Question for Bernie:
My boyfriend watched his father try to kill his mother when he was little. His father was very abusive. He has blocked out his childhood. He told me he has thought of killing himself but will not because of his mother.
He hates himself and feels like he doesn’t deserve anything good including me, and feels he has nothing to offer me.
How can I help him? He is a double veteran that served for eight years. He is only 29 years old. Thank you.
Your boyfriend’s abusive parenting is stored in his body and he feels guilt. To start to help him, ask him to read some of Alice Miller’s books about childhood. Check with your local library or bookstores to find her books.
Tell him that the body will present its bill someday if we do not heal the past. Many, many people are paying that bill with very poor health in their later years (sometimes sooner).
Go get your boyfriend a copy of my 365 Prescriptions for the Soul and 101 Exercises for the Soul. Both of these books have short, very effective lessons to help him and others struggling with how to accept and love themselves succeed at doing just that. It is critical for physical health and mental health to nourish the spirit—these books will help him do that.
He can abandon his past, stop blaming himself for what his father did, and move on. Encourage him to meditate. He can start with any of my meditation CDs—all he needs is the will to make a change.
If you can find them, get out his baby pictures and put them up for him to see. Write down “mottoes to live by” (example might be “Today I will love myself just as I am”). Create little shrines with the pictures and the mottoes all around his living space so that he can learn, with your help, to “love that kid!”
Tell him that I am willing to be his CD = chosen dad and help him to learn to love himself.