Running out the door to the airport, late as usual, my father scolded my 30-year-self for not being put together. Though I have learned over the years to travel light (for five days I had one small backpack and a laptop bag), I still had my computer chord loose, which did not meet his approval. Granted, I agree it’s not the wisest to carry a computer chord loose, but no matter what I do, it’s not good enough for him. Once I came home with a roller bag and he looked at me worriedly commenting that I didn’t bring enough. You seriously cannot win with this man.
Trying to break free of all that holds me back in life, my parent’s omnipresence looms over me like a dark cloud before a torrential downpour. Every. Single. Day. I’m grateful that I had material possessions growing up, that my college was so graciously paid for by mom and dad, that I was middle class spoiled in my youth. Yet the constant criticism of who I am grated at me until I just broke.
My father frequently reminds me that as a child he was so concerned that I was different, eccentric, that no one liked me. And it’s true, I was an attention whore, I didn’t know how to connect to anyone and I was so lonely so I just created connection the only way I knew how —the other kids were making fun of me anyway, I couldn’t escape that, I was the target of a lot of bullying and never once did my parents teach me to stand up for myself. Instead, if I was the target of bullying that was my fault. I was the one causing it. I was being different. Standing out from the crowd. And that was wrong.
Being different is what has gotten me to where I am today, but I also feel like I’m too afraid to be myself, whatever that means. I constantly self sabotage myself too, which is terrible, like waiting until the last minute to get things done which is a pain if it effects my own success and all but tragic if it involves anyone else. I have this pit of anxiety in my chest which says — you cannot be successful, you cannot be put together, you do not deserve success. And then, for the few moments in my life when I’ve found “someone” who told me I was good enough, someone who I respected, I was trapped, egocentrically transfixed. If someone so incredible could think I’m worthwhile, then maybe I am. That’s all sorts of backwards.
That was my 20s. I’ve changed somewhat today. I have a boyfriend who truly loves me for who I am, even though at times he finds me annoying, but he also understands the reason behind this and just tries his best to empathize. On the flip side, I try my best not to do the things that I know i’m doing to fail. To prove my parents right. To show them that no matter what, I won’t be good enough.
It seems that so many artists, musicians, poets, novelists, et al, have pretty messed up childhoods. Maybe it’s all a blessing in disguise. Mine wasn’t that bad after all. I dealt with mild physical and emotional abuse, a few strappings here and there, mild welts on my back, being told that I wasn’t acceptable as I was all the time, learning that the only way to feel was to hurt, and submit to being broken.
What was worse was seeing my father abuse my mother, as I’ve written about previously. He would shove her across the room and call her all sorts of nasty things. He treated her like dirt and he still does, calling her jerk, telling her to shut the fuck up, saying she’s an idiot, with such utter cruelty in his voice. (Hence why I flipped out on him the other day.)
You know, I could handle being told I wash’t good enough if perhaps I had someone to look up to who was. Instead, I found myself obsessing over various adults in my life. Not just anyone, but a select few who were, in my mind, good enough. But “good enough” meant perfect, because anything less than perfect just wasn’t acceptable. I knew in my heart no one is perfect, or close to it, but I ended up with such a split-thinking mindset, because I wanted to believe perfection was possible. I wanted to know that even if I wasn’t perfect today, such a thing existed, that one day, somehow, I could achieve such perfection, I could be loved. And, if not, at least someone who was “perfect” could love me. That would be second best. How pathetic.
This has led some rather exciting adventures in my life, few of which I regret, yet it hasn’t exactly helped me in my quest to find peace with who I am, accept it, and move on. Instead I’m terribly introspective in the worst way, and can spend hours obsessing over eight thousand outcomes to one situation and settle on believing the worst possible one would come true. I waste so much time fretting that I’m not living up to my potential, as my grade school teacher’s would say. So distracted. So anxious. If only they knew.