A range of loves have just came to my head as I write: parental, sibling, romantic, friendship, but also the love of self, the love of drugs and unhealthy love. I believe every human being is born needing to be loved and there is an abundance of research on how the lack of parental love in childhood has negative impact on cognitive, developmental, emotional and social/psychological growth. So from the beginning we need to feel the warmth and fulfilment love gives us the best start in life and if we don't we are more prone to having an onslaught of problems in life!
I have written in previous posts that al I wanted for as long as I can remember is to be a mother and when I discovered I was pregnant with my first child my first reaction was pure joy. It was very unfortunate that the baby's father did not share in my joy and most of my pregnancy was spent arguing. Despite the negativity and arguments, I loved, I mean I really LOVED being pregnant and carry my baby within my womb. I talked to my unborn child and messaged it as it moved about and felt intense happiness within myself at the knowledge that I was indeed going to fulfil one of my most precious dreams of becoming a mother, and nothing, not even the baby's father would take that away from me. It seems, through people I have met and stories I have heard, that sometimes having one "good", loving parent is enough while the other parent may be absent or is emotionally inadequate. However it may not be the case if one parent is emotionally abusive, though I tried to love my children and nurture them and stimulate their development as much as I could, maybe the "energy" of the house as well as the negative behaviour from their father made it so my love was not enough.
My first child was an unplanned pregnancy and caused a lot of conflict in our relationship. We did stay together and tried to make things work. Our little boy could not have been more perfect. He was loving and kind and good natured. He suffered no terrible twos or tantrums. He always held my hand and was a joy to be with. When there were moments when he had to be disciplined, he stood in his time out corner and always listened carefully to my explanations why he was having a time out. He was so full of love and positive energy and lust for life that I felt that his loved deserved to be shared and that he and his sibling would benefit from sharing his love. I always wanted a big family, but I never thought that possible and did not want that with my husband, but I felt that having a little brother or sister would be wonderful for my loving boy.
Our second child was our only planned child. It took a while but we did get pregnant and funnily enough I can not remember the exact moment I discovered I was pregnant like I do with my first. Perhaps that is because the first pregnancy is such a milestone or perhaps it is because the second pregnancy was somewhat clouded with worry when we discovered she had club feet and were told that that may be a sign of other developmental problems. Luckily there were no other genetic or developmental problems but it did make us worry.
Sibling love. It was there and it was good for a while, then as the years went on it changed and here we are now and those two have not spoken in 18 months now. I tried to love them both, both since I was the primary care giver to my son and the person he spent most of his time with, actually ALL of his time with, there was going to be some changes. Also with the added element of severe club feet to a new born, as well as regular physiotherapy and hospital appointments and surgeries, there was a lot of added stress.
A picture from the internet which resembled our baby's feet.
So for whatever reasons (extra stress, tense relationship between parents, increased resentments, lack of attention) those early days have impacted on all of our relationships with each other; however, in the beginning despite difficulties there was love between brother and sister.
As far as the relationship now, well obviously living with a chaotic drug addict and having mom's attentions being fully consumed by the problems she faced, has taken there toll on the brother sister relationship. That as well as the early stresses and that dad was not a loving and affectionate and involved father have created a sibling relationship which now seems devoid of all love.
The bonds that my two older children have with the youngest seems different again and each seem to have more love for her, yet my son seems to be more interested in pursuing a friendship with her than my middle daughter does.
In http://www.education.com/reference/article/influences-sibling-relationships/ the author discuses a range of sibling issues as well as other relationships influencing sibling relationships, as well as only children. She says: "In homes where fathers are affectionate and helpful there are more positive sibling interactions. On the other hand, conflict between mother and each child is associated with increased sibling conflict". She goes on to say: "Children's personalities, social and cognitive skills, self concepts, values and sense of self protection from the outside world are influenced by their sibling relationships". So this type of love is different from the love we get from our parents but is very influential in our development and creating how we understand love and relationships and the world to work.
I am a die hard romantic, I have written about my feelings of true love more than once, and believe that much of my inner conflicts and feels of self doubt are due to the fact that I have been unsuccessful in finding true love. True love, romantic love is a very big part of the culture we live it, It is very commercialised and engrained in us from the first fairy tales we hear as small children. We grow up feeling the need to find that one special person out there. We also grow up feeling that is we don't have such love in our live that we are failures. I sometimes go through moments where I feel I have failed myself and also my children by not being able to find true love, yet on a deeper level it is not as simple as failing to find something I want, it is an emptiness that is created by the biological and physical as well as spiritual need to give and receive love. Human beings need love. They flourish in a loving environment and in loving relationships. People are better people when they are loved, it is that simple. When we are not, than we become bitter, self absorbed, negative, self hating and we begin to languish.
