If only we could learn to just expect the best from each other at an early age

I wonder why they say that our childhood affects us so much, and that the years; birth to twenty are our most formative?  So… approximately less than 20% of our life, (considering we live into our eighties) is supposed to be what makes us tick? Do you agree?

When I was seventeen I met a boy that changed everything. I felt so wrapped up in that relationship that I let my friendships suffer and walked away from my values and morals and let that boy become my world. I think that I had insecurities from my childhood that in turn caused me to allow the kind of relationship we had happen. Though I feel that I had a great childhood as childhoods go, my dad traveled and we moved a lot and I was never in one place or school for too long until about seventh grade so maybe that had a lot to do with everything. I was barely seventeen when we met. And in everything that came before that, I do feel that what happened next has made me who I am today.

I’d dated before but I was really swept up this time, like never before. I admired him so much. But there was always this ambivalent feeling deep down inside. Kind of like I felt so lucky to have him and yet wanted to turn and run like the wind to get away pretty early on in our dating. I wonder if it was my child inside me that had a little more spunk trying to give me the strength to hear my inner voice that I ultimately ignored. There were some really good times but some pretty bad times and I wonder why I stayed so long. It makes me want to analyze it more now.

Recently, a young girl I befriended a few years back, shared some abuse in her relationship on Facebook. Several people jumped in sharing how they were also in abusive relationships and how hard it was to leave. Not only was I stunned about what my young friend shared, but also about her friends that shared their experiences.  No one ever guesses what is going on. We all are experts in hiding and protecting our worlds as we know them. And… No one understands unless they are going through it. I’d hid what was going on for so long, I knew once I’d told someone  (like this girl did on Facebook) it would be my exit. Maybe that is why I didn’t tell. I wasn’t ready. I wonder why some people stay and some are carefully looking for the red flags long before they say yes to a first date? Well, I know that in my daughter’s case it was because she had a mom that drilled into her head to never put up with one second of someone with a temper. And she didn’t. She held out for someone who is her partner and best friend. I made sure that she felt valued and loved from the time she was born. So why did I stay? And why did I stay when I finally knew that I wanted to leave?

I asked myself these questions as I pondered writing a book about it. Back forty or so years ago, no one talked about abuse. Especially just dating abuse. Fortunately, I realized that if he treated me so badly before we were married, what would it be like married with kids and stuck? The thing is. YOU can only help you. We were engaged and slightly financially enmeshed but what if I only depended on him? I think that is why I’ve always found it so necessary to always have my own way of making money.

There are parts to this story that are so convoluted. Parts that I can barely believe ever happened. Parts about leaving, & returning and parts about leaving again. Today I have come full circle. I almost lost everything trying to get closure from a place in my life that changed me into who I am today. I had to go and get that part of me back. I don’t regret it. Though I regret hurting anyone in the process. The bottom line is that I didn’t take care of me then so I had to do it now.

Today I am not the same person that I was yesterday. And you know, I think that is what it is all about. To answer my own question… Our formative years are every year we are still alive living life. We don’t stop evolving and learning the lessons. We are a part of the lessons daily. I just needed to find the strength in the process and the tools to realize that I have learned that I don’t have to reside in my past ever again… only refer to it as needed.

IMG_3822

(I am beginning to dust my book off and trying to figure out what I want to say in my synopsis letter. This was just an attempt of the dusting part!)

PS:

Below (in RELATED) there is a link to  two past posts that explain everything much better.

1. Go to:  the click of a key in Facebook

& then

2. Getting Over It. In abusive relationships

(both below in Related) that will take you on this journey that will help you understand more & someday be part of the book I am dusting off & preparing for submission. I just need one week without interruption. 😏 Sigh.

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23 thoughts on “I Didn’t Take Care Of Me Then So I Have To Do It Now

  1. I’m glad you finished this the way you did because it’s what I thought from the first words of this post. There is no period of our life that is most formative. The reality is there are years, or blocks of years, that inform the years that follow. Thoughtful, analytical people are constantly evolving. Constantly forming.

    As for the other subject matter here … I was late to the dating scene. A gutless wonder in high school and early years of college, my first “real” girlfriend came along when I was 22. She turned out to be one of the most psychologically damaged women I’ve ever been involved with. Possessive, jealous, insecure. And for the first year, when I angered her, she slapped me. There were a few incidents when it wasn’t just one slap or two, but a barrage of slaps. Alcohol was usually a part of the dynamic. A year into it, I finally had it as she started and would not stop. I slapped her back and told her “never again.” She never slapped me.

    But the reality is, as you suggest, there is this odd dynamic in relationships like that. There’s something you’re getting while everything else is pushing you away.

    I knew that night it needed to be over. But it took me another 2 1/2 years to say “we’re done” and stick to it, regardless of the circumstances.

    Relationships are tricky things. Abusive relationships are trickier things. Young relationships are fraught with risk. Young, abusive relationships … frightening.

