Society has fed us a pile of bullshit. Society insists that all parents love their children. One need only look around — maybe in your family or neighborhood or newspaper — -to see what a total lie that is. Parents who abandon, abuse, manipulate or kill their kids, do not love their kids. This goes for the overly involved smothering parent who won’t let go all the way up to the goddamn monsters who let their infant die because they thought their imaginary sky daddy would heal the baby and so they didn’t get it medicine. Or on the other side of the political spectrum, those who let their kid risk death from not being vaccinated or by trying to treat a curable cancer with some friggin essential oils.
This should be really obvious, but so many people struggle with the concept. There will always be someone who will do some mental gymnastics to explain why the parent really does love the child but just doesn’t know better. Or because abuse creates a cycle.
That is total crap. I come from a background where I was abandoned by several parents (long story) and manipulated and emotionally abused by the one who did stick around. Guess what I don’t do to my son. If you guessed abandon, manipulate, or emotionally abuse him, you win the prize. Because I know it is wrong. You do not have to be a genius to know not to hurt your kid.
I’m not trying to be one of those judgmental people who set insane expectations and then criticize everyone who doesn’t meet them. I’ve seen the mom-shamers who say you don’t love your kid if you fed them McDonald's or if you worked outside the home or didn’t breastfeed or whatever they are nitpicking this week to make themselves feel superior.
All abuse is about making themselves feel superior. They feel small and pathetic and they take it out on others. Whether it is the mom-shamers being jerks to other moms or parents hurting their kids. The fanatics deserve their own special torture for letting their kids die because they know the “truth” about vaccines, or their “faith” is stronger, or the “natural” crystal they shoved up the kid’s ass is better than chemo. Those situations are straight up murder. Premeditated. Murder.
Many of us women were told in elementary school that when a boy was mean to us, it meant he liked us. Telling kids that abusive or shitty parents really do love them is like that lie on steroids. I feel like it is a version of gaslighting. Yeah, they treat you like crap, but deep down they really love you.
Some of us wake up one day and realize the truth. My father left when I was 4. He saw me a couple of times after he left, but eventually, he agreed to not see me anymore if he didn’t have to pay child support. So, yeah, he sold me to save himself some cash. Not exactly love.
My mother was a gem. She was a compulsive liar. When I was young, she left me with people who were unsafe and it led to me regularly being driven around by someone under the influence and almost led to me being shot with an unsecured gun and molested by one of their pervy relatives.
Can Anxiety Be Overcome Without a Fundamental Feeling of Safety?
If a belief that I am worthy of feeling safe is a prerequisite for dealing with my anxiety, I am screwed.
I ended up having to quit the only extra-curricular activity I was involved in during middle school because she had forgotten that I had a performance (in the church no less) one Sunday and needed a ride. She screamed at me the entire drive there. I was crying so hard that I could not get my crap together and do the performance. When she picked me up later, I was sitting outside on a bench with a friend’s mom who was trying to console me. I never went back. I have social anxiety. There was no way teenage me was going back to the scene of my humiliation.
As I got older she attempted to fill my head with bullshit like homophobia, the belief that I could not keep a man because I don’t cook well, and let's not forget that the last thing she said to me before dying was to call me an asshole.
All that, not exactly love.
I accept they didn’t love me. That’s where it gets weird in my head. Because society tells us that parents are supposed to love their children unconditionally, and they did not love me, my brain had decided that there is something fundamentally broken in me. I am unlovable. During my teen years, I spent hours looking in the mirror trying to figure out what was wrong with me.
That shit never really goes away. At least, the feelings do not. I believe my late boyfriend loved me. I believe that my son loves me. I look at their actions and I can make that logical conclusion. But that conclusion is intellectual. I don’t know what it means to feel loved. It is as if there is this place inside me where that feeling or knowledge or understanding should reside, but that spot is empty.
When I try to identify what it feels like to be loved, I can list a set of actions that show love, but I can’t describe what it feels like to be loved. I know I can feel. I can describe feeling sad or happy or confused. But I can’t describe feeling loved. Maybe I will never be able to.