When my parents got married, it was a different time. I have no doubt of my father's love for my mother, but my mom, growing up not really knowing what love is and verbal abuse, I can't say she feels the same. I've always known deep down that theirs was a marriage of necessity. My mom was 28 and considered an Old Maid. After having her engagement cut off by another man, she did what she was supposed to, and my grandmother was not happy. She never liked my father, and, in turn, her grandchildren, us, we got the brunt.
When you grow up with this as your model, it's hard to determine what a relationship is really supposed to be like. My father, the typical man of the 50's and 60's worked hard to provide for his family, came home, threw back a couple of Coors Lights, and went to bed. He is a difficult and challenging man, no doubt out of necessity from the way he grew up - his father left when he was a year old. He was a stone cold wall. The only emotions I ever saw from him were laughter or anger. For a long time growing up, I thought men didn't have emotions like women. That they couldn't feel hurt. I was stunned to learn that when I broke up with one boyfriend (quite carelessly looking back) that he was really hurt and crying on the phone. It hit me then that men could actually feel something. I've always regretted that one.
When I was 17, my mother picked me up from school and told me she was divorcing my father. I talked her out of it. They went to counseling, actually she went a lot and my dad went once. Although I'm happy they stayed together, I carried around regret for talking my mom out of it for a long time. It wasn't until recently when I came clean to her about my feelings and she told me it was her choice.
Today, I see my parents and understand that they are roommates who take care of one another, and maybe that's what ends up happening when you get older.
The biggest issue for me, and Sister1, is my father. A hard man, arrogant, egotistical and introverted. All he does is talk about himself and he throws tantrums when you talk back to him, correct him or even sometimes joke with him. He's never a listener, unless you really need serious advice, and he talks....incessantly. It's all about him, all of the time, and whether that was what he became after a tough childhood, hasn't been fully confirmed. With that said, he is a very generous and thoughtful man. He was, and is still, good to us. He's just very challenging to love. And I don't even know if I do love him that way. He's just there. The older he gets, the worse he feels and the more he resembles a very grumpy old man. This is what I know.
As a young girl, I, like my sisters, were raised to be strong, well-educated, independent women who could take care of themselves should we end up divorced. We would have good jobs, not take anyone's crap and live life with confidence. They certainly instilled that, but the marks he's left on us are deeper than those lessons learned. It is ever-present in more than just DNA. Because of the way we were raised, I was always strong-willed. I wanted to do what I wanted to do because they told me things were possible. Boy, did Pop and I go to blows....a lot. And the one thing you feared the most was his disappointment. In fact, it still lingers in me today. It's something I've tried to let go of, meditate to rid my energy of, yet it continues to work its way back in. It suppresses me, my creativity, the freedom to have my own life. It's every decision I make, everything I do must be something I think he'd approve of. It's a totally fucked up way of living. I know! But, at least I'm aware. Today, at least I can say that I'm practicing ignoring him and controlling how I react to him. That's all I can do.
It's not like I don't have positive relationship models today. I do. However, the fear inside me that I will meet someone like him, settle for someone who I don't want to be with long-term...it's real. And, it's a lasting impression of what I see regularly. It took me a long time to understand that this is part of the reason I choose men who are or become unavailable. The other is thanks to a really bad choice of men when I was 18 who can't seem to get the hint nearly 20 years later that I want nothing to do with him.
I guess I got bad man joo-joo. And no matter how many times I try to exorcise it, it finds its way back.
I also think that I have "I don't trust you", "I don't believe you" or "I am not emotionally healthy" written in neon lights on my forehead. Part of my Finding Epiphany is to once and for all let go of how I feel others think of me; to trust and believe in love - cuz I see it happen for so many everyday - and know that I deserve to be loved and adored by someone. Believe it or not, I'm not sold 100% on marriage for me, but that's probably because I haven't met anyone, or dated someone long enough, with that potential. I don't want to be ashamed of bringing someone home to meet my father anymore - he doesn't define me. I don't want to be afraid that someone will leave me because of my father. I don't want to push away men anymore because it's safe. I want to be happy again and leave all of this behind me.