I'll Love You Anyway

 
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My daughter has always been a sensitive soul; she is the canary in the coalmine – as Glennon Doyle would say – astute to pain and distress before others can sense it. 

Her sensitivity is heightened when it comes to herself. She takes frustration and disappointment hard. When she believes that she has disappointed someone, it destabilizes her. She adopts a self-loathing rhetoric and spirals into a tornado of shame.

During the ages of three to five, she would literally claw and scratch at her skin in a rage of shame and self-hatred. At three-years-old!

Despite our praise and pleading, she could not accept our love in that state. I would just lay on the floor next to her, try to stop her from hurting herself, and continue to repeat “I love you. You are amazing. I am not going anywhere.”

As she became older and more equipped to communicate her feelings, my techniques for supporting her through these moments improved and the frequency of the episodes reduced.

Then we started playing a new game: “I’ll love you anyway.” She would think up the worst things that she could do to me and I would always respond with love.

“What if I shaved off all of your hair?”

“I’ll love you anyway. I will love you no matter what.”

“What if I we never saw each other again?”

“I’ll love you anyway. I will love you no matter what.”

“What if I stopped taking baths?”

I’ll love you anyway. I will love you no matter what.”

 

She loved this game. Her questions were always tongue and cheek, but she relished in thinking up the most extreme circumstances and then being assured that my love for her was unwavering. That no matter what she does, she is always loved and always enough.

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