A couple of weeks ago my beautiful friend Luna from A Strange and Curious Girl shared with me the work of life coach Hannah Marcotti. Luna shared a 30 day workshop with me as a gift, and each day I have been working through the prompts. It has been enlightening and enjoyable. Today, Hannah shared a blog post called A Love Addict is Not Born, and it really resonated with me. Go ahead and click that link to go read the post and come back. I will wait....
Interesting stuff, eh?
I related to that post very much.
I have had a lifelong issue with love. Being loved, loving, the concept of love. All of it. I do not feel that I grew up in a loving home. We had a lovely house, built from the ground up by my parents, family, and friends of the family. I miss that house very much. My parents raised me the best way they knew how. They went out of their way to buy me things when they could. They both worked hard to make sure our needs were met, and to afford a few "wants" along the way. I lived in a beautiful house, with a good amount of stuff, I was sent on yearly vacations around the country to visit relatives...but I do not feel like I had a "loving" home.
My father,whom I miss so very much, was a hard man. He lived a hard life from a young age. He was abandoned by his parents on the front porch of their house when he was ten years old. His uncle cared for him for a little while, and then he was placed into a Boy's Home, and I am not sure if he stayed at that one place or if he went to more than one "home" before he became old enough to join the Air Force. He was married 7 or 8 times before he met and married my Mother, and he stayed married to her until his death..34 years. He had issues with love. He was not shown love or shown enough love, in the right way, as a child and as a young man. I am not sure of all the details of his marriages, or the how and whys of why he got married and divorced so much. There is so much about him that I do not know, because he was not an open man. He did not like to talk about his past. I was a teenager before I found out I had two more half brothers that died when they were children. My half sister told me, not my father. He and my Mother had a tumultuous relationship. As I said, he was a hard man. He used to tell us that "This was a dictatorship, not a democracy," meaning he ruled the roost and no one else had any say. He yelled all the time. He was angry all the time. He was a hard man, who did not know how to love or be loved, until much later in life.
My Mother had a hard life growing up too. Her stepfather beat the hell out of her for breathing wrong, for years, until she finally left home as a teen to live with her grandparents. She was married twice before she married my father. I know very little about those marriages. I just know that they had their problems and the marriages were ended. She did her best, but she, too, has issues with loving and being loved. She was more openly loving than my father, but it was still...different that what was needed.
I was an only child for my mother, and the youngest for my father. My half siblings were grown and almost grown by the time I came along, so I had no real relationship with them, and I do not have a relationship with them now. I have nieces and nephews, even great nieces and nephews, that I have never even met. They had no relationship with my father, and my only sister resented me to no end, so of course I had no relationship with them.
Because I was the only child in the home, I was lonely most of the time. There was only one child in our remote neighborhood, and she was a few years younger than me. She moved away after a few years and I was even lonelier. Because of the way my parents were, I felt the only time I got any attention is when I screwed up and did something bad. As other people who have gone through this will tell you, bad attention is still attention. I started doing many stupid things just so I could feel like my parents knew I existed. My Dad worked all the time, and once I went to school my mom went back to work. From the time I was 12, I was getting myself off to school, taking care of most of the house cleaning, and even starting and later cooking dinner, because they did not get home until after 6 in the evenings. I felt invisible. So to get their attention, I acted out. I caused a lot of problems with my antics. I ran away from home at the age of 15 because I felt so unloved, and so at odds with my father especially. I got into the car wreck that almost killed me during the time I ran away. My parents asked me if I wanted to come home while I was still in the hospital, or did I want to go elsewhere. I went home, and while I healed, both of my parents were amazing. I even went into therapy after that, but even though I poured my heart out to the therapist, and loved her, my father decided I was "pulling the wool over her eyes" and making them look bad. So he stopped me from going after a month or so, maybe two. I was devastated. After I healed, things went back to the way they always were, and I started doing more stupid things. Finally my father told me I either had to live by his rules, or move out. I moved out at the age of 16, with someone I never should have been with. I was so desperate to be loved, that I would do anything, with anyone, to get it, even though I knew in the back of my mind that what I was getting was NOT real love. The only good thing to come from those relationships are my two teens. But, because I was so busy chasing "love," I had my kids taken away from me, which only made it that much worse. I held a lot of animosity towards both my parents for many years. Blaming them for how my life turned out. Later, I shifted most of the blame on to myself, where it belonged, but they still have a part in the blame too, because of the way they did things.
