who cares what those morons think? F— them!” “I don’t need anyone’s approval!” “To he– with your opinion”

And is it often the nicest, kindest people who spout this nonsense? Or is it not the rude, arrogant, selfish, self-obsessed ones who just want to do whatever they want without any obligation to anyone.

Usually I hear it from angry, or disrespectful people, often women, sad to say, in this culture.

Back when I also tried this, I thought it was my only escape from how my cruel father painted images of me to myself and my family and anyone who would listen.

My father would humiliate me to total strangers if I went to work with him by bad mouthing me to them and telling them things I’d say to him in private. Usually in a whiny condescending voice (you know the type people use to mock you). It happened more times than I can even remember, it happened with family friends, with family members, over and over. It happens to this day, I’m sure, as I know he calls my extended family to gripe about us cutting him off.

My father would nudge me in church whenever the pastor mentioned children respecting parents, and say, loud enough for half the congregation to hear “You hear that, insert-my-name?” My mom? Does nothing to stop him… well, okay, she would sometimes, but he wouldn’t’ listen to her and she wasn’t’ always there, other times he allowed it.

Not to mention the constant degrading things he would say to me. If I asked how I looked, not even talking to him, he’d say “hideous.” I remember maybe one time he said something nice to me about my looks, in 20 years, one time. Maybe two. He made fun of it when I got acne, when I got braces, when I became a woman, you name it.

When my writing endeavors took off, he deliberately criticized it unfairly, and encouraged my sisters to do the same.

All this to say, my dad set me up to be a real piece of work. And my only fallback, since my other family members were silent on this point, was to decide I liked myself, or believed I was in the right.

I have pages and pages of journals filled with outrage and the desperate attempt to convince myself I was not a terrible person. And I live with that doubt now.

As shocking as it is to me, I may actually have been angelic by most people’s standards, under the circumstances. Considering how my dad treated me ever since I can remember, I was surprisingly forgiving, even as a kid. And I was affectionate. It was never enough for him, but for a better parent, it would have been quite touching. At least I know I melt if kids treat me the way I treated my parents.

It wasn’t Self Love that got me to see I might not be so bad, it was a lot of help from others, and God. I still remember as an early teen when I first started getting told I was nice, cute, or pretty by people, and how much it shocked me. That was what got me to first question how my parents had taught me to see myself.

And just to expose the self love thing more, I remember two times I tried it. Once was telling my dad I didn’t wear make up because I didn’t need it (project confidence, you know) his response? In a rather evaluating tone he told me it wouldn’t hurt me to use make-up, and style my hair. (Now I don’t upload photos, but everyone loves my hair, and says I have a good face, even without make up. I do wear it, but not every time I’m in public, I like to go with my mood, so my dad was straight up blind or lying, or both.) Another time, I admired myself in a mirror, daring to think I looked a little bit pretty, and my mom called me “as vain as peacock.” Just for looking at myself. I didn’t eve say anything. If I ever asked if I looked good, she’d say I was “digging for a compliment.” This woman never praised me, ever, of her own free will, for as long as I can remember.

So, you see, both my parents crushed my attempts at self love with an almost savagely accurate cruelty. My mom is as least sorry and has come to see it was wrong. My father probably will deny it ever happened once enough time passes. He’s denied stuff before.

Even so, I kept trying to believe in myself. But my only real comfort in those dark years was knowing God loved me and saw good in me even if no one else did. It often seemed no one else did. I was in trouble at home every week, family friends (who I now know were toxic busybodies) criticized me to my parents, and people at church (also a toxic environment, remember my dad controlled all this) did the same.

Meanwhile, I was learning to write. Reading as mush theology and fiction as I could, and finding out what my interests are. I could have gone very wrong. But luckily, my parents did have good theology around, even if they didn’t demonstrate it, and I took it to heart.

Frozen actualy came out about a ear after I became a ture believer, and it was at the time I frist read “Captiviating” b John and Stasi eldege, that book coupel with that movie changed my life, not exaggeration.

It introduced me to deep inner healing, to God filling the void left by parents, and to the idea that I could say my father’s actions were wrong. The book is not about self love, but about learning to be loved.

That’s the real secret, ladies and gentlemen, you have to learn to be loved.

