How My Childhood Affected my Relationships
I grew feeling the need to be perfect. I did everything in my power to control the things I could.
I was smart, popular, well-mannered, athletically inclined and the worst, cute.
I was this tiny little toe-head blonde that did not weigh more than an ounce and was still 4’8” in the 6
grade. I was not afraid to speak in public (and actually was a champion oralist), was a national baton twirling champion and a gifted dancer.
From the outside I had it all.
I never realized how much I tried to control my childhood until I reached my 30s.
It was at that point that I looked back and realized how much my family and my mother and father’s relationship affected me at such a young age. To say it was rocky is an understatement.
See, my childhood was one lie after another.
My parents were divorced, but lived together (who knew).
My brother had a different dad (I knew this later).
My brother’s father was my mom’s first husband (truth, he was actually a black gentleman who was not married to my mom).
My father was a loving husband . (Truth he was an angry, jealous alcoholic).
My mom’s third husband was cool. (Truth, he was 21 years her junior and in my humble opinion, a child).
My childhood was wonderful. (Truth, my father is a convicted felon).
When I hit my teenage years and really about 14 and began to actually date, I realized I craved male attention. Yeah, typical daddy issues.
Truth, I missed father. I missed being daddy’s little girl. Truth, I did not know what a healthy relationship with a man was supposed to look like.
I know it sounds cliché, but it is so true.
Children learn how to have healthy relationships, whether with their parents, friends, or a significant other by seeing them in action.
I learned to lie and hide things from boys and men.
I learned to never get too close because you will get hurt.
I learned that you never tell anyone the truth because it could hurt you.
I learned not to trust anyone, including myself.
As my teenage years progressed, I found myself more and more obsessed with finding someone that would give me the picture perfect life I longed for.
But trying to do that in a web full of lies was just setting me up for failure.
I had a wonderful high school boyfriend.
Seriously, he was amazing.
Loving, kind, thoughtful.
His family loved me as well.
I hit the proverbial jackpot.
And I managed to screw it up.
I was so scared of losing him or him seeing the real me that I lied and manipulated.
He forgave me. Again and again.
He kept loving me while I screamed at him or broke things and cheated.
He was steadfast, until he couldn’t do it anymore. I broke him.
I spent my college years jumping from relationship to relationship in hopes of finding one that would stick.
But the truth is I was always half way out the door as soon as things got real.
I was so scared of being along that I never truly committed and managed to have someone new lined up as soon as one relationship ended.
One of the problems was I kept trying to reinvent myself to be whoever I thought that guy wanted me to be.
I spent so much time trying to control this outward appearance that I had no clue who I was really was.
I wish I could say this dissipated in my mid and late 20s, but I fear it got worse.
You know that carefree time in your 20s after college when you stay up late, drink and often roll into work hungover?
Yeah, I did that well.
I escaped from reality weekly.
I continued on a path of self-destruction and self-loathing.
I did not value myself at all.
Why? I never learned the importance of self-worth.
Sure, I have had some amazing role models in my life.
Women who poured into me and showed me what successful women were made of.
But, it was the simple how to be loved and love that I never learned.
When I met my first husband, I was 23.
I was “ready” to settle down.
I mean, my friends all were. So, I decided he was it.
I just made up my mind that I was done searching and I would make this work.
I changed everything I could about myself.
I lost 35 pounds when I competed in Miss Texas and he loved it.
I continued to date him even though he failed to acknowledge we were in a relationship.
I let him change my mind about my career, my physical appearance, and my family.
I let him make me feel subservient and small and most of needy.
I felt that I needed him.
I felt like I would never find anyone else who would accept all my shortcomings, past, family issues and personal struggles.
Do not get me wrong, he was a good man.
He has some wonderful qualities and I actually attribute so much of who I am today to him.
As much as he made me feel small and needy and insecure, out of that came the realization that I was worth more.
I deserved more.
Out of my depression and anxiety came self-worth and self-realization.
Out of a divorce came a woman who knew what she wanted and needed in a relationship.
Out of that relationship came the me who learned how to love and be loved the way I needed it.
Now, over time I have come to accept that depression and anxiety are ok.
They are a part of me and its ok.
I learned that people will either accept it or not, and if they choose not to, they are not a needed part of my life.
I learned that relationships are not meant to be one-sided—and that means friendships too.
I refuse to let toxic people in my life.
I understand—more than ever—that you have to forgive yourself, love yourself and let go.
I can only control my own actions and thoughts and not those of others.
That means I refuse to let the thoughts and actions of others get to me.
People will continue to lie to me and I just accept that is who they are.
Now, I am happily married, again with a threenager of my own.
Am I perfect? Far from it.
Do I still have relationship issues, yes, but I know how to manage them better. I have learned that my anxiety, depression and quest to control everything is part of my life, but I have faith that I mean to be this person and I understand how to deal with what life throws at me now.
For better or worse, my childhood is a part of who I am and shaped the confident, independent proud woman I am now.