We often base our own self worth by how the people we love treat us. While I was rummaging through some old journals, I flipped through one of them from a few years ago. In it, I’d been writing some answers to questions from a self-help book. Some of the questions related to describing our relationships to our fathers. I thought I’d share a tidbit of what I wrote at the time:
My father is someone I haven’t spoken to in three years. I am told that he thinks I’m a lesbian. I don’t know what made him think that, but I’m pretty sure some socially incapacitated person in the family started that rumor. He also thinks that I’m going to hell for not believing in his religion, even though he’s never asked me what my beliefs are.
I believe that through my father’s eyes, I am just like my mother (whatever that means), but I believe what my father sees is completely different from the real me, and I believe he bases his beliefs on what others tell him. I wish he’d accept me for who I am and not treat me like an outsider or a bad person – because what I am is spiritual, hardworking, loving and accepting of people that he perceives as different.
He’s always been emotionally distant and has always downgraded my thoughts and feelings. For example, when I had a particular goal in mind for college or a career, he disagreed and insulted my decisions. It didn’t matter what I’d accomplished or how good my intentions were. How could he be so opinionated about what I do with my life? It’s not like he helped me through college, or even came to my graduation for that matter. He never even sent me a card when I got married.
My father doesn’t even know me – how could he? He hasn’t spent one moment alone with me in over 25 years. Not even a lunch together. Maybe I should have been born a boy named Jesus, as long as it’s not pronounced “hey soos”.
How did the way my father treat me affect my life? Quite profoundly, actually. Before I met my wonderful husband, I had dated my share of emotionally unavailable men. For many years, I couldn’t figure out why. I kept thinking something was wrong with me. It wasn’t me that was flawed – it was my choices. After years of counseling, self-help books, and acknowledging that I am worthy, I finally learned that I do not have to base my self worth on what anyone thinks of me – including my own father or anyone else in my family. I had to change my pattern of thinking and some of the patterns of my actions so that I did not keep repeating the same redundant relationships over and over.
I see so many other women that are just like me, except that they are still stuck in the rut of not recognizing the destructive patterns that debase our self worth. It’s a vicious cycle that must be broken if you’re ever going to find the happiness we all want. It is not impossible to break these patterns, but it does require some work – and it will not happen overnight or in a month. Sometimes it takes several months or even years. It’s all about what you want with your life. Isn’t your happiness worth it?