I remember hugging my father one time.

I’m sure it happened more often when I was little, but I have no recollection of it. My grandfather is not much of a hugger either, though I do remember evenings sitting on his lap while he read the paper.

Overall, I don’t remember much hugging and kissing going on in my family, though I certainly did hug my mother, and probably my grandmother. My sister hugged me at least one time, when she was flying to England and may have thought she would die in the ocean. We are not emotive people.

And then I get this husband. He’s a hugger. A good one. Probably because he comes from a whole family of huggers. His family also makes sure to tell each other that they love each other every time they talk. This is also relatively foreign to me.

I always knew I was loved, but it wasn’t often spoken directly. My grandfather demonstrates love in a way I think is very specific to his generation – stoic support, acting as provider.

Again, I don’t remember my father ever telling me he loved me, but he did tell me he cared about me once and it felt rather foreign. I was 17, and he was telling me that I had to tell my mother that I was suicidal or he would. Because he cared about me.

I suppose he did, because he had managed to see what I was going though when I thought it was so well hidden.

I am not good at loving people outwardly.

I am empathetic. I care about people. But there is only one person that I regularly actually say the words to, and recently I’ve noticed that I struggle to say it out loud even to my daughter. I call her love, because she is the very embodiment.

At the beginning of our relationship I told Joe I loved him often, every time we hung up the phone or said goodbye. Now I expect him to just know. To understand that my being here, my taking care of our child and our house, my actions are the best displays I can offer.

I honestly don’t know if there are deep psychological reasons for my struggle, or if it’s a matter of nature. I know the people in my life who honestly care. My grandfather need never have said it and I haven’t doubted his love for any part of my life. My father never said it and I had no idea if he ever thought of me at all. Though he was, apparently, very good at talking to other people about me – that is how I know he expressed pride. Other people told me after he was dead.

I’ve been thinking about my father a lot recently. I’ve been thinking a lot about friends. About the supports I’ve had in place when I needed them. About the people who express love and support for me. I don’t know where the thinking is leading, but it seems to be settling in.

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