I grew up in a home full of conflict. Well house, really. Home is a word that feels like where you go to be restored and there was no restoration to be found there. There was stress and fear and anxiety and loneliness. I’m not going to go into details. I just want to say that the cycle of abuse is real and it’s hard to be a loving parent when you were never shown that in your own childhood. As an adult, I understand and I’m beyond grateful that I was blessed with the mother that I have because her sweet, loving nature was an important building block for me as a parent myself. The cycle stopped here.
As a child, it’s impossible to know that you aren’t the problem. You grow up feeling inferior and bad. Surely you’re just not easy to love. You look at friends who are treasured and adored and you wonder how to be more like them.
As an adult, I had to learn how to love myself. For me, part of this process involved making an effort to understand what motivated my father to treat me the way he did. Understanding that he was a product of his own difficult childhood allowed me to understand that I wasn’t at fault. This was the beginning of the healing process for me and it allowed me to let go of so much baggage. Only I can’t just stop being the person I was for the first 20something years of my life. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy with the person who I am today, but like everyone else, my view of the world is seen through the glasses of everything that led me to today.
I don’t get attached to people easily, because I’m still insecure and scared. I come across as snobby or standoffish. Really I’m just shy and insecure. If I don’t know you well and I see you out somewhere, I’m waiting for a cue from you to trigger my response, or I’m hoping you just don’t even see me to begin with so I can avoid possible rejection altogether. This is subconscious of course, but Lord knows I’ve had enough therapy to be able to look back at a situation and assess it. People are going to read this and tell me that I have a ton of friends, and I shouldn’t feel this way, etc. I know this. I just haven’t learned how to control that first response that has been ingrained in me for 40+ years now. It’s not you, it’s me. For real.
All of this leads to a real problem. When someone does manage to breech my defenses and I allow myself to let them in, it’s very difficult to let go if things go south. I’ve trained myself to look for causes of bad behavior so that I can release myself of responsibility. If I can say, yes, you committed a relationship ending offense, but I know that you are this way because of a negative experience in your own life, I start to feel like I can’t punish you for that. And because I’ve witnessed a huge change in myself from the person I was in my teens and 20s to the person I am today, I know all too well that people can be different if they choose to be. Becoming a better version of myself is such an important part of my life that I automatically assume everyone does or should want the same in their own lives. I am so grateful for the people who didn’t give up on me. I sometimes sacrifice myself so that I’m not giving up on someone else.
I don’t like talking about ANY of this. But all of this brings me to the other change that I’ve starting embracing in the last year and is important to where I am going. I’ve had to stop sacrificing myself and learn how to let go of people who are toxic to my mental wellbeing and I’ve had to learn how to try to do that without guilt. I’ve had to address the way that makes me feel. Anxious, heartless, bad. I’ve had to start learning how to take my own advice.
Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.