I picked up a book a few weeks ago that proposed 75 things men could do to find healing from the pain of childhood abuse. Some of the actions and activities were practical. Some. But not many.
It wasn't that any of the suggestions were wrong; they were just too simplistic. For example, the title of number 17 was "Love Yourself."
I agree that's wonderful and much needed advice. What the author didn't say in the next two pages, however, was how to make self-love happen.
How do I learn to love myself? How does anyone?
Answer: I don't know.
The only answer I know comes from my own experience. Two people loved me without any demands on my behavior. The first was Shirley, my wife, and my friend David was the second.
They loved me and accepted me, even though I felt damaged and in pain. Neither of them insisted I go through a course of self-improvement or change my ways.
They simply loved me. That was the first half of the solution.
The second half was that I felt loved by them.
Once I sensed their irrefutable love, I was able to love that small, injured boy who lived inside me.
So it's true: If you want to be healed, love yourself. But don't tell anyone unless you're first willing to express that unrestricted love.