So what does all this mean? That’s what I’m currently working on. While I know how harsh this will sound, I was able to cut my father off at the age 18. I didn’t have much interaction with him, and when I did, he always mentioned how I seemed to be blossoming with him no longer in my life. I don’t know if this was meant to be a positive comment, that I was doing well, or if it was meant to be a guilt trip. Either way, he was right. I was happier, calmer and more comfortable in my home. We didn’t speak much after that. At the time, being physically close to him actually made me feel sick. I could feel my heat rush up my neck whenever we were meant to be in the same place, and at times I still feel it while I think about my relationship with him now. Being around my father was not something that was not healthy for me emotionally or physically.
I have many regrets about our relationship. I was in college when he had a tracheotomy, and his nurse tried to teach me how to take care of him when I visited. I shied away from those duties. I lived off campus, and truth be told, I did not want to interact with my father that often. I felt guilt, anger, resentment and relief. I was relieved that I had an excuse. I had something that I could use as a reason why I couldn’t be there. I often wonder what would have happened if I had helped with some of the responsibility, if I put away my own selfishness and my hurt.
I have moments when I truly feel like I have forgiven my father for my childhood, and then others when anger bubbles to the surface. I struggle with the guilt I feel about not being there for him in his last year, and I believe that it plays a big part in my relationships now. Now trying to overcome that guilt, I give of myself excessively to those in my life. I have a strong tendency to take in much more than others would and allow a lot of things that over-step my own comfort zone. I still do my best to please people, and if something goes haywire, I readily take blame. I take the blame for others’ actions and words, and often myself as the source of these things. It’s almost as if I’m doing anything possible to reconcile those feelings as well as the taught behavior of my childhood. If I do well enough, look pretty enough, accept enough, I’ll be loved. Unfortunately, there is always a point where it becomes too much. I can only handle those feelings so long.
Learning how to put those boundaries of being responsible only to and for myself is a new step. Drawing them has been trying and incorporating them into my current relationships (platonic and romantic) is difficult. It’s almost as if I’m forcing myself to a be different person, but one that is meant to eventually turn into someone who is emotionally healthier. Starting the process was rather difficult and it took several months for me to become comfortable with just starting it.
I still second guess myself and wonder if I’m doing the right the thing. I often feel like I’m being a bitch when simply laying a boundary down. I can’t help but think I’m going to lose some of the people in my life, and it frightens me greatly. I get close to experiencing panic attacks when I think of not knowing or speaking to them in the future. I end up wringing my hands at the thought of losing them.
Could doing something to better myself and make myself healthier really alienate from people in my life? I know most would say this means that they weren’t meant to be in my life to being with, but I still can’t help think that this means there is something wrong in living for me. Wouldn’t that mean they feel I’m not worth it? Were those connections just superficial? Will they be the type to just want me around when I’m beneficial or easy? Or will they stay by me as I erect boundaries? This is how the panic attack starts and how my emotions begin to overload. I immediately start concerning myself with others and how my decisions impact them.
Putting myself first has never been easy, at least not after the age of 21. Like most children and young adults, I was the center of my world. When I finally hit 25, my father had passed a year prior and I had moved out on my own. That is when the emotions started pouring out if me. I longed for that feeling of familiarity. My mother had moved out of state so having that comfortable haven was not an option. I turned inward but still dated a bit. No one I met really stuck out to me until I met the First. He was the first I had wanted to actually build something with. Could that authoritative demeanor have had something to do with the familiarity I longed for? They say you have a tendency to accept the relationship that you learn is “normal” during your childhood. This was normalcy for me.
So how do you begin changing these patterns? I know it won’t come easy, but I’m told it actually means spending a lot of time with yourself, growing comfortable with being enough as you are and realizing those childish thoughts are just that….childish. Any adult can tell you that being good enough or doing the right things will not win the affection of someone who can not actually give it. This is what I continue to seem to be attracted to, men who are unable to actually give to another individual, at least not in a meaningful way. Knowing that there is a pattern ever since I was on my own is a big step in breaking it. Step 2 will be much harder as I’m unsure what it is still. May be I do need to just take a break as I haven’t been without someone in my life for a while and establish what I feel are healthy for me. I’m still unsure.
My next move is uncertain, but I know I’ve started on the right path. Trying to discern the proper boundaries is of utmost important but so is becoming comfortable with who I am on my own. Figuring out where to start….now that’s the hard part.