Many things can influence how we feel about ourselves. Generally speaking I think many people define their worth based on the opinions of others. I am guilty of such a charge and it really got me thinking recently – why?
Now there’s the age old adage of us shaping an opinion of ourselves based on our parents. I have a wonderful mother, I can’t stress that enough, wonderful. However when my parents divorced when I was the tender age of teenage emotion, 13. I was desperate to have the love and support of my father, I’m not going to go into the detail but let’s just say he behaved like a C-bomb and the last time I saw him or heard his voice was almost 13 years ago – when I was 18. Over the years I tried to figure out what it was that led him to disown my brother and I… we were good kids who never did anything so bad that it could warrant such behaviour. I contacted him a few times but only received a diatribe of lies and no answers. I ceased trying to make this man love me in 2012… I couldn’t put myself through it anymore. It was enough.
Satisfying a craving.
There seems to be something hardwired in us that craves the love of our parents even if we don’t want it. I don’t want my father now… the father I had when I was 8 who used to take us on adventures – maybe. But all of the acceptance, insight and understanding doesn’t stop my inner child yearning for him to come riding in on some horse to tell me he loves me. Crazy right? I thought so until I spoke to a good friend of mine who has been through something very similar (if not worse in my opinion) and even this strong and independent woman still has that inner child craving too. I don’t understand it. Other than that our parents created us and we are made of their DNA, perhaps it just comes down to genetics. I’m sure someone somewhere will have an explanation.
I know there are good men and good people in the world. My brother being one of them – he is a fantastic father and I admire him greatly for the man he is and who he has become despite our ‘role model’ father. We were close growing up and still are in our own way even though many miles separate us. And then there is my beloved grandfather although a rogue in his day and a bit of a shit sometimes, he treated me like a precious pearl – something to be cherished until his death in 2014 (a loss I can barely ‘get over’). Some of my friends husbands and partners also give me hope of the goodness of man… one rugby playing hero in particular, he has a heart of gold and I too admire who he has become despite his difficult years.
There is good out there.
The reason I detail my father above is because every time I suffer a loss, in particular a loss with no answers or encounter an individual whose behaviour I can’t fathom – I return to the 13 year old me watching my father walk down the stairs and out of the door. What did I do wrong? Why don’t they love me? What’s wrong with me?
(If I had a £ for every time I asked myself that I’d be living in a house by the sea) I mean if my own father wasn’t capable of unconditional love – what man / person would be. Clearly I figured, I was broken and needed to be fixed. Not the case. All of the therapy in the world won’t fix my fear of abandonment, it runs to deep…I’d say it was pathetic but so many of us go through this without saying anything aloud that I’m not ashamed to say it. But I can fix how I respond to behaviours I don’t understand and try to not let their behaviours define me as a person and how I feel about myself.
I am a good person.
I put a lot of pressure on myself because of this fear of loss, to be a good person and to be kind whenever possible. To not make mistakes and not be affected by the unkindness or selfishness of others – but as I am discovering, I am only human. And I can’t keep my shit together all of the time. I will buckle and I will fall and sometimes I will fall hard. I am a sensitive person and there is nothing wrong with sensitivity, often it is partnered with empathy and I would always rather be sensitive and empathetic than hardened and incapable of true understanding.
Sensitive people are often told they should toughen up, harden themselves to protect themselves from the pain and disappointment in the world. But I don’t agree with this. It is the world that should soften, it should not be the voices of those that show compassion and kindness that should be muffled and misheard. It is these voices that matter most for they keep the human spirit alive, they keep the positivity flowing in spite of how they might really be feeling. Because it is these people that fight for the good, when others would hide and put up their masks to protect themselves and put themselves first.
Well I won’t be quietened – I won’t let the mistreatment of others define my worth. I am good, I am kind and I care. I am not ashamed of my large heart beating on my sleeve, and neither should you be.