You Cannot Buy My Affection, but I Love You Anyway
An Open Letter
What did not come naturally to you;
Came all the more naturally for me.
While you worried about status, impressions, and perceptions,
I worried about your love for me.
Perhaps I embarrassed you on various occasions;
In fact, I know I did.
The words and criticisms that left your lips
Were always a cover for your shame regarding me.
I did not say the right things.
I did not do the right things.
My actions and my words amounted to the same things;
Nonsense, embarrassment, and shamefulness.
How was I to know what to do?
Pretentions were never understanding of me;
Nor I of them.
I had trouble diagnosing appropriate words for adult conversation.
Small talk, gossip, and weather were always disinteresting topics to me.
Children never seemed to respond to those things either, after all.
And I found myself to have no trouble with children.
When I craved a listening ear or conversation,
I'd talk with children in kind.
It made me gleeful to see the glint of hopefulness in their eyes,
And the broad smiles on their faces.
We understood each other,
And that happiness was its own reward.
I was surprised that I could make these little ones feel understood and accepted.
Joy burst in my heart for the way they would cling to me at the center.
Despite my trivial, nonsensical conversation topics,
They found a friend in me.
They loved me for the same reasons I was scorned by others.
Together we felt loved, valued, and accepted;
United by a common purpose in life.
The purpose that was love, acceptance, and understanding.
We provided that for one another.
We were welcome.
The children would ask me for;
One more book,
One more song,
Or one more visit to their homes or school.
Their excitement glowed
As they told me all the things they wanted to show me.
I heard their dreams they hadn't yet lost.
It perturbed me not
Whether or not I was aiding them in fantasies.
Who was I to crush their dreams or imagination?
Growing would do that for them
If they allowed their skies to be darkened.
Others could tell them;
They would tell them regardless,
But not me.
I felt that light must be saved for yet a while longer.
Adulthood comes to us all soon enough, after all.
It feels like betrayal to reveal its secrets before their time.
Though my own light was diminished many times for the sake of preserving your misery;
I came to realize it wasn't worth it.
Instead, I kept my lighted candle burning deep within my chest;
Where you could never find it.
I did not so much as bury it,
But hid it from your seeking.
It was worthy of protection
No matter how hard the winds blew,
Or how dim it became,
I could never snuff it out entirely.
That glow was far too precious to me.
No matter how hard I strived to attain your approval or acceptance,
It was not received.
I worried and tried, but I was not privy to it.
If I had become someone else,
Would it have mattered?
Could you have loved a lie better than the truth?
I often wondered.
Within me, I held onto that fear.
I did not want to challenge or accept it.
What if you decided to love me for not me?
Yet, one day, I would find out.
You could and would partially love an unreal me.
To my own detriment and self-loathing,
I proved that you adored impressions more than truth.
Prestige was more valuable than happiness,
And pride even more so.
How glad you were to brag about what was to be viewed as my success.
One, you claimed to cause yourself.
I learned that your pride was equal to your disapproval
With what you deemed as my previous inadequacy.
I knew the look on your face;
I would remember that look forever.
A child knows all too well when they have failed their parent.
Our love for you does not allow us to ignore such things.
This hopelessness can lead to new growth and experiences.
As we develop, we change in new ways and at times grow stronger.
Our perspectives change
As do our mindsets on acceptance and approval,
But only if we allow it.
I found myself in misery
When I so adamantly struggled for your approval.
As I had seemingly achieved such a once coveted status,
I felt the rest of my life and self fall into disrepair.
I had denied myself
For the sake of obtaining another's incomplete satisfaction.
I discovered that
As I gained and achieved more,
Only more was insisted that I achieve.
Thus, I found myself in a most dissatisfactory position.
I had altered everything and the everything I gained,
Amounted to nothing in the end.
What had I done, and what had I become?
To achieve something I learned was unachievable.
My soul and being cried out
Still craving that same love and acceptance of old.
Yet, as I turned inward;
I realized that love and acceptance for which I yearned
Could now only be given by one source:
As I turned away from your respect and acknowledgement,
I found a greater person within myself.
I chose to live my remaining life as me.
Living as someone else was not sustainable.
It had done more harm than good.
As I set my course in this direction,
I found that I could never turn back.
I will be and become who I am
As I am, forever.
I made that commitment and vow
I have made that resolute conviction.
While you trudge on
With your judgments and statements
Regarding my imperfections
I found my decision has caused a most unlikely consequence.
It has long been known that you do not understand me;
just as I do not understand you.
Yet, something is occurring.
In which, you feel a need to compensate with new gestures.
I wonder if you have a reason
Or if you are even aware of this change.
You've begun to reminisce with me
Of the few memories we have of our time together.
I listen to them on repeat
When I come over.
I wonder if you hold onto those memories
Simply because, to you, they were the significant few.
Others are present in my memories,
But very few are without jade and reproach towards me
Yet, I allow them to live on in my mind.
I harbor no resentments toward them,
Though, admittedly they make me feel blue.
I wish the comments decorating my memories were not so,
But I still remember them anyway.
Perhaps, you do not.
If you don't, that is a blessing.
I hope you can look at memories and see only their good.
However, when you look at me while recounting them,
I suspect you remember them too.
Though the lingering comments from the past are left unsaid,
At times, I notice what appears to be
A brief glimpse of guilt in your expressions.
I only notice because of the unusual hesitancy in your voice,
And because, somehow, it replaced the look of disgust
I used to see in your eyes and face.
The disdain is no longer there.
You likely won't apologize for them,
Even if you do regret them.
I am okay with that;
I don't expect you to.
They no longer inflict the same damage to me that they once did.
You and I will always see things differently.
I'm not expecting that to change.
You've started making purchases that allude to "old times."
You reference my childhood with gifts from things I once loved;
The very same things you found distasteful back then.
I can't help but think you long to bring back what is now lost.
I find it funny, not in a spiteful way, but in a genuinely humorous way.
Can't you see, my love and affection cannot be purchased?
Love is not so cheap that you can buy it with presents.
I need no tangible item to represent and prove its value or worth.
It is not replaceable or supplemental.
I have loved you always.
You never needed to earn it.
I so desperately longed for your approval.
Even when your approval was refused,
I loved you regardless.
When my lifestyle damaged my soul and spirit,
You were proud of me for it.
I still wanted to make you proud,
Even when you ignored my pain.
No matter how harsh your words were;
No matter how you meddled in my life and relationships;
No matter how many times you scorned my dreams, opinions, or beliefs;
No matter how many times I was considered inept or inadequate by you in some way;
I cannot deny that I loved you throughout it all regardless.
I've never loved you any less.
Nothing can make up for or replace the past,
Though I do see that you are trying in your own way.
Tangible gifts and items are what you understand.
They may not mean the same to me as they do you.
Love has never meant the same to us.
Though it was difficult for me to realize and understand that.
While I know we are nowhere near understanding one another,
I can recognize and appreciate that you are trying.
I'll welcome your attempts,
And strive to return them in kind.
I'll hope you can understand,
But I won't expect it.
I know you may not ever understand
Or see things the way I do.
My love is given freely and willingly.
You cannot buy my affection, but I love you anyway;