Sunday, August 27, 2006

"Why is life so precious and so cruel?" -Erasure

“You have a beautiful face.”

“You have really pretty eyes.”

“God, I love your breasts!”

“You’re so beautiful, you know that?”

“You’re just so dang cute!”

I’ve been hearing comments like this pretty regularly lately. I still haven’t gotten used to it though.

Before six months ago, I never would hear things like this. I always heard comments about my sense of humor, and sometimes people would remark about my long eyelashes. But I never, ever heard positive praise growing up. From anybody. So it’s hard for me to take a compliment.

I’m like my mother, and she’s like hers. I’m sure my daughter will be like me too. Nothing is good enough. We demand more and better. We don’t give praise lightly. Hugs and kisses are rewards (actually they weren’t even that with my mom; I never got hugs and kisses from her), not just a regular part of life.

I crave male attention. My dad was the kissy, huggy one in our family (not saying much) but he was hardly ever around. He was either at work, at the temple, home teaching (or some other church related thing), or he was reading the newspaper in the living room. Sometimes he’d humor us when we’d pester him to come outside and watch us play. He spent many summer evenings lounging on the front lawn. I loved those times! I actually liked Sacrament Meetings because I got to snuggle with my dad, and I'd play with the veins on his hands.

My brothers were all busy with their own lives to pay any attention to me. I looked for that attention elsewhere. I think it was as early as 8 years old. But the problem is, when you’re seeking attention from males that aren’t related to you, it most likely will be sexually natured attention you get. And it was.

So for me, compliments equate desire. Beauty precedes acceptance. And the funny thing about all of it, is that I can give compliments without them meaning desire. I can appreciate someone’s beauty and not have that be criteria of my acceptance of them. In other words, the standards I hold myself to do not match the standards I hold everyone else to. I’m a fucking hypocrite.

6 comments:

Just one of many said...

Not hypocritical...just honest.
Unfortunately life has many contradictions, which can make one appear hypocritical! You sound like a loving generous person who withholds TRUE affection until someone has proven themselves worthy of your trust. I am a lot like that...my parents were a lot like yours and I found psuedo-validation early on through sexual encounters. I still seek validation (not sex) from the appreciative gaze of men...Sadly, I still have a long way to go before I find true validation from within!! BTW, my party was a riot...remind me to tell you about "Frank"!!!

Joseph's Left One said...

No, you're not hypocritical. You just don't expect the same things from others that you expect from yourself.

I really relate to this post: I don't take compliments well (probably because I never heard them growing up), especially about my physical appearance.

I'm not really sure I had a way of getting validation as a child. Now it seems to be writing, but then even in my writing it's hard to impress myself. Oh, well.

Mom said...

You are not being hypocritical, you are just realizing what you feel you missed out on as a child. We all want our parents to show us the love we truly expect. Most time we try not to do the things our parents did to us, hoping that our children will not have to grow up the way we did.

BUT, you know even when we know the kids have been into things they shouldn't, we should still show them we love them. Even thought they get mad at you for grounding them when they do wrong, letting them know that we love them will make it all worth while later.

Have you ever tried to talk to your Mom, and tell her how you felt? All people have different ways of showing their love and we never see it until we realize that was just how they were, Or, it is to late fore us to tell them we 'do' love them too, because they are no longer around.

Cynthia E. Bagley said...

Hey... I understand about the compliments... there were NO compliments in my childhood home. Just criticism... oh I'm sorry.. negative feedback...

So when my hubby came around... he bowled me over with love and compliments. :-) Wonderful man.

Rebecca said...

You are so beautiful, to MEEEEEE, can't you SEEEEEE...!

People are complex. Everyone is a paradox. Everyone is one thing, and also the opposite.

MattMan said...

Sorry about the "me too", but yeah, I don't take compliments very well, especially about my appearance.

I like to give them, but sometimes I hold back because I easily sway between the compliment meaning desire or not, and I hate sending mixed messages (because I don't like getting them).

Actually I hold back mostly because my wife is the extremely jealous type, who accuses me of infidelity at the drop of a hat if I ever talk to a female for more than a couple seconds (age or appearance doesn't matter). Over 12 years of being married to someone like that, it just becomes habit. I'm trying to break out of it, but I'm not there yet.

My childhood was full of a lot of criticism and extremes. My dad cried too easily over his own issues, and my step-dad was a hard-nose -- no affection or praise whatsoever.

So I don't think you're being a hypocrit. I see nothing wrong with simply understanding your nature. And even communicating it. You're comfortable in your skin that way and know yourself. :)