It’s almost 5 AM where I am right now. I have had this on my mind for a while and I want to get this out there so maybe, just maybe my story will help even one person to keep going despite whatever they’re going through.
My dad has never been the most nurturing man. He was a driven, intelligent, passionate, and strong man. He was also an alcoholic, impulsive, angry, and abusive man. No matter what I did I couldn’t ever make him proud of me. The phrase he said repeatedly, the only real thing that stuck from what he told me is “Anything below an A is failing.” That phrase stuck even more than all the times he told me he loved me. Even when he said he was proud of me (and now when he says he’s proud of me) I can’t get it out of my head that I’d never be good enough for my dad to ever be completely proud of me.
I’m the youngest of six; four brothers and one sister. My family is a “Yours, Mine, and Ours” situation. My dad brought in two of the brothers, my mom brought in the other two brothers and my sister. The age span between my siblings and myself are six, then nine, then eleven years so relating to them was a little difficult at times. My dad always played favourites, blatantly, I might add. The youngest of my brothers is from my mother…and he was the favourite of my dad. He favoured the “golden child.” I love my brother and I’ve never resented him for it. He’s a literal genius, a talented musician, an ex US Marine, and just a great guy all around. He was dad’s favourite and didn’t want to be. As the only biological daughter of my dad, and the youngest of the family, you’d think I’d be the favourite, right? Nope. I don’t hate the fact that I wasn’t the favourite. I didn’t care what order I came in honestly. It just always hurt that my dad never went to my concerts or really anything when they landed on the same night as my brother’s concerts, or even just when he was in pep band at basketball games. When my parents accidentally missed my state honour orchestra concert, my dad wasn’t as apologetic as you’d think. He suggested that on the way home, we go to my brother’s college jazz band concert. That was the first time I really realized exactly how much he favoured my brother over me. From that moment on, I began developing anxiety and obsessive, compulsive tendencies. I became a perfectionist in all I did. Just so my dad would be proud of me.
That was my eight-grade year. That was the year my sister was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in late September, my grandmother died a few weeks later. I was in a bad place. I thought everything would be better if I was just gone. We’d be more financially secure, especially since my sister’s medication cost a fortune, not to mention the bills from the specialists. We had always been poor despite how hard my parents worked. Without me there’d be one less mouth to feed. One less person to get clothes for. One less person to take up space in our already little house. I got into a darker and darker mood until I just isolated myself. Eventually, my choir teacher noticed warning signs and talked to my parents. They sat me down and talked to me. My dad told me to just get over it and to change my way of thinking. My mom tried to comfort me and understand what was really going on. I guess what I really needed was a person to talk to. Honestly, I should have probably been seeing a therapist.
In April of the next year my mom had major surgery after her doctors found precancerous cells. The day after her surgery my dad got into a nearly fatal motorcycle accident on the motorcycle he had bought literally the day before. I was in my orchestra class which was at the end of the day when one of my guidance counsellors came in and had me come to his office. I don’t know how but I knew he was there to get me. He sat me down and told me what happened. It took a second for me to process but then I started to cry. I hate crying in front of really anyone. I’ve always felt it’s a sign of weakness. From that day on I was not only nursing both of my parents back to health but also took over the vending machine business my dad started a few years before. Suddenly, I was a nurse, a manager of a company, and finishing my eighth-grade year. I was thrown into adulthood at the age of thirteen. With the age difference between my siblings and myself, I was the only one at home to deal with this. Eventually, my parents got back on their feet right before I got to my first year of high school.
That year wasn’t terrible. My mom worked in the school so if I was having a weird day I could go talk to my mom. I got my first boyfriend that year. I’d had a crush on him since I could remember and I was elated when he finally gave me the light of day. That was the high point of the relationship.
Over the next year and a half, he became like my dad. He basically isolated me from all my friends. He would yell at me for nothing and I’d just take it. I never even said anything about it. He never hit me but when he was particularly mad he’d grab my left wrist and squeeze. He never left bruises but he permanently damaged my wrist. I can’t go a day without pain. I was an upright bass player for nine years and now I can barely play for twenty minutes before my wrist jams and I can’t move it anymore. Even through all of that, I didn’t leave him. I saw my father treat my mom and the rest of us that way my entire life (minus the physical abuse that I know of) so I just thought it was normal. I was so desperate to please my, now ex, that I gave into pretty much everything he wanted, minus sexual things. Thank GOD, he respected that. He, much like my dad, would use biblical scripture as a tool for abuse. I thought that was how a man should treat a woman. It was my normal.
It was the beginning of my Junior year of high school when we broke up. The month before he broke up with me he uttered only twenty-five words to me. I thought it was because of something I did. I started thinking about maybe giving in to his every whim. He broke up with me in the hallway outside the choir room after the last bell rang on a Friday. His reason was, “I’m just not feeling it anymore.” I was crushed. I didn’t know what I had done wrong. I thought I was a good girlfriend.
Later in the year I got to the point where I was so depressed that I was again thinking about ending it all. I’m glad I didn’t because if I had, I wouldn’t be with the wonderful man I’m with now. He’s kind, intelligent, supportive, talented, and ten thousand more adjectives I can’t even begin to list them all. He has a voice so deep that I swear it can make any girl melt. He’s never once yelled at me. He encourages me in everything I do. He’s the most amazing man I’ve ever met. Even though we’ve had rough times, we’re still going relatively strong even after four and a half years. We may not last forever but that’s alright because I know that no matter what, we’ll always be there for one another and will always support each other.
Then comes college for both of us. He decided to go to a college in Tennessee. I stayed in Iowa. We’ve been dealing with long distance for so long. It’s hard but we’ve somehow dealt with it successfully. Even during hard times we’ve always confided in each other and gone to each other with any problems we were having. Even if one of us was annoyed at the other, we have been there for each other through it all.
I’m currently in London on study abroad. I’ve had so many fantastic opportunities. I’ve made it to my senior year of college. I somehow made all this happen without an extreme amount of help. I didn’t have my dad around after he and my mother (finally) got divorced in my sophomore year of college. I am proud of what I’ve achieved in my life. I have achieved great things despite my abusive father and ex-boyfriend, heartbreak, and diagnoses of Bipolar II, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder. My counsellor thinks that my dad is somehow part of the cause of all three of those. Bipolar being hereditary. The other two brought on by years of basically being told I’m not good enough. Even through all of that, I beat the odds and I’ve made something of myself.
Here we get to the point I’m trying to make…
If I’d ended it all when I thought of it, I’d never have had the wonderful experiences I’ve had. I’m doing things I never imagined I’d be doing. No matter what you’re going through, it’s just temporary. You can get through all of it and become who you’ve always wanted to be. There are people in this world who love you and want you to succeed. I promise you, everything gets better! It’s like a cold. Things get worse before they get better.
If anything, prove all the adversity wrong about you. No matter how much life tries to beat you down, you will always heal…usually stronger than before. All of this is making you into a person you’re proud of. So, if you need some help, there are so many resources to help you. So many people really want to be there for you and see you succeed. We all love you and the world would be a really, really dull and sad place.
We’re all in this thing together. Nothing is too big for you to beat. You can do this!!!