People | Mates

In Difficult Love: When Your Childhood Maps Who and How You Love

I grew up with food stamps, latchkeys, Lee jeans from an outlet, Campbell’s soup, three deadbeat dads, and a mother who wrote letters to a TV evangelist praying for a husband.

The first time my partner told me he loved me was just after I found out he had been sleeping with his neighbor. An hour before, the other woman had confronted me outside his apartment building, the same building where I, too, had once lived. She was smoking and called out to me when she saw me approach. “Hey,” she said, “is he safe with you? Because he wasn’t safe with me.” I stood there silent, mouth gaping. She smiled.



I want to love this man.


Enough, enough, enough.


I fell in love with a man who wasn’t ready, and then he was. He fell in love with a woman who wasn’t available, and then she was. We made up our own story. I spent most of my life doubting myself and my desires when I should have questioned the stories themselves. I never ignored the red flags. I charged through them.