Discipline + Trust = Love!*
“Come Back!” I yelled through the tears streaming down my face as I ran up the street after him. My heart was twisted in turmoil, my head full of confusion and raging emotion. I was a child in an adult’s body and he was my boyfriend. We hadn’t been going out very long, a few months maybe, but once I had allowed him into my life physically and emotionally I began clinging on for dear life, pinning all my feelings on him. If he told me he ‘loved me and couldn’t live without me’, I was over the moon, if he told me to ‘get lost and leave him alone’, I was on the floor in a heap, devastated by his rejection.
This time he was going out with his friends for the night, but I had spent the day looking forward to spending the night with him. I had conjured up in my head a scene straight from a movie, that he would see me, run to me, hold me, tell me how long his day had been without me, yadda yadda yadda. I would have sent these expectations with my will-power out into the universe and I wasn’t going to settle for anything less!
However I would have no choice but to settle for something much less. He had walked through the door earlier that evening, thrown his work bag on the ground, grunted a ‘G’day’ at me and headed for the shower. I slinked up to him, trying to use my features and curves to get his attention, but he had had a long, hard day and wasn’t biting at any of the bait I was casting his way. All I got in return was that he had to get ready because his mates would be here to pick him up soon. Well, I had just practically thrown myself at this guy and had simply and coldly, been brushed off. Feelings began to build up in my chest and spilled over into my heart, they made their way up into my mind trying to grab onto some logic, something I could say to convince him to stay and make me believe his love for me. I gave him everything that came to mind, but what it boiled down to was ‘If you love me, why are you making me feel bad?’ He didn’t buy into any of my arguments, said of course he loved me but was still going out tonight. A car had pulled up out the front, he turned his back and walked away toward his waiting friends. I was pleading with him to stay, demanding he not leave me. Yearning for him to change his mind and do something to take away the pain, the rejection, the loneliness and fear I was drowning in. I banged on the window of the car and told him to “Get out and talk to me!”, yet instead he gave me an angry, confused look and told his friend to drive. So here I was, running after the car, screaming like a toddler throwing a tantrum in the supermarket over a lollipop they had been refused.
I kept on like that with different boyfriends for many years, every now and then my expectations would not be met, I couldn’t understand why and would become irrational. I couldn’t get my head around this one main question, the question that lit my heart on fire with anger, and devastation.
‘How can you say you love me, seeing me in tears, being the only one able to take away my pain and still not do what I want you to?’ … I always concluded ‘Then you can’t possibly love me!’
It wasn’t until much later that it all started to make sense to me, I realised that while I thought I had been a good child, I was also very good at turning on the waterworks at the onset of any event I might like to avoid. Being left with teachers, or babysitters, or eating my dinner, or sleeping in my own bed were certain to evoke tears. Like most parents, my Mum found it was simply too hard to stand up to me and my dramatic, emotional manipulation. She couldn’t bear to see me cry.
Who else remembers a typical kindergarten day? Mum or Dad showing you the toys pretending they were staying to play with you, and once you were distracted they would sneak out to avoid seeing your tears and hearing your screams. You would turn around to find they had simply disappeared, and they stayed gone for a many hours. (That’s a long time for a little child). Perhaps you too became scared that if you let go of someone you love they might not be there when you next looked around. Then Mum began making food that I didn’t fuss about so she wouldn’t have to fight to get me to eat, and eventually let me sleep in her bed every night without dispute. I came to believe that the people who love me don’t let me cry…for long.
As I got older, and through some therapy much later on, I came to understand that I suffered from abandonment fear and a misconception of love. My tantrum throwing was as distressing for me as it was for my loved ones. It wasn’t until many conversations with my Dad, where he helped me see that I was also a victim of my own emotional blackmail. In other words, I was allowing my inner enemy to create unreasonable emotions that overpowered me, and then expecting my loved ones to adjust themselves accordingly. Once I realised I simply couldn’t trust my emotions, and accepted that I was misunderstanding what love is and how loving people treat each other, I began the journey to keep my emotions in check and try acting in a loving way rather than an irrational way. It takes a lot of persistence to change a behaviour and a belief you have had all your life, and I am certain I would have had no success without my faith.
There are many others out there who have some experience with these types of overpowering emotions, and they may not have any similarities in their childhood to mine. I believe it is possible for any form of trauma that rocked the foundation of a child’s perception of trust, and love would still carry some weight to create this inner enemy.
In my next blog Discipline + Trust = Love! Part 2 I will continue with this story, and will detail the efforts I have made to prevent my children from following in my footsteps. I also feel compelled to write about how my attitude towards men changed and how wonderful the results were. You can read that here..