When I was young, I had this expression…”Smack me once, shame on you…smack me twice, shame on me.” To me this expression has rung back to me so many times and covering so many situations. And while, yes, we can get general in the statement and talk about someone who is physically hit by a man, since a woman who is hit a second time has allowed herself to be in a similar situation with a man…we might want to say to her: “Shame on you!”
For me, never having been hit by a man (except my brother…who my mother wouldn’t allow me to “divorce”), this refers to me opening myself up to people to hurt and disappoint me again. Granted, I have NEVER gotten back together with any of my past boyfriends (though for some the term “boyfriend” is just me being generous). So should there have ever been a reason why I’ve decided the relationship is over…I’ve never gone back on my word to give the guy another chance. And I’ve had volatile relationships I never expected to be any different. And so I guess I was never guilty of that.
For me, it just has to do with my family. Every once in a while, I imagine that my family members are going to do the right thing. You know…have an interest in what is actually going on in my life…how was I doing…give me sound advice about decisions I make or where I imagine my life to take me. And I am not being a jerk…but I lost my mother at a young age when I was not dating anyone while my brother was married. And I don’t need anyone to hold my hand in life, God knows my mother never did that either. But I don’t know…express a general sense of caring about who I am and where I am going…maybe even the desire to be part of it.
But every once in a while, I try to set up dates or invitations for close family members where I try to give them the opportunity to do or say the right thing only to be left disappointed. I have worked so hard over the past 20 years (between therapy and self-medicating and even running away to another country for 8 years…in addition to blogging/journaling all about it), to put the bad shit behind me, to forgive the various transgressions performed against me in the rear view mirror. I’ve even studied Buddhism that teaches to mentally relive experiences, except the ending has to play out as though they truly happened for a positive reason.
By having done these things in order not to have turned into a raving alcoholic…I have taught myself to get back on the horse every morning to face another day…alone. Never have I felt “lonely” because I’d become so used to facing every obstacle alone. I feel as though it is only the inner strength I was also taught that has allowed me to exist in this cruel world. That “cruel” world that really has delivered some of the most amazing people to my life…a man with the capacity to love me in a way that shows me that the love I’ve kept inside pales in comparison to his…two women with whom I work everyday who have become like family to me in their ability to give me both personal and professional advice every day. This shows me how truly balanced the Universe really can be.
So while my father still can’t seem to understand why it might be important that he still needs to do more than just “show up,” I continue to feel smacked in the face once again because I am continuing to want to him to share the same emotions I have. But while I have been shown that many of my ex-boyfriends were never capable of loving me the way I wanted or expected them to, and not because they had not wanted to, but because they did not have the capacity to…the same, it seems goes for my father.
I was always able to “read” the men I was dating to know this about them. I was sometimes able to read it during the first date that the man I was sitting across a table from would never be able to make me and our relationship the center of his world…so I am not even staying for dessert and I’d walk out. Yet, with my father, I was always so blinded. I always had such a problem understanding that even though he had two children, who I believe deserved his love and devotion, he really just never had the capacity to love us the way a man should love his children. And that is not to say that he did not love us…I am sure that in his mind, we came first. But he always acted so selfishly…putting his own addictions and bad habits first…even before first thinking about buying a house for us to grow up in or making sure that we understood it is more important to go home to your family than spending afternoons in a gin mill or nights in a gambling club. It is more important to express a general interest in the lives of your family…wife and two children…than it is to play liar’s poker with “friends” who couldn’t really give two shits about you once they sobered up…if they even remembered who he was.
I lost my innocence while working behind bars for 20 years…in two different countries. And it was from back there that I witnessed so much heartache and disappointment in people who kept expecting something from the world that was incapable of delivering it. I thought I learned enough to know better than to ever open myself up to that…to ever expect anything from anyone and how to stand strong and be independent and how to be “fine” so that no one ever stepped on my heart. And then…SMACK…I still find myself vulnerable to disappointment as I continue to expect something from my father who will just never have the capacity to deliver it.