Ladies of the Round Table

March 26, 2008

Ideally Affectionate

Filed under: Uncategorized — craftymommy @ 11:14 pm

First of all, I have been absolutely floored -FLOORED – at how wonderfully you ladies have taken on this topic. You have discussed very personal details of your life and your hearts. Seriously, I am amazed and I my respect for all of you just shot right through the roof these past few weeks.

My parents and I haven’t always had the best relationship, and though I didn’t always feel the love I know that it was there. I had all the typical daughter days, I suppose.  Fights with my mom about everything. Pressure to do well in school. Vacations to exotic places like Rhode Island and Florida. Moving about every 3 years to a new state or country.  The time my parents convinced my sister to be the one to ruin Santa by telling me he’s not real when I was 7. The big blowout the first time they saw my pierced eyebrow – and the even bigger blowout the first time they saw my tattoo (the sigh of disapproval when years later they saw my other tattoo because my wedding dress was strapless).

Looking back there are a couple of things that really pop out at me, things that really tell my story growing up as a daughter:  my duty/obligation as a daughter, and my affection, or rather, my lack of affection.  What’s been on my mind is mostly my lack of affection.

Before the age of 10, I was affectionate. Hugs, kisses, hugs and kisses goodnight every night, I love you’s. All of it. Basic, run of the mill affection between child and parent. Around the middle of when I was 10 years old it stopped. No affection from me at all then or even since then. I felt guilt over the years, and I mean – felt really, really bad. The idea of giving affection, however, came at too high a price for me to give back in to it.

Now that I have a daughter I can’t imagine how painful it would be to have her not be affectionate anymore – and I mean, at all, in any sense. So I get a sense of how much pain I must have put my parents through. I mean, they weren’t perfect and we had our own battles, but I know that they loved me. And, I know that I loved them. Unfortunately, I couldn’t say with any amount of certainty that they knew that or could have guessed that.  I know that we don’t love our daughters just to receive love back, but hell, I’m pretty sure it helps.

I love my parents. I do and I did.  But now you know one of my big, bad secrets and what a horrible daughter I have been.  I don’t think I was all bad.  I stayed out of trouble, got decent grades, married a nice man, and have a wonderful daughter that my parents just pour their love onto.  The kicker is that I didn’t stop giving affection because I didn’t love my parents – though I’m sure that’s the way that they felt, which just kills me. 

I think the biggest failure in all of this is that I never learned how to open up, how to talk about difficult things in my life.  So when I was 10 and my dad got shot and nearly died and I suffered horrible nightmares every single night until I was about 16 – I never knew how to talk to them about it.  Instead, I stopped showing any kind of open love.  My nightly nightmares always had to do with one or both of my parents dieing and it always tore me apart.  I didn’t realize it fully at the time, but I know now what my nightmares did to me and how not opening up and discussing it did more harm than good.

I don’t blame my 10-year-old self for what I did.  I don’t even blame my 16-year-old self.  I blame me.  This 28-year-old woman, who has become so comfortable with the lack of affection that I haven’t even tried to break myself of it.  Now that I understand what was going on and I’m in a position to correct myself, I find that I fight it.  I am so comfortable being standoffish with my parents.  I find that even saying, “I love you” to my parents is hard for me to get out, not because I don’t love them but because I got too comfortable with not saying it.  By now, well over a decade later, it’s foreign to me.  It’s foreign to my lifestyle as a daughter. 

I realize that in my adult life I have been trying to make up for my lack of affection by being extra nice, extra giving, extra everything but affectionate; and one of my biggest fears is that it does anything but make up for it.



  1. Wow what a great post! I am sure that your parents knew that you loved them and still do but I understand your need to correct the problem and your desire to stick with the status quo, that is human nature. I hope that someday you are able to show your love in all the ways that you would like to and are comfortable with. Thank you so very much for sharing!

    Comment by Carissa — March 27, 2008 @ 4:02 am | Reply

  2. While I realize it might be very hard for you to do so, have you ever talked to your parents about this? Will they read this blog entry and might it be a stepping stone to a conversation about this?

    I do think that since you *recognize* this issue in your life you are leaps and bounds closer to changing it than many other folks out there. I wish you the best.

    Comment by Jen — March 30, 2008 @ 4:46 pm | Reply

  3. I haven’t talked to my parents about it, or anyone really. It’s something that I have been stubborn and ashamed about for the past decade.

    I *do* hope that I can essentially “get over” myself and do what I should to have a good and healthy relationship with my parents.

    Comment by craftymommy — March 31, 2008 @ 4:22 pm | Reply

  4. Wow, Melinda, you’re a very introspective woman; that’s a quality I value very much. I think the very fact that you’re aware of the issue and have put a lot of entergy into understanding why are you are this way is an amazing thing. You’re more than halfway to addressing it! Just from reading this, I believe that at some point you’ll feel ready to address it with your parents and you’ll do it. I just get that from your post. Thank you for sharing this with us.

    Comment by Laura — March 31, 2008 @ 4:28 pm | Reply

  5. The part of this post that really hit me is the part about is not blaming our 10 year old selves….
    I wonder how much forgiving ourselves for mistakes in our past and childhoods would help us move past the “relational ruts” we get stuck in as adults?

    Comment by sheljena — March 31, 2008 @ 4:44 pm | Reply

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