While driving down Yonge Street this afternoon on my way to pick up chicken soup for my soul ( Yitz’s, best chicken soup in all of Toronto, good for all that ails you) I noticed a woman trying to walk across the busy intersection. The car before me had not slowed down for her and she was so mad that even though I stopped to let her cross, she could not summon up the energy to give me the ubiquitous wave as she was expending all her energy on glaring at the car ahead of me. Of course she then needed to give the driver the middle finger salute as she made her way across. As this exchange was taking place I thought how symbolic our brief connection was in reflecting my past behavior back to me. I was so focused on looking at who in my past did me wrong that I couldn’t see who was directly in front of me doing me right.
This week my ex – partner Marian told me that she had no intention of ever committing to me on a permanent basis, even though we had lived together for two years. She thought she was being terribly mean when she revealed that information to me. While I do agree that her intention to wound was disturbing, I was relieved to hear her finally speak her truth.
When I first moved in to her apartment, she literally gave me a shelf in her cupboard and an even smaller space in her bathroom for my many toiletries. I came with an Arts and Crafts cherry wood dining room table which she was happy to welcome into her space as see was using an IKEA kitchen set which had seen better days.
I had never lived with a woman before, but even I knew that this was not the proper way to be welcomed in. Sadly I was so desperate to be loved, so desperate to be saved from my own un- looked at pain that I gladly took the crumb she held out to me and held onto it for dear life. When she told me that she did not want to be intimate with me anymore, I did not accept it with aplomb. I begged and pleaded for months, debasing myself over and over again. However, deep down in my body/mind I believed that I was not worthy of love and that she was correct in refusing me. It took almost a year for me to realize that I too was not that interested in having sex with her, for why would I want to be with someone so devoid of warmth? It was then I realized that what I was really interested in, what I was really turned on by, was the No!
Once I realized that I wanted, in fact encouraged her to say No to sex, I stopped asking her to sleep with me. Now why would I want her to say No? The trail of No’s lead back to my childhood. I was never told I was a good child, rarely praised for my excellent grades, only told how weird I was and how everything I did was not correct.
” Mommy, may I sit in a corner with a book? ”
“No! Go play outside with all the other ‘normal’ kids.”
” Katharine, why can’t you just accept that you are deserving of a spanking, you are bad girl talking back to your mother!”
“Why do you have to ask questions about everything, Katharine?”
And so on, and so on…
My understanding of what love could be encapsulated in two words ‘ Love Hurts’.
So it made complete sense that when I became an adult, I would be attracted to and attract into my life woman who reflected back to me my ‘badness’, because I was still looking backward to my past, and the distorted reflection of love that my parents showed me.
It has not easy for me to stay in the present, I must constantly remind myself that I am deserving of a love that doesn’t use shame as its calling card. In the past if I could have chosen one lesbian out of a line up of one hundred women to be my date, I inevitably would choose that lesbian who would share her great big fat No! with me.
I know now I am deserving of a relationship with a kind and caring woman, a woman who will spend the rest of her life wanting to make sweet love to me, offering her heart and her home, and not just a drawer and a corner of her heart.