Hugs and Kisses: 2015 Listen to Your Mother Submission

This year, I was honored to be selected as one of the live storytellers for the Listen to Your Mother Show (LTYM). LTYM was founded in order to give mothers, mother figures, and those who love mothers a platform to celebrate motherhood through the telling of true stories. I know that many of you my subscribers may not be able to make it to Beaumont for the Southeast Texas show. I, therefore, would like to share the story I will be telling the audience with you. It is a tale of being a mother who had to deal with her childhood sexual abuse in order to be a healthy and whole person and parent. I only ask that you not forward the story to anyone else until after the show on May 9, 2015.

Hugs & Kisses

Unlike a lot of the women I knew, I didn’t have motherhood aspirations. Even if I were to get married, being a mom was not on my to-do list. When I would talk about this to my friends, I would get these funny looks.

The thing was, I was not opposed to motherhood in and of itself, but as a sexual abuse survivor, I dreaded the thought of bringing another human being into the world that may one day suffer as I did. I was frightened at the thought of this innocent child having to deal with the consequences of my dealing with my abuse. It just didn’t seem fair. Truthfully, it felt as unfair as me being abused as a child. So, imagine my shock when I found out I was in the statistic that proves birth control does not work.

After getting over the initial surprise and anxiety- that took about two years after his birth- I started to feel excited. I started to think about the possibilities. I began to think that I really could make a happy place for my child, because I never felt I had one growing up.

Now he is nine. I still have some lingering fears that something may happen to him one day, but I don’t allow them to take over my mind. What has left is the fear that I could not be a good mother to my child because of my past. However, a couple of years ago, something even more disconcerting took the place of my original fears. I have since learned that this new thing it was a “normal” side effect of the PTSD suffered by sexual abuse survivors, but when I was going through it, it felt like an indescribable pain that I never imagined. I struggled greatly, because it caught me off guard and it shook me to the core. It made me question my sense of self-worth and ability to love and be loved. It was all because of a hug and kiss.

One day, when my son was seven, kissed me on my arm, and I reflexively cringed and slightly moved away. I thought I was mistaken. I loved kisses from my son, and he loved to give them. But at that moment, something inside of me wanted to run away from his sweet display of affection. I figured I was just having a bad day. After all, it wasn’t the first time that a someone’s touch made me flinch. Plus, I thought that I was imaging things, but then it happened again.

On and on over the course of 2 years, I would silently cry inside because I knew this loving, little boy would come running to me for hugs and kisses and my body would tense up at the idea. It was an uncontrollable response. I would try my best to fight, but in the back of my mind, I thought that he could sense my uneasiness and he would back away so as not to upset me. Although I always accepted his love, a part of me felt like it was dying inside because I felt abnormal about not feeling normal with an innocent child’s display of affection.

It wasn’t until a couple of years after this nightmare began, that I realized my reactions to emotional and physical intimacy were due to not addressing certain parts of my childhood sexual abuse. I had accepted parts of my story decades ago, but others were harder to face much less overcome. Although I was filled with relief at this newfound knowledge, I was also washed with hopelessness. Would I ever be okay with genuine, physical acts of love? I felt doubtful. Then one day, nothing happened.

My son ran to give me a hug and kiss and nothing happened. My heart stopped. Could it be? The next day, he gave me kiss on the arm- which I found out is one of my trigger spots- and, again, nothing happened. I was ecstatic as I thought to myself:

Hugs and kisses from my son,

today was a big win.

Hugs and kisses from my son

and I didn’t even cringe.

Hugs and kisses from my son,

my body didn’t cry inside.

Hugs and kisses from my son

and I didn’t ask myself, “Why?”

Hugs and kisses from my son,

today was a big win.

I got hugs and kisses from my son

and couldn’t wait to get them again.

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