If you’ve followed this blog at all since late 2014, you’ll have noted that I’m on something of a self-improvement kick. Between going to therapy (including EMDR), and working on my own, I’ve been trying to improve myself as a human being.
Recently, though, things spun out of control, and I’ve been forced to come to terms with a lot of stuff. Stuff that I thought I had pretty well repressed.
As a child who was both abused and neglected, I have the following issues:
- a desire to avoid conflict in my relationships to the point where I will subjugate myself to make things easier
- absolutely no idea how to accept love, while still being capable of loving someone
Thank god I’ve managed to get to a point where I recognize these things about myself, because now I can resolve them. Thank you, therapy! Thank you, therapists!
These particular features about my personality have really fucked-up my life. Curious?
Conflict Avoidance and Self-Subjugation and How It’s Made a Mess of My Love Life
Don’t fight with someone or they’ll leave. And you know what? I can even tell you exactly the moment I learned this1.
In a relationship, I can’t stand up for myself or express what I want or need. Most of my relationships have been obliterated by this lovely trait. Historically, I’ve lent myself to certain abuses. If I’m dating you or married to you, it’s been easy to walk all over me. And that sucks like crazy because I build up anger and resentment over time, it becomes very easy for my partner to lose respect for me while it’s happening, and I can’t voice it because hey, avoid conflict at all costs.
And then I get miserable, angry, hurt, and resentful. And then I leave. And I simply can’t do it anymore. I’m broken.
The problem is that I’ve lost a lot of my identity over the course of this. So now, not only am I broken in the ways mentioned above, I have to re-establish the most fundamental of things: me.
And Then There’s That Issue with Accepting Love
Yeah. Tough stuff. On some level, I’ve never really felt worthy of love, so I try really hard to make the person I love stay with me, at the detriment of my own happiness. I try really hard even when it’s the worst possible thing to be doing. And I’ve done that over and over and over again. And how do you break that cycle? How do you learn to just be loved, when as a child you were taught to depend on yourself for love and comfort, and you have an independent streak a mile wide? How do you just accept that you’re worthy of love? Because for a lot of my life, I haven’t felt that way. And I know that it creates a vicious cycle in a relationship where things spiral out of control, because when you reject someone’s expressions of love, you reject their love, and that builds walls.
So There You Have It
I’m pretty fucking broken. But the good thing is, I recognize that I am broken, and I’ve been laying the groundwork in therapy to unfuck the contents of my head, so that going forward, I can stand up for myself without driving someone away, and I can accept someone being in love with me.
So What’s Next?
Well, the first thing I am working on is me. I’m building a table of things. Right now, I am struggling to remember who I was before this whole recent mess, and I am working to remember all the good things about me that came before now…that’s column one. Column two in my table is going to be the things that are good about me now, because to be sure, there are some good things that have come out of this. And the last column is going to identify the deficiencies where I think I need to expound on what’s not there in either model (“learn to accept love”, among other things). So I’m going to take those three columns and I am going to forge them into a blueprint for a future version of me that I am going to work to make real.
I can be anything I want. I can be strong enough to stand up for myself. And I can be vulnerable enough to be loved. At the same time. And I can be all the things in between that I’ve given up on — being a dreamer, an idealist — and all the things that I always wanted to be.
It’s going to be a hell of an interesting ride.
I was between 2 and 3 years old. I peed in the tub. My dad yanked me out by my arm and beat me pretty badly — ever been slapped on a part of you that’s soaking wet by someone 5-6 times your size? — and I remember being in blinding amounts of pain and crying heavily. Mom started yelling at him, he started yelling back, and made threats to go back to Turkey (he was in the Army). The lesson I learned: People that engage in conflict will cause their loved ones to leave (or threaten to). The lesson I should have learned: my dad was an out-of-control asshole who had zero anger-management and zero self-control.↩
8 thoughts on “Broken”
Are you sure you have the correct parent in their respective roles. You Dad never laid a hand on you in the last 34+ years. He is a passive aggressive who was afraid to get angry at me for fear of my reaction. However I still remember you brother Paul coming out of the house in Maple Grove with a bright red hand print on his face from your mother and all he did was walk back in the house to get patchy. You need to look more at some of the things your mother did and not blame everything that is f.. up on your dad. Your mother used to hit both of you with wooden spoons. Your remembering is a little skewed. You are still pissed that your dad divorced your mother. Please remember this. He was ready to leave this life when I met him. You need to give him a break and realize that he did the best he could. If you need to talk to me about things from about age 8 call or meet me for coffee.
