Born to parents who didn’t want me, who viewed me as a mistake, my self-esteem stayed at zip, zilch, zero. To begin with, the only reason I arrived on this planet at all fell on the one night two people succumbed to the heat of passion and failed in their birth control method. Mother didn’t visit an abortion doctor as my father believed in a 50/50 chance of receiving a son. No, ultrasounds in those days.
At the end of nine months, “Mr. O’Hara you have a girl.” With this announcement, the man of the house withdrew, and the female baby became the sole responsibility of the woman of the home who honestly possessed no motherly instinct for raising her either.
Yet, the bundle existed, and not being horrible people, they provided the basics for sustaining life, food (most of the time), water, clothing, and shelter. Other than rules, a ton of them, guidance didn’t exist.
Uncertain as to what to do about the product of their unprotected sexual coupling, they relegated me to my room, a corner of the basement, or out the door. Though in possession of voice it had to be kept at a minimum, and my station in life, stay out of view as much as possible. Unheard, unseen, this is the mission of which I found myself assigned.
One would think I’d break loose when playing outside. Shout to the heavens and create havoc. Mm, not me. The training to be a near-mute became so instilled, I chose quiet and alone play while enjoying the great outdoors.
It’s unclear as to how I came to understand crying, complaining, childish noise fell under the realm of unacceptable behavior. All Dad needed to do was glare at me with his angry eyes, and I cowered, tried to be part of the woodwork.
Mom’s eyes, a striking blue, didn’t possess such power, but her voice came through loud and clear, and on occasion, she picked up a fly swatter or grabbed a foam slipper. Both instruments stung like 30 bees intent on stinging the crap out of me. Ouch!
Never encouraged, supported, shown affection, a sense of self-worth refused to take shape. This fact kept me hovering in an embryonic state with unrealized potential within, but it took one hell of a long time to crack the shell.
My parents created the perfect child who they taught well to behave in all situations, and this carried on through school. Content to sit in the back of the room, not stand out, become one with the air, that was me.
Oh, my little girl brain contained dreams (accordion, piano, dance) and a few times, I dared voice them. Each desire quickly melted into nothingness, as every request always prompted a “No.”
Fashioned into a being without dignity or spirit, I never demanded or expected anything. The only matter, keep the people around me, happy. Then, perhaps, those I try so hard not to upset, might like me. To actually have a liking for myself? I never thought about that. Personal feelings were of no consequence.
The lack of self-regard and confidence imprisoned me, yet, I never realized this until ions later, after escaping from a man who beat me into submission for 20 years. That’s right, 20, not a typo.
Free at last. Out from under the abuser, I came to find myself, realize I am deserving of life’s rewards. Potential evildoers beware. The newfound sense that I am worthy of so much more will keep me from your dastardly intents.
Alive and journeying on a new path, I understood how important it is to believe in yourself and to make one’s self a priority is crucial. For only then can we give of our real selves, and in the process extract all the beauty around us.
To be me, a combination of the sweet, obliging little girl of long ago (she’s so ingrained), and the strong self-respecting woman of today, well, it’s not an imperfect interfusion, but I can finally say, “I rather like me.”
As I was reading this post, I kept thinking that you are a warrior, a survivor. You have battled your parents and an abusive relationship and you have emerged so strong and confident. It’s so amazing. I’m so sorry about everything that you have been through. Amazing post, really. So much emotion and so raw. I really admire your strength.
Thank you! I never thought of myself as courageous. Dredging through the adversity was something I simply had to do, step-by-painful step. Strength derived through necessity. Again, I appreciate your comments.
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