Not Easy to Love

July 6, 2016

Personal Growth

One day at a retreat I was talking with Kristen, who said, “I feel pretty great right now.”

“You LOOK pretty great right now,” I said. “You look peaceful and even . . .”

“Loved. Yes, I do feel loved, and I like it.”

“You look like you have a question,” I said.

“Yes, I do. I’ve talked to a lot of people in Real Love, but I’ve never felt this loved until today. Not even close.”

“Right now you feel thoroughly understood for the first time in your life.”

“Yes!” she said, and then she sobbed. “That’s it. I feel understood.”

“Before now you haven’t quite felt understood by other people. Do you know why?”

“Well,” she said, “because you accept me even though I’m . . .”

“Weird?”

Her face exploded into a smile. “I probably wouldn’t have used that word, but yes, weird.”

“Most of us spend our whole lives trying to be like everybody else. But we can’t. We all have different DNA, epigenetic structure, and the effects of thousands of experiences that occurred during our childhoods and afterward. As a result, we’re different from each other, and we can’t feel truly accepted until we feel understood as we really are. Some of us are closer to the “average” of the group, while others are well outside the norm. We don’t want to be too far outside of ‘normal,’ because we usually interpret that to be bad, but we are who we are. If we’re different, we’re different, and as long as that’s not a result of fear, we need to embrace and even develop our differences.”

“I never thought of it like that.”

“You’re a weird kid, no denying it.”

“I don’t know quite know how to take that.”

“It’s just a fact. You’re not like other people, and for sure that will make some people uncomfortable. They don’t know how to interact with behavior not familiar to them. Too bad. You’re odd, strange. NOT bad, just different. And all your life you have felt the discomfort of others as they have not known how to react to you.”

Tears were rolling down her face. “I never understood this until now. I always thought there was something wrong with me.”

“Nope, just different, and despite being different, a few moments ago you were beaming because you felt like I understood you—finally, you found somebody to understand you—AND I accepted you just as you were.”

More tears, and she threw her arms around me. “Why haven’t other people done this before now?”

“Because you’re not easy to love.”

She frowned deeply.

“I remind you,” I said, “that there’s nothing WRONG with you. You’re just different which makes it difficult for some people to understand and love you. It’s their problem, not yours.”

She cried for a good while.

When people don’t love us as children, we can ONLY conclude that something must be wrong with US. After all, those people manage to love some other children, so we must be defective in some way. And unless we are taught differently, we continue to make the assumption that we’re unworthy of love for the rest of our lives.

We’re all weird in various ways. We need not to avoid that, but to be glad for our differences. We need to use them and even delight in them. Our “weirdness” enables us to do some things that others cannot. As we do that—as we avoid the trap of worthlessness and shame—we will find people who can understand and accept us as we are.

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