I don’t know if it’s getting older ,or if it’s being all crushy over a guy for the first time in pretty much ever. I don’t know if it’s part of the identity crisis I’ve spoken of having because the children are all growing up and no one needs me like they once did. For some reason though lately I’m looking at myself in a different way,being a bit more reflective.
I worry , or did worry that I’m emotionally quite cold. Then I read a fantastic article in the Huffpost by Amanda Chatel about how people who have been emotionally abused love differently. It’s here if you fancy a look. Do. It expresses it way better than I’m about to try to.
I’d had it decided in my head for years that other than the kids and my sister I probably wasn’t capable of love. Hand in hand with that went the belief that I was emotionally numb , a bit cold and unable to receive or give affection. This article was quite timely for me as recently I’ve realised that maybe I was wrong. I am capable of affection ( and quite like it -weird) I’m not cold and unemotional , I feel a lot actually I just repress lots of it as strong emotion does unsettle me a bit. So I began the week on a bit of a high , telling everyone about my epiphany. Of course everyone who knows me well already knew all this. Have I ever spoken about my total lack of self awareness??
Love though? That was a whole other story.
Or so I thought , I again was wrong. I feel love for people I haven’t given birth to. Of course I do. I express it too. I just do it differently. The article I’ve mentioned is perfect as a general overview of how those of us who have been emotionally abused will love that bit differently. I’m sure everyone who has been in this position could personalise it , we all have our own little ways don’t we? I thought I could share some of mine. This is how I express love (or deep affection at the very least…the L word still scares me a bit..babysteps..)
I touch you. It’s not going be a huge bear hug. I’ll brush your hand with mine , I’ll squeeze your shoulder, stroke your arm when I’m asking how you are.
I allow you to see my flaws. I don’t put on a perfect front with you or even attempt to be perfect with you. I trust you not to use my flaws against me and for me , that’s huge.
I show emotion around you , be that a tear or a giggle.
I look you in the eye when you’re talking to me about a problem. I’ve an awful habit of my eyes flitting when talking to people . It comes across as rude but it’s really not .It’s a self esteem thing. I was told what I said was unimportant and stupid for so long , I don’t want to see that look of boredom and irritation cross your face when speaking to me , even if it never will. I’ll always get over that when you need me to listen though. I need you to know that what you are saying is hugely important to me.
I’ll text or email or send you pics of things that couldn’t be less important. I want you to know some little daft things make me think of you . I’m also secure that you don’t think I’m an idiot for doing so.
I buy little gifts I think you’ll love. Silly things , just a way for me to say I listen to what you like!
I small talk with you (likely incessantly) The man who emotionally abused me hated the fact that I’m a chatterer and would shut it down immediately. When I’m talking nonsense to you it’s because I know you’ll not do the same
You see my expressions of love and affection are smaller , it’s low key and understated and from people who love me that’s what I want in return. No grand gestures – they terrify me. Email me a link to a show or a book you think I’ll like. Ring me up with a funny story to tell me when you know I’ve had a rubbish day. Send me a Good Luck text when you know I’ve a big day ahead.
Love after emotional abuse is a complex , tricky thing. You may never get an I love you from me but you know when you were ill and I made and brought you soup , or when I texted you a book recommendation I knew you’d love or I remembered tiny details of conversation you told me that were important to you? Well that’s what I meant.
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