Settle in, it's going to be a long one...
I've been thinking (too much, perhaps) about a blog that a friend of mine posted. It was essentially about using the time you have to ensure that those who are important to you know that they're important to you. It was about how, when not used consistently throughout life, certain actions or words that most people use to express affection can seem incredibly contrived and fail to achieve the desired effect. At the end of the blog, this question was posed:
"What are you going to do, within the next 24 hours, to communicate your feelings to the people who need to know them?"
After reading the blog and seeing myself being described, I felt like this question was a challenge to me. Alas, it is not a challenge I have risen to. Here it all is. Psychoanalyze away.
(*Note to those who have yet to pick up on this fact about my life, and also a definite future blog: I grew up with two moms. Yes, that means exactly what you think it does. Reason for future blog? The biological one went straight- after nearly 20 years of being, well... not straight- about 5 years ago. I'm all fucked up over that.)
Like the friend who's blog inspired this one, I grew up in a world void of affection. If I received affection, particularly from my mother, I don't recall it. As early as I can remember, the daily dose of affection came when I would go to her and give her a meaningless kiss goodnight before tucking myself into bed.
By the time Beth came on the scene (remember, this is all my best recollection), it may have been too late. Beth was affectionate. Beth treated us as though she was our mother. For almost 20 years, she was. She still is. Beth is a softie. There's part of my problem in that last sentence. I'm so closed off to affection toward my family that I feel the need to tease or be a smart ass when affection is given. She's a softie, quit being a sap, etc.
I have serious intimacy issues. I get very uncomfortable when it's time to give the "hello" hug when my best friend comes into town, when I have to kiss Beth goodbye. My brother knows this about me and really pushes the limit- trying to kiss or hug me, playing it off like a joke. But, really, he just loves me and is actually seeking out affection that I feel incapable of giving.
I can't even say "I love you" out loud to my family members. It feels contrived.
I know that, as a child, I was loved. But, I was never hugged for no reason, don't recall hearing any random "I love you's." Maybe this is why I am uncomfortable when people get in my space, I'm not sure.
Since I was about 19, when I first moved out on my own, my mother began to change. She started seeking out affection. It seemed (word of the day) contrived at first but, since it started, it has been consistent. Consistent mandatory hugs, kisses, the speaking of nice things. Yet, it has never been comfortable for me. I don't know why, after all of my formative years, she started needing affection from me, but I have never been able to genuinely give it. I just go through the motions.
The kicker is that I genuinely feel it. I love my mother, brother, sister, Beth, my in-laws, Todd (sometimes- though never romantically), and everyone else in my entire family. I love my family. But the only way I can show it in a way that feels genuine to me is by writing it down. I write letters to my mom, telling her how much I appreciate her, how lucky I am to have her.
They need more from me, though. Particularly my moms and my siblings. They know I can't genuinely express affection toward them verbally or physically. I think it bothers them. I wish I could.
This problem I have, with affection, carries over into romantic relationships as well. It's the reason I stayed with Todd for so long. He was comfortable. Sure, I was praying silently every night that he'd not touch me, but it was better than the alternative: starting over. The problem is that when I meet someone that I like, that I actually want to touch me, I shy away. I have great self-esteem, and yet I feel like if I want someone that bad, that I actually want them to touch me, than I must not be good enough for them. Otherwise... what dangerous, unchartered territory I would be entering! I'm straying, this is a different blog, back to the family.
The only exception to the "please don't touch me" rule applies to my children. I am naturally very affectionate with them. I don't think I'm over-affectionate, they sleep in their own beds and can comfortably spend nights out and all that good stuff, but there's no chance that they will ever look back at their childhood and not remember their mother as affectionate. No chance.
I could go on. But there it is. I love my family, more than anything. How do I give them what they need from me when they need it in a way that is unnatural to me?
What am I going to do, within the next 24 hours, to communicate my feelings to the people that need to know them?