I use to sit by the door next to his work boots and wait for him. “He is going to bring us ice cream” is what I would say to my brother David as he rotated his head left to right in disbelief. I would cry myself to sleep right there at the door, struggling to understand why I would wake up to my “daddy” breaking into my pink kitty cat bank and scooping up all of the change into a sock.
It seemed to be a direct pipeline from there to my first year of marriage. Waiting in front of the hospital for my husband to pick me up from work in our only car, only to later discover he wasn’t coming. The only good thing is by then I realized one must always have a plan B.
Five months pregnant, married to my grammar school sweetheart, a recent college graduate, trying to do things the “right” way, yet no matter what I did, I was still waiting by that door for “him” to show up.
One child and one long divorce later, I decided to find out what was going on in my mind that constantly took me back to that door waiting. Waiting for something that never came. Where was the love I wanted, the unconditional love? Where was the friendship, the respect? Why couldn’t I find a soul mate who would put me first? Didn’t I deserve that kind of relationship? Was it because I was twenty pounds overweight after the pregnancy? Was God punishing me?
Well, guess what I discovered? I was rejected by my father, not because he was evil, but because he was a raging alcoholic whose own life was and still is out of control. He didn’t leave the family because I wasn’t lovable enough or didn’t deserve a father. That was a child’s perception. He left because he was too immature to put his children’s needs ahead of his own.
I also found out that, subconsciously, I longed to work through my father’s rejection. Therefore, I put myself in similar situations in an attempt to work through the situation I was so often confronted with as a child.
As far as the unconditional love, respect, and friendship I so desired from a mate … I was able to see that it is most important to first give those things to myself before looking for them in someone else.
How, you may ask, did I come to these brilliant insightful conclusions? It’s not magic; it’s therapy.
You see, in my culture we pretty much learn that if it is broken—take it to church. Don’t get me wrong, a strong spiritual base is essential in life, but god has also blessed us with some very good therapists and professionals who can help us peel those layers of the onion (life experiences) until we can get to the core. The therapist did not tell me what was wrong with me, but she did ask me the right questions and help me to see the relationship between events in my life that are intricately connected.
The point of the story … if you keep repeating the same patterns and getting the same negative outcomes, you too could benefit from therapy. I’ll consider this my contribution to better mental health for us all.
Oh, in case you are wondering, I haven’t remarried, I am still twenty pounds overweight, but I enjoy my own company, I have fulfilling relationships of all kinds. In addition, I am no longer waiting by the door.