“You can’t do anything right. You’ll never amount to anything.”
These are the words I heard most of my life. No, these are the words I remember hearing most of my life. I’m sure there were others, but I don’t remember any of it. All I remember is my Dad’s constant interference without understanding ‘what I want from life.’
He’s a narcissist, perfectionist, and misogynist. My childhood revolved around his fluctuating moods, mostly nasty. I was the innocent victim who walked around on egg shells tracking my dad’s terrible mood swings.
With restaurant and motel, there was a constant pressure on my parents. I still remember watching my Mom making huge kettles of Dutch pot pie and several trays of homemade pies. My Dad, the actual cook, filled orders and I used to see him at the griddle and deep fryer. Sometimes, I would just go out and socialize with our customers and employees.
I will never forget the day we left him. My Mom sensed a great disturbance by noticing dad’s wild outburst. I remember he called me back into the kitchen area where he was cooking. He told me that he was going to sell all my belongings and my dog. He wished he had a gun to shoot my Mom. I was struck dumb.
I remember running out of the back door, catching my breath while crossing the parking lot to reach my main house door. I ran to my room and collapsed on the floor with my boxer dog Scuffy, wrapping my arms around her and crying hysterically. She was shaking like a leaf because I was upset.
Not long after, my Mom came over, grabbed her typewriter, a change of clothes for each of us, her resume and the dog. We left to my Grandmother’s house where we stayed for six months.
The next few months were tumultuous with court hearings and harassment from dad’s parents. I was afraid to visit him but I had no choice. Once again, I accepted living with him despite his erratic mood patterns. Some weekends, I would fake an illness. I called my Mom once or twice and asked her to get me because it was just too much. I eventually disowned my father for a while. I just couldn’t take it anymore.
In June 2007, my Mom and I went to visit my Aunt and Uncle in Illinois. We moved there two months after that visit. I was not happy with the decision. As I’m older now, I know it was the best thing for me. It allowed me to get away from all the negativity. From there, my healing process started.
It didn’t come easy.
They tell us that the parent of the opposite sex is so influential on a child. However, the absence cripples your emotionally until you learn to get past it. While growing up, I dealt with self-esteem, self-confidence, and relationship/dating issues.
Let’s start with self-esteem. Having your self-esteem shredded by a parent is the worst feeling in the world. When the person who is supposed to be your biggest cheerleader turns against you, life becomes hell. Living by the high standards set by a narcissist is hard.
Why can’t you be like ‘so and so?’ Didn’t get straight A’s? You’ll never amount to anything. If you did something wrong, he’d get upset at you without giving any support. Have a creative dream you want to pursue? Get a real job.
The worst part:
As time progressed, I started believing in such crap.
When I was sixteen, I moved three states away with my Mom to cut the cord. I didn’t want to face my dad’s negative vibe. He instilled the voice of self-doubt in my psyche.
Self-esteem and self-confidence go hand in hand. It wasn’t until I got my first job, my license and my first car that both things started to change. Little by little, I became more self-confident. No longer did I walk around with my head down.
Face problems interacting with men:
Until today, I couldn’t get hold of this issue. I wish to have more male friends. I don’t why, but I judge myself in front of opposite gender. What if he dislikes me? What if he ditches me? I fear to sound like a weak lady screaming for emotional support.
I wind up apologizing all over the place for just being me. Now, I have realized the importance of ‘being myself’ and let things evolve naturally.
My relationship/dating issue:
My early dating life was a disaster. I couldn’t recall a single moment of a healthy relationship because I was torn into pieces. I longed to be with someone so bad I felt I could “fix” every guy who had issues. If I could just love them enough, they wouldn’t lie/cheat/take advantage of me.
I allowed a man to treat me the way he wanted to. It wasn’t until I met my husband that I realized that I could be loved for being myself. He showed me that all men are not horrible.
If you are a guy out there and are dealing with a toxic Mom, some of these issues may sound familiar. Some people think you have to act like nothing is wrong and just suck it up and deal with it. They are wrong.
You always have the potential to experience the positive side. Never feel alone in your life struggle.
Over the years, I have come out a better person. I am a happily married woman who is pursuing her dreams. I have an awesome husband. I no longer deal with self-esteem or self-confidence issues. Sure, I have my days where I think, ‘Can I do this?’ But, their frequency is too low to affect my mood.
As far as making a male friend, work is still in progress. I still talk to my Dad every few weeks. Now, any negative statement falls on deaf ears.
You might be wondering:
What positives did I take from this mental trauma?
- understood my self-worth. I can’t base my reasoning on others’ perception. I’m not a failure. My dad’s depressing tag ‘never amounting to anything ‘doesn’t define my reality.
- noticed a drastic positive change in my approach toward life. Be it my first job or my first book launch; I appreciate my achievements with full confidence.
- realized the importance of self-love. Before expecting your partner to respect you, start respecting yourself. If you can’t love yourself, prepare for the toxic pattern in your relationship.
- accepted the way I am. No more changing. No more waiting for external approval. Just go with the flow and enjoy life with my supporting friends and loving husband.
- absorbed the fact that my past does not define me. Whatever has happened has happened. There is no use to repent over the past failures. Future holds bright promises.
Most Important Lesson:
My dad’s parent did the same thing with him. So, he treated me the same way. His issues with his parents and not living up to their standards have nothing to do with me. This is clearly a family inequity and it stops here with me.
I chose to have a conversation with my Dad about what he did to me. I also wanted him to know about all the events and my feelings. But, he didn’t acknowledge my initiative.
“It took two to tango,” was his unapologetic response.
I was twelve.
Though the reply hit me hard, I was happy to take the first step. At least, I didn’t keep quiet and suffered the pain.
How can this help you?
Here are some things you can do to help you move past the relationship damage:
- No matter how small is the progress, do something every day to build your confidence.
- Be cautious of your company. Hang with those with whom you feel comfortable. Throughout my life, I have cut ties with several people because their presence stunted my growth and they always saw me as someone who was beneath them.
- Listen to positive music, read self-help books, and listen to self-help podcasts.
- Try to talk with the person who has created a mess in your life. No matter whatever the response, you’ll feel a lot better after venting your frustration.
- Try to understand why that person behaves like this. Is there a repeating pattern that was put on in his/her previous relationships? If you find a pattern, it doesn’t mean that the act was right. But, sometimes a little compassion and insight can help you keep your sanity. After stepping out of the situation, you get a clear picture.
- Remind yourself every day that you are worthy and have a grand purpose on this planet. You are not defined by what someone else has said or what has happened to you. Don’t pursue anything for pleasing others. Do what your heart says to you.
Now, I have a clear vision of where I’m going in life. After accomplishing my dream of becoming a writer, I’m confident to complete my other goals. If my father doesn’t approve my achievements, I don’t care. May God give him the strength to bear the loss.
About Warrior: Carrie Lowrance is a freelance writer and author. She has been published on Huffington Post, Crosswalk, Bon Bon Break, Horkey Handbook, etc. She has published three books of poetry, Lithium Dreams and Melancholy Sunrise, The Safety Of Objects, and Shadow Of Soul. She has also published one children's book, Don't Eat Your Boogers (You'll Turn Green). You can connect with her at her web site freelancebylowrance.