How To Love A Woman Who Has Been To Hell And Back

The woman who has been to hell and back is not easy to love.

Many have tried. Most have failed.

The weak need not attempt, for it will take more strength than you even know you possess; more patience, more resilience, more tenacity, more resolve. It requires a relentless love, one that is determined and not easily defeated.

For the woman who has been to hell and back will push you away. She will test you in her desire to know what you are made of, whether you have what it takes to weather her storm. Because she is unpredictable, at times a hurricane, a force of nature that rides on the fury of her suffering, other times a gentle rain; calm, still, quiet.

When she is the gentle rain that falls in time to her silent tears, love her.

When she is the thunder and lightning and ferocious winds that wreak havoc, love her harder.

She is a contradiction, a pendulum that will forever swing between fear of suffocation and fear of abandonment, and even she will not know how to find the balance between the two. Because today, although she will never tell you, she will feel insecure. She will want you to stay close, to tuck her hair behind her ear and kiss her on the forehead and hold her in the strength of your arms. But tomorrow she will crave her independence, her space, her solitude.

For while you have slept, she has been awake, unable to slow her thoughts, watching clocks and chasing time, trying to make the broken pieces fit, to make sense of it all, of where she fits, of how she fits. She fights her demons and slays her dragons, afraid if she goes to sleep they will gain the upper hand, afraid if she goes to sleep she will no longer be in control. Tomorrow she will be tired, and your presence will smother her, she will need only herself.

When she reaches out to you, love her.

When she pushes you away, love her harder.

New situations will make her anxious, new places, new people, new experiences. She will be fiercely independent and long to overcome her fears, all the while as terrified as a small child alone in the big world. Sometimes she will need to be courageous, to prove to herself she has what it takes. Other times she will need you to take her hand and hold it firmly in yours. Sometimes she may not know what she needs, and you will need to read her like a book with worn pages and a tattered spine and be what she needs when she does not know herself.

When she is brave and steps into the world on her own, love her.

When she is scared but refuses to take your hand, love her harder.

She will live in fear of not being enough and always being too much, an endless battle to find the middle ground, ashamed if the scale falls one way or the other, ashamed to be herself for no one has ever loved her both when she is small and also when she is tremendous.

When she feels too much, love her.

When she feels not enough, love her harder.

She will sometimes not hurt and the light will shine from her eyes and her laughter will be a rare and precious melody. But sometimes she will hurt so much from the trauma still in her body, she will feel pain, she will ache, she will anguish, the light will grow dim and the music will fade.

When she is the light, love her.

When she is the darkness, love her harder.

She will always love you with caution, with one foot out the door. For she does not understand a love with no conditions, one that is powerful enough to withstand hard times. She cannot allow herself to fully trust in your love, and she will keep parts of her heart hidden, the parts that have been hurt the most, the parts she can’t risk being hurt again when she has worked so hard to stitch them together.

She will always watch, wait and expect you to leave first. And when you don’t, she has a truth written upon her heart that says you will, it’s only a matter of time, for everyone who loves her leaves her, hurts her. And so she will seek to sabotage the relationship; she will seek to destroy it, she will seek to leave first, she will seek to hurt you before you can hurt her. This is how she stays in control, this is how she survives, how she will ensure she will not get hurt again.

When she wants to love you, love her.

When she wants to hurt you, love her harder.

Being out of control terrifies her. Don’t ever make her feel powerless, trapped, or without her freedom. She needs to dance barefoot under enormous blue skies, to feel sand between her toes, to run with wolves as the wind weaves magic through her hair, for here is where her healing is found.  Never clip her wings, for if she has the freedom to fly, she will always come back to you.

Love her when it’s easy, and love her harder when it’s not.

Love her in a way that will defy all she has ever known love to be.

Love her because you understand with every damn fibre of your soul the gift of her love, what it has cost her to offer you her fragile heart.

She does not need you. She has chosen you.

You, because you have what it takes to survive the storm.

You, because even when she doesn’t know how to love, you know how to love harder.

26 thoughts on “How To Love A Woman Who Has Been To Hell And Back

    1. Thank you Barbara – but I’ve just stalked your page and you write from the heart of one artist to another. I may use words, but you use paintings and you are so incredibly talented, your art is breathtakingly beautiful. The soul is a creative one and you also bring raw humanity to the world in what you do x

  1. Hi Kathy,

    Next time you are in Adelaide I would love to meet with you. I feel a kindred spirit in you. I used to go to the South East often on wine business, so if I am in your neck of the woods hope that would be reciprocal. Though no trips planned at present. Thanks for stalking (& following) me xx

    1. The SE has fabulous wine – did you get to drink it??!! Haha – thank you Barbara, it would be wonderful to meet sometime, either in Adel or down this part of the world. Please do follow me up next you’re down this way xx

  2. Wow. This kind of puts my own confusion into perspective. Not a woman who’s been to hell and back, but a guy who feels some of the same confusion. I don’t feel it’s fair to those who went through a lot more than me to call mine hell, just a long slow trip through the gutter of abuse. You’ve inspired me to try put my confusion into words.

