Do you have any memories as a child where you actually felt loved? A moment when you received a positive feeling that your mom or dad thought you were special? If it wasn't from your parents was it from someone else? A teacher, a friend's mom, the toys you played with, the new clothes you wore, the friends you had in junior high, a boyfriend/girlfriend, a piece of cake, music, a drink of alcohol, your religious measure, watching your first porn, gambling, sex, or something else that made you feel good about yourself?
Usually that feeling of love gives you butterflies, a feeling of importance, a sense of pride, a moment of acceptance and security, and that feeling is what we continue to seek for the rest of our lives. But for many, that love was only received under a condition (let's say sex) and you're forced to submit or to accept that condition (even though it feels like fear and trauma), just for a moment of feeling loved or valuable. If it wasn't molestation, it may have been getting good grades (which took you away from playing as a child). It could be the way you looked and being the prettiest girl in school. For me it was religion, and following what ever rule that was defined for me.
What you thought gave you that feeling of love, can become your sense of definition, or becomes what you think you are. But as soon as the source of love and acceptance is threatened you'll immediately defend it. Even if that includes abusing someone else (even your own children) to protect it. You feel angry, justified, entitled, euphoric, a fleeting sense of power and control, even unstoppable. But if what you do that gives you love isn't judged as appropriate, then you hide.
There's confusion for why you feel so out of control, have no willpower, and you feel shame, guilt, fear, and intense vulnerability to the ultimate threat: rejection or abandonment if you're caught. We eventually stop seeking the creation of love, but instead run away from losing what makes us feel that fleeting love. This is the life of addiction. This is how someone justifies molesting someone else. This is why you continue to molest your own body with food or addictive dieting and extreme exercise.
It all started when you realized someone else had the power to make you feel good about yourself, but also when they also had the power to take that good feeling away and replace it with a bad feeling about yourself. Usually, it starts with your own parents. Take a moment to write down the first time you felt loved. It could be as simple as tying your shoe and getting a hug for the accomplishment. For me, it was my mom buying me a pack of Rolo's at the store, and I didn't have to share with my siblings. Still to this day, every time I go to the market and see Rolo's I feel that love from my mother. I'm smiling even as a write this now.
My other first memory of getting love taken away was when I was about 24ish months. I remember one of my brothers and one of my sisters arguing over who was going to change my diaper. My brother ended up having to change my diaper and he was pissed. From that time forward, I felt like a burden to my siblings. I remember feeling really bad and I continually felt as if I needed to do what they said to avoid that feeling of "burden".
The moments we remember that gave or took away our value, changed our sense of value. But these are false definitions or lies. They aren't real and aren't true. Those moments are reflections of what defines value and love to others, and you were taught that it was your responsibility to give it to them. That is where things went wrong. As you become aware of how simple this is, and how understandable behavior is under this type of dependency for love (and fear of losing it) you can empathize. You can see why people take advantage of others, why we cheat, steal, hate, and abuse. Why we are entitled to what we think makes us happy, and punished or angry when someone threatens our security.
What is your security? What do you need and have to get to feel love? What threatens that love, and does your behavior and choices reflect an offensively taking, or a defensive avoidance of losing it? Are you the abuser or the enabler? Are you vindictive or are you a martyr? Is that the truth or are you just continuing the trauma, passing down the conditional love, and giving your children the idea that others have that much power to give or take from their life?
It's time to start over. Start by loving yourself the way you wish you could have from the start: unconditionally. That way it isn't anybody else's job to take care of you and nobody can take that away.