I have often wondered what exactly causes a mental illness or disorder to develop? Many have argued that nature plays a large part. That there is something within our bodies and DNA that causes imbalances. Others have argued that it is nurture that has the biggest impact. The way we are raised plays into how we develop. I tend to side that it is a combination of both. That in life we are affected by both nature and nurture. Let’s not forget that circumstances that we have no control over contribute to who we become.
This post is going to delve into parts of my life that I often do not like to bring up. I don’t like to bring up parts of my past very often because it involves people I love. But most importantly, people who have changed. I can talk about my past and who these people were, but I need you to know (and specifically the people who I will be writing about) that these individuals have changed for the better. They are not the same people. However, the past still happened and I feel that the past plays into the nurture part of my development.
I grew up with a supportive mother and a distant father (I love you dad, and I’m glad you are more involved now). My mother was very busy supporting our family and making sure that everyone was taken care of. Often she would only worry about us and would give herself small amounts of self care. Honestly, when I think back, I believe my mom did almost everything in her power to make us happy. She was the emotional support, financial support, the negotiator, the chef, and the entertainer. While my father worked, came home, told the classic dad jokes, and then spent the rest of the evening in his office. When my dad was in a good mood, we would play a game or play sports in the backyard. He would also help me with my math homework here and there. It would usually end in me crying because we were both too stubborn to compromise.
Going back to the nurture part of development, I am almost certain that my obsessions or need for male attention stems from my past. I had plenty of female support and attention throughout my life. However, there are only a few men in my life that have been consistently supportive and present.
I was always trying to get attention from my dad growing up. I didn’t really care if it was good attention or bad. Of course, I would always try for the praise, but I could settle for being yelled at. I remember I would always sit down at the piano and just play. I actually wrote a lot of songs when I was younger. But the reason I would play the piano (sometimes a little too loud) was because I would always get some reaction from my dad. He would come out of his office to talk to me. He would tell me to play quieter or to stop playing all together. It was a reaction I craved. But it still hurt. I wanted my dad to come out and tell me that what I was playing was beautiful. I wanted him to say I was talented or even come out and listen to me pound away at the old piano keys.
It seemed as I got older my dad spent more and more time in his office. I would knock on his door and ask him to play a game with me. Occasionally he would say yes, but most of the time it was not a good time. Often I would knock on his door and I would be yelled at for disturbing him or just altogether ignored. Eventually, I just gave up. I came to believe that I was not worth the time, and that I was not enough.
I became desperate for any type of male interaction. I wanted to be enough. I wanted to feel that I was worth interacting with. I did not care if it was negative interaction or positive interaction. But the sad part is, that I ended up having men in my life who treated me terribly. I didn’t know it at the time, because I just wanted to be noticed. I’m often reminded of a quote from The Perks of Being a Wallflower, “You accept the love you think you deserve.”
I wish I was stronger and believed that these silly little interactions were not in my control and had no correlation to my worth. But I was young and I didn’t understand that people, specifically my dad, had other things that might have been going on. I took it to heart, and believed I should accept any male attention I was given. The good, the bad, and the downright ugly. It didn’t matter, I was being seen and at that moment and it was all that mattered to me.
My next post will talk about how my need for male attention impacted my dating life.
To my father, I love you with all of my heart. You are a true example of how people can change for the better. I still remember when you told me that you were proud of me for finishing college with two degrees. I will never forget that moment, because it was what I was waiting for. I wanted you to be proud of me. You are not your past, and neither am I. Also, please forgive me for abusing the piano keys.
As always, thank you for reading.