Feeling Unloved

by Nancy Bragg



For years I have been telling myself a story that begins on my first birthday when my sister was born with a hole in her heart. Because my sister required so much care, my mom offered me only partial or distracted attention, which was often critical. I decided to be really good, to stay under my mom’s radar and avoid her criticism. I thought I had to be perfect.


Recently my story expanded to include the belief that if I were good enough, I would have received attention and love from my mom. Is that true? Probably not, yet I felt unloved.


The impact of feeling unloved was enormous and felt like a ton of bricks. When I touched into my heart, I felt weighed down with sorrow and grief – heavy hearted. Feeling unloved unfolded in my experience as; my inability to love myself, my difficulty accepting love from others, and my inability to fully love others. That was huge!


I intuitively knew I needed self-compassion and acceptance of my imperfections. I also needed to build up to self-love.


I wondered about ancestral grief and whether my mom also felt unloved. If so, my mom could not give me what she was lacking. I talked to my sister who knew my grandmother had raised her siblings and did not want to have children. I knew that when my mother arrived, my grandmother was jealous of the love my grandfather gave my mom. In my grandmother’s old age, she said some really unloving hateful things to my mother.


I knew my mom needed self-compassion and self-love, and yet may not have figured that out before she died. Before my mom got dementia, my heart shifted from feeling obligated to visit her to wanting to visit her. My inability to love her fully probably made her feel even more unloved.


The magnitude of ripples that go out from feeling unloved is enormous. My mom felt unloved and tended to be judgmental and critical. Because I didn’t want to be judgmental and critical like my mom, I’ve practiced choosing responses to others that are not judgement or critical. Yet I continue to experience self-judgment, self-criticism, and self-neglect.


My intention is to extend myself some compassion for myself for feeling unloved. During our morning meditation, where I feel safe and people are holding space for me, I intend to start dropping into a deep place of love where I can relax, feel loved, and come home to rest. Maybe then I can slow down my drive towards perfection.


As I Began to Love Myself

by Charlie Chaplin (written on his 70th birthday)


As I began to love myself I found that anguish and emotional suffering are only warning signs that I was living against my own truth. Today, I know, this is “AUTHENTICITY”. . . As I began to love myself I stopped craving for a different life, and I could see that everything that surrounded me was inviting me to grow. Today I call it “MATURITY”.


As I began to love myself I understood that at any circumstance, I am in the right place at the right time, and everything happens at the exactly right moment. So I could be calm. Today I call it “SELF-CONFIDENCE”. . .


As I began to love myself I refused to go on living in the past and worry about the future. Now, I only live for the moment, where EVERYTHING is happening. Today I live each day, day by day, and I call it “FULFILLMENT”. . .


Participants’ Reflections

  • Thank you so much. I never knew Charlie Chaplin was so deep in his ponderings. It makes me want to find out more. It’s wonderful. I make an assumption based on what I think I know, and I don’t. Sitting in silence and thinking about intergenerational influences, I’m remembering stories I’ve heard about the childhoods suffered both my parents had. They improved their lives and the lives of their children based on the experiences they had. Though I had a painful childhood, looking at it from their perspective, they did the best they could. Thank you for your reading that helped me discover and acknowledge this awareness.

  • Thank you. That was wonderful. That really hit close to home and was spot on. So thank you.

  • I also really appreciated it. I always felt unloved. I never until now, literally, thought about the possibility that my grandmother, who was absolutely sainted in my eyes and doted on me, might not have shown a lot of love towards my mother. I never talked to my parents over the years about their backgrounds. My father provided the corporal punishment and I thought it was a reflection of his upbringing. I don’t know whether Charlie Chaplin’s piece came out in public only after his passing, but it’s pretty amazing for someone who is so in the public spotlight to be that humble. I find that inspiring.

  • Thank you so much. That was such a powerful reading. I don’t think too much about intergenerational passing along of love. I always had a difficult time with my parents. It was hard to feel loved growing up. My father knew that his mother tried to abort him before he was born. When he told me this story in his eighties, he was crying about it. It affected him his whole life and it stopped him from being the loving person he could have been. It is such awareness to have that intergenerational understanding and compassion for what our parents and grandparents couldn’t give to each other and how it affected us, and how we can be compassionate and self-loving so that we change the dynamics with ourselves so that we change it for everyone else around us. Thank you for this reminder.

