Monday, September 30, 2013

Purposeful Blogging: Your past shapes your future (week 16)

Linking up with Mrs. to Mama and 52 Weeks of Blogging with a Purpose

My mom likes to remind me of how fiercely independent I was, even as a small child. I wasn't a "snuggler." I didn't want to be held or rocked. I wanted to do it on my own. This was something that was, in hindsight, mentioned on a regular basis, even now as an adult.

I remember watching my parents cuddle my younger sister and how badly I wanted to be cuddled. I don't mean to sound like my parents didn't hug or kiss me; they did but how "independent" I was stressed. I didn't know how to accept affection and I didn't know how to give affection.

The burden of independence was something that was, is, hard to move beyond. I felt like I let my parents down if I needed something from them or wanted reassurance. I was "so independent." This became even more pronounced during our first year in North Carolina.

In that first year, my brother was hit in the eye with a rock (thrown by the star high school pitcher) and needed to have surgery to remove a bone chip and my sister started having seizures. My parents split the medical appointment - my dad with my brother and his appointments and my mother with my sister and her appointments for a diagnosis. Thank goodness I was "independent."

I attended college about 2.5 hours away from home. My parents, if I recall correctly, visited my 3x. My dad had weekly lunch appointments with my brother who was at college in the same town where my dad worked. My sister stayed at home for her first 2 years and my dad dropped her off each morning on his way to work. When my brother went to grad school (near where I had attended for 2 years), my parents tried to visit him every other month or so. When my sister ended up at the same college as my brother attended to complete her bachelors and do her masters, they visited her every month. I had to get rides home for college breaks from friends.

I started dating someone in college who was a very bad fit for me but I was desperate for affection, hugs, cuddles, comfort. I put up with what I now recognize was abusive behavior -belittling comments,discouragement to be my best, do my best, second to him. My mother was impressed that I was dating him, as she asked if I was a lesbian during my freshman Christmas Break, I think that she was relieved I was dating anyone. Funnily, I thought that I was treated shabbily but my parents seemed so encouraging that I doubted myself. Years later, a friend said she always thought that first boyfriend was a jerk and wondered why my parents seemed to like him so much. I eventually asked my parents about it and they said that I seemed so happy and they didn't want to interfere.

Please interfere in your children's life to let them know when you are concerned about a partner. I cannot stress this enough.

I felt trapped because I wanted to have the relationship end but I didn't know how and I was worried that my parents would be disappointed. I didn't know how to ask for help. I was "independent." Eventually the relationship ended, after I made a terrible decision to leave the college I loved to pursue someone I didn't love but felt the need to "prove my love" and be needed. The relationship ended poorly. I felt like a failure.  I called my parents to cry and they said I would be fine. I was "independent."

It look me years. Literally years to be ready to be willing date again. It took even longer to bring my barriers down and be emotionally available. Sounds corny I know. My husband had to teach me to be held. To accept touch. To be affectionate. I still struggle with this need. 

I struggle to give up my independence and let my husband do things for me. It is really hard for ask him for help. To be vulnerable. To show him that I need him.  Each day I have to reassure myself that it is ok to need someone. To need a hug. To let myself trust.

I didn't have a bad childhood. I have 2 loving parents who supported and encouraged me. I was just determined to be "independent" and I was never able to escape that label.

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