We want to share some extra information with you because you had a high score in three areas on our How We Love Quiz. What does this mean and how you can be hopeful and move forward? Many times people with these scores had a difficult childhood with some sort of suffering. Perhaps when you were growing up there was a death, divorce, parental addiction, or a difficult step-parent. Some of you may have experienced physical, emotional or sexual abuse from a parent, sibling, babysitter or family acquaintance. Perhaps you were in the foster system and had multiple caretakers, or had a parent with mental illness. There are many possibilities, but for a child it’s very difficult to make sense of trauma. Children often assume it’s their fault. All kids work hard to understand why things happen and to make sense of their world and surroundings. Life can be very confusing when things don’t make sense.
When suffering occurs, a child needs acknowledgement, validation, compassion, comfort and protection. This kind of support lessens the impact of trauma. Without a supportive adult and when difficulties are ongoing, a child is left to cope on their own. Kids from hard backgrounds may try various attachment styles to manage the distress. Perhaps as a child you tried to be good and please hoping things would improve. Avoidance and detaching is another coping mechanism. Some kids keep hope alive and idealize the future when escape from the family is possible. Others become angry and controlling for good reason. Other children may construct a whole imaginary world where they are safe and in control.
It’s easy to see why suffering can cause high scores in more than one category. It means you tried many different ways to cope. If this is your experience Milan and I have great compassion for you. We have cried along with many people as they have told us about sad, difficult and sometime horrific events that occurred during their childhoods. Sometimes the pain is unimaginable. We are truly sorry for the suffering of any child.
Where can you start? We suggest picking one relationship that you most want to change and focus on the Love Style you display in that one important relationship. Use the book and workbook to help chart a path of growth. It’s difficult to heal without compassion, tenderness and caring from another person. That means you need to find a safe person who can listen to your story. This may be a group, therapist, a trauma therapist or close friends.
If anger is an issue we want you to remember this. You have a right to be angry about what happened to you growing up. It makes sense. It’s how you handle your anger now as an adult that may cause problems. It harms you and others when your anger is directed at the wrong people. Other people in your adult life may be the lightening rod for anger from your past. What’s missing in most cases is grief. Many children who suffer have no place to grieve and no one with whom to grieve. Grieving is really the main antidote to anger. Angry people have most often shut off tears. So we encourage you to learn to grieve so the wounds can heal. The goal is to have compassion for the child you once were. We want to acknowledge it’s not an easy journey, but we believe there is hope for healing. We hope our book and website will help you on that journey. It will be our joy and delight if that is true.
Milan and Kay