When I was 19, shortly after my date rape and subsequent abusive relationship I felt that that I could no longer feel my body. I remember a specific moment when I good friend of mine gave me a hug and I jumped back and told him that I didn’t want to be touched, “please don’t hug me anymore.” I think this was shocking for both of us because I had historically always been someone who loves hugs and platonic touch.
But my body felt numb and I was scared and couldn’t grasp what was happening, I just knew that I felt unsafe- all the time.
What I didn’t know back then was that touch was one of my major love languages. And when I stopped being able to express love and receive love in that way, I started feeling increasingly depressed and unloveable.
Have you ever heard of love languages? Did you know that there is a special way that we each give and receive love?
The 5 Love Languages is a book written by Dr. Gary Chapman, an intimacy expert. They were written to help us explore how we express and receive love, and offer an opportunity to better understand ourselves and our loved ones so that we can connect to one another in a meaningful way.
The love languages are: physical touch, words of affirmation, gifts, quality time, and acts of service. We each have a a love language that works best for how we are wired to receive love. This is so important because many of us feel lonely or unloved throughout our lives and our relationships. As we learn more about how we can best receive love, it creates space for our relationships to blossom and to fill a much needed space within with warmth, comfort, and of course, love.
The false belief of “I’m unloveable” comes up a lot when I’m working with my clients. It is a very common false belief often held by those of us who experienced early childhood trauma, abuse, or neglect. It is an outdated belief that can lead to feelings of loneliness and sadness, and all too often down a road of self medicating with drugs and alcohol.
It’s a very special moment when we realize that we all perceive and give love differently, as it offers space for our minds to begin to update that false belief and strengthen our relationships with the people we care most about in our lives.
I remember my aha moment when I first read about the love languages a few years ago from the suggestion of my mentor. It completely changed many of my relationships. What I realized is that I value quality time first and foremost, which means that when I feel most loved when someone truly shows up and is fully present when we are together. Which also makes sense, as I love deep conversation and that’s an integral part of the experience.
Next, I feel loved by physical touch. As I’ve healed through my trauma and been able to feel my body again, I notice how much I love hugs and touch. When my husband and I are talking and he reaches out to hold my hand the feeling of love registers on a subconscious level and it feels wonderful to me. I feel very loved in those moments.
I often show love to others in the same way, through spending time together and offering hugs along the way. I also show others love by acts of service, showing up to cook a meal for someone in need or helping a colleague or friend out!
We show and perceive love differently in the different situations in our lives. My best friend loves to show her love by giving gifts, which is a love language I never think about, I hardly think to buy a gift for my husband on his birthday because it’s simply not how I show love. Lucky for me it’s not his love language either, but if it was I would want to be more mindful and show him love in the way that he can feel it best. In that sense, it’s a good idea to learn not only our own love language but the languages of those around us.
Share with us! What is your love language? How do you best give and receive love? How has it impacted you throughout your journey of healing?
Lindy Ariff, LCSW is the founder of I AM A ROCKSTAR. She is a Rockstar, a psychotherapist, clinical social worker, writer, and healing professional in Portland, OR. Lindy mixes a unique palette of meditations, guided imagery, energy healing, hypnosis, counseling, and deep transformational work. She has nurtured and guided hundreds of clients in aligning mind, body, and soul. She has a blog and offers both in person and e-coaching for her clients. Connect with her on Facebook and at HealwithLindy.com.