If you look closely at Frozen, you’ll notice that that is what that movie is actually about. Elsa is taught to hate herself by her shortsighted parents, and develops a bunch of toxic styles of relating to people and herself. Then when trouble comes, she snaps and runs away, like we all do. Then she has a breakthrough of relaxing those expectations on her were wrong, and harmful, and she throws them off. People think Let It Go is negative, but it’s actually a very important step in the journey to freedom to realize that the lies you lived under are wrong “conceal don’t feel” is terrible advice.

But recognizing the lies doesn’t free her, it just opens her up to realize the truth. When Anna finds her, she is able to express actual concern for her, but reverts back to fear once she feels guilty again. Of course wounding Anna in the process. Later Elsa becomes a captive, literally and figuratively to her fear and Hans, and runs away after giving up on helping. Finally, she is crushed by the idea that she killed her sister, and has no heart event o run and save herself anymore.

It’s significant that Elsa gives up trying to save herself at her lowest point. And that’s when Anna swoops in and save her life. Elsa can recognize it then because she stopped trying to run. That’s what makes that moment to powerful. Elsa finally receives Anna’s love by hugging her, and then it sets her free to heal Arendelle, and become the queen she’s meant to be. No longer alone.

Love is the answer. You have to learn to be loved. I was 14 or 15 when I first saw this movie, I am 22 now, it’s been near 8 years, and I am still learning to be loved, I only just realized what the movie is really about. That why the symbolism of doors is used so often. The door is like the consent to be loved. It’s never about Elsa refusing to love Anna, she always loved her, but she didn’t open the door to Anna’s love until she had nothing left t lose by doing it. Much like what happened to me. You have to open the door.

God can do many things, but I have never seen evidence that He can make us receive His love, it is always a choice to open up, even if opening up is just collapsing in defeat at His feet. I’ve done it many times.

Contrast that to the 2nd movie, and you notice they totally for got their own point. The writers did not really realize what they had with Frozen, so often that’s the case.

Frozen hit us hard because we so desperately need to hear this, that we can learn to be loved, and that will heal us. That’s all healing really is.

I stayed open to my parents love for a long time, long after I gave up expecting it. Most victims of abuse are like that. We keep hoping for the abuser to change, but with every other relationship we’re in, we find it uncomfortable to be loved, even if we crave it.

In my case, I still am not super at ease with being loved. I am only to the point where I don’t directly fight it all the time. I’ll accept the hug, I’ll ask for encouragement, I will let people give a little to me; I still feel guilty about it, but I try to ignore the guilt and remind myself that I have to be willing to accept this.

I wish I cold tell you it’s easy to do this, that I never doubt whether I’m doing the right thing. But I’ve doubted just today whether I’m worth all this, if I’m a good person, if I am on the right path.

I know that recovery is going to take a lot longer than one year.

It’s actually quite frustrating to realize how much I hate being loved, I find it irritating to be treated nicely quite often. though I also hate being treated badly. I am thrown off by kindness. People have told me I don’t take praise or encouragement really well.

I want so answer them “I’m broken. I can’t take it like a normal person… and you made me this way.”

What do you expect really? I grew up mocked, degraded, or given dead silence about y good points. Of course I find it uncomfortable.

I bet some of you reading this have the same problem. I’d love to hear if anyone has figured out how to solve it yet.

I don’t know what my process will be, but I know that God is the only one who can get me there. I know that people do get out of it. It takes time.

I know it is scary to need other people, my need for it has kept me up at night in agony becuae I felt so angry and misarable and alone.

I still get annoyed, but I now have made steps to acknowledge my need for people and to reach out.

It’s true I could get hurt again, and I will, but I don’t think that’s a reason to shut down.

I’ve had my time of using every negaitve expereince to justify my beleif that people always treat me badly, but I learned that I will be drawn to those people naturally due to my past if I don’t actively try to seek out better. Evetually, being drawn to healthy people will become the norm for me.

Anyway, I think this post is probably long enough to be an essay, so I should wrap it up.

In summary, all this is why I believe Self Love is a very dangerous band-aid to put on a gaping wound, but I do believe that being healed will enable us to love ourselves how we should.

Until next time, stay honest–Natasha.

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