She fed us and clothed us, as did my father. She put her hand on our foreheads with looks of concern that made wrinkles in her own forehead. She kissed us at bedtime; he did too. And even though I did not, my mother would cry when my father beat me with his belt, for what I can’t remember. And when I graduated from law school, my father genuinely rejoiced—never had I seen him so happy as that day. I never doubted their love for me, but their love was inconstant. It was sometimes very ugly. It didn’t prevent me from harm; rather, it often caused me harm. The more they felt secure in their love for me, the less they seemed prompted actually to look after my well-being.
I learned a lot from my parents. I learned to limit the emotional effect that other people could have on me. I learned to be self-sufficient. They taught me that love is exceedingly unreliable, and so I have never relied on it.
Confessions of a Sociopath
M.E. Thomas 2013