I understand now that they both did the best they knew how, and as an adult who has been through many bad relationships, I understand that marriages are hard work, and the baggage each person brings to the relationship can influence that marriage in untold ways, both seen and unseen. Now I understand that they did not and could not show love in a healthy way because they had no clue how to give it. They never received it. So they loved me the best way they knew how, and I realize that. I love them both very much, and the last 8 or 9 years have been some of the best years I have had with my parents. Although they took my children away from me ( which is one part a good thing and one part a bad thing ) having the kids changed them both for the better. For many years my eldest daughter was the sun and moon to my father. She taught him many things about healthy loving. There were times I was jealous of her, because she got what I so desperately wanted from my parents. Real, visible, healthy love. They were the same way with my son, whom they took when he was five. After that happened, I pretty much stopped caring about anything for a long time. I would do anything to try to feel better, even to the point of almost dying from my recklessness. I did not care. I wanted anything that would fill that terrible gaping void in my soul.
Because of their actions, and my own, I had no clue what healthy love was. I did not know how to get it, or how to give it. I did not even know what it looked like. Dysfunction was the theme of my life, and I made a lot of wrong choices while trying to find healthy love.
Then I met Jack. We had our 9th anniversary on April 4th. Everything changed when I entered into a relationship with him. He was a few years older than me, had a great job, a vehicle, and parents who loved him and helped him when he needed it, even when he made stupid mistakes. ( That changed later but that is a different story that is not mine to tell. ) At the time, I was not speaking to my parents much, we had a falling out not to long before. Jack's father was like my second father. He loved me, and supported me and stood up for me when I needed it most. He will always have a special place in my heart for that. He helped me to understand my parent's side of things, even while validating what I felt. Still, it was not until after Alex was born that real healing began between my parents and myself. I had something in Jack that I had never had before. He truly loved me, and supported me. That is not to say the last 9 years have all been smooth sailing. Two of the last nine years were very shaky, and we actually split up twice. Once for a weekend and once for a day and a half. A lot of that was my fault. He is a very loving person and requires a lot of love. He has had his fair share of bad relationships too. He waited until later in his life to have a child, and he wanted Alex with all of his heart. He is an excellent father, a PRESENT father, not just bodily, but mentally and emotionally as well. That is something my older two kids never had, aside from my father. Due to having them at such an early age, their birth fathers were not ready to have a child, or be in a child's life, and while that is sad, it was better for the kids.
My father was the stable father they needed, and my mother was the stable mother they needed. While the hurt of having them taken away from me, and the continued hurt of not having them living with me is still there, I AM grateful to both of my parents for providing the kids with a stable and mostly loving home. They are teens now, and everyone knows that is a volatile period in anyone's life, but for the most part, they are well taken care of. There are some things I do not agree with in the way things are going, but I am unable to do anything about it. So I make sure they both know I love them and will do everything I can to help them if they need it.
Back to my relationship with Jack...he is wonderful. He is gruff and "rough around the edges" to other people, but he is so different at home. He takes care of us, he worries about us, and he always puts us above himself. He is very loving, inwardly and outwardly, and he is not afraid to let the world know how much he loves and cares for us. The issues we have had are mostly my fault, and it is because I had NO clue how to be in a good and functional relationship. I did not know how to be in a relationship where the man was not a drunk or a drug user. I did not know how to be in a relationship where I was not being cheated on, or cheating myself. I did not know how to be in a relationship where I was not being hit or abused. I did not know how to be loved. I did not know how to love. I am much better about it now, but I am still having to work on it. I am so used to keeping people at arms length, so I will not be hurt. It took me many years to realize that by being that way, I was hurting Jack. I was causing this huge rift, not because he was abusive or a terrible husband and father, but simply because I had no idea how to be loved.
Come back tomorrow for part two and find out what I have learned, and how it has changed every single relationship I have.
*I want to add this is not a post bashing my parents. None of us are perfect, and I love my parents very much. They did the best they knew how, and they helped shape me into who I am today, with both the good and bad things. While their methods were not always the greatest, I appreciate the lessons in life. Part two will talk about that.*