My Father was a very passive man who seemed to be very happy with his job, his family and his life in general. He didn’t beat me or abuse me in any other physical way, but he didn’t bother with me much either. As a child I didn’t recognize that I had to work hard at getting his attention. I didn’t realize that I was inventing things like nightmares and tall tales in order to get a response out of him. I was just a child wanting my father to notice me. Ironically, as I have mentioned in previous posts, I was constantly reprimanded for doing things to get attention.
My father was very well liked; in fact he was popular. He was known for his jokes and stories and for his ability to entertain everyone with his singing and guitar playing. When it came to me however, he withheld. When it came to me, he didn’t seem very interested in being my father. My Dad withheld his interest in me and his attention from me. He did not offer input into my life; there were no discussions about school, boys, hobbies, friends or any of the other things I heard and imagined other girls talked about with their Dads. My father was not emotionally present. I don’t recall resenting this fact; I didn’t know anything different. This was just the way it was.
My father also withheld everything from emotional involvement to simple conversation from my mother, which is likely the real reason that they eventually divorced. He just tuned her out. When I was younger, I believed that he got tired of her extreme ranting and nagging; that he left her and she deserved it. The real truth is that she tried so hard to get his attention that she got a little bit crazy after years of having little to no impact. My point is that as the child of that marriage, I thought that was how life and relationship worked. The wife or girlfriend tries harder and harder and the husband or the guy is just the way he is. If there is failure, it must be the women’s fault; my fault. I didn’t think about my father’s passive behaviour as a contributing factor to a failing relationship, contributing to both the failure of his marriage and the failure of his relationship with me. I didn’t question the inequality of the responsibility. I didn’t know that this was passive abuse, and I certainly didn’t know that passive abuse is as destructive as any other type of abuse.
This laid the foundation for me to be attracted to men who made me work to be noticed by them. My relationships with men never started out that way, but they always seemed to quickly end up that way. I didn’t realize that relationships were a two way street because I alone carried the burden of the relationship with my own father. Not only was I willing to take the entire burden of the relationship responsibility, but I didn’t know I was doing it. Part of the reason that I tried so hard without realizing I was doing so, was because I had always had to. It was what I was used to. I had no frame of reference about what a healthy relationship was. From my experience, I only knew that I had to try harder.
I had to learn what a relationship was before I could have a healthy one. Just like in all other areas, I had to learn the truth before I could live in it. I didn’t know that I was just as valuable as everyone else or that the burden of all relationship shouldn’t be on me. I didn’t realize there wasn’t equality in the relationships that I had, just as I didn’t know that there could be equality in relationships since I had not seen an example of it.
Learning to accept abuse, even passive abuse, rarely begins in adulthood.
I welcome your comments on this post, and look forward to your opinions.
Bright sunny blessings,
p.s. it is not my intention to suggest that males that grow up in the same type of home do not suffer from these same issues.
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