Wednesday, October 25, 2006


A friend of mine sends me these daily "inspirational messages" via e-mail that he gets overnight. He generally adds some thoughts of his own to them.

I like the fact that he adds his own, personal take on them. It helps me clarify my own thoughts, sometimes.

Today's was on the subject of Unconditional Love. You know, the kind of love every child should get from a loving family.

To say that I have "issues" on the subject would be an understatement.

Here's what I wrote back to him this morning:

"The whole idea of "unconditional love" died for me the night [when I was six] my mom and nana [grandmother] [got drunk, woke me up and] wanted to know which one of them I loved more. It was clear that their need to be loved far outweighed any love they might have had for me, if any. And so I grew up believing that everyone else was the same way. That people just took and took and took until there was nothing left to give. So I started keeping people away from me... so they couldn't drain me to death the way I had already been drained by the very people who should've loved me the most.

I have now thawed out to the point where I have genuine feelings of warmth and compassion for other people, but to this day it never occurs to me that anyone reciprocates those feelings towards me. I continue to be astonished when anyone shows me the least bit of attention or affection. I'm also very suspicious of it. I'm sure they want something. Something that will, eventually, hurt me.

I did experience lust, of course, when I was young. By the age of 19 I was a raging hormone with low self-esteem. What little sex drive was left after 15 years of meaningless sex when I left Chuck at the age of 45 was erased by three years of continuous drinking followed by years of painful recovery. Now, thank God, lust is pretty well gone, along with most of the hormones.

It's difficult for me to be loveable. It's difficult for me to accept that there may be people who genuinely love me who aren't already planning devilish and scary ways to pull the emotional rug out from underneath of me, and to hurt me again the way I was hurt one extraordinarily fearsome and painful night in 1954.

A night when I knew, deep down inside, that if I gave the wrong answer to a stupid question, I would be thrown out in the garbage. Or killed.

I think in psycho-parlance they call that "trauma."

Yeah. Trauma. That's what I think of when I hear the word "love".


Steve Schalchlin said...

Besides that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?

Yikes. I sometimes forget how lucky I was to have been raised with unconditional love. Once I adopt someone into my family, I can't unlove them ever again. It's literally impossible for me. I forget that love is thing that one learns early from the people who raise you. You were a victim of the worst kind of child abuse. My heart breaks for that little boy being woken up in the middle of night.

JoyZeeBoy said...

Thanks, Steve. I really appreciate your empathy and compassion. Be assured, though, that I'm not fishing for attention or pity with that tale.

In fact, writing it down and displaying it publicly is a form of therapy for me. It helps me to look at the event coldly now and to simply marvel at the continuing effects it had (and has) on my emotional development.

But consider this...

Self-knowledge means nothing if we lack to ability to un-do or overcome that which has been done. And my biggest fear is not what happened, it's that I'll never find the key to un-doing the damage.

I fear that the innocent trust that was destroyed that night did some irrepairable damage to my psyche that renders me unfit and unable to sustain a loving, intimate, relationship with another person.

In some ways I think that you and I share some similar emotional scars as a result of a broken trust.

Bev Sykes said...

FWIW I love you. But I need to know who you love best--me or Steve. LOL.

JoyZeeBoy said...

Very funny, Ms. S. FYI, I love ME best. The rest of you, not so much.

(Or, as Jan says, "Who treats me better than I do?")