When I was growing up my mother and I did not have the best relationship. My mother, who still to this day has yet to deal with her pain, used to talk down to me, call me names, tell me she favored my sister over me, and generally did not want to spend time with me. As a child I didn’t care about the name calling or the favoritism, I refused to take how she acted toward me personally. However, I did want to help my mom. I urged her to speak with someone who could see her through her issues. Although I did not internalize the negative aspects of our relationship, the fact that I felt my mother needed help healing from her past shaped how I chose the people I allowed into my life.
Unfortunately it has become the norm for children to grow up in a one parent household. Some children are more affected by this than others and develop a void in their lives due to their parent not being there. For example, if a young girl doesn’t grow up with her father she may chose a mate later in life that is a replacement for the emotions she believes she would have received from her father. Our society would label her as someone who has “daddy issues”. Even though I didn’t think I had a void from my mother not being there for me, partly because she was still physically available, my desire for my mother to grow in her truth inspired me to want to help others.
I was fresh out of high school when I met my husband. I was halfway through my first semester of college where I was studying psychology; a concentration my mother heavily opposed because in her opinion it was a career choice that wouldn’t make me any money. It was what I was passionate about so naturally I pursued it against her continuous acts to change my mind. When I met my husband, then boyfriend, we fell for each other rather quickly. We spent all of our free time together getting to know each other. I remember thinking to myself that I could see myself with this man for the rest of my life.
The best advice I was ever given about relationships is that the things we choose to ignore in the beginning will be what ends your relationship. The more time I spent with my then boyfriend the more red flags I saw and subsequently ignored. He was insecure and had even went as far as to create another persona in high school that he thought would make him popular. He was selfish, wasn’t always upfront about what he wanted, had issues surrounding his father not only not being in his life but also not claiming him as his child, his mother was stuck in her addiction, and his communication skills were nonexistent. As much as I hated to admit it, he was just like my mom, they even share the same astrological sign. Many girls in my position would have ran after hearing about the emotional band-aids he had placed over his past, however, I was young, naive, and subconsciously believed that I could fill the voids in his life.
Fast forward 12 years later and my husband and I are staring divorce in the face. My husband still carries his past with him, refusing to face it. In his mind he has adequately dealt with his past and the voids there were created because of it. How I know that this isn’t the case is because he is still selfish and self centered, he will call me names and blame me for things that are not my fault to make himself look the like victim, he is dismissive of my opinion unless he asks for it, and lacks the skills for effective communication. All of these characteristics are no different from the ones I chose to overlook when we first met.
Twelve years is how long it took for me to realize that I wasn’t getting what I deserved in my relationship. Twelve years to recognize my mother in my spouse. Twelve years to make a decision that I was going to help the person that needed me most, myself. I am sure that there are men and women out there that, like me, are in relationships that were built on a foundation of red flags. My advice to you would be that it is never to late to put yourself first and get out of a situation that doesn’t support you and your happiness. Today, my mother and I hardly see each other or speak. I made a decision that until she dealt with her issues and learned how to make and maintain healthy relationships that I would have to love her from a distance. Today I choose to live in my truth that I cannot help anyone until I have helped myself and that our job in relationships is to support each other not to fill voids that we didn’t create.
“Don’t let loneliness and desperation make you ignore the red flags. Ignoring them won’t make the disappear. It will just hurt worse when it all falls apart.”
-Tony A. Gaskins Jr.