If you don't love yourself, you can never really love anyone else. If you don't love yourself, then even the most perfect partner will never be enough.
You may be wondering why I wrote that. I know that sentence perfectly, because that used to be me.
I've always tried to be the kind of person who is responsible for their own actions. I don't get into that whole 'I'm this way because my parents didn't give me enough toys' crap.
I've always tried to be responsible for me, to not absolve myself of my own actions by blaming it on other people.
But the thing is, no matter who you are, I believe that each of our lives are dictated, shaped, formed by the people we come into contact with. We define ourselves through other people.
Some people are shining examples, the teachers, grandparents, friends. Those people who you want to be like, you want to emulate.
And then there are others who you hope you never become.
When I was young, my father was the most important person in my life. I truly felt that the sun rose and set on his laughter.
Making him smile was my heart's desire. He was the one person in my life who I wanted to be exactly like, I wanted to laugh like him, I wanted to act like him, I wanted to make him proud of me.
I guess you could say that my first love was my dad. In my eyes, he was perfect. He was my hero, and I loved him more than anyone else in the world.
He used to take me fishing, hunting, and was always proud of me when I caught a bigger fish than him, or when I did something clever.
When I was around him, he made me feel like everyday counted, like the light just shone brighter when he was around. When someone like that is around, the day seems better. When they're not, the hours grow into days.
What I remember of my dad and what my mom remembers of my dad are two different things. Both of our perceptions are accurate, because he was two different people. One was the father I adored, and the other was the man who drank too much to quiet his demons.
Even worse than his drinking was the fact that he hit my mom. Being six years old and trying to understand the why of it all, was impossible. Every time I tried to understand, it was like swimming out over my head. I just wasn't ready to understand, and maybe deep down, there wasn't any way I could understand.
One one hand was the father who loved me, who I loved, and then there was the man who came home smelling like whiskey, looking for arguments that weren't there.
I used to lay awake at night, praying that he wouldn't come home with that angry smell on him. That he wouldn't hit my mom.
And each time, it would happen again.
I remember him promising that each (and everytime) was the last. And I believed him. I believed in him. I wanted each time to be the last.
But each 'never', every 'it'll never happen again', one more 'this is the last time' and finally, it was just too much.
I was pretty sure they were going to get divorced, but even knowing that didn't make it hurt any less.
I remember the last time my dad took me fishing. Just me and him. We sat on the bank, casting our lines out for that perfect spot. I remember this like it happened yesterday, instead of twenty-three years ago.
He put his fishing rod down, he turned to me, the setting sun in his eyes and he said, "Sis, me and your mom are getting divorced. But I promise you I will never leave you. I love you and your mom and your brother so much. I just need to get better. Will you pray for me? Will you do that for your dad?"
I remember crying, like I'm crying now, and nodding my head. If my dad asked me to do it, you could take that shit to the bank.
I remember the smell of his shirt, the way he hugged me while I cried, and how his eyes looked when he promised me.
What I didn't know then, thankfully, is that when my mom and dad divorced, he also divorced me. And he never looked back.
This year, I had to go into the hospital again. The mental hospital, to be perfectly frank.
My medications stopped working, and it happened so gradually, that when those black thoughts crept in, like a gray fog, it snuck up on me.
Hello, darkness, my old friend.
The thing is, when they ask you about your family, I tell them I had a good childhood.
I had a good childhood because of my mother. My dad, I really don't even mention. I gloss that part over, make it seem less than it is, because I don't want anyone thinking I'm this way because the father I loved abandoned me and never looked back.
But I was tired of carrying that. I was tired of letting him off the hook for that one, the way I'd been doing for years.
Sometimes it's just too easy to blame things on someone else. Sometimes it's too easy to blame my own shortcomings on my dad.
Carrying that weight was just too much, so for the first time, I talked about him. I admitted to what I never talk about.
I finally realized that by pushing everything down, by pretending that I'm fine when I'm not, things had come full circle. I had become my father.
So, on the last day of my old life, I was sitting in class, and I just couldn't pretend anymore.
I couldn't paste on a smile for another second.
I got up out of my old life, and I walked out. I ended up walking toward my mom's job, not knowing how I was going to find the strength to ask her, to beg her to help me get better.
Instead of thinking about that, I just walked to her job. I remember pulling myself together enough to walk into her office. I had the rehearsed words on my lips, but when I saw her eyes, saw the concern in them, I broke down completely.
In that instant, I realized that despite all my intentions, I had become my father to this wonderful woman in my life. I never hit her, but the words I'd said to her in years past all came rushing back. Unlike a bruise, those words never faded. They never healed.
Despite all that, despite everything that had happened in my life, my mom dropped everything for me. She dropped everything, and took me to the hospital.
I got better. I can't say that I'm cured, because this thing is something that I'll never be cured from. I can be treated.
Today is good, and maybe tomorrow I won't be okay, but that's tomorrow.
Today I'll bless the slack I've been given, and I won't think about the drop.
And I won't ever be my father again.
Against the wind
Little somethin against the wind
I found myself seekin shelter against the wind