There are two moments from my life that I have carried with me, that have resonated within my entire being, and no doubt shaped the way I view myself and affected my relationships.
When I was about 10 or 11, I woke in the middle of the night to hear my mom and stepfather arguing in the kitchen. I wasn’t a big fan of my stepfather, to say the least. So curious as a cat, I crept down the hallway so I could better hear what the argument was about.
Before they got married, my mom had made very clear to him that she didn’t want any more children. She had a very hard time getting pregnant with me and she wasn’t going through that again. At the time, he was fine with that. But apparently on this night he had changed his mind. He wanted a child of his own. I was no longer good enough. He hated my biological father and, since I was part of him, he hated me too. I was guilty by DNA. I crawled into my closet and cried.
I was a good kid. I wasn’t too interested in school but I did OK given the amount of time I gave to it. I loved to dance and spent almost every day after school in one dance class or another. Or I had my face buried in a book. I tried my best to be agreeable and to not cause any trouble or problems for my mom. But because of the person who provided half of my genetic code, I was worthy of hatred and was not good enough, not lovable.
How does a 10 – 11 year old process that message? You don’t, but you internalize it, and you carry it with you the rest of your life.
My life did go off the rails completely during my 20’s. I was suffering from chronic major depression and hadn’t yet found a successful treatment. I was in and out of the hospital and losing jobs left and right due to problems related to the depression. I made some less-than-good choices about how to earn income quickly in order to pay my rent. Desperation will do that to a person.
I was over at my mom’s house one afternoon expressing my concern about making my rent payment for that current month when her current husband walked in the room. He looked at me as he walked in and said “What’s wrong with you? Why can’t you keep a job?”
Good question, what’s wrong with me? I’m assuming you mean other than the depression. Maybe you need to have a conversation with husband #2, who attributed all of my faults to my father.
The depression has been successfully treated and at bay for 10 years now, but these words still haunt me. They reside at the core of my being, like a pit in my stomach. I need to find a way to purge.