It was December. Another year had gone by and to my mom’s dismay- I was still single! I’d been dating for a while but there was no sign of “The One”.
I was in a good place- my career was going great, I looked my best and had a few guys who were interested in me. But, I repeatedly picked the wrong guy thinking he’d be “my forever” and ended up in relationships where I didn’t feel valued and was emotionally abused.
“If you don’t heal what hurt you, you’ll bleed on people who didn’t cut you” — Anonymous
The thing about toxic relationships is that they start out great. By the time I realize something is off, I am already so invested in the relationship and probably have strong feelings for my partner.
At this point, I’m not sure if it’s him or if it’s — me. He seemed so promising in the beginning so I assume it must be something I did that’s causing the love to dwindle.
Being caught up in this pattern for years, there was a question that was staring at me in the eye.
Why was it impossible for me to find a committed relationship with a man who would love and value me?
What narcissistic fathers do to their daughters
Even in my teens, I did not know what it felt like to have a normal conversation with my dad without him losing his temper. I do not have any memory where we are just talking about something casual and we burst out laughing. A part of me still wishes I could’ve had that.
The only way I got approval from my dad was performance-based, like when I won a trophy or scored really well in school. I consistently worked hard to earn my dad’s approval- and sustain it.
I’d be surprised seeing other dads hug their kids and praise them. I just couldn’t grasp how normal that was. It didn’t feel familiar.
My dad and I never discussed — me. What were my dreams? What were my fears? What did I think of that movie, or even just — how was school?
None of that mattered to him and so the little girl in me internalized that I did not matter, or in other words, I wasn’t good enough.
I always had to tiptoe around him or inevitably, something would go wrong and he would flare up in rage.
Camouflaging myself was something I became really good at. My logic was if he didn’t see me, I wouldn’t have to bear the brunt of his anger.
Growing up, every child has the need to be seen, heard, understood, and accepted. A healthy parent engages with the child in conversations or activities and provides the validation the child needs in order to feel understood and validated.
Narcissistic fathers don’t have the emotional bandwidth to provide this level of support leaving the child believing that there is something fundamentally wrong with her.
Insecurities that are deep-rooted in the subconscious due to narcissistic abuse
People carrying narcissistic wounds will likely resonate with some of these limiting beliefs or fears.
- Fear of abandonment
- Fear of loneliness
- Love has to be earned
- Feeling unworthy
- Feeling unlovable
- Low self-esteem or not being good enough
- Lack of proper boundaries
As a child, repeated exposure to narcissistic episodes can result in experiencing heightened states of stress and make the child believe that she is unsafe or in “trauma”.
Medical news today defines chronic trauma as, “trauma that results from repeated and prolonged exposure to highly stressful events. Examples include cases of child abuse, bullying, or domestic violence.”
Unresolved trauma causes us to act from a place of fear and we unknowingly sabotage ourselves in romantic relationships. In psychological terms, this dynamic is called insecure attachment.
The fatal push-pull dynamic
Women who have insecure attachments tend to have deep-rooted abandonment wounds and often find themselves in situations with avoidant men.
Men with avoidant attachment style fear commitment and constantly crave a lot of space and freedom, which triggers the abandonment wound and causes anxiety in the woman that makes her chase him, which in turn pushes him further away.
This unhealthy dynamic stems back to our childhood where we seek partners who mirror the same emotional distance as our parents.
They fail to reassure you and give you the emotional engagement you yearn for. All the more reason for you to choose a partner who mirrors that level of emotional support back to you.
The subconscious mind tends to seek love that is familiar, and unfortunately, as young girls, we didn’t get a taste of what healthy love looks like so we chase the only love we knew growing up the one that had to be earned because we didn’t deserve it.
Healing is a journey, not a quick fix
Self-love is the new mantra that everyone’s chanting and everyone’s talking about. I know you’re tired of hearing it but I have to agree that self-love is key and learning to give yourself the validation you are seeking is a skill that can save you a lot of hassle.
Looking to others for approval is a sure-fire way of getting disappointed. Instead, approve of yourself, maintain healthy boundaries, and set yourself free from the need to people-please.
Limiting beliefs hold you hostage and they show up profoundly in your intimate relationships. Fear of abandonment is one I personally struggle with and why I held onto unfulfilling relationships.
Your inner child still longs for the love and acceptance that she never received growing up.
Gradually, unlearn those negative beliefs and replace them with positive and constructive ones.
You owe it to yourself.