THE NEED FOR LOVE AND APPROVAL
I grew up in the projects, on the south side of Chicago in an area called the Low End. Although I was born to teenage parents, they nurtured me, along with my grandmother, the matriarch and pillar of the community, doing the best they could to raise me up in a situation where I was not a product of my environment, but one that knew love, culture, food, and community.
At eight years of age, my parents got married, and we moved from my grandmother’s house to an apartment of our own. It wasn’t a penthouse, but it was a step up from the projects and into a life of working-class parents and more material belongings.
The step up became a step down in the sense that it is also where I experienced a vast amount of trauma from witnessing physical abuse in my home. Another major event that happened at this time is that I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. The impetus for this transition was an invitation from my mother’s friends who attended a missionary Baptist church along with their families. At 11 years of age, to our surprise, my father left the home, leaving me, dejected, rejected, and married to the spirits of loneliness and rejection. I developed my first limiting belief, “ I’m not enough. “
Couple this with two years later overhearing a teenage girl from church telling another teenage girl, “Her mother looks so beautiful. I wonder what happened to her. “, and then you add on another limiting belief, “I’m not pretty enough “.
At 18 years of age, I formally met and started dating a handsome young man from high school who swept me off my feet with trips to the beach, movies, listening to R&B, music, and poems, songs, and short stories written about me. The overextending of attention, trophy treatment, and shame from being love bombed were screaming red flags all over the place. However, I ignored them.
We got married at the age of 21, and the devaluation phase started off immediately. Initially, I was compared to television hosts. Then it moved on to colleagues and coworkers. I tried everything that I could to get back to the love bombing phase, where I was put on a pedestal. To my surprise, that was not going to happen.
After several years of striving on the hamster wheel to get him to grant me the stamp of approval, as being enough, love me and provide for my needs, and be an active partner in our relationship, I realized that we were never going back to the beginning.
In 2012, my ex-husband stated that he was thinking about leaving the marital residence. Everything that had been traumatic during my lifetime, including the abuse that I witnessed in my home as a child, came forth.
I was then in a state of languishing. I decided for the very first time in my life to schedule an appointment with my therapist, and it saved my life. After reluctantly agreeing with my therapist for a three month in-house separation, I had a serious “be still and know moment”. During this time of stillness, I was able to see what my brokenness was, his brokenness was, and the brokenness of our marriage was due to the toxic dance cycle we were both in. I wanted something from my ex-husband that he was determined and not equipped to give: approve of me and let me know that I was enough. This was God’s job.
I gathered together a support system from my church community, several small groups that I started participating in, and a few close friends. My ex-husband decided that he was discarding of me, but not before extensive efforts to sabotage his living arrangements so that I could do a reverse discard. Unfortunately, this is exactly what ended up having to happen.
I was left with PTSD, and devastation in every area you could think of: emotionally, mentally, physically, spiritually, intellectually, socially, financially, and relationally, to name a few. After years of therapy, rebuilding my life, self-work, self-love and self-discovery, I was finally able to walk in wholeness with my identity grounded and rooted in Christ, adopting the same operating system for navigating relationships that God created in the garden of Eden, and that is one of love and freedom.
My vision is to help millions of women in toxic relationships become empowered, walk in wholeness, and empower their homes, communities, and world.
My prayer is that through reading my story, you will find the freedom to own your family’s love story garden, and walk in freedom and abundance.