When it comes to relationships, we all have good and bad experiences. And while there are many reasons behind why relationships fail, there is another, more terrifying reason: talking over and over again with the same person.
It’s a slap in the face and a reminder of how little you matter.
The worst relationship-ending speech I ever received was not from a stranger. It was from my father.
At the time, I completely ignored him and our conversations were casual and often ignored aspects of our relationship that escalated with time.
“You know, your sister’s a lesbian. She likes to date boys. Maybe you’ll be able to handle that- you’re a man.”
This was a line my father often spoke to me. Every time I entered my father’s house, I would see him delivering this speech. Every time I would enter a new neighborhood, I would hear him saying it again. Every time my sisters and I would go to his house, I heard it over and over again.
My father’s speech was a slap to the face whenever we needed it the most. It was a reminder that I was a liability that he couldn’t deal with. Men and women who grew up like my father did not have to exist in his life. They could leave at any time.
The worst part about his speech was that it became true. I can’t count the number of times I was told I’d be able to handle it. It became a reality that I would be able to handle anything and everything.
Talking over and over again with the same person is a form of abuse. If you’re the one creating the dialogue, you’re the one that owns the relationship.
My father wasn’t the only one to say these things. Numerous people, both men and women, said these lines to me throughout my childhood and teen years. Every time, I would go through the speech and repeat back what was said.
It wasn’t until I was in college that I finally understood the full impact of what was being said to me.
I wanted desperately to be liked.
In all the years of growing up, I never actually had the opportunity to be liked by this person. The person I wanted to be liked was my father’s sister.
There was never a time where I realized this was a ridiculous dream. It wasn’t until much later that I realized I couldn’t give a rat’s fart about my father’s sister.
My desire to be liked in the first place was out of concern for my father’s feelings. I didn’t want to hurt him in any way and I certainly didn’t want him to hate me. I didn’t want to be treated differently because I had a different lifestyle and I didn’t conform to the norm.
It was out of an unknown fear that I talked my father into this experiment. And what I found was the nightmare that was his sister’s sexual orientation.
I’d always hear her say she was a lesbian when she wasn’t even gay.
I’d try to get her to explain her sexual attraction to women to no avail.
I’d laugh quietly behind his back at the things she said about men, especially the way she griped about the men who had been with other men or had had boyfriends. She would say something like,
“They can’t help it, they’re just like her.”
I was raised to believe that anyone who was attracted to people outside of their gender was mentally ill. I was also raised to believe that it was a very bad thing and a bad thing that needed to be cured. I was told that men like her who were attracted to women were evil and corrupt. I was also told that men like her who had boyfriends were like the unicorns of the world. They came from another dimension and they existed solely to make women unhappy.
In the end, my father did cure my sister of this crazy idea. But not without suffering the consequences of her addiction for years to come.
My father had been killed in a car accident when I was fifteen. Her younger brother joined the Marine Corps and was killed in action. This was one of the worst things that could happen to a young girl growing up in this country. Not being allowed to have a boyfriend because she was gay.
Her older brother joined the Coast Guard and was killed in action off the coast of Somalia.
I grew up hearing stories of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. I learned about nuclear power, and about the ozone hole that had been caused by the burning of fossil fuels. I learned how to shoot a gun, but not how to use it. I learned how to hunt, but not how to use a gun. I learned how the world worked, and I learned what I could and could not do.