Do you suffer in silence in order to prove your love?
Posted Oct 01 2012 1:35pm
Does the red blood of suffering make you smell like a rose? photograph copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.
Do you believe that suffering is the one sure way to prove your love?
You gave up being with your friends when your partner was at home working on a deadline. You sucked it up, suffered in silence and felt good about the way you proved your love. But darn it, your partner is never willing to do the same for you. How do you find out if you are truly loved or not? Is self-sacrifice and suffering your only reliable measure?Delia filled her days with doing things she ‘ought’ to do, and that she felt was expected of her. She was always tired and irritable, but she went to bed with a clear conscience. No one could accuse her of being selfish. Delia had proved herself during the day and felt some measure of pride in her suffering. That was the ultimate demonstration of true love and commitment. Pride was mixed with a sense of injustice because she never felt her suffering love was reciprocated.
In fact Delia felt cheated. Where was the evidence that Aden and the kids loved her?Her husband took off camping with the kids even when she didn’t feel like going. He didn’t stay behind and suffer. He didn’t even feel sorry for continuing with the weekend plans when she opted out. He had his fun and didn’t feel guilty! Aden didn’t feel the need to show his love by becoming a martyr.Aden and the kids offered love by:Inviting Delia to play and go out with themRemembering to bring her favorite pizza home after the ball gameGiving her a gift certificate for a day at the spaDelia appreciated the gestures, but felt embarrassed to receive and enjoy the thoughtfulness and gifts. She felt pressurized and obligated to buy things and treat her family to outing to even out the balance sheet. It didn’t feel like love she could count on.
If Aden and the kids missed a ball game to be with her, now that would be real love. It would indicate their willingness to give up something they really liked to be with her. Choosing her over the game was the proof she wanted. That kind of love Delia could rely on. It was the purest kind of love there was- it asked nothing in return. clumping and restricting growth, makes the flowers die off photograph copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D. Delia put restrictions on herself and she expected her husband and children to follow suit to complete the circle of love. The problem was that the circle was made of fire, not love. Making her family jump through hoops of fire to satisfy Delia’s expectations of love just made them love her less. Instead of enjoying the experience of loving and being loved they were being asked to deprive themselves, shrink and burn in the flames of suffering. So Aden and the kids gradually made separate lives, even though they had to look into the wounded but accusing eyes that Delia used to judge them with.
Delia believed that when she sacrificed and suffered for the sake of her family, she gave up her natural life juices. She became shriveled up. Now they owed her the same favor. They had to sacrifice and give her their juices. When she dehydrates herself for their good, they have a duty to reconstitute her back to her natural state.
Love for Delia was dying, being brought back to life and dying again as proof of the strength of the relationship.
That view of love was part of her childhood belief system. She was brought up to believe that she had to suffer and earn the love of her family – and that meant drying up her wishes, feelings, wants and dreams so that her entire focus was on family.
But that philosophy no longer works for Delia. It traps her family and prevents the natural flow of give and take that promotes and enhances loving relationships.
openness and receptivity to all ways of getting love makes the relationship beautiful and lasting photograph copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.
So what can Delia do in order to be more receptive to being loved naturally rather than through suffering for others and expecting them to suffer on her behalf?
1. Make a conscious mental effort to note every gesture of love – like a kiss goodnight, a warm hug, a tickle on the feet, a smile when greeted and so much more.
2. Feel the instantaneous love in the moment and keep it there by rehearsing it as the day goes on. That rewires the brain to re-focus on acts of love that are giving without deprivation and suffering.
3. Reach out and respond in kind. If she gets a hug, she can give one back. That is rewiring her brain to learn that she can give love without suffering.
4. Practice, practice and practice by talking about the moment, recalling it often, and feeling the warmth of it without any obligation to suffer or return it. She can keep it and give what she feels naturally – that's when her family will feel loved, and want to stick around.
Disclaimer: this article is for informational and educative purposes only. There is no liability on the part of Dr. Raymond for any reactions you have while reading the article or when implementing any of the suggestions therein. Interacting with this material does not constitute a therapeutic relationship with Dr. Raymond.