December 2017
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31


ponderings on parents and learning how to feel and show love


I was talking to Arizona the other day and realized that my parents never made me feel loved as a child or, really, since then. I am sure they felt love for me sometimes, and I think they tried to express love sometimes, but they never asked themselves, "what would make [Belenen] feel loved?" Instead they played out their issues with their parents on me. My bioparent M used to tell me "I love you" almost every day and this had the effect of teaching me to never take someone's expressions of love as sincere unless there were actions to go with them. I also was extremely cautious about ever telling someone I loved them; for years my rule was, I had to love them in a deep and lasting way and I had to be emotionally overwhelmed with love for them at that very moment in order to say that; I never, EVER said it as a response or as a good-bye on a call (which pissed off my parents who took it as a dis).

In a lot of ways my parents impressed the ways that I feel loved; they never showed interest in my dreams, thoughts, or creations, so I feel the most loved when someone seeks to learn what I desire, how I think, what I create. They gave me ritual touch (a hug and kiss before bed every night) so I loathe unthinking touch and feel deeply loved when I receive thoughtful, spontaneous touch (touch that I initiate has a much lower value to me, unless it's sexual). They never EVER went out of their way for me, so it's a big damn deal to me when someone does something thoughtful for me that takes a lot of time or effort. Their gifts showed a lack of understanding of who I am and what makes me happy (perfume? candles? boring "tasteful" jewelry? ugh) and often seemed just given out of duty, so gifts that express understanding of and/or connection with me make me very happy, and I can't stand giving or receiving out of obligation. Maybe these things are just "naturally" my ways of feeling loved and they happen to be the opposite of my parents' behavior, but that seems doubtful.


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Comments
aliyna ══╣╠══
So I guess the important question here, as a parent, is, should we not tell our children we love them every day, or hug and kiss them goodnight, or are these acceptable actions so long as they don't stand alone out of obligation- that they're combined with other daily expressions of love and caring?

I was also recently thinking about how my only memories of my mother, father, and stepmother, is of them being mad at me. I don't have many, if any, memories of happy, loving times together. And that's sort of terrible.
scamis ══╣╠══
I don't know how old your parents are, but it's very likely they were raised by people who didn't even do the things you describe. My parents (who were born in 1915 and 1925) hardly ever told me they loved me...I can't remember them ever doing so until I left home. They also were very sparing of physical affection, at least when I got older. It's a cultural and generational thing. So, what I am saying is, they may well have been raised by people who expected them to just KNOW they were loved, and the gestures you reject as coming from "duty" were them trying to compensate, or do things differently. I wouldn't dismiss them so easily. (Keep in mind also that how your grandparents act towards you is not necessarily indicative of how they acted towards their own children when they were young.)

It takes a super-human amount of insight, or a truckload of therapy, to NOT play out your family-of-origin issues when you start one of your own, one way or another. This applies to romantic relationships and establishing a household as well as having children.
prosphoros ══╣╠══
on communication, social justice, intimacy, consent, friendship & other relationships, spirituality, gender, queerness, & dreams. Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.
Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.