My fiancé and I decided to live together; we were a happy family planning our wedding.  I thought I had him hooked, so I tried to change him. I demanded his time after work and constantly called when he was out drinking with the guys. I didn’t trust him; I never did.  I heard my mom’s mantra: men can’t be trusted. I found female phone numbers in his pockets, and he cheated on me. The cycle of dysfunction emerged, and I confronted him, tried to control him, cursed him out, made him feel guilty, and thought I was better than him. I only gave him chance after chance because of our baby, who was a toddler by the time I threw him out.  Living together revealed our incompatibility. I was looking for a good husband and family, and he was looking for a good time even though he tried to do the right thing for our baby. I was distracted by his charms, and he was there for me in a time of need. We had nothing in common except our baby, and I mistook the support he gave me during my mother’s illness for love.

I was the younger sibling growing up, my opinion didn’t matter, and my voice was overshadowed by my older siblings, whom my parents tended to listen to. I felt like I always said the wrong thing, so I stopped speaking up or said I didn’t know when asked. My mother compared us all to the kids down the street. I was perceived as shy, but I was afraid to talk out loud. I talked negatively to myself, which stunted my self-esteem, and insecurities developed. I never spoke up in high school, blurted anything out, or raised my hand even when I knew the answer. I didn’t trust myself. How my parents solved their issues was a mystery because yelling and screaming were seen and heard, but the next day it was business as usual. The elephant in the room was never discussed. Confused, I asked myself how they did that and what was the process that got them to a place of peace, even if temporary.  I wished they had shared the process because I was a poor communicator and listener but a good yeller and screamer when it came to relationships.

My siblings and I loved our parents. We were friendly and caring until the day they died. My parents supported us in school and outside activities; we were raised in the church and took vacations. They were there throughout the good and bad times. They were loving, affectionate, and good providers, independent of their horrible marital relationship.  My siblings and I had the support of our parents as a sub-unit, but as a whole-unit, their dysfunctional relationship devoured our family.  We had security growing up, but as grown-ups in the real world, our insecurities and low self-esteem affected our decisions and choices. Brothers modeled dad, and sisters modeled mom. Sisters chose mates they tried to change, and brothers chose mates they could cheat on; we all had mommy and daddy issues. I did things my parents did in their marriage that I swore I would never do in mine. And I did something with my kids that my parents didn’t do with us, like explain the dysfunction. My parents’ relationship was the blueprint for my marriage. It’s a journey in itself to accept and forgive my parent’s flaws and release the past. Getting to the root cause of my adult issues hurts. I brought my mommy and daddy issues to my relationships and my marriage. And I am sorry. But I learned how I got here.  Remembering and acknowledging my painful past and deciding to put it in the past where it belong is a complex but necessary part of the healing process.