Before I get into part 2 of this story, I want to thank everyone that read part 1! Your comments, support and encouragement mean the world to me! They inspire me to keep moving forward; learning and growing each step of the way. So Thank You, Thank You!
With that said, please know that, no, I am not looking for anyone’s approval (if you read part 1, you will understand) as I no longer need it. I am here, sharing the ugliness of my past, because I approve of myself today. I do not seek it from others any longer. I am who I am and I love who I am today…the good, the bad, the ugly and the beautiful!
The Ugliness of Who I Was…(Part 2)
By the time I entered into my teen years, I had no self-esteem, no self-worth and no idea of who I was or what I wanted in life. I remember in 8th grade, we had an essay to write about what we wanted to be when we grew up. I struggled with this assignment as I didn’t know what I wanted to be. When I spoke to the teacher, she told me, “Well, if you don’t know what you want to be by now, you’ll never be anything.” Those words hurt and stuck with me for a very long time. I still think about them some days as I am almost 50 now and I’m really still not “anything”, and I wonder if I should be doing more to be more. But, nah…I’m happy and love my life today.
Anyway, back to the story…
When I entered high school, I had two friends. (Yep, only 2, yet those two women are still my friends today and will remain in my heart forever.) I was painfully shy when I was young. I’m still pretty shy these days but I can put on my big-girl panties when I need to and get out there and meet people. I believed at a very young age that I was not good enough, smart enough or pretty enough to fit in with anyone. Why would they want to be my friend? I had nothing to offer anyone. It wasn’t until I was ready to face the truth of the hurt in my past that I was able to understand why I felt this way.
The first couple of years in high school were pretty uneventful. I did well in my classes, made a couple of new friends and had a boyfriend, we’ll call him Dan. Dan did not attend the same school as I did because I actually lived out of the district and my parents drove me to school every day, but he lived in my neighborhood. We dated off and on for almost 4 years. Every few months, Dan would break up with me to go out with someone else and then when the fling was over, he wanted me back, and I would take him. Always forgiving; always trying to figure out how to make him happy so he wouldn’t leave again. Eventually, I quit but more so because someone else finally came my way.
High school was fun for the most part and my social life existed because of my friend Tabby. She and I were inseparable. We did everything together and she made sure everyone was kind to me. She was my guardian. We still laugh to this day that she beat a boy up for picking on me because all I could do was cry.
Some of my fondest memories of that time were of being part of the Future Farmers of America (FFA) chapter. When I asked my parents if I could join, they thought I was a little crazy because I knew nothing of farming or raising animals. I was a city girl. They gave me the money to pay the dues to join my freshman year and I continued through my senior year, serving as the Chapter President for the last two. This was a shocker since I really had no leadership skills and I hated to be in front of people.
It was at the end of my junior year that I started getting a little braver and sneaking off campus and cutting classes with friends. Not much, but all the same, I did. I thought I was doing big things and was always afraid I would get caught. My senior year, just after I turned 18, I found myself pregnant and desperately afraid. I felt as if my whole life came crashing down on me. I was so afraid to tell my mother. I could not take her disappointment and had an extremely unreasonable fear that I would lose her love. In agreement with Dan, I had an abortion. A year and another boyfriend later, I became pregnant again. This time, along with my fear of disappointment and failure, my boyfriend demanded I get an abortion and I finally agreed. He took me to the clinic, then took me home and refused to see me again.
At this point in time, I was desperate to be loved and wanted. I went dancing and bar hopping with my best friend almost every night for nearly 2 years. I fell into the trap that I was going to get what I needed (what I thought was love and affection) by giving in to what the men I met wanted. I began drinking and partying and doing drugs just to fit in. I was by no means an addict or alcoholic, I just followed the crowed to gain their approval. Eventually I realized that it wasn’t working for me. It only caused me greater pain and I still did not fit in.
When I was 21, I started dating John and moved in with him in a matter of a month or so. After a couple of months he wanted to get married but I didn’t. I knew in my heart that I did not love him but all I could think of, in my twisted mind, was that this was all life had to offer me. I finally agreed but our marriage only lasted a year and I could take it no longer.
After a day of shopping with his 14 year old sister (she lived with us), who was paralyzed from the waist down because of a gunshot to the back when she was 13, he exploded in a rage because I did not do the laundry. He was controlling, meticulous, and explosive. Everything in our apartment was immaculate and had to be kept that way or he would blow a gasket. I told him that night that we were over and he needed to leave. He took my phone book and called my father and many of my friends and co-workers and told them I was having an affair and was kicking him out. What broke my heart even more was that my father believed him and it caused a terrible rift in our already broken relationship. I didn’t speak to my father again for almost 2 years.
I knew I had made the right decision when John asked me to work it out with him and I said that I couldn’t. I could not live life according to his rules and under his emotional and verbal abuse. I just knew that someday it would turn physical. He flew into a tirade on the phone, saying it wasn’t fair that I had both the vacuum cleaner and the dust buster. Those words confirmed in my heart that I was not special and it wasn’t a wife he wanted but a maid and servant. I found out, about 3 years later, that he was in jail for raping his next wife when she was divorcing him. I thank God that I saw it coming and somehow had the strength and courage to get out before I was physically hurt.
After my divorce, I moved to Chula Vista to work at a hotel, as a Front Desk Manager. When Dan managed to get in touch with me, I ended up moving back to Sacramento and moving in with him. I got pregnant and we were married a few months later. The news of this upset my parents terribly, especially the man I loved the most in my life; my stepfather shut me out. He did not speak to me through my entire pregnancy and would not even hold my daughter for almost two months after she was born. This hurt me so deeply and only reinforced in my mind, that there would be painful consequences for me if I disappoint others. He was dealing with his own pain of having a child at an early age and giving the child up for adoption and I struggled to understand. We eventually did reconcile and restore our relationship but those few months were heartbreaking. Sadly, Gary passed away in 2006 and I wish he could see and know me today.
I hope you bear with me as I write this out. I don’t need to give all the details of every hurt in my life to help you understand the bigger picture of my codependency and the havoc I wreaked on my own life because of it.