For some, Father's Day is an event to be celebrated, to look back fondly on a happy childhood where your father loved and cared for you. For me, social media at this time is a landmine.
This is my second Father's Day since my father passed, but I've been in mourning for the father I never had for most of my life. Imagine a life of eternally walking on eggshells, of being a small child where every choice made, everything you did, was always wrong.
Growing up, my father would often comment on my weight. I'd been forbidden to eat sweet snacks after school, but those long hours between getting home and dinner seemed to stretch forever, and I'd come home hungry.
One afternoon, I was about 7 or 8, after years of being told to eat healthier snacks, I ate a banana, thinking it was a healthy choice. Only to find myself yelled at for eating an entire banana. Apparently, a half of a banana was all I was allowed (of course, none of this was ever told to us ahead of time, and what was wrong was likely to change from one week to another).
As I navigate the feed of my Facebook page, I'm confronted with posts of people calling their father their hero or commenting on how much they love their father. It always leaves me a little jealous. What is it like to grow up with a sense of being cared for or loved? For me, childhood was something to escape from.
I grew up with a sense of the intrinsic wrongness of me. I escaped only to discover that that critical voice comes with you. That lack of self-love and self-esteem follows you.
I've spent years learning to dismantle that critical voice. I've learned to make healthier choices in my relationships. When the narcissist red flags start appearing, I know it's time to run.
I've worked at finding those old traumatic triggers and dismantling them. Most days, a banana is merely a banana, but sometimes when I pick one up, I remember that I'm not supposed to eat the whole thing. I spent years struggling with bulimia and trying to unlearn the self-hatred. I try to focus on healthy eating habits, and not calorie counts or carbohydrates.
I'm better now and sometimes, I pick up and eat that whole banana just because I was once told I shouldn't. Sometimes the most minor acts of rebellion are what we need to feed our souls.
I hope your childhood was a happy one and now, I hope you've found your way to a healthier place. I know that I needed to step away from social media this Sunday. It won't be safe to go back in until Monday.
I still wonder what I might have been like if I'd had a nurturing father instead of one that shredded my self-esteem, which left me always wondering what I'd done wrong this time. I have learned that sometimes it's best not to look back for too long. I want to leave those old pains and traumas in the past where they belong and relish a present in which I have found love and support, in which I've realized that I was always worthy of love and that I have always been enough.
There is nothing wrong with me, and there never was.