  • I had a similar awareness and it occurred to me that I was breaking the cycle. At first, I thought about the fact that I didn’t figure this out til I was 70. That’s the self-judgement. I caught myself judging myself. It’s wonderful I can break the cycle. I didn’t figure out til yesterday that I could feel unloved and still my parents loved me. That hadn’t occurred to me. It’s amazing how all the pieces came together, after lots of work. When it comes out, it sounds so obvious. But it wasn’t obvious. I was blind to it. We are blind to what we don’t know…yet. Or it’s not conscious yet.

  • Thank you. That was wonderful. I have a habit, an addiction, to crushing on my art teachers. Obsessing about them because I like them so much. It’s transference. Yesterday, I was walking around and I could feel myself obsessing about this person, fantasizing, obsessing. I was able to stop because of what I’ve learned from you guys. I stopped and told myself I loved myself. I felt myself walking with me loving me. I’m grateful for the skills I got from this group. It’s not that I don’t stop obsessing, but I bring myself back to the present more. I was remembering how Shirley told me to put a sign on my mirror saying I love you. I don’t feel like I’ve been loved in the way I want to be loved. But someone said I could love me how I want to be loved. It’s another skill I’ve learned from you all, that I am able to breathe and bring myself back to the present, back to myself, back to loving myself.

  • That resonated very clearly with me. I am going through some major life changes all at once, work, selling my house, moving. Trying to figure it all out at once. I realize that loving myself is the key to keeping me sane through it all. I catch myself, if I see myself in the mirror, I say I love you. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have it. My daughter is coming for Mother’s Day and I truly hope she feels loved.

  • I also resonated with the reading. I had a very difficult relationship with my mother. Her father left around the time she was born. She struggled all her life with that and never came to terms with any of it. She looked for love in other places than her own family. That being said, I was thinking about the inter-generational issues. I think there was a lot of that in my family. Both my parents had intergenerational anxiety. On both sides, we lost family in the Holocaust. I think that’s called epigenetics. I was talking to my older son who is having a life crisis. I was beating myself up thinking I’ve done so much work on myself since my kids became adults. I was thinking he would be handling his stress differently if, at the time I was raising him, I had been more conscious of my own anxiety. That’s what I’m thinking about today.

  • I think about that too with my level of stress and how much I have influenced my living daughter. We do the best we can. They learn skills as they learn to do the best than can. It doesn’t help anyone if I start beating myself up, saying I’ve created this neurosis in her as a result of my neurosis. It’s all a process of growing and maturing.

  • Thank you so much for all of this. I became aware during the meditation that most of my life I have been other-oriented for knowing my okayness. I got it from my mother first. It was not okay if I didn’t instantly forgive a sibling. She made us do that. I couldn’t leave until I forgave. I participated in more than one false forgiveness. She was a wonderful mother in so many ways. But I did not honor myself in order to get along, and I changed me to get along. In the beginning of the Charlie Chaplin poem, he talks of anxiousness being warning signs. Only recently have I been listening to warning signs. I’ve had a pattern of thinking things will get better. Or that I was okay when I was not okay. Thank you for passing on these reflections.

  • Incredible awareness. That is what this is all about—awareness. That we awaken to awareness and we change things. We do it on our timeline instead of someone forcing it upon us. It may take years but that is okay. It’s what we can handle. It’s one of the things I’ve realized, that the Universe incrementally changes things as I can handle them. It’s an amazing process to become aware. Most of the time it is extremely painful, humiliating, and embarrassing, but it gives us information to move forward. All under the umbrella of being gentle and loving ourselves.

  • Thank you. Thank you again for stepping up. It helps me to have a break. We’ve done this around 400 days. That’s an incredible practice. It takes a certain amount of time to make a habit and this has gone way beyond that. We are practicing self-care, self-compassion, gentleness with self, spending time that is helping us get in touch with our trueness. And it helps us live throughout each day and I depend on it. I hope you all have a gentle day.

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