Welcome to our next ‘campfire’ story.
The Campfire for the Heart project is a collection of true, international stories of human resilience.
Although every story is unique, they all highlight our ability to adapt positively to bad experiences and showcase our indomitable human spirit.
If you have an inspiring resilience story to share, or know someone who does,
please contact Natalie through www.stockdalewellbeing.com.
“By not giving me love,
unwittingly he showed me how to love myself”.
I had a vision of a long dark tunnel in front of me. Catastrophe was imminent. I had no perspective and wanted to die. No wonder I’d tried to commit suicide a couple of times when I was 21. My life was worthless and I had nothing to aspire or look forward to. It had to do with a rejecting father and older brother who made me feel excluded from the pack. I wasn’t a man like them and therefore didn’t deserve their attention.
The sweat would run down my arms, and it was all because of fear. The fear of men! The fear induced by domestic violence, physical abuse and rejection. I was doomed to fail and sweating was an indication of how I felt ashamed of myself. I was skinny and frail and could fall at any moment. What could I do to get better? I didn’t know then, but all I needed was love!
I was used to being alone and would go out looking for love in the wrong places, just to come back home even lonelier. Something in me longed for a deeper connection with a person I could genuinely love and love me in return. However, the skeptical part of me kept saying that there was not such a thing. I didn’t know the concept of solitude and felt panicky when alone for too long.
When I met Paulo, I thought he was the one I would spend the rest of my life with. I had the initial frustrating experiences with him and accepted it as part of the process of getting to know someone I eventually would have by my side. When he showed his true face to me, revealing that he didn’t really care, I was already hooked up and addicted to his presence. I ended up having only love crumbs when he would finally turn up at the end of a weekend after being with other people he valued more. This would make me suffer immensely and I sought help in order to free myself from that prison.
The transition from pain to peace was a painstaking slow process. I worked through my issues with my men’s group and did psychotherapy with professional therapists. I reviewed the experiences I had had with my father and brother and saw how comparable they were to the way Paulo treated me.
I met someone who genuinely loved me and advised me to go to Paulo’s country and follow the journey to my heart. It was something I had to do. I had to go far into my pain, visit Paulo’s country and meet his family. I realized then that I had been exploited. I brought him to Australia, just to be betrayed and left with a bitter taste in my mouth.
My men’s group helped me along the way. For two years, psychologists also helped me to eradicate the pain of not being loved. I did a lot of meditation, read about obsessive love and shared my pain with close friends. I also read books about self-help and had weekly sessions of IFS, Internal Family Systems therapy.
I have mostly learned that self-love is an infinite source of wisdom that gives me strength and nourishment. By loving myself, I can love others and find strength within me. I am no longer needy and don’t let people mislead me with false love. I know I can give more than receive and therefore I don’t look for love in the wrong places.
I am now in a deep space of wellbeing and self-knowledge, practising daily meditation and getting to know myself more intimately. By exploring my hurts, pain and feelings, I become stronger and find comfort in helping others who may be in the same situation I was, prior to this failed relationship. I came to acknowledge and even thank Paulo for being the catalyst for me to attain this state of peace, because by not giving me love, unwittingly he showed me how to love myself.
To come out from a state of pain, you must first accept where and who you are. Secondly, love yourself. It sounds simple, but it is not. We are told that self-love is selfishness and this is not true. Self-love is the source of life and abundance. Thirdly, you must take responsibility for yourself and your destiny.
All that you do, will reflect on yourself and ultimately you will receive the gifts for having self-care, or pay the price for neglecting your being. You are precious, the son or daughter of light. You deserve peace in the world as anyone else. It doesn’t matter what you have been told or what has been done to you. You can still get up in the morning, think about the rest of your life and decide to change the way you feel, starting with unconditional love to yourself and personal responsibility in all that you do.