Sessions With My Therapist — #Day 2— Abandonment Issues
People-pleaser. I have had that tag on me for the longest time I can believe. It stemmed from my abandonment issues, rooting into the relationship I had with my father. Strained. Never seeing eye to eye. Both stubborn as hell.
I was 9 when I first yearned for his approval. You see, that was the first time I got a bad grade. Technically, my first big failure. My teachers were shocked & so were my parents.
But, I couldn’t really bring myself to care. I hadn’t realised why was it that way then, but I caught hold of the reason in the middle of a discussion with my therapist.
Anyway, my dad has always been someone who is uncomfortable with expressing his emotions. The only one which he could very evidently express was his anger. He wasn’t all that great at expressing empathy or love even though I knew he felt it.
And my mother is the literal opposite. She can express love.
They both grew up in different kind of environment.
My mom was the 10th child & the youngest of all. That entire family was brought up by expressing things they felt. One cough from someone and 9 people would be ready with a glass of water in their hands.
My dad, on the other hand, the 3rd out of the 5 sons, all brought up in a self sufficient way. In a nearly all man household of the 60s society, they were all brought up tough and strong, where acknowledging pain and heartbreaks wasn’t one of the things they learnt. One cough from someone and they would all sit as they would, thinking the other person can take care of themself.
My parents are extremists, poles apart. I was brought up with two different ideologies.
I used to get too much attention from my mom, and basically none from my dad.
Psychologically speaking, it’s necessary for a daughter to have a healthy, communicative relationship with her father, and if not, it puts a strain on all of that daughter’s relationships with men, otherwise known as daddy issues.
I had them. For the lack of attention from my dad, and especially after my first big bad grade, I started seeking attention from the men in my life.
Not just that, even if I got the attention, I still had the fear of abandonment that I am not good enough.
Add social media to that, I was convinced that my physique had something to do with why I thought no one liked me.
My abandonment issues escalated to a point where I once begged a man to stay in my life, validate my beauty and brains.
I used to hate myself and be my worst critique. I started getting involved in various activities. I channeled my energy there. I dove deep into work. I grew really fast, but I was still unhappy.
I used to fight with my mom because she expresses her care so much that it’s suffocating. I used to fight with my dad because he never expresses anything.
I wasn’t accepting them for who they are. I had them on a pedestal.
It affected my relationships as well. I struggled to be honest. I used to lie for love and sympathy. I struggled with trust issues. Since I didn’t trust my dad that he loved me, I trusted no one and always thought the men I dated were going to leave me for the next pretty thing.
My dad’s lack of expression and my mom’s way of expression, had me confused where I used to think that until and unless people are there fore exactly the way my mom is, I am not loved and I am not worthy of love.
To be extremely honest, I used to think it’s their fault that I am this way.
Consider this. My mom wasn’t ready for a marriage when she was forced to marry. Their opinions weren’t considered because of the family background they came from. They weren’t allowed to speak up in front of their adults because that’s how society has been. They weren’t educated enough to understand emotional intelligence and evolution and a marriage on the basis of communication. And it takes too much energy to change mindsets once you have hit 50. I don’t say it’s impossible. It’s really hard. And they aren’t the type to go for all the hard stuff.
Even now, I think they aren’t really compatible because they fight more than they talk, but are the first ones to be there for each other when in need.
So, seeing that, I used to think that if I fight with my man everyday and if we make up later on, it means we are meant to be.
Wrong perspective. Lack of an open mind.
Here’s what happened after therapy.
Took me 5 months to understand them properly, accept them for who they are, because they too, like me, have had troubled childhoods. They weren’t given a platform to express and evolve and give themselves a chance. I am privileged. They had other responsibilities. And I don’t think self love was a well known concept back then.
After I understood this, I started seeing them as humans. My fights with them reduced and now, even if I fight, I don’t raise my voice, at least not as frequently as before. I assess the time and situation before having the much needed conversation with them. I tell them what I am gonna do and why I am gonna do. If they don’t get it, it’s okay. I don’t hate them. Generation gap and evolution rate. I still do what I want to, provided it’s morally right and needs to be done.
We don’t agree most times and we won’t.
The thing is. I have started to love them. Inspite of the differences.
And now, here’s what I have understood.
I am not the only one in this. This is a common thing.
Its when I sought help with an open mind and I decided that I am done being a wreck, and I accepted and worked on my issues, that I understood all these underlying problems and made peace with it.
Took me 15 years of many mistakes and 9 months of sincere therapy to be where I am.
I still struggle with people pleasing every once in a while. But that’s why I have started writing these things.
Accepting that I was a people pleaser, and still am, in some aspects is what is giving me strength to go and unlearn these things.
Sometimes when I talk to men, I still feel the need to say things that will make them like me. What I do then I just pause and think, why do I need them to like me?
My self esteem issues aren’t completely nullified, but they are better than before and I kind of like this version of me.
My chest feels lighter, now that I have written this.