I have a flashback to a moment when I was maybe 6 or 7 years old and my mother gave me a photo from my biological father with his new family. She said she wanted nothing to do with it but it was my decision whether to keep the photo or not. I was torn between longing to keep the photo so I could secretly examine and find resemblances to my father or throwing it away to please my mother. In my mind, I looked nothing like my mother. I have darker skin, smaller eyes, dimples when I smile in places she doesn’t.
I would have liked to keep the photo but instead I tore it up out of loyalty to my mother because I didn’t want her to know that my biological father could be of any importance to me. I look back at that moment and wonder why I tried so hard to please her – why I went against my own desire to keep that photo. I was so young, so impressionable. I grew up believing my father abandoned me to start a new family – that he was a womanizing asshole. How could I be so stupid to want my biological father in my life if he hurt my mother so badly?
I wish I had a carefree childhood. Instead, I was instilled with a constant fear that all men are evil – that they are all deceitful, cheating assholes. That men view women and even little girls as prey. I knew what rape was before I learned the graphic details behind it. I learned as a child that I should never fall in love because it will only lead to heartache and pain.
Oppressed by my mother’s Catholic upbringing, I was told to, “Do as I say, not as I do.” My mom had the best intentions but of course I didn’t listen. I resented her. I rebelled. I became what my mother never wanted me to be – a promiscuous girl going out with all the wrong guys seeking validation from men because I didn’t feel validated or recognized as a daughter by my own father.
There was a constant fear of getting too attached to any man because I’ve gone through life learning that the moment I grow close to someone, they move, they go away – they leave and abandon me too. I have never had a best friend for that reason. I see no stability in people. People are constantly changing. Lifestyle and circumstances might bond you one moment and tear you apart the next.
I struggle with this dichotomy of emotional sensitivity and logical detachment. I feel deeply, I love deeply but I use reason to numb my heart and hide my true feelings. I wear a mask of happiness for the world to see when the truth is I’m falling apart on the inside – troubled by my battling thoughts and feelings that make me feel so unworthy, rejected and alone in this world.