Fatherless Children, Fatherless Girls, Love

Love is the Best Medicine for Wounds to Love

One summer evening, Becky and I were discussing her daughter, Leah. Leah was perhaps 13 years old then, and Becky and I often liked to speculate on how she would turn out. That evening, Becky offered that Leah’s loves “will be few and far between”.

As it happens, I think Becky could be right about Leah. She’s 22 now, and guarded in her love. But why is that?

My hunch is Leah’s reluctance to love wholly or completely has something to do with her father. Becky and Leah’s father divorced when Leah was seven or so. Afterwards, her father often proved neglectful. Among other things, he’d promise to visit, but would not show up. Leah, who was at that time closer to her father than to Becky, took her father’s neglect hard.

I guess Leah shut some part of herself off as her way of dealing with her father’s neglect. She became a guarded lover.

She could, of course, have done much worse than to become a guarded lover. I have known girls in her situation who lost all confidence in dealing with boys. Yet, Leah is very confident.

Naturally, Leah’s story is larger than Leah. All of us — perhaps without exception — have either been hurt in love or will at one time or another be hurt in love. There are things you can escape in this world, but to escape being wounded in love you must never love at all — which would risk making your life deeply miserable.

It is crucial how we respond to our hurts. Most of us become guarded in one way or another. We erect defenses. There are thousands of defenses against being wounded in love, but it is important for us to understand that whatever defenses we erect against being wounded might also be barriers to loving. That is not necessarily a good thing.

The main reason it’s not necessarily a good thing to erect barriers to love is simply because love is the best medicine for wounds to love. Love heals: It promotes growth, and it renews. In fact, I believe you can tell whether love is genuine or not by whether it heals or not. So, if we wall ourselves off from love, we wall ourselves off from the best and most complete way to heal.

I should make clear that I am not talking here about those of us who have been abused. When the wounds we suffer in love come from our being abused, we should erect defenses against abuse. We should not open ourselves to the abuser. But that’s a special case. In general, it is best to overcome wounds to love by loving and being loved, rather than by running away from love.

That, at least, is how I see it. But what do you think? Does any of this make sense, or should I switch to a better brand of coffee and re-think it all?

11 thoughts on “Love is the Best Medicine for Wounds to Love”

  1. I think you’re right—-it is an inevitable part of human existence that you will love, and you will be hurt or betrayed by that love, in one fashion or another.

    Given that fact, the question is: are you going to wall yourself to stop from getting hurt again, or are you going to open yourself to love?

    Of course at the same time, I can’t help but wonder how much of a “choice” we have in this matter. The human psyche/heart doesn’t just open for anybody. Maybe when Leah meets the right person, she will find herself opening up of her own accord. Then again, if she doesn’t open herself up, the likelihood of her finding that special person lessens….

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  2. I believe you need to be open to love in order to attract it into your life. Sometimes a miracle happens and someone may break through the barriers we erect to protect ourselves but for the most part we need to open up and take the risk. This I know from personal experience…

    Paul, your definition of genuine love – that it heals – just took my breath away – that resonates as the absolute truth. Using that as a guideline makes it so much easier to look at what we have in our lives – and what is good for us and what is not. Thankyou so much.

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  3. @Baekho: While the human heart doesn’t open for just anyone, I think many of us could be much more open to love than we are. We — especially those of us in America — live in a very distrustful and suspicious age. An age that all too often aborts love.

    @Zenuria: Thank you! I too find that definition of love very useful. 🙂

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  4. In my opinion and strictly that of my opinion, I believe that term LOVE has been used and abused into an addiction of such as well as a form of abuse. The term itself has been used to ensnare others in order to validate a persons being.

    I have been in love truly once in my lifetime. And because of the other persons need to feel and be validated he used that term as well as my emotions to help in some way achieve that, and when he felt that it was of no use, he cut the strings like that of a puppet on a string. and yet, how does one go on after giving of themselves and wholly in every aspect and emotional manner possible?

    1. You forgive them for hurting you
    2. You forgive yourself
    3. Continue Loving

    It would have been easy for me to just hide, and erase myself from existence. In fact I think I did in some ways try to do that. and yet the only way I could continue living despite the cruelty of others, is to continue loving myself and all that I offer and consider it a blessing that I have not given in to closing myself off because whether we see it or not, those of us that love fiercely in so many areas and ways can heal the wounds of another……we may not see it in that moment, but we will..in this lifetime or the next.

    ~callie

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  5. I think you’re right that over-cautiousness in love can become problematic. I wonder, though, if being somewhat guarded might be beneficial; perhaps Leah’s caution combined with her confidence will prevent needless heartache until she finds a love worth pursuing.

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  6. @Callie: It seems to me you have wisely chosen not to wall yourself off from love. That’s an extremely difficult choice to make at times, but it shows great wisdom.

    @Jacob: That would be fortunate if it works out that way. And since Leah has chosen to be guarded in love, I hope that it does work out that way.

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  7. Hmmmm.

    I have two thoughts about this post.

    The first is that, in my opinion, a sign of maturity is the ability to take calculated risk. This means learning discernment, which also means not being inappropriately open. It is my observation that many people never learn the difference between being closed and being discerning.

    I think your definition of genuine love is a good one. It pulled me up short to realize that I have had that kind of love from only one person in my life … and it rather depressed me to realize that this person is neither one of my parents nor one of my lovers. Better to have such love from a friend, I suppose, than not at all.

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  8. That’s a very useful distinction between discernment and self-isolation, David. Thank you!

    It has often seemed to me, too, that the love of friends was more genuine than the love of lovers.

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  9. I would agree, to a point. As David said, discernment is important.

    Seeing past the barriers, tearing them down is a calculated risk. They are there for a reason. For some, there is nothing irrational about erecting these barriers. It’s harder to be hurt when standing behind walls.

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  10. I am no genius on love. I do find it interesting just about anyone who has ever picked up a hammer has slammed his or her thumb, knows it will happen again if he or she keeps using hammers, and still will continue throughout an entire lifetime to use a hammer — while, hurt a time or two in love, will refuse to ever love again. Emotional injury appears to be the scariest thing on the planet for humans.

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  11. @Steve: Even though we may have a very good reason for erecting barriers in the first place, we don’t always have as good of a reason for keeping them up. Suppose you’re in an abusive relationship, so you erect barriers. Then you leave the abusive relationship. Do you still need the barriers? I wonder.

    @Max: Well said! If we play a sport, we expect — and we accept — a few bruises. But people seem to expect no hurt at all when it comes to love. If so, I wonder why that is? What is it about emotional injury that scares us so?

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