A Simple Valentine

A Simple Valentine (by JustLara2013)

Usually when I write these posts I know exactly what I want to say, the sentences form themselves in my head.  But this one is different.

This is definitely not the post I had intended to write.

There have been a lot of high emotions roiling around inside me this week.  I had intended this to be a simple post.  A post about love – about humanity, about those often forgotten.  I had dressed up like a bear and gone into the streets of Berkeley, offering up love to anyone who wanted it.  Silently, with the idea that I simply would hug them as long as they needed it.  And then I made a video of the experience, as a way of giving a sweet valentine to the world.  Because you never know who you might touch, or who needs to be touched, in such a way.

But before I could get the video out there, life seeped in.

There has been a pall over things, borne of concern that this blog will awaken the secret beast always lurking in our family.

What, a very worried family member asked, is your agenda with this blog?

It felt like an accusation. I hadn’t thought I had an agenda.  And having it assumed that I had an agenda, and that it was a selfish one, made me feel ashamed for wanting to tell my story, and perhaps wanting some measure of recognition.  For wanting to speak to others with a voice that is mine alone.  Without a pseudonym and without shame.

I was raised by a mother who could not feel loved by me – who has told me I don’t love her.  And who has given me reason not to.  It left me a fragmented person, unable to form and maintain human connections in any sort of real way.  What I knew to do was achieve – I lived my life always striving for more, whatever that meant to me in the moment.

Tomorrow is the tenth anniversary of my becoming a mother.  Never was my inability to deeply connect with others more painfully exposed than when I had my baby.  She was a fiery, red-headed, colicky thing.  She gave my insecurities whole new avenues: not only did people not really like me, they didn’t like my baby either.  After she arrived, I lived my life doing everything I could to get away from her.  Being her mother was more than I was capable of.  (To this day, when I say “I love you” and she jokingly chirps, “I love you more!” I cringe.)

Nothing could fill the gaping holes in me – no amount of excitement, or food, promiscuous sex or attention.  But in trying to fill those holes up all I had done was build a life too big to handle.  And godDAMN, when I stopped running forward, striving for more, all the balls in the air came crashing down.

I left my husband – who had been the one to keep the children safe and nourished.  My best friend told me I was no one she wanted to know anymore.  And I responded by throwing myself into a new frenzied obsession that I imagined was a relationship.  And when that distraction collapsed, and I was forced into having to face my life, to learn how to feed my children – how to just be with my children – I cracked apart.

And when I did, there was only one person who could soothe me.

It was Christmas and my family had flown in.  I had been out of town on business when a feeling unlike anything I had ever felt came barreling down on me.  I knew I had to rush home because I was coming apart – I could feel myself fracturing apart.

My brother met me in the garage downstairs, at my panicked request.  I couldn’t bear to go inside my house and face my family without seeing him, alone, first.  Something was happening that I had never felt before.  I was feeling the weight of having lived a lifetime of loneliness, of otherness, of not-enoughness, of too-muchness.  A lifetime of just wanting to be loved.  And yet no amount of love was ever enough.

I had become my mother.  Only more fragile.

In that damp dark garage, I cried so hard, and he held me so sweetly, my brother did.  I don’t know if I can do this, I sobbed.  I don’t know how to get through this, I said, with my two little babies waiting for me upstairs.  You’re going to be okay, he said, I promise.

Christmas passed, and when it was time for him to fly home, I clung to him desperately.  Please, I whimpered, please, don’t leave me.  I don’t know if I can do this.  He held me for a long time.  You can call me, he said.  Any time.  You are not alone, he said.  You are not alone.  I am here.  You’ve got me.

It may have been the purest love I have ever received.

During those endless days of picking up the pieces, The Frames song Seven Day Mile spoke to me: “Well this might take a while to figure out, so don’t you rush it.  Hold your head up high, right through the doubt.  It’s just a matter of time – you’ve been running so fast – it’s the seven day mile, has you torn in between here and running away.”

It did take some time to figure out.  But I did not run away.  And I am now someone capable of real human connection.  And I’m now a pretty darn good mother, if I do say so myself.

I made this video because I know how it feels to be starved for love and human connection – and I wanted in this small way to reach out to others who might feel the same way at some point in their lives.

I showed the video to my 7 year old son tonight and he looked at me with soft eyes and said, I am so proud of you.  My little boy is proud of me.  (My girl?  She is too.  Just also, you know, slightly embarrassed.)

I want to dedicate this video to Grant, to Tracy, to the displaced kids on the street, to the homeless people (and especially to the guy at the end of the day (and video) who, when I silently reached for him, told me shyly, You don’t want to hug me), and to everyone who might need a reminder that all anything that matters is about is the beauty of love and human connection.

And I also want to dedicate this to my brother.  I don’t have the words to tell you how much I love you.  And that, here, my friend, is my agenda.

Finally, to my precious baby girl: Happy Birthday, sweetheart.  Your mama loves you true.

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