Barriers to Love & Loving…

Erin Schaden
5 min readJun 13, 2024


Trauma. Yep, that is why we are all so messed up. Unhealed and misunderstood trauma. Have you ever tried loving someone who didn’t love themselves? Who existed at the bottom of the unhealed trauma barrel? Impossible, right? An ongoing exercise in futility, for both of you. They are not capable of valuing that which is valuable. And you are not capable of seeing that all of your efforts to love this person who isn’t healed and isn’t really interested in healing is going to be very painful and futile.

I would like to live in a world where we all could see our trauma and its long lingering effects to us and our relationships. And then be willing to work on it all. I mean, there are people who do this every day, most people in recovery, at least that I know. I am not sure how the rest of the world operates…but it appears, at least most of the time, to not really be all that concerned with their own healing. Now, I am NOT saying that people in recovery are either, but I think generally, as a population, they are more concerned about it than let’s say other populations.

Why? When we know that trauma is the root of all addiction. Avoidance in today’s world is an epidemic. Why are we not willing to see all the barriers we have to love and loving?

It is painful.

I mean it is probably less painful than doing the work to see why you are interfering in getting what you want and need. But it is also more work…a lot more work. And I think, at least speaking for America, we are interested, in an alarming way, to not be all that interested in doing the work.

But what is behind all the lack of effort, besides laziness?


We are absolutely afraid to look. To delve deeper. And sometimes that is the only barrier we need. I know people who have lived the whole of their lives, just abjectly afraid to just stop and look at who they really are and how they show up. People who have lived all their days, destroying all the love that surrounds them, day after day, because they are too afraid to take a hard look at who they are and why.

To me, this always lands like such a devastating tragedy…

I mean, while we are so not responsible for a great deal of the shit that happens to us as kids, we spend the rest of our lives attempting to avoid the truths that exist back in our childhoods. That we were not protected, that we were not loved, that we were not cared for, that other people’s unhealed traumas were the cause of what would become our own.

The fear of really seeing who we are is real though. It is a pervasive fear, that covers everything with a film. Tainting it, and altering it just so. I know, I have been there. I have sat in therapy rooms for years only getting to the tail end of some part of myself that is literally killing me, getting so close to being willing to really see myself, and then abruptly leaving therapy, magically cured only to begin the shit show of me all over again. That went on for years, and sometimes still does.

But one day, when the pain was greater than the fear, I did the most amazing thing. I told the truth, the one I was terrified to tell. The one that I was sure once I uttered it would destroy me. And because I walked through that overwhelming and powerful fear, I changed. And I began being able to change. And once I faced this most all consuming fear, I was then able to face a whole bunch of others. And life began to take on new meaning.

I still have more than a few barriers to love and loving but I have also conquered some pretty awful ones. And while I still have work to do, I can appreciate how far I have come and, at the very same time, that I will never be all better. There is no magical place in the distant, or not so distant future, where I am all healed and good and there is no more work for me to do. My work will always be relational. I will be working on my connection, or in my case, disconnection, to others the whole of my days. Being mindful and watching how old things, that appear healed and done, return with a vengeance with a new name and face.

For me, fear and laziness are always going to be my largest barriers. Perhaps with you it is the same, or maybe it is different. Maybe for you, something else kicks your ass. And this is what I know: That is is each of our imperatives to work this out. To endeavor to see ourselves, not as we wish ourselves to be, but how we really are. Which is hard when you have an ego telling you all kinds of shit all the damn time. And it is also a very huge commitment to do the work on yourself, repeatedly over years and decades with the knowledge there will never come a time when you can ever be done.

I get why so many people just give in to the trauma. And since the work feels so overwhelming, they make the best of what they have and call it living. But I know better. I know the gold I mine in the depths of my own depravity are some of the best things I have ever come to know. How I do what I do and why has been a key that has opened all new ways to live for me, repeatedly.

There will always be barriers to love and loving, and from what I can tell, for the most part, they are the unhealed aspects of ourselves, every single time…again, still.



Erin Schaden

Who am I? I am all that I write, all that I learn, share and grow. Read and find out? Check out for more.