purple daisyThere are moments that, rather magically, leave a forever impression in our minds. I remember one such moment that returned to me years later, full force.

As a very young pre-teen, some crazy-man Sunday school teacher told our little group that we should “love our neighbors, as ourselves.” Never the shy one, I spoke up and said something like: What are you talking about? How do you love yourself? That doesn’t make any sense. It didn’t make sense to me, not at all.

I was not unfamiliar with the heavy black book, the pictures with Angels and men with sticks. Our dad had been a Protestant minister for a while when we were very young, and never really stopped preaching to his personal choir. We had been taught that we should love other people, help strangers, and turn the other cheek (whatever that meant). I do remember the teacher stopping the class to answer my question. Unfortunately, the answer did not stick in my head as solidly as the question. I wish it had. It might have saved me years of abuse.

If you are being abused, you have either forgotten to love yourself, or never knew how. Deep down, do you honestly think that you deserve the beatings, the humiliation, or the ever-increasing emotional turmoil that steals your self-worth and your hope for the future? Think about it. Is this the life you wanted? Does it bear any resemblance to the dreams that you had, when you were dating this charming man? (Yes, they are all charming. Don’t even bother to disagree.)

If you think, even for a moment, that this isn’t what you had in mind, then perhaps you need to get away while you still have a shred of self-confidence. If you are convinced that you deserve this treatment, or, that God is punishing you for whatever reasons, you are already deep into the black hole of helplessness.

How will you ever dig yourself out of this hole if you do not love yourself, and your own life, enough to push the emotional rubbish off of your face and climb out? Self-love, amazingly enough, is simply having a basic sense of self-preservation that is intact and functioning.

Deciding that you are worth something to the universe, to yourself, to your family, is empowering. Realizing, if even for a moment, that you are not the repulsive, useless, sub-human that your abuser makes you out to be, will give you that one, precious ethereal scrap of strength, to pull yourself up and get out of the hellhole you are living in before it kills you. Please use it.