It’s wild to me how persistently my trauma shows up as a need to receive validation from others. I began to name it a while ago when my friend Kim and I were discussing the 5 Love Languages. It's a thing and it's pretty great. Mine? Words of affirmation. 100 percent. What started off as a quiz on romantic reflection quickly became an “oh, shit. here is my entire life” thing.
The avoiding commitment by seeking out fleeting approval thing.
The hiding away in a childhood friend’s closet at a birthday party in hopes of being found and receiving some attention thing.
The years of activism work that distracted me from the quieter, less flashy reminders of “hey, you deserve as much care as you give” thing.
And a few days ago, the racing heartbeat as I spoke up about social justice in a group setting—not because I doubted the compassion in my words, but because a part of me still wanted and wants to keep the bigger waters calm (even if that means I drown in my own deep end…thing).
A key part of my path is reminding myself to take care of my own container—my soma, emotional dances, assumptions and efforts. This involves showing up to the work of healing and, despite and regardless of external validation, journeying onward and inward. To unpack the armor of my ever-so-smart fawn response. Another interaction without reciprocity? Sad, but oddly comfortable. I’m a good listener anyway.
Let’s shake up the narrative of equating approval with value.