Searching for love.

file000329683077Many of us spend our lives searching. You can be dissatisfied with what you have and you covet the things you think life owes you. But you may be misguided. Especially if you are searching for love.

“The sweetest of all sounds is that of the voice of the woman we love.” ~ Jean de la Bruyere

It’s always amazed me that even after all the years of heartache caused by my mother abandoning me and being told time after time that it was my fault she had gone; all I wanted was for her to love me. And to be able to return that love.

I knew that I hadn’t been loved as a child but it didn’t stop me wanting it. When my mother left it was as if she had taken my heart with her, leaving an emptiness that I couldn’t understand or escape. With each year that passed, the void grew and so did the feeling of loneliness and despair.

My thinking became distorted. With no-one to reassure or guide me, I came to believe that if I could find the woman who had brought me into the world,she could give me the love I had been missing. Then of course my life would be transformed. Because if my mother loved me then other people would love me. Simple.

Except that attachment and loss are not simple at all. Tracing a missing person involves so much more than locating their whereabouts. And going through life searching for love is complicated and painful.

“A joyful heart is the inevitable result of a heart burning with love.”  ~ Mother Teresa

In lieu of my mother’s love I tried looking for comfort in work, money, alcohol and relationships. Yet the more I failed to find what I was looking for, the deeper I sunk into depression and self-loathing. I thought too little of myself to entertain the idea of looking for a love that was genuine or precious.  So I ended up accepting any hint of love that came in my direction. Love in disguise would fill the gap until I found my true love. Until I found my mother.

But the agonising truth was yet to be faced. Sometimes the person we are looking for doesn’t want to be found. For me that concept was unimaginable. I had been prepared for difficulties once we had reunited but I never believed that she would reject me again.

One of the hardest decisions of my life was having to stop the search for my mother. I had invested so much time and so much emotional energy in tracing her, but she had killed me off in her mind and I no longer existed.

My heart told me that it was impossible. That my mother had to love me because I was her daughter. That she would understand that I needed her love to fill the void. I needed her love to make me whole again.

My head though told me something completely different. My head told me she had ruined my life. She was the cause of my depression and addiction. She owed me.

Unfortunately the choice to pursue someone doesn’t entitle you to their attention, respect or affection. You only have control over yourself and you can’t determine or demand how anyone else should react.  And it was no different for me. I could plan every move and dream of the perfect love, but I had no authority over my mother. She had her own plans and dreams. They didn’t include me and I had to accept that.

It took many years of recovery to get to a place of forgiveness and peace of mind about my mother. Today I don’t even know if she is alive. It doesn’t matter anymore. That particular journey has ended.

Yet like many things in life it is only when you’ve come to an ending that you find the beginning. As the door to my mother’s love closed forever, the opening to a new life began.

Difficult as it was to acknowledge my mother’s decision, it was an event that served as a catalyst in my life. I had to to be realistic in my expectations of others and allow them to make their decisions without judgement.And I also stop looking to someone else to fulfill my destiny and choose my own path.

Past the excruciating pain of rejection came the cognition of taking responsibility for my own well-being. I had been searching outside of myself to find the love that I needed, the reassurance I craved and the acceptance I desired. I had been looking in wrong place.

“Love is the beauty of the soul.” ~ Saint Augustine


Faith led to me to look inside my own heart,mind and soul. My disbelief and apprehension was overcome by the desire to find the love I had sought for so long. Gently but passionately, the truth emerged. Everything that I had been searching for was already within me. Waiting to be released.

The search was over.

What if…..?

Ask a child to finish the sentence ‘What if’ and they will probably come up with a fun, imaginative, affirmative reply. ‘What if’ for a child is full of endless possibilities. Yet as adult we often use ‘What if’ as a pessimistic precursor, which goes hand in hand with that other ominous statement ‘If only…..’.

When faced with a difficult situation it is a normal response to think about the ‘What if’s’ and when looking at a situation with hindsight, it is equally natural to consider the ‘If only’s’. For many of us though it’s only the worst possible scenarios or the most awful outcomes that come to mind. And if you’re anything like me, those images that are conjured up can become a form of self torture that do nothing more than hold you hostage in a state of fear.

