I have never been a fan of Valentine’s Day. I’m actually not really a fan of holidays in general because they’re so consumer-driven and filled with all these lame expectations that are nearly impossible to fulfill. As I’ve aged and chillaxed a bit, I’ve been able to pull meaning and fulfillment from such occasions that align more with my own values and beliefs. But there’s always the media – all up in my face to remind me of how inadequate I should feel about some various bullshit thing. It’s hard to escape.
But I am a fan of love. Real love.
Growing up, I was always told I was loved. As a child, I was hugged and kissed and cuddled. My biological family is notorious for this “stop and hug” thing, where someone (usually my bio father) would stop in your pathway and not let you by until you hugged them. I used to think it was charming and fun. Now I just think it was gross and violating, which is sorta how I feel about roughly 99% of my interactions with them. Specific to Valentine’s Day, I remember my bio father always giving my sister and I “miniature” versions of the gifts he gave my bio mother. Every year it was a cheesy card and then a small box of chocolates or carnations or jewelry. I want to throw up everything inside of my body when I think about it. But back then? It honestly seemed normal. What did I have to compare it to?
I think that my parents believed that they loved me. Maybe they still do, but just find me morally repulsive. Though I’m not sure they actually know what real love is. Or how to be appropriate. Or how to empathize with other human beings. But I think that whatever they said and did was always a reflection of what they felt was an act of love. Neither of them have any idea how to be parents, or even decent people. They view parenthood similar to property ownership. They figured that since they’d given me life and sustained it for me when I couldn’t do so myself, I belonged to them. Anything beyond the essentials was pretty much considered a bonus prize and why aren’t I grateful for that?!
It was a very strange and confusing way to grow up. Love was essentially used as currency in my home. There was always an exchange or sacrifice that needed to be made in order to secure love (or their version of it anyway). I always knew that it could be taken from me at any moment, for any (or no) reason. And I also knew that there was a finite amount to go around. It was sorta like a jar with marbles in it.
Each marble represented a certain portion of my parents’ love. You had to work to earn a marble, but in the end there were only enough marbles for some of us. One kid would always be left empty-handed, no matter how hard they worked to earn that damn marble. The system was rigged, and my parents set it up that way. So, naturally, my siblings and I were pitted against each other, fighting for those precious and scarce marbles. And we were so busy fighting each other for them that we never realized the marbles weren’t even real. Nor did we understand that the game was a sham. We just kept at it. In fact, I have a strong feeling that my siblings continue this game even today.
But not me. I am done with marbles. And I done with having to earn love.