I’ve heard it a million times, “I just have bad taste in men,” or “I only seem to like the bad boys,” or “I just seem to attract the losers/users.” I’m talking about women who consistently fail in relationships with people who don’t deserve them in the first place. Or there’s the opposite end of the spectrum where women form no attachment to a man at all, even if he’s a keeper or maybe they sabotage a good relationship. I know because I used to be one of these women.
After several years in personal therapy, marriage therapy and alcohol/drug recovery, one thing is for certain; all my issues with relationships can be tied back to one wound, the father wound. I was a living, breathing, walking father wound for most of my life. My identity crisis began at 5 years old, when my parents split. My mother raised me as a single parent, I saw my father once during childhood. He didn’t offer any form of relationship, and he didn’t financially support me.
My mother did an excellent job loving me, but it’s not the same as a father’s love. Little girls are not supposed to be rejected by their father. It does something to the hard wiring of the soul. After being rejected by him, the young girl inside of me decided that I wasn’t enough for him, and I wasn’t enough for any man, I decided that I wasn’t worth love. I wasn’t worth the investment. I felt like a reject as a child and carried this identity through high school.
I began to drink at a very young age, and smoke cigarettes, and smoke weed. These things helped the social anxiety I struggled with, it was easier to make friends and “date” while bonding over substances than anything real. These things helped me keep friendships and relationships on a superficial level and helped prevent me from getting too close to people, which set the precedent for my relationships with men.
At the age of maturity I became the party girl. The party girl that didn’t give a shit about grades, sports, extra-curricular anything, or college. The girl that lacked humility, grace, or self-esteem, that was me. The girl that had no idea how a man was supposed to treat a woman-that was me. I allowed men (boys, really) to trample all over my reputation, and my dignity and self-respect. I didn’t know what I was doing by sleeping around; I thought by doing so I was in control. If no one trusted me they wouldn’t try to get close to me right? A big portion of the problem was blackout drinking, over and over and over again because I had no way to control the effects of alcohol on my brain. Unfortunately alcohol controlled me much in the way it controlled my father, but that’s another article.
I remember the day I awoke after a binge drinking night with a strange guy. Nothing was different, same old song and dance. Until 4 weeks later when I didn’t get my period like I was supposed to. I was a senior in high school. My mother was incredible, she was supporting from the beginning. I was raised catholic and although my moral compass was completely skewed, I didn’t believe in abortion, it was never an option. Immediately I accepted the consequences of my actions and began to pray. When you’re sober, and a pregnant teenager, friends disappear, I had a whole lot of time to spend with God.
I apologized profusely to God for my actions, and begged him to be the father I needed. I begged him to take care of me, to take care of the baby inside me, and to take care of my mother, now looking at being a grandparent, something she wasn’t ready for I’m sure. I made promises to God to be a better person, I bargained with him. I wanted the guy to step up and be a part of his child’s life, he wasn’t interested, much like my own father wasn’t interested in me, history repeats itself.
At my first checkup I was hooked to the ultrasound, and the tech informed me that I miscarried. The tears began rolling down my face and didn’t stop for years. I was absolutely devastated. I didn’t want this child, but I accepted it. I began to love it, and it was gone. I was furious with God. I asked him to fill in as my father and this is what I get?
I had to have a procedure, a very painful procedure, to get my body back on track. The pain was unlike anything I had experienced. Then came the prescriptions. Prescription after prescription was written, refilled and refilled as I was trying to numb the emotional pain with painkillers. I knew just how much to take to make the physical pain end and just how much to take to make the emotional pain end. I knew how much to take and how to take it to make my spine tingle, to make my body melt into my bed in escape. It was bliss compared to the emotional pain of processing a miscarriage.
I came crashing down hard after several months of using several different drugs. My anxiety and paranoia were unbearable, my depression was killing me, and I knew I needed to quit. I began to talk to God again. I got a call from an Army recruiter, and I knew what I needed to do. I needed to join the military. I desperately wanted the discipline other women had, I wanted confidence, and I wanted a future. I needed to attempt to stop the cycle of rejection and medication, or I was going to repeat it. I was beginning to believe again. I “came to believe that a power greater than myself would restore me to sanity.” I didn’t know it at the time but I was living step 2 for the first time.
I’ve been in the military for 16 years now. I found the discipline and confidence I was lacking, and have been living a sober life from drugs since I left home. I met my husband in the military; he was the first to call me on my weakness, my desire to run when we got close, so I kept him. We’ve now been married for 13 years and have 2 daughters; they are the source of my inspiration.
I have to give the credit to God. I didn’t do any of this by my own means. I did it after I decided to believe step 2, “Earnestly believe that God exists, that I matter to him, and that he has the power to help me recover.” I became the person he desired me to be because I decided to believe that I mattered. I believed that I was worthy of God’s love.
The biggest gift I’ve ever received from God is the recovery from the reject identity. Slowly but surely, these chains came off. I was shackled to the belief that I was unlovable by my father, that I was unlovable by men and unloved by God for my sins. This was never the truth. The truth was my father was not capable of being a parent. It had nothing to do with me as a person. The truth was, once I began to allow God to love me and take care of me, like the father he wanted to be, I was provided a husband who accepts me for me; all my faults and failures and he loves me anyway.
My husband turned to me after church while in the car on father’s day last year and told me something simple but life changing. He said “You’re worth it. You’re worth loving.” I immediately thought….well that’s random.
Then it dawned on me. He was speaking to my father wound. He was telling me I’m worthy of love. Something I had been dying to hear from a man all along. This was God in the flesh. My eyes brimmed with tears. You know what? I am worth it. I am worthy of love…..and so are you.
The challenge is to live step 2, to experience it. The experience can last years, decades really, perhaps a lifetime. But that’s all part of the journey right?