This is a writing sample from Scripted writer Angela Jackson
Love Me, Don't Leave Me: Part 1
I was asked if I would review a book about overcoming childhood abandonment issues to build lasting, loving relationships by Michelle Skeen, PsyD disconcertingly named:"Love Me Don't Leave Me". Honestly, I do understand the value of a catchy title but this one had me picturing myself blurting out those words as my first date got up to go to the washroom. Never to return. I've not yet had the urge but then I've only been online for a couple of years. ONLY.
But let me reassure you, when I read the book, I found it to be insightful and thought provoking. Michelle posits that many of us are affected by toxic childhood schemas or core beliefs i.e., "frameworks that help organize and make sense of information and the things around us." Because they are by nature definitive, "black or white/ negative or positive and serve as a predictor even in the absence of all the information", when negative schemas get activated, we go into protective fight, flight, or freeze mode. Then something termed "the amygdala hijack" happens. Love that term btw, coined by Daniel Goleman in his book Emotional Intelligence 2006 However, I don't love what it means: "when we experience powerful emotions like fear, it overwhelms our rational thoughts, and this can lead to behavior that is harmful to us rather than helpful".
The primary maladaptive core belief covered in this book is of course abandonment with four other basic, closely correlated schemas: mistrust and abuse, emotional deprivation, defectiveness, and failure. These come from Jeffrey Young PhD's concept of early maladaptive schemas/ EMS. Fascinating. It's like an emotional train wreck you can't stop looking at because hello…you're in there somewhere. I found myself snug within emotional deprivation myself, with a lifelong pass to defectiveness and failure in the adjoining cars. AMAZING.
There are questionnaires you go through to number your experiences from "1 to that's so me" and while my numbers were low, I recognized key statements as being deep within my psyche and definitely from my childhood. Not that they were news, mind you. I have known these things for DECADES. Known that they are embedded remnants of growing up emotionally neglected and always feeling less than, never feeling loved and lovable just because.
How has this affected my connections with the people in my life right now? Well, to be honest, I became estranged from most of my family when I left my husband, but I have excellent relationships with my son and my friends. It's probably the decades of working on letting go of the past and choosing who I want to be, regardless of the baggage I grew up with, and of course wanting to be the exact opposite of the mother I had. But the relationship I have with myself and how that's been played out on the dating field? THAT'S a lot more conflicted. My daily challenge is to be as kind and loving to me as I am to everyone else in my life. Daily. CHALLENGE.
We all have something. Obviously. And was I that "dying to please/ do anything for your approval/ yes, I'll take blame for $1000, Alex!" adult for many years? Without a doubt. Am I still? Less. But I'm not going to lie; it's a going concern. It's also life. We all have something.
However, as Michelle declares, and which totally resonated with me: we also all have a story but we don't have to BE our story. In other words:
"You can't change your core beliefs; you can't really change what triggers your core beliefs and you can't change the feelings that surface. But you CAN change your behavioural reactions."
After you identify what you feel are the core beliefs that are holding you back, the book then gives you practical tools to understand and work with what you've been given. For example, Michelle describes "creative hopelessness i.e., accepting unavoidable pain" and says while the primary pain of the human condition is "unavoidable and uncontrollable", "we have the power to eliminate the secondary pain we create to try to avoid or control our primary pain." Which is, as I repeat, UNAVOIDABLE AND UNCONTROLLABLE.
This is good news! If you accept this and accept that you CAN change your behavior in reaction, what a start! That and imagining that "you are the sky and not the weather" – letting negative thoughts pass through you like clouds pass by overhead.
I love that analogy. It makes sense to me. It helps me.
Obviously, I recommend "Love Me Don't Leave Me", questionable title and all. It's for anyone who feels like they've been a little or a lot hindered by their dysfunctional childhoods so…pretty much everyone. It's not about assigning blame but looking at the situation with new eyes and new concepts of why you're blocked and tools to assist with the unblocking.
At the end of the foreword, Michelle adds:
"I wear a bracelet that reads 'it matters not what road you take but what you become on the journey."
As Lucy, I'm all about who I'm becoming on my path of discovery and self-empowerment, so Michelle is obviously one of my tribe and her book is totally worth the read and the work it entails thereof because YOU'RE totally worth it – the indisputable subtitle of this excellent publication.
Ps I knew when I finally got around to writing this post after cogitating on it for many weeks that it would probably be two parts. I've been really letting it soak in and connect with my own issues to see what came up/ what I would eventually write.
It may appear I choose my topics but I'm just a channel really – I sit down with an idea and words come out. This is what came out: Life in general is part one; dating in particular is part two.
Stay tuned. The damage control continues. Go, me.
In the meantime, which super fun train compartment does your inner child travel in?
Angela is full time writer and native Vancouverite.
She is a versatile creator of content, from course curriculum in the hospitality industry to a popular dating blog with 90k+ reads and now as a ghostwriter and author of "Trillions on the Table", a non fiction front end marketing asset.
She also has book and site review experience. While these are examples of her niches, she also loves researching new topics because she is a nerd.
When not reading, writing or enjoying a glass of wine, she is wondering what people with hobbies are doing.