I think that my lack of a father’s love started this whole mess.
My real father abandoned my mother and my sisters, and I when I was just 3 years old. My step-father did not have a loving bone in his body and ate cruelty for breakfast. I was ripe for someone to come along and make me feel as if I were the most important person in their world; something daddy’s do for their little girls. Normal daddy’s anyway.
My lack of a father’s love probably contributed to my conversion to Christ when I was 23 years old. Feeling out of my depth as a new wife and mother, one day I felt an overwhelming sense of love and well-being from a father/brother figure. That sustained me for quite some years. My marriage was not a passionate love affair, but merely a remedy for small town boredom and we parted ways when our children grew up and moved out of the house. Notice I don’t say our home because I’ve never really felt ‘at home’ anywhere. We never jointly created a home like some couples do; putting their particular stamp on a place to reflect their budding love. Perhaps a father’s advice about any of this would have been invaluable.
It was almost inevitable that I dream of the perfect romance. My romance fantasies led me to a couple of affairs and later to the online ‘romance’ that landed me where I am today. All I’ve ever wanted was be someone special to someone else. I wanted to hear the words, ‘I love you and I want to spend the rest of my life making you happy’ or those coveted words, ‘you are so special to me’. I’ve never heard that, or felt it either while growing up or in all the years I’ve been married. My sister, mother, and I have always dealt with our pain alone, probably because no one ever sought us out to comfort us. But still one hopes.
Maybe I’m feeling a tad maudlin but when I read of other people’s marriages, of the love and care and the grief that happens when such lovers are apart, I mourn for what I never had or have never known. I worked so hard to be a good wife and failed both times. Now I just wish someone would care for me. Just a little bit. Some people say that God can fulfil that need in me, but how can you have a fulfilling relationship with an invisible person? I’ve yet to master that, even after all of these years.
I am broken by this latest betrayal and although I KNOW that acting with love toward someone whether they deserve or not is the Christian thing to do, just once, I wish that someone would be more concerned about me than I was for them. Just once. Is that too much to ask?
I grew up in an extremely dysfunctional family. If you’ve read my previous entries I’ve detailed the problems I’ve had dealing with a father who abandoned me and a step-father who abused me, my sister, and my mother. We carry the psychic scars to this day and my mother carried them to her grave. Long after the death of my step-father, his abuse left the three of us unable to relate to each other in a reasonable and loving way. Is it any wonder that I have issues with my husband?
Needless to say, there was a nod to church and religion, but no examples of Christian behavior whatsoever. So, I did not form my ethical view from Christianity. Growing up, I formed my ethical view from my own experiences with people. I learned that trust is not automatically given but earned. I learned that forcing forgiveness is more damaging than healing. I learned that most people will use you for their own ends rather than treat you with respect and dignity. I don’t recall thinking anything at all about marriage. Despite my mother’s horrible experiences with marriage, I did not believe that the institution itself was bad. Surprisingly, I always thought I’d get married.
Perhaps, because in a small Midwestern town, there is nothing offered but marriage and children, I automatically thought that it was my lot in life. Guidance counselors at school wrote off those who did not perform well and did not even offer to tell them of opportunities they MIGHT have if they concentrated on school work rather than partying every night of the week like I did. My acting out was a given. I drank alcohol like there was no tomorrow and I had one-night stands and no clue how to achieve a normal relationship with someone. My experience taught me that men demanded sex to cement a relationship regardless of what I wanted. When I see women today who are so present in themselves and assured, I mourn for the clueless teenager that I was.
Ethically, I have never felt that non-monogamous relationships could work. Perhaps because in my world, there were NO examples of any. Theoretically I agree that people are not monogamous by nature. There is enough evidence in the world to show that marriage cannot contain the wandering eyes of men or women. I can count on one hand the couples I know who have not been divorced at least once. Marriage is a civil legal arrangement only. Now I can see this. Back then however, I had all of the romantic notions of any teenager. I expected way too much.
So, as an adult I’ve tried to think in non-monogamous terms, but I also think I’ve narrowed my world too much. Forget monogamy and non-monogamy. I’m thinking in non-marital terms right now. Why be married at all? Perhaps marriage was never for me because my expectations would never be met or because I’m better off with my own company. I also feel that I’ve never allowed myself to grow as a person in my own right. I’ve always been in some kind of relationship. I do not know myself as a single person. I would love to find out.