Several years ago my long-term sober husband decided he could drink again. Dismissing my expressed concerns he was adamant that he could control his alcohol and that it wouldn’t affect our family. He couldn’t and it did.

Whilst he enjoyed his new found ‘freedom’ to do as he pleased, for me it was like being forced onto a train that I knew was going to crash. The months passed and my husband lived in complete denial of the damage being done by his addiction. Whilst for me, each and every day brought a new terror in the form of a ‘What if’.

‘What if ….. he crashes his car, what if he gets into a fight, what if he hurts someone, what if he hurts me? O f course these were always accompanied by the self-blaming ‘If only’s which had become a normality in our increasingly volatile family situation. ‘If only….I hadn’t said that, done that, behaved like that.

“The possibilities are numerous once we decide to act and not react.” ~ George Bernard Shaw.

It was only when my husband completely relapsed that it occurred to me that I had been allowing the ‘What if’s’ to lead the way. I had been so busy trying to keep the peace and reacting to every event that it wasn’t until crisis point that I realised I needed a radically different approach. There was nothing I could do to change the situation, but I could decide to change myself.

It started with changing my notion of ‘What if’. What if I said ‘Enough is enough’ and meant it? What if I drew up boundaries and stuck to them? And of course the victim mentality of ‘If only’ also had to change. For me the best way to stop lamenting the past was to make a conscious decision to close the door on the things that had gone before and look for a new door which would lead me to new opportunities.

“Change your thoughts and you change your world.” ~ Norman Vincent Peale

Obviously living my life by choice instead of chance didn’t happen overnight. And the hurt of those desperate months took much time, patience and prayer to resolve. But the lessons I learnt from the experience have been invaluable in dealing with other challenges since.

Today I don’t have to worry about ‘What if’, because I’m too excited about the ‘What next?’


With love and thanks to my husband, who found the courage and strength to overcome the relapse.

The Uniqueness of You.

How do you answer this question? ‘Who are you?’  Do you answer it with a smile and confidently enthuse about your qualities and talents? Or do you hesitate to list your positive traits and feel more comfortable pointing out your shortcomings? How about ‘What do you like?’ Do you respond assertively with a list of your interests and passions? Or do you give a vague idea of generic activities?

The way you reply may well depend on your level of self-confidence and of being able to appreciate your uniqueness.

Everyone is unique. Your individuality goes beyond DNA, gender, heritage or upbringing. It’s the complete package from when you are conceived to the present day that makes you distinct from any other human being. And that’s amazing. Or it should be.

Whilst some people can acknowledge differences in themselves and others with ease, many are consumed with comparing themselves to others. Of course there’s nothing wrong with wanting to feel accepted or to wanting to be a valued as part of a larger group. In balance, that’s a healthy way to live. But comparison and pressure to conform can lead to unrealistic expectations of how you should be living your life and a rejection of your authentic self.

From childhood and then later on as an adolescent, my insecurities about being different led to a long battle with depression and alcoholism. Without a significant female presence in my life, it was the man I knew as my father who had been influential in shaping my self-worth. A psychiatrist once described him as having ‘an authoritarian personality with a Machiavellian personality, and a pure misogynist with sadistic tendencies.’ I represented everything he despised so not surprisingly I ended up hating myself to the point of suicidal self destruct.

As an adult there were no boundaries to how much I disliked myself. I could look at myself in a mirror but I was unable to make sense of the image. I looked like ‘nothing’. Similarly, I felt ‘nothing’.  Of course I drank and medicated myself numb, but even when I wasn’t intoxicated I could switch myself off like a light. For those around me, it looked like I was there. But I wasn’t.

One of my biggest challenges to healing was to learn to value myself. It was excruciatingly difficult to even begin to make sense of the person I was, let alone appreciate that being. Gradually though I started to respect my thoughts, my actions, my beliefs. With support and renewed faith I was able to confront my misconceptions of the person that I judged myself to be. The characteristics that had defined me, no longer had meaning or power over me.

The emergence of my unique self continues each day. All I seek is to be the person I was meant to be. For me that’s enough.

Is your uniqueness enough for you? 
Top image thanks to Georgia Visacri