I spent much of my childhood trying to do “the right thing”. How does a child even know what the right thing is?
I knew that if I did certain things at certain times I’d get a little more attention from my parents. But they were so busy with everything in their lives that they really didn’t have all that much time for me.
It seems a silly thing to complain about sometimes. You see children who have no food, or suffer incredible abuse. My parents just didn’t have any time for me.
I spent a great deal of time alone. To clarify, I have two sisters. We didn’t get along very well. I found it easier to just spend my time outside, away from them, and avoid arguments.
I spent so much time trying to make my parents happy, and proud of me that even the small things hurt. Once I made dinner for my family. I usually did because both of my parents worked. I think I was 14 at the time. Steak, mashed potatoes, and some sort of vegetable.
My dad took one bight of it and got very unhappy. You could see the disapproval oozing off him. He was mad at me because I didn’t put any spices on the food. I forgot. I never ate spices on food, and I forgot. And he told me how bad dinner was, how horrible it was.
I learned a long time ago that I was never going to be able to please the people around me. And then I got married.
New mother, new baby, new home, and I cleaned the entire house. Even got on my knees and hands to scrub the kitchen floor because we didn’t have a mop. My husband came home. I thought he’d be so happy with me… No, there were things up on top of the computer case stashed out of the way that I hadn’t gotten too. The rest of the two bedroom apartment was clean, but there was paper up on top of that case. He was so disappointed in me, and I was that little girl trying to get approval. Trying so hard to earn someone’s love.
It took me a long time to learn that you can’t, and shouldn’t EARN someone’s love. Love is a gift you give. Love is free. Love is beautiful. It is full of hope and joy, and all those wonderful things of acceptance.
And even now, at 35 and trying to start something brand new I feel myself shutting down. Hurting. Afraid to try and earn someone’s love and attention. Will they like my books? Will they care? Will it affect anyone?
Who knows. And I shouldn’t care. I should be doing this because I love the writing, not because I’m trying to find that illusive acceptance somewhere.
My parents will never be proud of me. I accepted that years ago. And my life is saner now without them in it.
My husband would never be satisfied with anything I did. So I divorced him. And I have been happier without him.
But you can’t close yourself off from the world. You can’t satisfy the world. You have to satisfy yourself before you can do anything else.
That’s my struggle every day. Somewhere inside I am just that little girl still trying to find approval. And I suppose I always will be.