My mother was pregnant with me at 16. I remember being that age. I didn’t know what love was nor what it looked like, but I did know that I wanted to feel something, so I called that feeling love.
Wanting to feel love without knowing what that exactly meant caused me to embark on a journey of self-discovery through pain, mistakes, heartbreak and wasted time. This is also the reason terrible cycles of searching for those nameless feelings that are hidden under the umbrella of “love” I experienced as a child have shown up in my life as an adult.
I imagine what it must have been like for my mom. A young black woman who had the weight of trying to figure herself out as a teenager, amplified by the responsibility of having full ownership of the new life that was blooming inside of her.
How could she even begin to show me how to define, accept and receive love in a way that was suitable for me, when she never had the chance to figure out what kind of love she needed to have shown to her or exist in for herself?
This is not my mother’s story, so I won’t put words in her mouth, but I do have eyes. And I know that love, at least someone else’s version of it, was always around her. It just may not have spoken to her in the way(s) that she needed it to and thus, was part of the reason why her life path became what it was.
I honor my mother because she has taken what many would’ve considered a failure and made great successes out of it. Many of the great things people see in my siblings and I are a direct reflection of her. A lot of the things that I struggle individually with are because of her too. And honestly, my struggles are not just because of her but because of the people that were responsible for her understanding of love as well.
Do you see how multilayered and complex all of this is? Having to acknowledge that part of my disconnect with love comes from the disconnect I felt from my mom’s idea of love that was based on the disconnected love she received from her parents who experienced, in some compacity, a disconnected love from their parents?
This is why many of us are so fucked up over and in love. Because learning how to be in love, or just how to love on people in general, requires us to go above and beyond our lived experiences. It’s not as surface or as easy as just doing.
We have to face the fact that we were never actually taught how to love or be in love because the people responsible for our teaching were not taught how to do so either. They just figured it out the best way they could, even if their best way was rooted out of the lack they felt from their lessons of love.
And that’s why many of our experience entail the following:
Attempts to do our best to escape or avoid the pain of not feeling appreciated, or acknowledged, or seen, or talked to, or hugged on, or cared for, or respected. Doing whatever we can to be able to feel secure, or safe, or free enough to be our ugliest self.
We are all on a quest to define something and live in something that we have yet to work through on a generational level. How could we do it on an individual level and also force people to do the same?
And so, here I am. Clueless and drunk. Wondering if I have the energy to seek what’s on the other end of my desire.
Also published on Medium.