If I am really honest about the reasons why, I’d say it was a lack of self-worth and self-love. I didn’t think I deserved anything more than a fleeting affair. I didn’t think I was worthy of long-lasting love.
I love to have fun, I thought. But I want a relationship, I reasoned. I don’t want to be vulnerable, I’d say. But I want to connect, I’d feel.
I was a walking contradiction.
A lot of my confusion stemmed from my childhood. My father abandoned us when I was only 12 years old. I have serious daddy and abandonment issues, y’all. My mother never really spoke to me about romantic relationships and what kind of partner I should be or accept. She rarely chatted about love unless she wallowed over my father’s infidelities (see: sobbing.) If I were to ask my mother what a great relationship looks like, I don’t think she’d know the answer. If I were to ask her what makes a strong woman in a relationship, she probably wouldn’t know that either.
So, I went to the mothers of Facebook and asked what important lessons are needed in love, so young girls grow up to be self-assured, strong, confident and loving women. A lot of women said it’s about teaching self-love and acceptance. Melissa tells her 3 year old that she is “capable every day.” How does her daughter react?
“She nods with confidence and responds with a smile and says, ‘I am!'” That’s because she is receiving positive reinforcement. She is speaking it into the universe, and so it is.
Melissa also teaches her daughter about negative energy, and how it affects us as human beings. “She knows not to say the phrase ‘I can’t,'” Melissa continues. Instead, she encourages her to “try various things before asking for help, but not to give up on herself or the task.” That’s an amazing way to teach confidence. I have no doubt that Melissa’s daughter will be a self-aware young woman who loves herself.
Zulmara takes the “brains over beauty” approach, which is amazing because many traditional mothers don’t. When I was younger, I was often told that I was pretty, but I don’t recall being called smart. Mami always took us to school, but higher education was never discussed. I think Mami would have been happy whether I went to college or not. Zulmara, on the other hand, believes that focusing on a young woman’s looks is a disservice. “I always countered compliments to my daughter about her looks with compliments about her brains,” she shares. “She was raised to speak her mind, know what she wants, and to have a skill so she was never financially dependent on anyone!” And that’s one of the many reasons why her daughter is a happily married nurse who loves to travel.
I won’t put all the blame on my mother, my father or my upbringing. I am an adult. I make my own choices. Still, I wonder if I would be better at love if I had a positive example of love growing up. I wonder if these discussions would’ve taken place, if I would’ve chosen better all those times.
Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons.