Side Effects of A Non-Affectionate Childhood

I can count on one hand how many times I remember being hugged or held by a parent. I’m not saying my parents didn’t love me, I just don’t remember being comforted when I really needed it. And whenever I was, it was always my dad. But once I grew up into middle-school ages, it stopped completely. Recently, I came across a video on Instagram of a man holding his teenaged son in his arms just because his son wanted a hug, it looked so abnormal to me.

Of course most of the comments on the photo were a lot of “aww’s” and positivity. Some people shared how they still ask for hugs as adults, while others wished they were hugged more. Some guy even shared how he went to hug his dad one time, got pushed away, and never tried again. At first, I thought it was kind of funny cause it sounded so messed up and petty but shortly after, I immediately felt sad for him. Rejection like that from a parent- hurts deep. There were also comments about the son “being too big for that”, “that’s going to make him soft”, etc.

People really be scared to love on their kids out of fear of them “turning gay”, especially when it comes to having sons.

It’s okay to let boys cry and show emotions. You don’t build a man by telling him to hold it all inside, that’s how womanizers and abusers are made. Let boys cry, and then teach the lesson afterwards to build his strength.

As the youngest of three and the only girl, you would think I got coddled a lot but no. Spoiled? yes, but with material things that had no true value. Healthy relationships with your parents are so trivial to an individual’s personal growth. I barely know anyone who grew up in a constructive two-parent household, including myself.

My parents never got married and they broke up before I was born. I lived with my mom primarily. I never had the chance to see my parents “together” in love. I guess you can say I grew up in a “co-parenting” dynamic. Some people don’t even have that, either one of their parents isn’t in their life or they were raised by other family members because both parents weren’t around for whatever reasons.

When you don’t get that much needed affection from your parents, you will definitely seek it in other places that aren’t good for you.

I will always believe that the experiences you have in your childhood, whether good or bad, has a way of showing up later on if you don’t deal with them. It’s always up to ourselves to overcome our negative habits and traumas so we can heal.

On January 28th, 2020, I cried for the first time ever in front of my mom as an adult, at age 26. I remember the day to a T because before then I’ve never cried in front of my parents so it was definitely a long time coming, like for real. According to my mom, I barely ever cried as a baby. But anyways, I was so upset about a situation from work the day before, she kept asking me what was wrong, and I just completely lost it. Ugly crying face and all. I looked like Tyrese, “I just want my baby!” face ass. But the crazy part is, I got so upset with myself for breaking down like that in front of her. In that moment I felt exposed and weak but oddly, cleansed.

For as long as I can remember, my mom has taken on the “strong black woman” role & stereotype. In every relationship she is the dominate one, the boss, the disciplinary, the judge, and the jury. To this day, I still have never seen my mom cry and sometimes have wondered if she even possesses the ability to be vulnerable. She’s not the affectionate type at all. If I tried to hug her right now, I know she would push me away.

The black community in general has a poor relationship with vulnerability. Our black ancestors who were slaves had no choice but to be strong as they fought for freedom and equal rights while being murdered and kidnapped, left and right. Not to mention the negative stigma surrounding black people + going to therapy. We would rather keep our business to ourselves and avoid being labeled as crazy for seeing a “shrink”, when really we would be benefiting from it the most, but that’s a discuss for another day.

The Side Effects:
Intimacy cravings.

This may be a shocker to most, but I’ve been single for the past 8 years, meaning I have never had an adult relationship. All my prior relationships were when I was a teenager so in conclusion, none of them really counted. I pride myself on being a hopeless romantic, an empath, a healer, with a big heart. Now, just because I’ve been single for so long doesn’t mean I was lonely during those years. I’ve dated, I’ve done the FWB thing, the situationships, but what I’ve been craving is real intimacy with someone and being seen/heard. My love language is: words of affirmation followed by physical touch but I’m not really being touched if you understand what I’m saying. I’m craving something I never had, how does that make sense?

I don’t know how to let myself be taken care of, I’m scared to need people, so I self-sabotage instead. I say I want a relationship but as soon as someone likes me, I’m running for the hills. I’m a strong independent black woman dammit, ha-ha, sound familiar?

Avoidance.

Has a friend ever broke down crying in front of you and you literally just stood there staring at them with no idea what to do? Yeah, my consoling skills are a negative zero. I’m a good listener but I never know what to say to make them feel better. I feel very awkward in those situations so I try my best to avoid them. And that has probably prevented me from having long-lasting meaningful friendships.

Whenever someone vents to me and starts sharing their whole life story, I kinda wished they would stop, because I knew I wasn’t yet capable of sharing a lot of things about myself in return. Which leads me to my next side effect of..

Poor communication skills & too much pride.

I never used to feel comfortable talking about my feelings because I knew everyone is going through something, and I didn’t want to be a burden or feel like I was complaining. I could be dying inside and I wouldn’t say a word.

I was raised on a “figure it out yourself”, “get it on your own” mentality. There has been days in my life where I would come home from work or school and go straight to my room even if I had had the worst day ever. Sometimes no one in the house would talk, the tension would be so thick you could cut it with a chainsaw.

I’ve been in way too many situations where I made things a lot harder on myself than they needed to be. If I would’ve just communicated or asked for help in the beginning the situation could have been handled and dealt with from the jump.

Giving the silent treatment and ghosting people were my favorite toxic miscommunication go-to’s.

I really want to have a family of my own where everyone comes home and shares something about their day or week and if there’s anything anyone needs help with we make sure to communicate that with one another. And if you just want a hug, you can get that and not feel afraid to ask. No one in my household will go a day without speaking, period.

Uncontrolled emotions.

There’s something about being asked the question of: “what’s wrong?”, that immediately makes a huge lump form in my throat and my eyes well up with tears. It’s like I’m either emotion-less or I’m too emotional. When you grow up not knowing how to intelligently express your emotions, this is what happens. I didn’t know how to express my emotions in a calm manner, my first instinct was to speak in anger or become so hysterical that I was completely incoherent and unable to get my point across. Emotional intelligence won’t develop overnight, like all things, it takes time, trials and errors.

To cure these side effects, I’m allowing myself to be soft and delicate. I’m allowing myself to “feel the feels” and not try to mask them. I’m no longer feeling bad and apologizing for being sensitive and crying when something upsets or hurts me.

I’m becoming more verbal, communicating what I need, putting my pride aside, and allowing myself to receive that help. I’m working on being a better friend, a better daughter, a better sister, a better me, completely. I’m worthy and deserving of being taken care of, being loved, and all the other good things in between.

The chase is up, no more running.

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Every since I was in Elementary school, I always kept a diary. I guess you can say, as soon as I learned how to spell and form sentences- I never stopped. Writing is a true passion for me and the cheapest form of therapy. This blog was created as my digital diary and the only one I’m willing to share with the world.

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