By Brianna Wiest 

Our parents are not meant to love us exactly the way we want them to. That is not their purpose. They are meant to create a very specific set of circumstances through which we can find love within ourselves. Some people figure this out. Others pass the torch onto religion, or romance, or money, or “success.” This is why we believe in those things – and long for them – with such burning intensity. This is also why they are never enough. We believe that they can give us an inherent love that only we are capable of giving ourselves. The kind we mistakenly believe our parents withheld, or our lover wasn’t capable of, or religion never provided, or we’re not yet successful enough to receive.

Before people realize this, they spend their time in emotional scarcity. Their relationships are strained, and peppered with blame. They blame their partners for not being enough, and pick apart the ways they need to be better. They pick and choose who is worthy of being seen as a decent person or not, based on their subjective views of “right” and “wrong.” Their brains all but start short-circuiting when they feel they’re losing control. They have sex just to feel anything at all. They’re at once absolutely numb to emotional intimacy, yet don’t understand why their efforts to have a healthy, happy relationship keep failing.

These are the staples of a person desperately lacking their own love.

Our parents give us a different kind of love. Each partner we’re with does, too. We will not completely experience any of these loves until we’re not consumed by trying to change them – make them more or less or different than what they are. Until then, we will be absolutely obsessed with changing them, seeking more more more, because we will still think that someone else is responsible for saving us.

I do not know one person whose parents loved them the way exactly they wanted them to love them. If not their parents, then certainly their romantic relationships, or their religion. This is not because parents or romance or religion is in some way inherently “wrong,” though that is what we believe until we realize we just assigned a responsibility to them they were never capable – or meant – to fulfill.

What your parents did and did not give you was exactly what they were supposed to. The same goes for your partners, and your faith, and your job, and your friends. The only reason you could not accept and feel and see the love that they did bring you is because you still needed them to fill the hole in your heart that they could never, and will never be able to.

Doing so yourself is the soul work of being alive. It is the root problem that we try to fix all the symptoms of. It is the essence of awakening and the key to self-awareness and the beauty of healing. It is the only thing there ever was to do.

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