Ever since I was a young girl who recognized that my family did not love the way that is “normal,” I have been seeking.
Seeking that love from my own blood–pleasing and changing myself to fit into the mold that might, maybe, possibly, (but never really) be enough.
And, seeking that love from others. Hoping, each day, to find a person who could help me see my own value.
Unfortunately, traversing this path has been full pot-holes. For me, it has been scary, disappointing, and never enough to fill the hole that wasn’t filled by mom, or my absentee biological father.
Teachers could do it. But we moved so much. I went to 10 different elementary schools. Once I felt comfortable and found someone, it seemed like we picked up and moved again.
When I got older, and interested in boys, they did it, too. My first serious relationship happened when I was 17-18. It was overwhelming and all-encompassing. For once, someone loved me. All of me.
And I gave him all of me. In his two hands, he held all of that power.
Predictably–to everyone but hopeful me–that love didn’t last. He left.
I was crushed. Utterly broken. No self-worth. No confidence. Hurt beyond anything I had experienced up to that point.
After that, I sought more relationships. Empty, meaningless flings that could never begin to fill that original hole, now made bigger by my first loss.
Eventually, I found someone who did love me. Who was safe and comfortable. But, I don’t think I was ever willing, at that point, to give my whole self over to him like I did before.
I had two babies. And, for a while, I focused solely on them. I could, I hoped (and still hope), never create that big hole in them–the big hole that I had in my soul.
Through all those years of mothering, I realized I had lost all sense of myself. Anxiety, depression, weight–all those things had settled in.
I sought therapy. And continued looking.
I went through an immensely painful experience when I realized that my therapist was the exact kind of person who I wished I could have in my real life. I wanted a relationship–friend, confidant, etc.–with her.
Obviously, that could not happen.
But, at the time, she was modelling the very first patient, healthy boundaries that I had ever really experienced.
I began to narrow my circles. I found a few women in my life who I trust, without a doubt. Who have, in the very sense of the word, become family to me.
I sought religion. Hoping, because other people swear it is true, that some higher power could love me enough to fill that giant, aching hole inside of me.
I found community. Not so much the religion or spiritual awakening I really was seeking, but community, nonetheless.
All of this seeking has been a harrowing experience. I have made so many mis-steps…all in the hope of finding something greater than what I have…or maybe, than what I am.
I have attempted to have relationships with people who probably really never saw my value. I have attempted to flee relationships that didn’t feel right. I have sought out religion in an attempt to please those around me, hoping, once again, that if I made the right choices, they would find me enough, and want to love me.
I have pushed myself into another family, desperately wanting to become a part of them, hoping that they would want to make me an honorary member. Pushing the boundaries until they had to put the boundaries back up in a quiet way. I have sought out other women, women I admire, to fill a role that needs filled.
Some of these attempts went okay. Some ended in disaster.
All of it causes confusion.
You see, popular advice tells me that I need to know how to just fill this hole myself. Love yourself enough! You have to fill that hole, no one else can fill it for you!
And, sadly, I think they are probably right. But, at the same time, I know that I find it so much easier to love myself if others love me, too. I become more confident. Less afraid. More willing to be the real me.
I can’t help but feel mad and sad that I have this stupid hole to begin with.