    1. You are right my friend. It is hard to understand. I have times when I worry that while I was protecting my daughter, I didn’t teach my son how to not be like the boy I eventually ran from. He saw his dad disrespect me. Not ever physically, but by not really being present. I ran from someone who was too controlling to someone who probably should have remained single. The kind of dad who called watching his own kids “babysitting” until our divorce. Right before he died, he apologized for everything. It was sad. We still loved each other even after our divorce but it was not a good place for me or the kids with alcohol and drugs so I left. Though I am afraid my son was impacted during his “formative years” (I think another reason why I asked that question.) Not just about me, but I think I may have something here that I have to face. Not sure I taught my own son how to love. Though he knows I love him to the moon and back. I don’t know if he learned how to…. I love his mama of my grandbaby. She is amazing, but I am sad when they don’t get along. I wonder how much of that he learned and didn’t learn from me. Ya know?

      1. Don’t get me started on dads who refer to caring for their own children as babysitting. 😉

        As for your doubts about whether you did right by your son, mine are 22 and 19 and I am filled with those doubts at the moment for different reasons, but also for some of the same. I can’t say that my wife and I have had the most functional of relationships over the last 22 years. It’s hard to know really. But I do know that I did the best I could under the circumstances and I’m still working on it … and them.

        1. Oh yeah. I think that anyone who professes in having a functional relationship for even 60% of the time is delusional! I am just now settling into accepting the dysfunction and trying to rise above the things that used to drive me crazy. To not over-react when I feel offended and to appreciate more than to expect… etc… And honestly, it is selfishly more for me than him…. because it makes life easier to co-exist. It is kind of amazing how you can make it through one decade not to mention two! With someone who was raised in a different family with a different life and somehow you meet and make your own family. It is pretty incredible. And while you are at it, you bring new lives into the mix and you just have to sit on the edge of your seat to see if anything you tried to teach them sticks! As of this weekend. I’d say maybe 27% for my daughter and less for my son. LOL. It’s amazing how pragmatic a 29 year old and opinionated a 36 year old can be! You still have time!!!! The clay is definitely softer at 22 & 19! 😉

          1. I’d say at this moment that I’m at about … oh … 0% and 0%. My kids are good kids. They’re not criminals. They don’t harm people. They don’t abuse people. But I have simply failed at getting them to understand responsibility and what it means to be an adult. I’m really baffled by it.

            1. I guess the good news is that it does get better.
              My kids both have had a pretty entitled life. It has only been over the last few years that my son didn’t spend the day watching sports or video games doing as little as possible, just getting by. He the one who once replied ” A high paid business man” to the question… “What do you want to be when you grow up?” when he was around nine or ten. LOL.
              He has since built up a firewood business that my dad helped him start. And drives a limo and has a couple other driving jobs. And went to school to be a care giver and did that for quite a while. My daughter went to school to become an actress. Has her own business and is an Esthtician for her regular job. But when she told me she wanted to be an actress… I tried to support her. She is good but so are a bunch of other people out there bartending, etc… At least she went to an accredited school and got a degree… but I’ve watched both my kids work ethics grow… but I really did have a moment like you are having now… for a few years!!!! It does get better when you stop rescuing them! 😮 😉

              1. When I was in college, I said I wanted to be retired by the time I was 30. I never set myself up for that possibility, but I haven’t stopped working hard in my job to do do good and to provide for myself and my family. I also was lazy back then. I didn’t want to work real hard. I could do well in school without really trying. So, I just kind of floated through college. But I still did enough to do reasonably well. It’s what completely baffles me about my kids — they’re the ones that chose to go away to college, with a clear statement from me about expectations of what they would need to do (work, do well, and we’ll help cover the rest). And for 4 years and for 2 years, I’ve watched each of them fail almost completely at taking on the responsibility they chose for themselves.

                Sigh.

                Thanks for listening and for the encouragement.

                1. But the key glimmer of hope here if I read it right is…
                  you said at 30 you were still lazy. And today you are a success!
                  I’ve watched my kids slowly grow into hard workers. And I mean slowly. My son could have gotten a scholarship in any sport but he would sit in the middle of the field during softball practice if the ball didn’t come to him & didn’t like to be coached in volleyball. Etc etc etc!!!
                  My daughter had one last class in English ( which she is really the writer in the family!!!! & I wanted her to major in that!) to complete her degree & called me up crying telling me she was going to drop the class during writing her final paper. It was so hard but I said okay, but you owe me for the cost of the class and the books. She called me up a few hours later and read her paper to me which got an A and thanked me for the tough love. When she got her degree in the mail she took a photo and sent it to me.
                  It’s tough. I blame myself. I paid for my son’s car registration, did his laundry & bought him new tires & brakes a couple of times. He was probably the most ungrateful person I’ve ever come across. Feeling I birthed him so I was responsible. I realized he was holding his love hostage over me & nipped that in the bud. I backed way off. Surprisingly he found a way to pay his own bills and hasn’t cut us out of his life. My daughter is taking me to Seattle on my birthday week & we have always been best friends. She lived in LA so the cost of living is higher but she is making it.
                  I really blame myself. I made them entitled. Though my daughter has always checked prices and never expect a thing, (like me owing her because I gave birth to her.)😏
                  I feel I tried to make both their lives comfortable. Because I love them. Then I realized loving isn’t always about comfortable. It’s about pushing the bird out of the nest and praying they fly higher than I can!!!! Ya know, instead of of giving them the fish, teaching them to fish Maybe the next generation of parents will do that! And learn from our mistakes? We can only pray!