Friendship is a key factor to us as children, forming our identities and branching out into the world and leaving the close-knit unit of just our family that we had as infants, toddlers and young children. However, the role that friendship plays in our development in adolescents does not stop there. Friendship is vital to us as adults, especially if we come from less than loving families. Friendships offer us not only a special type of love but because we choose each other as friends, it is unique in its bond. We have similar interests and we like each other and we want to spend time together because friendship often give us a great deal of fun in our lives. On the other hand, we have all experienced the age old saying that you know who your friends are when the chips are down! When life throws us conflict and struggle from all angles we need the support from friends especially if we are single, in a dysfunctional relationship. and/or have poor family ties.
I often turn to music for comfort and release and I find if we aren't singing about love, then we are singing about friends or if neither than we are singing about getting high or drunk!
There are so many songs about friendship! This song "Lean On Me" popped into my head last night after not hearing it for many years and the lyrics are very poignant:
In times of sorrow, pain or when we are lost and confused, we need a friend to lean on. We need the support of our friends. Our friends will remind us that no matter what, they will still be there and just as importantly, that a true friend will in turn be there for you despite their own problems. We do not need to feel weak or ashamed that we have "lost face" or are incapable of fixing our own problems, we are not in the least. I think that when we are "brave" enough to go to our friends with our demons then we are showing how much we love and respect our friends that we trust them. We are also opening ourselves to them and showing that we trust the friendship that we can put ourselves in a vulnerable position, "bearing our soul" if you like. I know we all have friends that serve a purpose, friends who are specific to certain situations, acquaintances etc, but while talking about friendship I refer to the real and true, tried and tested friendships that we may have, may only have one of, some of us may have had and lost or some of us are still hoping for. Our friends will not fix our problems, that is not what we want or need, sometimes we do not even ask for advise, we just want and need support, an ear to listen, a shoulder to cry on or sometimes we just want to go to our friends and let lose and have a bit of fun so that we can feel rejuvenated and refreshed and energised so that we can face our problems as a stronger person. Friendship, reciprocal and supportive friendship is like gold to us. If you are lucky enough to find love AND friendship, then you have found the whole pot of gold!
The irony of love is that sometimes we need to have experienced being loved in a healthy way in a healthy home to be able to find healthy love later in life , but people who grew up in loveless or dysfunctional homes and who need love most, do not have the skills to find or maintain healthy and loving relationships/friendships. That is when we often turn to "things" to make us "happy" or actually to make us forget that we are feeling unhappy and unloved. "Things" such as: drugs, alcohol, food, shopping (retail therapy), money and status, just about anything that makes us feel good temporarily. If we did not experience healthy love, we sometimes are attracted to people who are unhealthy for us, treating us in ways we should not be treated yet because it is a familiar feeling and it helps "prove" our self fulfilling prophesy that we are "unworthy" and do not deserve to find happiness. This is way so many people stay in co dependent relationships, do not seek help if they are suffering from a dysfunctional family relationship or allow people to use them as objects of ridicule rather than including them in peer groups, or to be controlled by others. I can understand when my son says he LOVES drugs because in fact since his childhood he has had very little successful relationships within the family and in school and in friendships and he has never experienced any form of romantic love. So if he takes opiates that give him that "warm, fuzzy hug from inside" then, yes, he would want that again and again. If he has many unpleasant and unhappy memories and taking dissociative and sedative drugs help blur his reality and impair his memory, then yes, he will want to use them again. The longer he relies on substances, the harder he will be able to create happiness without them, for obvious social and psychological reasons, but also from a brain chemistry point of view because the opiate receptors will rewire his brain so that pleasure will be associated with opiates rather than other "happiness". It will be a long process for my son to find other forms of love, to believe in love, to rewire his pleasure and happiness receptors, to trust others and make himself vulnerable. The reward would be friendship, love and happiness,that is the ultimate goal.
So the bottom line wont come as a surprise to anyone, we all NEED to be loved from infancy throughout our entire life. Though our needs change and the types of relationships that give us love change, we all ultimately function better and thrive when we are loved and can love in a healthy and open way. We do not need to fear what love and friendship offer us, because it does not make us weaker or insignificant or shamed. We can still be true to ourselves and be responsible for ourselves but gain support and energy and respite from turning to those we love in times of chaos and conflict.
It may sound simple, but like another great song says, "love is all you need " and everything else will fall into place!