Affection is very important to me. This evening, I spent a little time soul searching to figure out why. For me, at least, what it boils down to is the fact that I got such mixed messages from my mother on a wide variety of things. However, regardless of what messed up thing was going on growing up or what messed up, the only thing consistent my mother gave me was affection. At times it was the only way I knew that I was loved.
As I ponder this thought more, I think back to the time about 9 years ago when I last saw my mother. She was visiting me and staying in a "guest house" the apartment complex had. It was the last night before she was to go home and she was in my apartment going off about riches that were supposedly buried deep within this piece of property her dad owned many years ago. She had come up with this really elaborate story. This wasn't the first time I had heard this story. I had ran the story by aunt, who knew that the story was not anywhere near true. Even before I ran the story by my aunt, I just had this feeling that my mother was trying to manipulate me somehow using this story.
I don't remember what exactly happened before I basically told her to "shut up and let me live my life." I don't even remember what I told her to be honest. They probably weren't the best words I could have used. I certainly remember what happened after that. My mother demanded I take her to the airport that instant, even though her flight wasn't for another 12 hours or so. The entire car ride from my apartment to the airport was my mother spewing her hate at me in a way that nobody should ever have to hear. I swear that my mother was posessed by Satan himself. At one point, I even threatened to pull over and drop her off and make her walk to the airport if she didn't stop.
When I dropped my mom at the airport, there was no affection. There was a handshake and a "have a good life" (or words to that effect). In that moment, my mother didn't love me. I was dead to her. I have since talked with my mother, but when she started on her rants again, I finally had to tell her I had enough and that I wanted nothing more to do with her. It's been probably 5 years since I last talked to her. My mother may love me still. I have no idea. I've said my peace to her.
I now understand why affection is important and why I give my kids perhaps a little too much affection—I really love 'em. It's one of the few things I know how to do in that regard.