                  1. A little confusion here … my kids aren’t 30 yet and when I was 30, I was just starting out in my career and had one child and another following shortly thereafter. It’s when I was in college that I was lazy. But even though I was lazy, i still recognized that I had to get certain things done to keep moving forward in my life. My kids have yet to figure that out. Fun first, responsibilities second. No matter how many times that leads to bad results. It’s just stunning how many times they make the same mistakes and apparently don’t learn from them.

                    As for the why … honestly, I have a difficult time not blaming my wife. She’d rather be their friend and enjoy the fun times with them than hold them accountable and responsible. At least that’s how I feel. 😉

                    1. No that’s what I meant. You said at 30 you wanted to retire but you were lazy in-between but always worked hard. I meant you still have hope cuz they aren’t 30 yet. But as I write this response I see where the confusion is. Just trying to say that they will get it. My daughter didn’t work her first year of school because we weren’t sure about schedules etc. She even says that was a big mistake & should have worked. She did all the rest of the years and has ever since. She has a mismatched china business that she built all alone that is so successful it is amazing (it all started from her own wedding as she gathered pieces because that’s what she wanted as her reception.) And she has paid for it a dozen times over. She styles the event or just drops it off! So proud of my little entrepreneur. The thing is your kids are still young. Mine are 29 & 36 and there have been many stages in between. The 1st trick is weaning them away from the purse strings. I think at this age that you’re at now, I was still sending my son care packages and his dad had to tell me to knock it off. Lol. Looking back I think the more bills & responsibility I gave back to them, the more they grew.
                      I know you are still at the stage of footing the bill for school but it’s amazing how they figure out how to afford the extra stuff if they really want to. Sometimes a little Top Ramen is just what they need. 😔😉😜👍

                    2. I don’t think they’ll get it until we cut the purse strings and that’s something the other parent in the equation will never see the value in. It’s too scary. What will happen? They’ll have to live on the streets. It will be horrible! No. Maybe they’ll grow up.

                      Ugh.

                    3. Lol. I know the fear only too well. Not only do you fear them not being able to survive, you also fear if you cut them off they won’t need you anymore and cut you off! The joy of a parent when your baby take his first steps is just as much a “Kennedy Moment” when they start paying their own bills. 😂
                      Send her my way! I know exactly where she is. I’ve been there. But she’s gotta feel the place I am in now. & It’s not about the $$. It really is about setting them free to be better versions of themselves.
                      👍You are too funny!

                    4. “cut you off” … I want nothing more for my kids for them to not “need” me anymore … other than as a friend and as an equal. I want them to be able to cut me off for all of those other things, to spread their wings, and take on the challenge of their lives.

                      Sigh.

                      Thanks for listening and sharing your own experiences.

  2. Diane if that is the book I read . . . It is an incredibly important and touching read. You must be ready to share it, it reads as so incredibly personal. I was horrified, angry, touched and inspired. A powerful read.

    1. Q,
      Yes it is but I need to really work in it!!!
      If you like to read have you ever read any of Karen Kingsbury books? She is amazing. I love her work. I love the BAXTER series. I purchased the audio MP3 version and had to keep buying each series after! I wish I could write like her!
      Thank you so much for reading and being so supportive. The ones who took the time to read my draft will always be sooo special to me!

    1. I am sure that I’ve told you before that you should write a book of your quotes of wisdom. Well, I’m telling you again!
      But that is what this journey (at least mine) is all about and you nailed it. Realizing the lessons now and wanting to share them with the young girls like I was then. I didn’t have anyone telling me not to get out but that they understood.. I really wanted out when I realized what I was dealing with but it still took time. I know you are a loyal reader, so you know he found me years later on Facebook. I was very wary but I HAD so much to say to him. I know now that I wasn’t interest in any more than saying what I’d opened the door back up to say but I got confused while the door was opened and it took a lot of work to figure it out. I almost lost myself all over again. And I knew when he said it was my turn this time and then proceeded to get mad at things I said… that nothing had changed and it took me years to not respond to him trying to come back and trigger me. But the little kid finally came up in me and shook some sense into me!
      xo

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