What does love means to you?
Have you ever been in Love? If so is/was it a healthy loving relationship?
Webster Dictionary defines love as:
***Just as a heads up this post will be personal and could bring up some emotions**
Just thinking about how I grew up perceiving love and how I finally ended up in a loving relationship is very emotional and hard for me to even think about.
Did my mother love me? Yes, I know she loved me very much. But did she know that some of her actions were unloving, did she know that her failing to protect me was unloving, did she know that not being gentle was unloving… Did she know that I asked myself many of nights? Why does my mother hate me so much? I was only a child and questioning my parent love should not have been a thought or question at the age of 12.
I have forgiven my mother, and now understand some of her decision making now that I am a mother myself. My mother and father both have caused me more hurt and trauma than anyone. My mother raised my siblings and I on her own. There was not much co-parenting happening. She had 5 kids to spread her love to, and I was her baby girl. Growing up my mother had multiple boyfriends, and that was my first example of what I understood love to be.
I figured if a woman and man argued and was hostile towards each other, but never broke up….it must have been because they loved each other too much to be apart. I seen my mother be abused, argue, & fight with men… but subsequently she always seemed happy again, so I figured that it was normal. I normalized unhealthy relationships at a young age.
I was sexually abused on my weekends with my dad by my stepbrother, & I often felt resentment towards my dad because these incidents occurred while he was laid up with his wife. I felt like if he spent more time with us one-on-one while we were visiting then the sexual abuse would not have occurred. I blamed him often because I felt like he should have known. So, while I was being sexually abused on the weekends at my dad’s house, I was also being sexually abused at my mother house by her live-in boyfriend. The difference between my mother and father is that I felt close to my mom so I knew if I ever mustered up the courage to tell what was happening to me, she would protect me. Regarding my father I had witnessed him angry and I felt informing him would only cause more trouble. My mother and I had a strong connection, although she was strict. My dad treated me like daddy’s’ little girl, but both said they loved me, and both gave me hugs and kisses. They expressed their love for me & so I assumed I would always be protected because of LOVE. Well one night I got fed up with my mom boyfriend coming into my room, and I informed her what was happening. I remember vividly my mother boyfriend running out the house, and he moved out, but we never sat down as a family to discuss this issue. She never apologized or mentioned that night again.
I was in the 8th grade when I came home from school one day & who do I see?… My mothers boyfriend with money in his hands asking for my forgiveness. I did not say anything, I went to my room & went on with my life like normal. He moved in and out a few times. My mom and my abuser never stopped talking and would continuously come back together, as if he had never abused me. I remember once I was an adult, she even allowed him back in her home, and without my permission brought him around my children. I felt so betrayed by my mother and although she has given me half apologies and never really discussed the issue, I had to forgive her because it was eating me alive to live with that anger and resentment. I was about 19 when I told myself, if my mom would allow me to get hurt, there is no one I can trust & no one could possibly love me any better than her.
My perception on love was shattered at such a young age, so when my first boyfriend beat me up I thought “ he just love me”, when my ex-husband abused me & constantly cheated on me I thought “he just love me”. I thought since the guy never left it meant he loved me. I would see the red flags and I would still remain in the relationship because I “wanted love” I wanted to be in love so badly that “I did not love myself enough to receive love properly”. When you have not felt real love, seen a healthy example of real love, or loved yourself enough… How could you possibly have a healthy & loving relationship? After my divorce I dated & I was smarter to avoid the red flags. But, when I did meet someone, I genuinely loved who was super kind, very selfless, loving, gentle, & understanding I was frightened. I would tell myself “he do not love you, because he being too nice” “He hiding something” “A real man, would not be this soft”, “Why do he care so much” “ I can not trust this guy”.
After extensive therapy and soul searching, I learned that I did not love myself. You cannot receive love until you have it within yourself. Loving yourself is the very first step! I used to listen to Fantasia Barrino “ I feel beautiful’ on repeat because the lyrics resonated with me so much.
🎵Nothin’ I ever did was good enough for you
Nothin’ I ever did could ever seem to please you
You always tried to make me feel small
And all I did was give you my heart
Never felt pretty enough
Never felt sexy enough, never felt good enough
You tried to keep me down on my knees
I got myself back up on my feet
Found the strength to set myself free
And I feel beautiful, beautiful, I feel beautiful, beautiful
You could not crush my soul, crush my soul
Nothing you can do to make you take away my right to feel
I had let my parents unloving ways cause me to not love myself, I let men walk all over me & treat me in the most disgraceful way, and I was now at this place in my life where “A Real Man” was trying to love me & accept me & my kids as a whole & what did I do…..I threw everything negative at him that I could, I betrayed him, I pushed him into dark places that he did not deserve to be in, I constantly badgered him, hurt him, pushed him away.. & I was giving him all the hurt that was once given to me. I was giving him what I thought was love… & that pushed us into a place where we almost lost each other for good. So many people were hurt in the process of me giving to him what I thought was love. We took some time away from each other & realized that I was still that 11/12-year-old scared, abused, damaged girl. I realized I was fighting a battle with a person that did not mean me any harm. I was being my mother, father, & abusers, to someone who only wanted to help me heal & he truly “Loved Me”! Someone loved me without needing to abuse, mislead, lie, deceive, or take from me. He loved every inch of me to the point he kissed my flaws, he admired my weaknesses and strengths, & to him I was the most beautiful woman in the world. Me learning what love was, how to receive love, & how to give love came at a terrible price. It took me into some dark places and has left me with some lifetime trauma that I will forever be healing through. But I can now say I know love. I have experienced love, & I have given love. Love is not an unhealthy connection, love does not hurt, love does not cause you physical, mental, or emotional pain.