My parents split up when I was about five years old. Neither one of them remarried or recoupled. My memory starts at about age four. I have no recollection of their relationship as a married couple. I do not remember seeing a real, healthy, committed, loving, romantic relationship modeled in my household when I was growing up.
I knew that my parents loved me and my siblings. They said it with their words, well Mom did. They showed it with their actions and presence. But I don’t recall seeing them love on each other in our house.
I didn’t see what it was like for my mother to still be loved after bearing three children. I did not see what it was like for her to still be loved after she lost the shape of her youth. I did not see what it was like for my father to still be loved during hard financial times. I did not see what it was like for him to still be loved after his once full head of hair dwindled.
I didn’t see it. I didn’t understand it and what’s worse is that I didn’t think I deserved that kind of long lasting love.
I didn’t think that every part of me deserved to be loved. The ugly, unkempt, imperfect parts of me. The stretch marks, the cellulite, the long second toe! I didn’t believe that I could still be loved on the days when I come out of my skin and I’m not talking about exfoliating. I am talking about the days when I hit a snot-nosed ugly cry for seemingly no reason. I mean on the days when nothing feels right or fits right. On the days when I’m irritated by everything and I lash out at whoever is around. I didn’t think that all of those parts of me deserved to be loved along with the sweet, kind, generous parts of me so I didn’t love them.
When someone else came around and tried to love me I wouldn’t let them because I didn’t believe it was possible. I thought I would do that person a favor by removing myself from the equation. It was a true disservice.
I shared this with my mom not too long ago. I’m talking about not having a relationship to model, not the part about me thinking I was undeserving. It hadn’t ever crossed her mind before. A few days later she called to tell me stories about my parent’s relationship. The fun that they had and the games they would play. It made me smile and laugh, more importantly it made me hopeful.
Next thing you know I’m sitting there almost in tears, but not the sad kind. It was an emotional relief. I realized that I do deserve to be loved. I deserve it at my best, my silliest and at my worst. I don’t have to put on a show to earn love. I can take off my cool, come out of my skin, or the side of my neck, and still be worthy of love, kindness, tenderness and respect.
Happy (almost) Valentine’s Day Beautees!!!