Hope you’re sitting in a comfy chair and have some time. It’s a long one, folks!
To start off, I just want to say that I’m not one to let my guard down and talk about really real things. I’ve got a pretty strong wall I keep up constantly so that I can keep people at arm’s length. Close enough to keep around but not too close to make myself vulnerable. Going through life like this, I usually end up pretty bottled up with things I’ve thought too much about and emotions I’m not really sure how to handle.
So, that being said… the topic at hand. I don’t really know where to start.
I can tell you that I am currently 22 years old, and that I would one day like to have a loving, caring husband who can take of and support me and a couple children. By “support” I don’t mean financially, I mean emotionally. A husband who will step up to the plate and do what it takes to make it through the hard times and laugh through the good times. I want a husband who will appreciate me and the things I do, and who will respect us and the life we share. A husband who will act as a sturdy structure for me and support my decisions for my life as an individual and for our life as a couple. A husband who will give us children that he loves and who will be there for me while we help them grow into independent adults. I want a husband who is proud of me.
I know that this sounds like a lot, but please know that I hold myself to these standards for him as well. I want to be a wife who can stand at my husband’s side through the trials and the tribulations. I want to be a wife who can provide a warm home for her family. A wife who respects her husband and makes him feel loved and appreciated. A wife who wouldn’t berate her husband for showing emotions. A wife who wants to make sure every single day that her husband knows she loves him and would do anything for him.
It sounds like a fairy tale, doesn’t it! I know (very well) that relationships aren’t perfect and sometimes things get difficult and a husband and wife will argue and bicker and damn near hate each other. How can you live with someone and not get sick of them every now and then, right? I try to keep my expectations realistic (emphasis on the “try” part). Making it through the hard moments together is what can make you stronger as a unit.
I’ve had boyfriends before that quite frankly were no good. My very first boyfriend was a year younger than me. He played baseball and football and I just thought he was the cutest thing. He would often say rude things in a joking manner (not about me, but about inappropriate things) and he was a little pushy about things. My next boyfriend was 2 years older than I was, and my parents loved him. He was sweet and I really liked him and we were together for a good amount of time. He was quite overweight and all we ever really did was get Little Caesar’s pizza and giant cans of Monster energy drinks (both things I hated) and hang out at his mom’s house. He worked at a bowling alley and was sometimes more interested in how cool he looked than anything. The next boyfriend, and the last one of my high school career, was 3 – 5 years older than me (I can’t remember exactly). I basically knew from the start he was kind of yucky. He was a high school drop out who had no ambition to really do anything productive with himself. He drank a lot and was a part of the “drug” clique. He wanted so badly to have a “traumatic” life that he would tell people he was homeless and would fake illnesses to get sympathy. He told me his dad kicked him out of his parents’ house, but I later met both his parents and they both said he had a bed upstairs and food on the table whenever he wanted. He was choosing to be homeless so that he could tell people that he was. I know, I’m just as confused as you are.
I recently had a conversation with my best friend about the people I’ve dated. She made the comment that “you’re so pretty and so smart, and you’ve dated such losers… I never understood why you’ve chosen the boyfriends that you’ve had.”
I know exactly why. I was looking for approval and acceptance and comfort. I wanted a guy to validate me and make me feel wanted and loved like my father never did.
If you don’t know why a little girl needs her daddy, let me tell you. Girls measure their self-worth by how their father treats them. They estimate what they deserve and what they can attain by what their dad says (or doesn’t say, for that matter) to them. A father sets an example of what a man is for his daughter.
My parents were not married. After I was born, they both lived with me at my maternal grandparents. Shortly after, they split. I don’t know for sure how old I was when they broke up, but I don’t have any memory of them ever being together. The only pictures I’ve seen of us together were from when I was still a baby. My earliest memories of my dad are of me waiting by the window with a packed duffle bag watching, waiting for him to show up at my mom’s house to pick me up. I spent every other weekend with him and saw him one day during the week. He was late picking me up every single time. I remember sitting on the front porch or in the living room glued to the window, waiting as patiently as I could for his dark blue Jeep to show up. It seemed like he would never come, but eventually he would get me and take me to his house. When I would get to his house, I’d put my bag in the bedroom that my older sister and I shared and I would play around with her and my older brother. We’d walk all around town, go to parks, ride bikes… get into all kinds of trouble. My dad has a serious drinking problem. I don’t remember much of him spending time with me because he was always drunk. During the day when us kids were out playing, he’d be mostly sober but come evening time, he was gone. He always wanted to be my friend more than he ever wanted to be my dad. He never taught me important life lessons or talked to me about real things. I think he was trying to be a cooler, more laid back parent than my mom was so that I would like him better. On top of that, I don’t think he ever knew how to parent. He left the discipline up to his wife, my step mom. He was present for the joking around but when it came down to it, I never felt like I could count on him or that he was ever there for me. My father was not always appropriate with me. He would get drunk and a couple times came into my bedroom at night and wouldn’t behave the way a father behaves with his daughter. I’ll leave it at that.
