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#67633 - 09/08/03 11:02 PM what is love?
wrangler Offline

Registered: 09/06/03
Posts: 84
Loc: Northern Virginia
As I have read the older threads in this section I have noticed a real discontinuity between my personal definition of “I love you” (as a survivor) and what the partners of survivors seem to expect that phrase to mean. At this point I can only extrapolate your feelings as partners onto my wife. Neither of us is in a safe enough place to talk directly about this.

During our marriage I think, “I love you,” meant, “I want to trust you” and, perhaps sadly, nothing more. In my mind it represented something along the lines of a desire to reach out… a desire for something more than we had at that moment. The phase and its associations are evolving in my mind as I open up to myself about what I really feel what I say that. It seems clear to me it will soon mean, “I do trust you”. In either case when I say, “I love you” I do not associate that with sexual desire or feelings of intense closeness or intimacy.

Another way to put this: when I say that I think I am really saying, “I want to feel like I have your unconditional acceptance.” I expect my notions of love to evolve over time as I work on relationships with those around me. In the mean time, I wonder if this is enlightening to you partners out there and whether this is a more typical feeling about love among survivors or perhaps something a little less common.


"Don't waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you're ahead, sometimes you're behind. The race is long and, in the end, it's only with yourself." -Mary Schmich

#67634 - 09/09/03 06:07 AM Re: what is love?
Justice's Angel Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 09/05/03
Posts: 20
Loc: Va, USA
A lot of people, even us who haven't really been abused are still trying to figure out what love is. For me it's the person who accepts me for who I am (somewhat how you feel) and wants to the best for me. Sure there's a physical attraction but over time that fades as we do and all you're left with is the inner person. I don't think that you can truely love someone and want to change who they are as a person, to "fix" them. Like my dad says, you cannot change a person, you can only influence them. Love isn't about controlling someone, it's more of helping them to understand who they really are to become a better person. I think that it is the greatest gift to have someone accept you for who you are even though you're not perfect. We all want to feel validated as human beings. Like everything in life love isn't all wonderful all the time, you take the good with that bad; but I think that's what it's about, being there for each other.

Sometimes love hurts, sometimes it's hard but I feel that you can never open yourself up to one end of the emotional spectrum without opening yourself up to the other. It's sort of a trade off you make. I've felt some of the most wonderful things when I was in love and some of the most devastating.

I think that there are different degrees of love, you can love a family member, or love someone LIKE a family member, love someone like a friend or more than a friend or love them in a relationship sense. It's basically an issue all people have and you just have to figure out for yourself what it means and what is real for you. I know that probably doesn't help but I just wanted you to know that you're not the one who is confused and everyone's past and family life seem to affect it in someway, abuse or not.

#67635 - 09/12/03 12:28 AM Re: what is love?
Marcs friend Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/15/03
Posts: 16
Loc: Maine
Thank you so much George, for putting that into perspective. I think that's exactly what you mean when you say "I love you" and it's no wonder. After being abused, trusting somebody must be about the hardest thing there is to do. It's not about sex or even intimacy - it's all about trust, about unconditional acceptance, about sticking around and being there for the survivor, no matter what.

It's a big step to get to wanting to trust, and an even bigger leap to be able to say you do trust someone. It's not easy to expose your vulnerabilities to another person since you never can really be sure what will happen. If you have a loyal partner who can say "I love you" back to you and mean it unconditionally, you will go a long way toward being where you want to be - if you can let yourself truly believe it - and accept it.

I don't know how common this is, but I have seen this and wondered about it - you've just helped me understand a little bit more and I thank you for that. There's a lot I still have to learn about being a good friend to a CSA Survivor, but I am trying to do what's best and am willing to do whatever it takes to help and to prove my unconditional acceptance - and this site is certainly a place where learning is encouraged and help is available. Sharing yourself can be very hard to do, and even when it's painful or scary, it can help us to grow stronger.

#67636 - 09/18/03 05:35 AM Re: what is love?
Marc Offline

Registered: 04/25/03
Posts: 256
Loc: Tucson, AZ
As much as it pains me to say it, your comments (Marc's Friend),
After being abused, trusting somebody must be about the hardest thing there is to do. It's not about sex or even intimacy - it's all about trust, about unconditional acceptance, about sticking around and being there for the survivor, no matter what.
is EXACTLY what it is all about.

#67637 - 09/18/03 08:14 AM Re: what is love?
Marcs friend Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/15/03
Posts: 16
Loc: Maine
Marc - thanks for telling me I'm on the right track here. I am relatively new to this site, having found it in August after talking with my friend Marc (a Survivor). I am trying my best to be supportive to him. The biggest obstacle is the whole issue of trust. Intimacy does not exist for him - he can't feel it. Sex cannot happen - it would not be real. It's all fake, acting, pretending. I think that for him, sex had been used in place of affection - someone "loved" him for a few minutes. But love can't be traded for sex like that. The only time I think he feels real in relation to any kind of intimacy at all is when he sometimes will grip my hand so tightly it feels like it will almost break - and I think that's from a combination of searing pain coupled with his love. It should be so much more simple than that. But it can't be, and there's nothing I can do about it except to continue to be there, no matter what, and hope he will someday believe it and be able to feel secure about it. Will it ever happen? I don't know - but I hope so. and I hope it happens before it kills him to be so alone, all the time. Every day I think we come a little closer to him believing I mean it when I say I accept him for what and who he is and that my love is truly unconditional - no matter what. I can only hope he will be able to trust and rely on that some day. It is so hard. People have no idea what these #@&^*> perpetrators take away from these kids - it's their whole lives, just for a few moments of sick perverted pleasure - and maybe it happens once, maybe repeatedly over a number of years. They rob the child of his innocence. They kill his spirit. It's pretty near impossible for a parent to 'get over' the death of a child; how can someone be expected to 'get over' the spiritual death of a child when they are the child? My friend confided his story to me a long time ago. My reaction was to think that was a terrible thing but that he was doing fine now, had put it behind him like any other event and was doing fine. Little did I know. It's only over the past few months when other issues surfaced and he became involved with getting divorced that I came to realize the true significance of what had happened to him, and how far its repercussions have extended into his life and his family's lives. Reading his and other posts at this site opened my eyes. I've spent a lot of time here, reading, trying not to cry, giving up and crying anyways. So much tragedy, yet so much support, love and caring, freely given to anyone who asks for it. I find it amazing that members of this web site, who are dealing with their own pain, can offer so much help and love to others who are suffering. I am so sorry that so many people are unable to feel the joy of true intimacy, the sharing and the closeness that can make someone feel better than anything else in the world. What a huge loss. It is immeasurable.


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