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I can’t hug my family 

A letter-writer can’t show affection to his family because all they do is criticize.

Our elder can empathize; her parents were like that too. Happiness is the best revenge, she finds.

Dear EWC

Hello there. I am writing this on the topic of emotion and a problem. I’m a 16-year-old and never got proper advice from family, just criticism and being called useless. And I have this problem where I’m uncomfortable saying ‘I love you’ to family members, my mom and dad. And struggle showing affection towards them, like a hug. But with my friends I can easily tell them ‘love you’ and give them hugs. I heard this might be called emotional deprivation disorder. And I have high anxiety and am depressed. That leads to my love life. I have met amazing girls who I could have been with and been happy! But I didn’t take them because I am scared of what others think and I think I will never be happy in a relationship. I had some minor ones but nothing serious. Every time I get a chance to be with a girl I like, I just get turned off and lose interest. I just need advice in my life and honestly, I don’t know what else to say. I have a low image of myself, I hate myself. Whoever reads this, thank you. It was nice telling somebody what I feel. Sending much love and be safe during these hard times.

Loretta replies

I’m glad you wrote, Tim. I was very touched by your letter. Like you, I came from a family in which my parents never praised me, or told me they loved me. On the contrary, I was criticized, punished, or just ignored. It’s not surprising that you find it difficult to show affection to your family members since you didn’t get it from them! When you’re a kid, Tim, your parents are like gods to you; what they think of you, how they treat you, must be correct in your innocent mind. Like me, you were deprived of the normal love and affection you greatly deserved. No wonder it led to being depressed, anxious, and self-hate! It was certainly true for me.  

I’m not surprised, Tim, that you find it difficult to show affection to your family members since you didn’t get it from them! You feel your friends care for you, so you naturally find it easy to be affectionate with them. Even though you meet awesome girls, you don’t have the self-love and confidence to pursue the relationship. As for me, I was suffering so much I had to try to heal myself. I saw therapists and read self-help books. I started to realize that my problems were not because there was something wrong with me, but because of the lack of love and support, I needed when I was growing up. It was easier to think it was that I wasn’t good enough, then to admit that my family was the reason I was having problems. Children are so innocent and vulnerable. Yes, I realize now, that my parents may have loved me, and they did the best they knew how. But they just repeated how their parents treated them. As for me, I don’t condone what they did, but I’ve come to understanding and forgiving them. I love the saying, “Happiness is the best revenge!”  

So, what to do, Tim? We all wish, like the T-shirt inscription, “It’s never too late to have a happy childhood.”  We can’t recreate our childhood, but the idea is that we can begin to create a happy life for ourselves now, and for the future. My advice is to seek a competent licensed therapist or counselor, who can give you the insight and tools to overcome the damage done to you in the past. There are wonderful self-help books, even videos on YouTube that you might check out. (I like one called “the School of Life.”)  Tim, you can have the life you are meant to have. As a poet once wrote, “Be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe… be happy!” Ditto!

I so appreciate kindness sending love and wishes for my safety. I wish you the same. 

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Self Improvement

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