The Words Left Unsaid

Alecia Kennedy
6 min readSep 13, 2023

Why is it so hard for me to be vulnerable?

The Author at age 3 circa 1972 (check out those GoGo boots!)

The first person I was ever able to love with all my heart was my oldest daughter. I was thirty-three years old and was completely broken open emotionally and spiritually when I became a mom. I couldn’t have the news on while I was driving for months after her birth lest all the horrors of the world reduce me to a crying mess who couldn’t see through her tears and had to pull over to the shoulder of the highway.

I laughed out loud when I thought about the past boyfriends who I thought I had loved! The torture those breakups had caused me. How I’d wailed with pain at the loss of men who didn’t give one damn about me. What did I know about love? Nothing. Not a damn thing. And I was on my second marriage. Everything I know about love came from being a mother.

I don’t know why I was so emotionally withdrawn as a child. While I grew up knowing I was loved, my parents weren’t particularly demonstrative. And even when they were, I felt the need to pull away. I remember being shocked when my daughter would hug or kiss me as a toddler. I don’t believe I behaved that way toward my mom as a child. No wonder she had more kids. I was defective.

It wasn’t that I didn’t experience big emotions — because I certainly did. But I was always reluctant to express how I felt. I held back my tears in order not…