DailyBlog: How Many People Do I Love?

*** The first three books in my six-part dystopian series have officially made their way out into the world! Check them out!
For the sake of blogging, self-exploration, and contemplation, I’ve been slowly making my way through answering questions from this list

Today’s Question: How many people do you love?

Well, shit. I fully admit that I have no idea how to answer this question. Love is such an abstract word to me and its not something I really understand. My past associations with it have been meshed up with unhealthy relationships. Everyone always talks about how automatically “love” your family members, but what does that even mean? I care about my family members, but I struggle to automatically use the word ‘love’ because like I said I don’t really understand it. I know that some people would think that makes me a crappy person, but I’m not saying I don’t care about them, or that their happiness doesn’t matter to me or that I’m not affected by them. I am, quite a lot, actually. I suppose when you care about someone, they can have a huge impact on you.

My mom had a lot of emotional and mental struggles when I was growing up and I felt very emotionally and psychologically abused. In my adult life I didn’t speak to her for over a decade. A few years back we were able to speak and reconcile, and I’m happy to say that she’s really put in the effort to change and to mend our relationship. I am very grateful for that and I am also trying on my end. Then there’s my dad, I know he’s a caring person but he is also a person who cannot take any personal responsibility for his behavior and how he affects others, and if you try to confront him or talk to him about it, he immediately gaslights. I care about him, but I have to maintain very strict boundaries in order to be mindful of my mental health. My sister? We have not had a single thing in common nor have we had much to do with each other at all at any point in our lives. I don’t hate her, we’re not enemies, but I don’t enjoy spending time with or around her as I always end up feeling inferior and condescended to. I don’t resent her and I don’t wish her any harm (she’s the mother of my nieces after all) but do I love her? I honestly don’t know.

Do I love my friends? I care a lot about them. I want them to live happy lives and I’m grateful that they’re a part of my life. Broken record, I know, but I really don’t understand the word love and what it exactly means or how you’re supposed to feel about someone in order to use the word ‘love’ to describe your feelings toward them.

I’ve been in love before, and that has broken me into shards of glass and it is why I don’t date or allow myself to get romantically involved anymore. The relationships that I have been in have not been healthy and have not ended well, and I used the word love to describe feeling incredibly connected to them, but also definitely codependent and it just wasn’t good and ended in disaster. Whomever came up with the cliche “its better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all” is someone I very much disagree with. I regret being in love. I think for others, being in love is something that is positive and healthy and uplifting, but I was very damaged from a very early age due to childhood trauma and I don’t think I ever developed the ability to “love” in a healthy way. Maybe that’s why I’m uncomfortable with the word and I don’t know how to use it.

People I care about — my family, even though I have to maintain boundaries with them and we’ll probably never be very close.

My friends. I’m glad that I finally found my way to good friends, genuine friends, the kind of people that share my values of loyalty, kindness, and compassion over personal gain and self-interest. I am grateful for them and care deeply.

My boss: Man, she has no idea how much she saved me. I literally left my entire life and everyone in it when I left Tennessee and came back to Seattle. I will never forget sitting in my bedroom and saying to myself, “this is not the life I want. This is not where I am supposed to be.” But the scary part was that I didn’t know where I was supposed to be. I came to Seattle, met my boss, and this is it — this is where I’m supposed to be, doing this work (animal rescue), meeting caring people, surrounded my my animals and horses and writing books. If I hadn’t met her, I honestly don’t know where I’d be and I don’t want to think about it. Fate did right by me, finally, when we crossed paths. I am now, and will always be, so grateful.

I’ve come so far in my healing journey, but I suppose my wariness with the word love shows I still have a ways to go. Or maybe not. Maybe I don’t need to use that word in order to be healthy and whole. Maybe I’m good just the way I am. I do feel at peace and I don’t feel like my life is lacking.

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