“I hugged myself and told myself I loved myself.”

These are the words said by one of my counseling clients when he reported a moment he was feeling bad and struggling to stay centered.  It brought tears to my eyes.

As a child he was terribly abused and neglected and his trauma imprints ran deep. He was not shown the mirroring of love from caregivers that supports the ability to feel the love within ourselves, to feel loveable, to learn the exchange of giving and receiving love that supports us to feel cared about and valued.

What he is discovering is that although that love was not shown to him, it still lives in him, in his nature, in his humanity, in his heart.

For survivors of trauma accessing this love can be hard, and yet it is part of the medicine needed to heal from the trauma.

It is a practice, a commitment, a revolution.

For him, for me, self-love and compassion is becoming a habit, a habit built from the sweet, vulnerable, at times hugely difficult practice of calling love to meet and ease the pain, to pour it into the wounded places, and to invite it to be an ally in this painful and beautiful world, through the joys and sadness of our lives.