Someone once shared with me that they were in love with the idea of being in love. It was a penny drop moment for me. Where something profound clicks into place that helps make sense of a bigger picture.
Our families of origin mold us in our first impressions of love. It is said that we are fully formed by the age of three years old. When born we are giant sponges that suck up every vibration around us for three years and lock them into place.
That theory left me feeling unsettled. I don’t remember those years. I know that despite everything, I was wanted and loved.
This realization happened recently while pouring over family photo albums with my parents. There I was, cute as a button, in matching outfits with color coordinated ribbons in my hair. My mum was good with a sewing machine and made a lot of my clothes.
It was a reversal to what I had believed for most of my life. My mum and I have not had the easiest relationship until recently. I’m certain she was jealous of the relationship I had with my dad and made sure my life was difficult because it. That’s putting it nicely.
Anyone who uses physical, emotional and verbal abuse with their kids has had the very same thing happen to them. I’m grateful to my 12 step program for helping me heal this huge piece.
The Five Love Languages is a book by Gary Chapman and a tool a sponsor put forth. My main love language is words of affirmation and secondary is physical touch. The others are acts of service, quality time and receiving gifts.
For the longest time I struggled with my parents because they are acts of service people whereas I wanted them to tell me I was loved. I taught my dad how to hug me and tell him I love him often. I can tell it’s not something he’s comfortable with, the hugs or the I love yous but I keep doing it anyway. Along with many acts of service when my parents visit. I feed them delicious food and love them that way.
My mum recently avowed she was not good at hugging to which I responded mum you can keep practicing with me. Isn’t that beautiful? My mum and I now chat at length on the phone and say we love each other at the end of our calls. Huge shift.
I looked for it in all the wrong places growing up. Truly. All. The. Wrong. Places.
I was a teenager and hooking up with older ski and diving instructors after quitting ski racing. A wild child at sixteen. I settled down at military college and had the best boyfriends, knowing full well I had to be careful. Women are scrutinized and labeled quickly and their reputation always precedes them.
After I was raped at 21, everything changed. I wanted to take my power back and so if things weren’t working in a relationship, I’d go elsewhere to get my needs met. That pattern came out in full force at 25.
I’d left the military and it took me a solid year to figure out who I was after seven years in. A student by day, I had an alter ego at night. I was a bar fly on weekends and had a 100% batting average with the guys I’d pick to take home. Not that we ever went to my place, rarely did that happen.
I’d get what I needed and move on. Lavalife was my playground. I’d go for coffee, lunch and dinner dates. I was completely addicted to the high. I was the queen of first dates. I didn’t need the commitment of a second date, I was too busy having fun. I was a grad student, smart, fit and gorgeous. Needless to say I was popular.
Then I met the man I had an affair with for four years. He changed my life. I felt alone, different and certainly not a part of. I had all this trauma I didn’t know what to do with and had yet to find recovery.
He knew everything about me, he was present in a way my dad never was. Of course, there were daddy issues but he was this lighthouse in a stormy sea. I went to him with everything and he taught me so much. He gave me complete control over the relationship. It was a heady affair and a very hard one to end.
I was free to date other men during our affair. No wonder a relationship with anyone else never worked. He was my drug of choice. I was so busy hating him and blaming him so I wouldn’t have to look at my part.
I’ve learned in program that when you point a finger at someone there are three fingers pointing back at you. I was able to finally end the relationship with the help of an addictions counselor after two years of group therapy and private counselling over ten years ago.
My counselor used to say you are both getting something out of this. I didn’t know what it was it was until I asked him recently after years of no contact. He said I made him happy.
It hit me then, I was very much in love with him. It was a profound moment and with it came the emotion I didn’t want to feel. Anger is easy, it’s the sadness and grief that are hard.
I’ve made peace with all of it and let it go.
He’s a part of my life. Someone who will always be there. I treasure the relationship we have even though I’ve closed that chapter between us.
Not a simple emotion by any stretch.
I say I love you often because it’s what I most needed to hear. Life is precious and short. I want the people I love to know I love them.
A word that appears often in my vocabulary. Something I want to be remembered by. I lived fully and loved well.
What does it mean to you?