Relationships can be hard. It does not matter what kind of relationship we are speaking of whether it be romantic or otherwise things are not always easy. I know that for me they can be great but they can be very messy. I have a terribly bad history with romantic relationships that is for sure (with the exception of my current husband). I think my difficulty with relationships started very young for me. Dr. Phil talks about how our parents and others have been writing on the slate of who we are since we were born. I firmly believe this. There are certain people in my life that I find myself wondering if they would notice me or appreciate me if I were gone for a while.
I am not going to sit back here and say I had some terrible childhood because I didn’t. I also will not say that it was perfect either. There were definitely things that happened on my journey to adulthood that shaped who I am and wrote on that slate. My dad and I did not have a great relationship. This is not to put him down as he is no longer with us and he and I made amends and discussed some of this before his death. I am here to say that some of the things involving what did or didn’t happen in that relationship have shaped me. Sometimes he would just not show up to pick me up. He might call while I was already waiting for him or just would not show up or call way later in the day. When a parent makes you feel unwanted or unimportant it can have such a lasting effect on us and dictate how we handle future relationships. I am not saying that was his intention because I am quite sure it wasn’t but it left me with certain anxiety issues surrounding people doing what they say they will and being there for me when I expect them to be.
My mom remarried when I was about 8. My stepdad was pretty great. I mean again it was not always perfect but he really did a lot for me and although he is no longer with us either I will never forget the good things he did for me that he didn’t have to. My extended stepfamily was not quite like that though. Again this is not to upset anyone or make anyone feel bad this is just how I felt and feel about things. I was not accepted. My stepdad entered my life around age 5 so it wasn’t like I just flew in as an adult or teenager. I was a child. I wasn’t considered a grandchild or niece as far as I was concerned. Sometimes gifts came for my brother but not for me. I was painfully aware that I was less than. This is part of why I try my best to treat my own stepchildren as good as I can. I know how that feels and it sucks. It still sucks. I am 46 and all of that still runs rampant in my mind today. I am not really family to many of them or at least that is how I was made to feel. As a stepchild and stepparent more than once in this life I get it but I don’t. Again, this has shaped who I am today.
As a preteen and teen I remember wanting so badly for people to like me. I took it so personally if kids did not like me. I experienced depression and that was a big part of it. I just did not feel like I belonged. I got a sibling at the age of 13 and that made this sink in even worse. I was not the only child or grandchild anymore. I felt like my life was the worst. I started during this time having my first suicidal thoughts. Kids can be mean. They talk behind your back and exclude you from things and for someone like me with all of these issues of wanting to be liked so badly and feeling disliked it was a tough time. I tried to sometimes buy friends with candy and stupid things like that. I showed attention to boys who were not deserving of my attention. Some would act like they liked me in private but in person it was like I either did not exist or they did not know me or like me at all. I felt like I had to be a certain way for them to like me and I made a lot of bad choices during those years. My family had a new focus of a new baby so that also made me feel like I was so much less important. This fueled those suicidal thoughts. It was during this time period that I remember first feeling alone with those suicidal thoughts of wondering if anyone would really miss me if I were gone. Would anyone care I was gone?
When we get into romantic relationships I have made so many bad choices I am ashamed to even speak of much of it. I have stayed with men longer than I ever should have. I have tried to get men to notice me that were totally undeserving of me. I was treated as a last choice so many times and I just kept going back for more. Then there was the clinginess I developed sometimes because of my insecurities. I wanted so badly to be wanted, needed and loved that I put up with things nobody ever should. I had issues within myself of feeling less than and feeling like I had to make them like me. I would make them care for me. I just knew if I did all of these nice things for them and really tried to show I cared it would work. How could they not appreciate me if I did all in my power to please them? That was the stupidest thing I could have done. I lost who I was. I became a desperate woman just trying to get someone’s undivided attention. I would put up with a lot and most of them time I would have continued to until the man finally put a stop to it. I don’t know why for much of my life even if I knew a relationship was bad for me or was not working I still kept trying. I mean don’t get me wrong over the years there were a few times that I got to be on the other end of this with men who would not leave me alone and I got to experience what it was like to be on the end of having to end things because someone would not give it up.
Now there have been times that I cared so much for someone or was in love and I am the one who finally made the decision to end things. The first time I did it I remember that in a moment after a certain incident I just was very level headed and it was all so clear. I had cried so many times. I spent so much time trying to make all of this work. One early morning I just decided I had been through enough. I decided with no tears in my eyes at all that I was done. I walked away as fast as I could and for the most part I did not look back. This person did try to win me back months later and I stood my ground giving them something they could do before I would even think about trying again. The did not do what I asked so that was that. I was proud of myself for finally standing up for myself in what was a toxic situation. I had wondered if he would miss me when I was gone and I guess he did but not enough to put forth a full effort.
I had another long term relationship where I did a very similar thing. I had cried a lot of tears. I had been put down for who I was and what I liked and did. I put up with it for years. I just felt like the good things about him outweighed the bad and at least he liked me for those things he did that other’s hadn’t. I sold myself short. That relationship changed me as a person. Still today I cannot stand being judged by those who are suppose to care about me. If someone puts down the music I like, the show I watch, etc. it really hits me hard and opens up old wounds. This relationship was clearly toxic and had only gotten worse. One day with a phone conversation over me not agreeing to buy him dinner (he was selfish and I was a single mom paying all my own bills while he lived in a house free of rent). I stood my ground and he began to cut me down over the phone and I hung up the phone telling him it was over and never looked back. I guess with me I do have limits. My limits may be high but I have them. He also noticed me when I was gone but it was too late and this one I was not even willing to try to make it work. I had no desire.
The thing about wondering if someone will miss you when you are gone is we can’t always find that out. I wonder this today about other relationships in my life. I don’t really think about it in a suicidal sense although I have in recent years for brief moments. I am not suicidal right now so no worries on that front.
Again, my current husband and I are fine and this is not speaking about him. I mean there are things I do that I wonder if he would miss me if I was gone for a while but nothing important enough to make me really sit and wonder. These days as an adult I think more along the lines of wondering if I moved away without contact or social media to keep up with me would people miss me. When I do not feel appreciated or cared about or when I feel less than I wonder if they would even really miss me. Who would do the things for them that I do if I weren’t here? Would they speak to those people like they do me? Would I still just be an afterthought? Would they try to find me or reach out to me? I honestly don’t know with some people. I know it sounds like a pity party but this is just my being real about how I feel sometimes. I do a lot for those I love and sometimes I guess I feel like it is unappreciated and unreciprocated. They say to get rid of toxic relationships no matter who it is but how do you do that when it is family? I mean what if it is your grown children? How can you just break off from having them in your lives. I don’t think I could.