I logged onto Twitter a few weeks ago and there on my timeline was a conversation about Black mothers, a trending topic on the ways of the women that raised us. Hundreds of 70s through early 90s babies behind an @ symbol shared stories of mothers that expected you to come in before the street lights turned on and mommas that warned your ass about not touching anything before going into department stores. I didn’t know any of these people but we shared the same stories of holidays at home and hot comb horror stories as if we were being raised by the same woman. And while I lol’ed at all of these memories, I started to think of my own upbringing that began in 1987….
Twenty-something years ago, my mother used to tell me before serving me an ass-whooping for lying, being disobedient or an unsatisfactory report card, that what was about to go down would hurt her more than it would me. I never understood how inflicting pain on me would harm her when no one was putting a belt to her naked skin but what confused me more was how she would tell she’d love me afterwards. She did it so I could learn, so I could do better next time, be better all around. A hit and “I love you”. Mommy said it. I believed it. It went hand-in-hand.
Seven years ago, my ex-boyfriend used to tell me before placing his hand on my naked skin that I didn’t understand how I made him feel and that he could show me better than he could tell me. Our sex was aggressive. Hair pulling and fingers around the neck. Scratches that had to be covered with concealer and hands over the mouth to conceal the screams that forced itself out of my soul with each forceful penetration he served me. He would always ask me did I like it and did I love him. I knew firsthand how hurtful a no was, how hard people took rejection, how much less of “a man” a man would feel if he didn’t please his woman, so I always put those two letters in my back pocket and cleared my throat to let out a yes. I gave him the green light and he took that affirmation and ran straight pass “Go”. Aggression and I love you. It went hand-in-hand.
I took those hits because everyone knows it’s damn near blasphemous to put your hands on your mother. I had to believe her when she said she was only trying to help me. I took those hits because love was about toughing it out when stuff got rough – right? I was supposed to be his ride-or-die, so I was supposed to just deal with the cards I was dealt.
This concept of love bewildered me and the older I got, it started to scare me. The foundation began at home and I ended up feeling like I was in hell. With her. Then with him. I was supposed to be happy, feel happy but the feelings I was fed and felt were of anger and guilt, constant heartbreak and confusion.
And so, five years ago this month, my world changed when I finally found the true definition of love when I held my firstborn. I touched him and he cried. He touched me and I wept. This was unconditional and real and powerful and overwhelming. My upbringing affected everything and here I was on a hospital bed with a new life brought into the world and a new way to view this distorted outlook on love through a simple touch.
The universe has a funny way of changing your thought process and your perspective which ultimately, alters your perception. It’s amazing and I am grateful. The power of contact. Wow.