everything I ever needed to know about love, I learned from Grand… and did the opposite (g2)

If you’ve read some previous mentions, Grand is the grandparent who raised me. My mom was still a teenager when I was born and it was years after my mom died at the age of 30, with a child of my own, that I found out my Grand had forcibly taken me from my mother and slapped her with a restraining order, utilizing her teenage diary and a meat-headed uncle for leverage.

My mom lost her other parent when she was 17 to a heart attack. Unfortunately, it was the parent she was closest to and it happened shortly after my mom, being a teen, was well… being a teen. They were fighting. I’m pretty sure is was the typical “YOU NEVER LET ME DO (insert whatever bs here)!!!!” Her parent already had a heart condition and had survived thirteen years past their doctor’s estimated expiration date, but none of their four kids (my mother included) knew that.

A month after Grand loses her spouse, Grand’s father also passes. I’m pretty sure something in both my mom and Grand just snapped. My mother went wild and self-destructive (much like I did when she died and ironically, how both our children ended up here) and Grand plotted revenge. Grand continued to manipulate, cajole, and tear their family apart until their dying day. I still wonder the satisfaction, if any, they got from that.

I’m positive my mother went to her grave believing she killed her parent. Of course, Grand did a fine job making sure she kept feeling that way. When I came along a couple years later, I became a handy tool to lord over my mom while also being a “second chance” for Grand to mold “better.” In many ways, I was Grand’s fifth as well as being my mom’s only child.

Somewhere between infancy and toddlerhood, my mom was allowed around me, sometimes for the afternoon, sometimes going off for the day, occasionally overnight, and rarely over an entire weekend. It wasn’t until I was in my teens, and Grand and I were at each other’s throats, that I lived with my mom.

My mom was not completely faultless. I remember countless hours as a child pressing my face to a screen door trying desperately to see her rusty Chevy swing around the corner, being disappointed more often than not. I remember being forgotten at school. I remember being cast aside as new men came into my mom’s world, each one a complete loser. I suspect Grand even exacerbated a few of those instances of disappointment in the hopes I would withdraw from my mother faster.

As children, we couldn’t care less how bad our moms might be, we just want them with us. I was no different. I wanted my mom to be my mom. It didn’t help that she was such a stranger to me, I usually called her by her first name. She was like a celebrity, an anomaly, like trying to grab onto smoke.

Grand of course did their best to drive it in my head all the ways my mom was a horrible person and why she should be the most reviled and hated of all people and that having to bear the burden of her upbringing was something akin to torture. My father was treated with the same level of affection, perhaps even worse since even Grand would lighten up a hair for their own genetics. The only thing a child learns from that kind of drilling is that when both your parents are nothing but shit, that just makes you double.

Even at age four, I subconsciously understood my Grand was one of those people who thinks love is a fixed amount and bringing in a new element required lessening the portions those already with a share, or eliminating those disposable enough, altogether. Grand wanted the portions that resided in me for my parents, and did anything possible to make that shrink as quickly as possible and eradicate it like a cancer.

Of course, even through the years I completely broke contact with my mother for a while, I still loved her. Just as Grand may sound like a vicious demon when I talk about the past, and for a great many reasons, they were… I loved Grand too.

I had no other basis to go on in regard to love… that shit on TV just sounded hokey and stupid, so for a while I believed that love had limits just as Grand did. You could love your immediate family and close friends, your pets, a lover but at some point, you would be stretched to your limit as more people came into it, even if some left. Of course you had to stop loving a past lover to make room for a new one, right?… right? Do I hear crickets?

It wasn’t until I married that I realized… I had enough room to love this new family along with the one I grew up in. I had plenty. In fact, my capacity to love seemed to expand as new additions were made. It was like realizing you have self-installing upgrades when it came to emotions. It was such an epic feeling!

I also came to realize, painfully, that even the worst loves will always possess that particular piece of real estate in your heart. It was never anyone but theirs to begin with, it came into being the minute they did. It may shrink and blacken, burn over and crust like a scab… then a scar. It may become an easier or lighter burden to carry, but it’s never, ever gone.

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