Emotional Abandonment and Dysfunctional RelationshipsBy
I was in grade eight just thirteen and a half years old and I was crazy in love (I thought) with a boy at school. I was so shut down at that age. I was awkward, quiet and withdrawn. He was this really cool popular boy who was captain of his football team and on the basketball team; all the boys looked up to him and he was making it pretty clear that he liked me. ME! He asked me to “go around” with him which was the term used in that city when a guy asks a girl to be his girlfriend. I thought I had died and gone to heaven. The most popular guy in the whole school just asked me to be HIS girlfriend. And I was looking for a love source, an identity and someone to make me believe that I was special. I was trying to find self acceptance and self esteem through being his girlfriend. And I was sure that being liked or loved by someone like him could do all that! I believed that this was it; finally I was going to be “good enough”.
It was going great. A few weeks later school was breaking for the Christmas holidays. He gave me earrings with rings and hearts on them; I had never felt more special in my life and then he kissed me. I got dizzy and felt my knees go weak, just like I imagined it happened in romance books and movies. My first kiss was a fantasy come to life.
He defended me too. One of the boys at school said something mean to me and my boyfriend slammed him up against a wall. I was sure that this was the proof that finally someone loved me! Finally I meant something to someone and suddenly, I was popular too. He had a temper and there were other incidents of him fighting for me too but I thought it was just wonderful. Those were magical days.
Soon came the day that he wanted me to let him do a little bit more than just kissing. Continued…I said no and he said that if I wouldn’t let him go a little farther, that he was going to dump me and go out with this other girl. Oh…… I was devastated. I felt like I was having a nightmare and hoped that I would wake up soon. But it was really happening. And I still said no, and he broke up with me. And he went with the other girl that same day.
I have a vivid memory of crying my heart out on my bed and later that night my mother stopped by my bedroom and found me crying in my room. Our mother daughter relationship had always been dysfunctional but this time she took the time to ask me what was wrong, and although I should have known better, I told her what had happened, hoping for maybe something different from her this time… maybe she would listen to me, give me some sort of advice or even some comfort. Maybe she would be MY MOTHER and give me a moment of her time. But she told me that there were plenty of fish in the sea and left the room making everything so much worse.
It was as though I realized that all my worst fears were true; I wasn’t worth loving. I was just not important and I was never going to be important to anyone. I was alone; I believed that I would always be alone with my 13 year old understanding of the way the world worked and I was pretty sure already, that it always worked against me. I was hurting. I needed her. I told myself that I didn’t need her to understand, but that was just me trying to comfort myself. If it was no big deal to my mother, then why did I think it was such a big deal? Something must be wrong with me. And when I think about it today, she didn’t even bother to tell me that my body was mine, that I had a choice about who touched it ~ or that I was too young to be in a situation like that OR that if he REALLY liked me it would not depend on how far I let him go…and other good advice or support that a mother COULD offer! She just discounted me. She was too busy with her own boyfriends.
It never occurred to me that my Mother was dysfunctional or that her way of mothering me was dysfunctional. I didn’t consider that our relationship was pathetic, or that she was pathetic. I only considered that I must be pathetic. I must be dysfunctional. I must be unworthy, unlovable and disposable. I remember when she left the room that night. I remember feeling stupid. I wondered if I should have given in to my boyfriend. I wondered why he didn’t want me to be his girlfriend just because I wouldn’t let him touch me in a sexual way. My thoughts were not mature enough to sort this out but I had to figure all this out by myself. That boy made me feel special. For the first time in my life I felt like someone SAW me, wanted me, liked me and valued me. I had been raised by my dysfunctional mother, to believe that my value was in my body and my sexuality. And when I said “no” I was rejected, proving that maybe it was true; maybe my value was in my body and sexuality.
I had a lot to think about for a 13.5 year old kid.
The next day my boyfriend said he was sorry. He had gone with the other girl and she said “no” too. Although I was still pretty devastated, I forgave him and I was thrilled to get back together with him. The next time that he wanted to do more than kiss… I didn’t put up a fight.
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