Growing up, public displays of affection between my parents only happened when the father figure was drunk. Granted, there were hugs for the kids until they got a certain age. And even “I love you” … again until a certain age. It’s like once you weren’t a small child those things melted away.
I remember calling my mother on it not that long after their separation. I was battling not wanting to live with either parent, and staying with an aunt in the hood, a step down from our nice middle class fake happiness. I remember telling her “You never tell me you even love me!”
I said it again less than 10 years later when she fought custody against my best friend for my god-daughter, my birth daughter I decided to give away (http://dimensionthe5th.com/2013/03/18/the-girl-grows-and-asks-questions-the-child-i-gave-away/)
It took me until my 30’s to realize that it’s pretty hard for a woman to teach love if she’s never received it.
My mom with her siblings grew up in different welfare available projects. I know she grew up without toothpaste at times. Without any food but flour and water. Using sheets as menstruation pads because they weren’t affordable. If my grandmother had been a better person, maybe she would have shown more love to her 6 children, but the woman didn’t know love herself, probably because again her mother of 13 children probably could not adequately show it.
So it’s a cycle that my mother and I are slowly breaking, through trial and error with new relationships. In some ways I see my mother in her first relationship after 13 years and it frustrates me of her naivety. Luckily she’s not with a man who exploits it. He sees a woman who could easily be taken advantage of, and does not. He shows her instead what a relationship should be like, not full of verbal abuse and “love” only when drunk enough to show emotion.
We had a conversation while I visited for the holidays:
“Your Dude seems very affectionate. “
“Weird right? I’m not that good with PDA.”
“I know. It’s nice when someone openly shows that they care, and it’s not because they’re drunk.”
We’d slowly learned to show love to each other as mother and daughter over the years, but both hadn’t really learned until recently to let down our guard and be loved by a man. I think the shock of that just makes my emotions a mess. I hadn’t looked at it deeply. That I was learning for the first time possibly to truly put my hand in another’s just because. That I wasn’t looking at relationships around me and subconsciously wishing for something that was missing.
It’s something I never want to lose.