Now on the other hand, my mom’s husband was no better. My step dad worked at a factory and very much had a “factory worker” attitude. He was rude and crude and didn’t know when to stop. When he and my mom first got together, he tried very hard to impress me and get me to like him (what did I know, I was only 4!). This is what I’m told, but I don’t remember it ever being like that. Once he and my mom were married, things changed. I remember him berating me and telling me I was incompetent. He’d treat me like I was worthless and stupid. He said something to me once that I’ll never forget, and it still plays back in my head to this day. He said to me, “If you don’t change, you’ll never have any friends, and no one will ever want to marry you.” I was absolutely devastated. But my daddy never told me any different, so I believed it. My step father made remarks like this to me all the time. I couldn’t do anything right. I was stupid. I was lazy. He even told my family I was a bitch.
So here I am, a young girl who has an absent, neglectful, abusive father and a disrespectful, insulting, abusive step father. I’m set up to fail!
Now, it doesn’t take rocket scientist to know that a girl in this situation is going to have low self esteem and low self worth. (They don’t call it “daddy issues” for no reason, right?)
So this brings me back to my old loser boyfriends. The reason I dated the guys I dated was because I was just desperate for a guy’s attention! I wanted to feel love and approval from a guy. So, some boy who would tell me how pretty I was and how cool I looked seemed like the ticket. It wasn’t the right kind of approval and I’m not even sure it was love.
Into my adulthood now, I’m much more aware of the people around me. I’m more aware of who they are and what they say to me and how they treat me. In order to protect myself, I’ve built this defensive wall to keep people away from me. I know the damage people can do and I don’t want to take any more. I date around with guys. That’s not to say in a promiscuous kind of way, but in a flippant, facetious, I-don’t-really-need-you kind of way. I’ll spend a couple weeks talking and spending time with a guy and then we’ll go on our own separate ways. Then a few months later, it’ll be someone else. I find something I don’t like about most all of them. They don’t pay attention to me the way I think they should. It’s clear that I’m not a high priority to them. They spend too much time worrying about and doing other things. We don’t relate to each other very well. We don’t communicate very well. We don’t communicate at all. I spent some time with a (much) older dude. I quickly knew what was happening. I was looking for a father figure. What kind of relationship can come of that? Not a good one.
Because of the protective wall, I’ve recently realized that I come across as a rough-edged, don’t-need-no-love type of lady. This isn’t true. Of course I need love. I just want it to be a real, lasting love. With someone who can make me feel special and appreciate me for who I am instead of what I can give them. I just want to be happy.
Now that I have this awareness, it comes to mind often when I think of my dating/love life. What am I really getting out of this? What is he saying he likes about me? Why is he saying he likes me at all? Do I really feel respected or am I just feeling lust and infatuation? Applying this knowledge to real life is much harder than it sounds. I’m sure we all know, sometimes it’s hard to differentiate between love and lust. Do I like him or do I like the attention? I don’t feel like I’ve ever really found a person who I actually loved or cared about. I just loved what they were giving me. The validation I needed. I don’t want to just settle for someone. I want someone who I absolutely admire and love through and through.
My close family is down to mostly girls. 8 girls and 1 guy. My grandparents had 2 girls, and together those girls have 5 more girls (me included). My grandfather passed away last year and my aunt is divorced. That just leaves my mom’s husband, who honestly might be the most worthless person I know.
As you can probably tell by now, my relationship with guys is difficult. My grampa was the strongest and most reliable man I ever had in my entire life. Now I don’t have anyone. I’m hoping that one day (preferably sooner than later) I will find someone who can be a good family man. I don’t know who or when or how, but I will get to that place some day!