    1. So thankful to know my words have inspired you. I don’t think you can compare your story to another and say you aren’t justified to feel you’ve gone through hell. We all walk our own journeys and no-one can know the pain of them as we can’t walk in another’s shoes. I hope you’ve been able to put some words to your story. K x

  3. THank you.
    YOu have advanced me in fast-forward after soaking in your word-images.
    I recognize myself and several body parts…heart, head, gut, knotted hands, eyes that won’t close to rest.
    fear, and chaos are readily identifiable.
    you did a remarkable job of painting a picture of me with ‘Hell and Back.’
    TUrns out I’m not crazy.
    I have just been to war-and survived.
    I think.

      1. Kathy Parker,

        I have read with great interest your article re:hell&back.

        I am wondering if i could telephone you to ask a couple of deeper questions?

        Wade Wilkinson

  4. I read this and posted it. Thank you for putting every thing into words. I needed this, this weekend. Another lady replied, now she knows she is not crazy. Thank you
    Also to the men who shared. Good to know they think that deeply with such complexity

    1. Thank you dear heart for your beautiful and kind words, and I’m so thankful my words have resonated so deeply with you. And I agree, the men who have shared this are worth gold x

  5. Kathy,
    I know I have messaged you twice. I feel like a contradiction in the flesh. I love a woman such as you have so well painted with your words. We are soul mates. I’m a man that wants, desires to love her. I know….we both know we are soul mates. She has told me before I have imprinted on her. She has done so with me. And I’m in he’ll being apart from her. To be together….it will cost me everything. But Kathy, I’m willing to pay it. If she will still choose me. It’s starting to rain here. I can’t stop weeping. I have to force a smile. If you still have her contact information that I sent you previously, could you please send her a PM. I am unable to at this time. I was a fool. And she was right.
    It’s raining hard here…I can hardly see to write….
    Tell her if you would…please…I don’t want to be her lesson…
    I wish to be her prize.

      1. Very glad to see you two have found each other! I’ve been busy camping with my family so have been out of touch with comments and emails, so I’m sorry I wasn’t able to be of more help, but looks like it all worked out for the best anyway 🙂

  6. Wow! You have certainly painted my picture for me. I facebooked this and my new man took the time to read it.

    As he was reading it he was saying, “Oh, baby… oh baby!” Then we sat at the kitchen table and he cupped my hand in his strong hands and just looked at me. It was an intense moment for both of us. I thanked him for taking the time to read it and he said to me that he wants to be the man that I need and to learn and support me. Such a precious moment that we shared. One that I’ll never forget.

    Thanks so much for articulating in words my story and now my hope as my partner and I continue to learn each other.

    1. Virginia, thanks so much for sharing your heart and story with me. I am so damn thankful you found my words and they have been of such help to you and your man. What a precious moment indeed for you both and I pray one that stays on your journey for many years to come. Much love x

  7. It’s even more harder when you add distance to it but I’m glad I found this. Your words has given me strength to endure. She’s a warrior and yet fragile but I love her nonetheless. I came into her life at a time where she’s still building herself up and I want nothing more than see her get better. There are days where it’s just easy to give up, but I don’t want easy. I want something worth it and we are worth fighting for. I fell hard for a woman who’s not yet ready to love, but she will be love nevertheless. Thank you.

  8. this writing of yours hits the nail on the head for me. i am irrevocably, head over heels in love with this woman. shes been through a lot in her life and is at a stage that she no longer cares what happens. every single detail you mention resonates with how she reacts, feels, shows. funny thing is shes the first woman in my life iv really looked at. saw her quirks, her demons, her dynamic laugh, her freshness. she walks around with this facade of narcissism but what she doesnt realise is that i see the real her beneath. the true empath that feels soo much for all around her.

    as i dealt with her swings, it gave me a chance to introspect how much i needed to change myself if i were to ever love her truly without forcing her to love me back. my ego simmered down because i had to deal with her forceful ways, my anger simmered down because i saw her pain behind her actions. her smile brought new feelings into my heart i never thought id feel.

    she forced me to change myself. made me come out of my comfort zone to see what she deals with on a daily basis. everyday i have second thoughts that i should leave but by the end of the day i convince myself that just because shes a little difficult to deal with doesnt mean i have to leave. infact the more i see her, the more i talk to her, the more i spend time with her, the more i fall for her.

    yes it seems painful to see her look everywhere else to satisfy her needs but what makes me stay is that no matter what happens in the end, il never break her heart or trust. no matter how painful it maybe. no matter how much it kills me everyday. and i know one day, she will take a look at me and see that one shes been searching for has always been standing next to her waiting for her to give him a chance. to show her how to love again. to show her how to feel love again. to show her how to trust again.

    this article of yours is a perfect representation of her.

  9. I’ve just stumbled upon your writing, and it hurts with its accuracy…thank you for putting words to so many of our feelings ❤️

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