Our relationships with our parents are so fundamental to who we become as adults. I had a moment last night, watching Trouble With The Curve, which I’ve watched a heap of times, where I burst into tears, saying, “That’s me.”
Amy Adams’ character, Micky, confronts her dad, Clint Eastwood, about his rejection of her as a young girl. Her dad, raising a young girl, on the road for work, after his wife/her mother died, finds himself out of his depth when Micky is touched inappropriately by a horse trainer.
He beats the crap out of the guy, waits for the police to come after him, and moves Micky to live with relatives because he thinks she will be safer.
He never tells any of this to Micky. Her perception is that she wasn’t good enough for him, and she spends her adult years trying to please him and gain his approval. He is oblivious to all of this. He loves her, but doesn’t know how to communicate that.
I just bawled. I rewound the scene to watch it a few more times. It never had impacted so deeply before.
My tears were for my same feelings relating to my dad. Seeking that validation. Our perceptions are interesting things. I can now see that we tend to remember that which hurts us more than that which makes us smile. As kids, with minimal scope for broad perspective, we internalize the negative and create narratives that really focus on the negative.
The violence (aka discipline) told me I had to behave a certain way to not be hit, and the goal posts here were always moving. I never knew where I stood. I was also taught that I was responsible for everyone else (my sisters’ behavior), and that I wasn’t good enough if they misbehaved and I hadn’t stopped them. I also learned that I was different to my sisters. They were the pretty ones.
As a teen, who wasn’t overweight, but was a different build to my sisters, my dad would coax me to lose weight by offering me rewards. Looking back, I didn’t need to lose weight. I was fine. But, the narrative I was telling myself, that I perceived was being reinforced by the actions of my father, took over. And a key aspect of that, that I then internalized and still play over today, is that I am not good enough as I am.
I sense a list of memories are going to be made and Demartini’d very soon.
I now understand that my father’s context lead him to these choices. I now understand that self-worth is one of my lessons, that I chose, for this lifetime. However, the hurt was and is real.
That feeling of not being enough, not being valuable, not being deserving unless you meet another person’s criteria, is gut wrenching. My intellect was always validated by my father – I thrive here.
More work to be done.