I kept thinking that “he” was the problem.
Every time a relationship failed, I honestly chalked it up to something that my boyfriend had failed to do.
He didn’t spend enough time with me.
He only wanted sex.
He wasn’t “saved enough.”
Blah, blah, blah.
I was never to blame. Not saying that I was perfect, but I was the one who believed in therapy and I was the one who attended church weekly so clearly if there was a problem, it was not me. I held onto that belief right up until 3:51am on Wednesday morning when my current boyfriend uttered the same chilling words of my ex-boyfriend, “…it’s like every time I try, I fail.”
Ok, maybe I am the problem.
I grew up in a single parent household with a heartbroken Jamaican mother. By the time she came to solely rearing me, she was 36 years old (give or take a year) and had already reared four other children. She was freshly divorced and still fairly new to America. She loved on her children the only way she knew how- by continually providing for our financial needs.
She worked daily. She rose before the sun, worked through every holiday, and didn’t come home until late in the evening. Despite her busyness, there was always a roof over our heads, clothes on our backs, and food on our table. That’s how Janet showed that she loved us. Even now as an adult, my mom shows her love for us through elaborate meal preparations (like, sis, I’m Vegan… why are you cooking so much meat?! Lol!), the purchase of bags of clothes for the youth in the family, and texting to ask some “random” question to which she already knows the answer. While I never outright asked her, I think that’s what she needed as a child and, as a result, that’s how she now loves on her children.
For me, I have always needed physical touch, quality time, and words of affirmation to know that I was loved. I remember being in high school and talking to my mother after a therapy session and telling her that I needed her to hug me and tell me that she loved me. There I was, a teenager, receiving the first hug from my mother that I can remember and hearing “I love you” in a real way. Maybe she had said it before and maybe she had hugged me before, but that was the first time that it felt real to my heart and being. Even as the years have passed, my mom doesn’t initiate the use of those three words or extend her arms first for a hug, but after almost 34 years of seeing her love, I know she loves me beyond a shadow of a doubt.
But I need more.
Just as my mother loves me (and my siblings) from the way that she was loved and desired to be loved, I am the same way. Hugs, kisses, quality time, and the utterance of those beautiful words make me feel secure in my relationship- whether it be platonic or romantic. That’s how I know that the person that I love, loves me too. I shower (a.k.a. suffocate) those close to my heart with all the love that my heart can hold and I don’t let up… until I sense no reciprocity.
And that’s where I am today as I write this message. I’m at a place where I need frequent reminders/affirmations/validations of the feelings that others have for me.
I need my mom to talk to me more often.
I need my bestie to always answer my texts/calls.
I need my girlfriends and line sisters to be available when I’m ready to hang out.
I need my boyfriend to tell and show me how much he loves me.
Everything can’t just be about me and my needs/wants. I have to take into consideration the demands that my demands place on others. And I’ll be brutally honest, I don’t do that enough. I often use my past trauma as a way to justify my current needs and SOMETIMES that’s just not the case.
My desire to have people love me based on my needs and desires is exhausting and they are just too nice to tell me that. My loved ones are too nice to say, “Chelle, I know you’ve been hurt before, but what about my feelings?” They are too nice to say that… but God is too honest not to.
Right now God is using my current relationship to heal me in ways that I didn’t even know I needed to be healed. I promise you that I just realized my narcissism and unreasonable feelings and how they impact others. I just realized how much I hurt the ones that I claim to love by not allowing them to genuinely love me the best way that they know how.
I am so sorry, y’all.
I truly wanted no parts of this healing journey. I wanted to bask in my cheesecake and pizza every weekend and obsessively eat until death found me. But God. He had different plans for me and stopped at nothing to make sure that I not only survived, but that I thrived. And the healing is in the thriving.
I’ve been saying for years that it was time to heal and it truly is. Healing right now means accepting the love that others are able to give. This does NOT mean accepting less than I deserve or lowering necessary standards, but instead letting others express their love for me the best way they know how. This also means vocalizing my feelings once and allowing my loved one to love me. Respecting love languages, honoring the way others recognize and receive love… but also accepting- with love- the way that others give love. I show my love to others by honoring their ways of expressing love. Love truly is a verb that requires action at all times. It’s not just about three words, but the accompanying actions that solidify that love.
As someone who receives love through physical touch and quality time (and words of affirmation), God has shown His unyielding sense of humor by surrounding me with a ton of people whose love language is simply…Acts of Service.