I have to go back to the first man to love bomb and then discard me. My father.
Until I was seven years old, I was in and out of foster homes. Finally, my biological mother’s rights were revoked and I was placed for adoption. After the first placement failed, I was taken to the home of my future parents.
My parents had been married and childless for 17 years when they decided to adopt. From the moment my father laid eyes on me, he seemed to be in love. I was treated as though I were the most beautiful, most perfect, most incredible child on the planet. I was blown away by his love, I had never received such focused attention in my life. For one brief, shining moment, I was in heaven. My mother was resentful and would frequently become physically abusive. My doting father, who happened to be a police detective, strangely ignored the bruises, the black eyes, the swollen lips. The abuse was tolerable because I knew my “Daddy” loved me.
This lasted for about a year and a half. Suddenly, my father grew distant. My school achievements elicited no praise, my constant chatter was met with grunts, the shine had worn off. Over the years, it became more and more obvious that I was more of a let down than my dad could tolerate. I had no idea what I had done.
My father became self-absorbed. His pain and disappointments in life became my family’s constant focus. I became invisible. Months would go by without my father uttering a single word to me. At fifteen, I experienced my first psychotic break. My father had been giving me the silent treatment for so long that I had actually begun to doubt my existence. I grew terrified that I had become invisible. I began cutting myself, the blood providing evidence that I was still real.
My father repeated the cycle with my children. Adoring them as babies and toddlers, becoming irritated and annoyed with them as they approached their ninth birthdays. He never ignored them as he had me, for that I was grateful.
I never knew what caused my father to change, or why I could never win his love back. I eventually grew tired of trying and shut my father out of my life as much as possible. Occasionally, I did try to reconnect with him, but there was never any resolution. He died without ever apologizing for or acknowledging the pain he had caused me.
I realize now that I have been searching for my father’s replacement in the men I date. I’ve been trying so hard to fix whatever it is I did wrong. I still fall for dramatic, over the top gestures of love and affection that come with the beginnings of these sick relationships. Declare your love for me and I will follow you to hell. As soon as the devaluation begins, I am terrified. I scramble to regain the favor of my suddenly cold, distant partner. I sacrifice my dignity, my sanity, my emotional well-being for any scrap of affection I’m tossed.
Or, in my more self-protective periods, I become the untrustworthy one. Building men up, tearing them down, rebuilding. I draw them in and push them away until the cycle becomes unbearable and they finally flee.
Either way, I end up alone, filled with regret. My wound untended, my ego reminding me that I am unworthy of love, that I will always fail.
This is the shaky foundation all of my relationships have been built on. This is where the healing has to begin.