Defensive About Love?

If the idea of unconditional love causes you to feel anxious there’s a good chance there is some emotional healing that is needed before you can fully embrace the idea. We are all a collection of emotional wounds from our past which prevent us from fully enjoying all the best things this life has to offer.

In an effort to find ways to survive the maze of all that life can throw at you, you create a defensive system just to navigate the potential angst you can face on a daily basis. You don’t want to feel bad, rejected, threatened, or experience emotional pain, so you make it a priority to protect yourself from being vulnerable.

Yet, love is all about letting go and being vulnerable.

While we all want to be loved unconditionally, the idea of loving someone else this way can be very frightening, leaving you fearful of what might happen if you let down your guard. Your protection of yourself can be interpreted by onlookers, or potential love interests, as hostility or anger.

You may find yourself pushing away a potential love interest, finding fault, potentially offering up false accusations, impulsively challenging, judging, or rejecting any openness, compassion, or closeness because you are overwhelmed by the pain from your past relationships (which can go far back, even to early childhood relationships).

You may be unaware of the source of your angst, still, you remain defensive, embroiled in defensive thought, overwhelmed by fault-finding, seeing “red flags,” or finding ways to blame anyone or anything for justifying your negative feelings.

Just the fact that you were emotionally hurt or betrayed by someone you fully loved and trusted from your past can create an alarm that sounds triggering your defensive response any time you feel yourself starting to trust or love.

When you were a child, you loved unconditionally, often only to be abrasively and suddenly make keenly aware that you cannot trust those who you believed would never hurt you. You carry these unhealed emotional wounds into adulthood, as you collect more corroborative evidence along the way.

As a child, you idealize or idolize your parents, and when they discipline you, you feel rejected, still, to survive, you assume responsibility and accept that you must have done something wrong or were bad, even when you did nothing wrong. You might carry this into an adult romantic relationship, as you seek to replace your parents with a different kind of life mate.

We all desire to grow and expand in a safe environment with another to forge a life and emerging with a family of our own as we mature. When ancient texts suggest, like St. Paul did, “that a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the twain shall become one flesh,” (Ephesians 5:31) note that it says to “cleave” not to cling. To cleave is like the grafting of two trees into one, so that the one tree can bear two types of fruit. There is no separation, yet the fruits of both trees are there for all to see and be enjoyed by the community.

This is the natural desire of an adult, yet your conscious and/or unconscious mind reasons that no one can be trusted, and if you do trust anyone, they will turn on you, causing you to experience sadness, pain, and/or emotional trauma.

If you’ve ever fully trusted and loved someone, only to have your whole world shattered into a million pieces, like the man who didn’t believe in love, what right-thinking person would willingly put themselves in that place of vulnerability again?

You can go on through life, asserting your independence by not needing anyone, “I can do it myself.” Doing so keeps others at arm’s length (and a beer bottle) and isolates you keeping from deeply connecting another or others. “I don’t need anyone.”

You may find ways to fill the void by immersing yourself in your career, hobbies, or addictions if you are unable to love yourself unconditionally. You might be surprised to learn that the same conditions you impose on others regarding trust and love, you also place upon yourself.

If you really desire to love another, you must first find the love for you within yourself. Then, this love can overflow to be shared with others.

Unconditional Love Makes You Angry

You’re not alone if the idea of unconditional love makes you angry.

You’ve been trained to desire unconditional love. You want to be loved for who you are, everything, the good, the bad, your adorable traits and the mistakes you have made and may make from this day forward. To feel as though you could be accepted and loved no matter what is what you long for.

You can look back on decisions and actions you’ve initiated in your past didn’t turn out the way you planned and may have turned out badly, possibly making you look and feel stupid. You know you could have done better if given a second chance. After all, your intentions were pure when you did it or allowed it to happen.

To be loved, regardless of the stupid things you’ve done in the past, not judged for those things you could have done better and understood as if anyone in the same situation might have done the same thing seems reasonable. And this is what you long for.

While this kind of unconditional love is what you desire, to imagine the offering of such a love to another feels like a preposterous proposition. This is when the idea of unconditional love makes you angry.

What? Love someone no matter what? Do you think I’ve learned nothing from all the pain I’ve endured throughout the course of my life? Have you lost your mind?

If I’ve learned anything, I know you can’t trust anyone, particularly someone you care about, and the more you care about them, the more they will hurt you, and the less you can trust them.

You have surrounded yourself with a protective forcefield in an effort to keep yourself safe from disappointment or risk of being hurt.

Congratulations. You’ve built for yourself and voluntarily checked-in to your hospital fortress where you can find the love you seek from within and heal, because life has been hard, and you need this time to focus on you, isolated from potential harm.

No one would blame you for feeling bad, sad, or mad while suffering from your wounds in your love hospital for recovery. While recovering from these wounds, of course, the idea of unconditional love makes you angry, anyone else in the same situation would feel the same way.

You are suffering from a form of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), not unlike any other form of PTSD.

If it weren’t for the support of others in their own various stages of love wound recovery, you would be totally alone and isolated in your fortress hospital, and with others who have are also suffering from love’s wounds you develop a supportive camaraderie. This kind of support can prolong your healing as you feel more comfortable in treatment than taking the risk of re-engaging in life outside the walls.

Isn’t the idea of checking one’s self into an isolated healing environment to become well enough to leave the facility and start to live your life again? To not do so transforms your hospital into a prison of your own making to serve out our own self-imposed life sentence. You needn’t suffer the extreme self-abuse of exercising your own love death penalty.

You’re better than that.

You can heal. In fact, you may be far more healed than you believe yourself to be. How many completely healthy people are in hospitals or recovery programs far past their healing because it’s safer to be in the hospital than to face your fears outside in the real world?

It’s time to get up and ambulate. Get outside and exercise your ability to love.

You can still exercise love when the idea of unconditional love makes you angry. No need to push through to unconditional love, but to start loving a little at a time would be highly beneficial.

You might find it helpful to see others as just like you.

You understand yourself so well and you would never intentionally do anything to hurt anyone else, unless in that moment, you felt like you had no other choice, as you were in fully engulfed in the fight-or-flight response. You felt like you had no other option(s).

You don’t have to love what someone else does, but you can still love the person.

Isn’t that what you want?

That is not to say that you allow anyone to abuse you. You have the right and obligation to separate yourself from dangerous situations, but let those situations be an authentic potential risk to you, your body, your mind, or your spirit. Don’t let your fear-inspired imagination to override your ability to find potential danger everywhere you look.

Instead, look to understand and realize that the person with whom you are feeling conflict is looking back at you in the mirror. If you were that person, having lived the same life, you would have done the same thing.

You can feel compassion for that person (not feeling “sorry” for them because that insinuates your superiority), trying to understand what it might like to be like to have to feel as though you might feel like you have to live life, like that. It could make you sad, and even react in a less defensive manner.

Even if the idea of unconditional love makes you angry, don’t let it stop you. Find ways to exercise your love. Start with letting friends in a little deeper. Find a child to love. Make occasions for you to engage in activities that you love, and allow your activities to grow to include more people to participate in those things that you love in public.

Get up. Get out of your love hospital, even if only briefly at first, and one day you will find you no longer rely on your self-restraint and self-imposed love prison sentence.

You have complete control of your release date. You get to leave early based on your healing and good behavior if you want to.

Maybe today is the day.

Write down today’s date, mark it on the calendar, and walk out on your own accord.

Set yourself free.

The greatest love is waiting for you.