I grew up in a domestically violent environment for the first six years of my life. My father and mom would have these lava filled arguments and tantrums before the actual hitting, punching, choking, kicking, head butting, and object throwing began. I remember being terrified a lot. Not all of the time like you hear in some people’s recollections of their childhood. But I did feel scared. And mostly when my father was around, which wasn’t as often as he could’ve been.
You see, my dad, even though he had a good factory job, a nice house in a newer subdivision, a new car, and a wife and child, needed something more. He found his something more in alcohol, drugs, and women. He would leave our home with us at seven in the morning, but wouldn’t return until well after midnight. He would set dates with me and my mom to go to dinner and a movie after work. We’d get ready and put on our best clothes and sit waiting hours for him. (I wonder if having a cell phone or even a pager back then would have made things any different.) Eventually I went to sleep and my mom would take off our “good” clothes and we’d go to bed only to hear him stumbling in after midnight. He always had some excuse, but none of them were worth disappointing your family.
That’s not to say that’s all my dad did. We did have good days where he would take me to my grandma’s house and we’d talk and laugh. I could tell my dad, when sober, was a proud father. I felt protected when I was with him because he had this “bad boy” edge about him that made people not mess with him.
Ever since I have been dating, I have been dating my father. The selfish, self-centered, absent, control freaks, excuse-filled, tantrum throwing, macho personality was in all of my boyfriends in some way, shape, or form. The biggest thing that I’ve realized is that my father’s absence has made me severely tolerant of men being gone for days at a time without so much as a phone call or text message. Deep down, I know it’s not right and it’s not what I deserve, but I accepted it because it was what I was used to, a habit of some sorts.
And as my tolerance level got weaker, I got more cut throat with my approach to them. I would delete their number from my phone, I would ignore their calls, I would delete their emails, and put their email address on my Spam block list. But as the saying goes “what you resist, persists” and man, were these men persistent. My mom kicked my dad out for a few months at one point and he would call and beg to come back. She said no many times and then eventually she gave in. My exes, all of them, have begged to come back. Some of them I couldn’t understand why they still had my phone number after a couple of years! I would say no, and BAM, the day I said yes would come and they would be back in my good graces, no questions asked.
As I’m approaching an “I’m ready for a serious relationship/marriage” mindset, I’m realizing how my own tolerance for absence has created my reality. Sure, it would be severely easy to blame my exes or my father for all my failed relationships, but it wouldn’t be fair or true. They were doing the best they could at that point in time of their lives. And so was I. I thought that by being tolerant and pushing my needs to the side, I was showing that I was worthy of their love. What I showed instead was that I would accept a lot of bullshit.
So even though I have forgiven my parents so many times for so many things, I know forgiveness is an ongoing process and I must forgive my father again. I must release his patterns from my psyche and allow the past to be the past and stop recreating it. By forgiving the source, the ones that followed will automatically be forgiven as well. I know now that if I want a new thing, I have to live in a new way, and believe in a new way. And as I officially closed the chapter of a book that has been recurring in my life off and on for the last nine years, I know I am ready to move forward and have the type of relationship I deserve.