Okay, let’s get a couple of things straight here, you head-in-the-sand asshole.
First off, you’re right — he never laid a hand on me after the divorce because he knew goddamned well he’d end up losing custody and actually have to pay child support. But you need to understand exactly how violent that shit was. You know that situation I described in the footnote? That’s accurate. And the tip of the fucking iceberg. The number of times he hit me, belittled me, humiliated me, etc., go far beyond that. And if my mom hit Paul once, that does nothing the ameliorate the level of crap that he put me through. So I know you have this overwhelming urge to defend the sack of shit because he’s spent countless years telling you what a heartless bitch my mom was, but you need to wake the fuck up to the fact that you’ve got one side of the story: his. So pardon me if I don’t want you trying to dictate the past to me.
Also, I neither need to “give him a break” nor do I fucking care if he did “the best that he could” — because his best was absolute shit. He spent the eight years of my life, pre-divorce, beating me, yelling at me, and making me feel like I was nothing. And after the marriage, the only thing that changed was that the beating stopped. And I still carry the emotional (and physical) scars of that. So am I going to cut him a break? Absolutely not. And I’m not going to shut up about this, either, because there are other kids out there who are being treated like this now, and adults out there who were treated like this as children, and they need to know that it’s not all right.
Was my mom innocent in all of this? No. But she was a damn sight better than he was, and for you to think that he’s somehow blameless in all of this is no fucking surprise. He’s been able to control the narrative for 35+ years.
He’s a selfish, violent asshole who passive-aggressive or not, had no problem beating on, demeaning and belittling his kids, and when he wasn’t doing that, he was neglecting them. So you know what? Believe whatever you like, though — you’re the one that’s stuck with him.
Personally, I’m not. I’m working very hard to put him and the effects he’s had on my life out of my headspace, and I’m going to walk away from it all. But I refuse to be silent about the journey and I refuse to let you, or he, whitewash what happened. So fuck you both. Have a nice life.
You are correct Dan. I do not know what happened before me. However I do know a few things. One, your Dad did not have custody of you after the divorce. In fact he paid both child support and alimony and this I know as I helped pay it. He gave your mother pretty much everything. It was later that the custody changed. Also if your Dad was so bad as you describe what did YOU insist on moving to Georgia with us. You had the choice and YOU chose to move. I do know that a tiger rarely changes is stripes and if he beat you and was out of control it would have shown up later with other children. I do hope you get your life in order and get over your issues. I have never treated you any different than the others. If you hate me so much I am sorry. I did the best I could do. Some day you may realize that your memories are not what you think they are. Have a good life.
idea…Check with other people that knew you and the family in Berlin and before me. They might help you to remember what life was like.
Idea: drop it. I’ve already told you that I am uninterested in your position on this.
You have a way to go. You are still not willing to listen to anyone else’s view that does not agree with your opinion. You are not looking for truth but validation. Best of luck in your new life.
Are you still fucking talking? This has nothing to do with opinion — and certainly not yours. I’m not looking for validation at all. I’m looking for the truth and because I won’t blindly roll over and accept your “everything was fine, it was your mom” view of things leads me to believe that you’re here just to help my dad continue his “I was the victim” narrative.
Wow Connie I don’t know how you figure into the narrative of Dan’s life but, Dan is free to anger at whomever, synthesize however, release whenever. He is responsible for his process of grieving and reconciliation. Humans are gray; they come with good, bad. Experiences shake out differently in hind-site. Whoever you are: rest it. Don’t hover over his healing with your own wooden spoon. You’re selfish.