“The sensuality between parents and their children often is so intense that only the age old control by society prevents the rise of sexuality. When a single parent is of the opposite sex the situation is more strained. How to show love and demonstrate affection without stirring in the young and innocent mind the idea of sexuality? Many parents, alarmed at the dreadful possibility of raising incestuous thoughts in their children’s minds, withdraw, refusing all physical contact and leaving the children yearning and befuddled with ideas of unworthiness.”
Quoted from Maya Angelou in her autobiography ‘The Heart Of A Woman’ that I am currently reading in addition to several other books...lol, i'm multi-tasking!
I love the way Maya phrases this. Its food for thought, and the more I think about it, the more I agree. This is not only in parent-child relationships, but also between siblings, especially when they are very close and of the opposite sex…even between friends, at times of the same sex! Human relationships are indeed very strange and complex, yet so vital to our existence and well being!
It makes me wonder, does the closeness between two human beings, especially between the opposite sex, always develop into something sexual, despite who they are? I’m sure Sigmund Freud would agree, after all he did once claim our development is based on our sexuality. When I first read this, I thought it was ridiculous, but now I really do wonder! There is some truth to this…
I used to have this best friend when I was around 13/14, when puberty had just began to transcend into my life. We shared the same name, were the same height and size, yet we were so different we complemented each other. She was white and I was black; we were like the perfect blend of milk and black tea/coffee! We slept over at each other’s houses all the time and did other things best friends do; we became very intimate friends.
Maybe a little too intimate, because I thought I began to develop deeper ‘feelings’ for her, which left me very confused!…I realized this when I started to feel awkward whenever we were naked around each other (what?! We were both girls and best friends, so we got comfortable changing in front of each other. I thought nothing of it at the time) Then I went through a period I was suspicious that I could possibly be lesbian because I would find myself feeling sexually attracted to her, and I swore I had caught her looking, blushing, denying, smiling knowingly…I’ll spare the sexually charged memories and only say that we did have some ‘erotic’ moments together, but because of being so young, they were quite innocent and naive in nature. After all I didn’t quite know or understand what I was feeling, or why…
She left after a year, so I guess we’ll never know for sure what these feelings would have developed into…though I’m pretty sure…
Soon after I got a new best friend, this time he was male!
He was the opposite of what I thought at the time to be physically attractive, and had never looked at him as the boyfriend type (lol, I was a year or two older and being the smart ass that I am, I thought I had figured out all there was to know about the birds and the bees; what was supposed to be ‘Fly’ and what was supposed to be ‘gay’; a.k.a wrong!). Yet this dude ended up being my first boyfriend!! We grew really close, and told each other extremely personal things that no one else knew. But as Maya Angelou mentioned it was difficult to show affection without bringing rise to sexuality, which we mistook for ‘love’.
Unfortunately, he was Asian and I Black, so I ended up being made fun of at school. A lot! I was young and still very sensitive to peer pressure and what people thought about me, so we never lasted that long. (Why do people find it cool to date a white dude, but if you date an Asian you’re a freak?! I’ve never understood that!)
Anyways our long and deep friendship was ruined by this. He moved to another high school, so I still see him around once in a while, but we’ve never been the same, the awkwardness remained, even up to day. (I miss him sometimes. Never had a best friend after that; you could say he was my last and best-est! LoL)
I guess this would be a similar outcome if the relationship with a family member was not kept in check by society and fear of taboo.
Which actually reminds me of a play I read in Lit class two years ago called ‘A View From The Bridge’ by Arthur Miller, where a man (Eddie) has such an close relationship with his niece (Catherine), who lived with him and his wife and was more of a daughter to him. When another man came into Catherine’s life, he would become irrationally jealous and protective and his relationship with her became almost incestuous at a point when he forcefully kissed her. His character is often grossly misunderstood. He did not do this out of some kind of twisted lust, but immense love he did not know how to show to express, as well as confusion about his mixed emotions. (Beautifully humanistic and tragic play btw, I recommend it!)
To bring this back to a more personal experience, there have been instances I too admit to have felt this sexual tension between a close family member, my brother. We are only two years apart and both quite sexually mature, so it is inevitable to have those awkward moments, like if we both end up watching a movie that happens to have extensive steamy sex scenes and he happens to get a boner (I know he’s old enough to masturbate!)…or those awkward encounters in the corridor on the way to the toilet in the middle of the night when he’s just in boxers and I in a big Tee Shirt…
As Maya Angelou so eloquently expresses it, one has to be careful not to stir up this sexuality. Nonetheless, it is natural!
At the same time, if you avoid showing affection, they end up feeling “yearning and befuddled with ideas of unworthiness”, and will search for it elsewhere, perhaps in the arms of countless lovers…and by other means, such as through disruptive and annoying attention seeking behaviors…
It can’t just be me who has ever thought and felt this; Maya Angelou has too, and even mentioned it in one of her autobiographies.
Just wondering if you have too?