I’m coming to you for an answer that I can’t quite answer myself. I wish I could say I had an awesome childhood (which I might have had but don’t remember much), but I mostly remember the painful memories that I endured. My dad cheated on my mom several times, but she forgave him and tried to make it work so we could keep our family together. During those times my dad would take me to his mistress's houses and then would threaten me of disownment if I ever spoke of them to my mother. Eventually they got divorced which was messy and somewhat set the path of an even more interesting childhood as we grew up constantly living with our dad or mom for a few years. The lies and tricks my dad pulled were horrible and have somewhat set influence in my life.
I feel nowadays that these memories have taken its toll on my life. I have fears of commitment, trust, and abandonment and because of that I have set up a defense that leaves me emotionless most of the time and hurts others around me. I created a trait of self-sabotage. Sometimes when I feel I get too close to someone, I get scared and I distance myself from them, sometimes I cut communication, I come up with excuses, I leave them for someone else, end a friendship, etc. I do it with as little emotion as possible. I feel this way I wont get hurt and that I wont have to ever deal with the possibilities of my fears, but because I do this, it hurts those iv become close to or friends around me.
My question is, how do I stop sabotaging myself so I can enjoy life the way its intended and stop hurting friends and loved ones around me?
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Parents are so key to our lives. They can nurture you and help you grow into a well-adjusted adult, or they can totally fruckerhump your brain and scar you emotionally for years to come. Your dad didn’t give you a very good example of how to be a loving and good human being. Observing him as you grew up, you developed this sense of “this is how adults behave in relationships” and imposed that world view upon your own life.
What you need to remember are two things: 1) You are not your father, and 2) The past is the past. The only reason why you are having problems with your social relationships now is because you believe that your life will somehow mimic that of your parents. Furthermore, your self-esteem has been crushed.
In order for you to regain control of your life, you need to acknowledge that you are in charge of your own decisions. What you are currently doing is allowing FEAR to control you. When you are afraid, when you are scared of things, you will inevitably make bad choices, as I have said before in other columns. And the only person you are hurting is yourself by doing this.
SpaceBear, do you want to be happy? Do you find that this strategy of yours of running away from relationships and being “emotionless” makes you happy? Bet you $100 right now it doesn’t make you happy, or else why write to me?
You are confusing the relationship you had with your parents as being commensurate with a relationship with a potential mate. You need to divest yourself of this incorrect thinking. Yes, relationships can be hard sometimes, and there is no guarantee that you will find a mate who will always be by your side forevermore. However, if you run away from every possible chance you have at happiness, you are GUARANTEEING you will never be happy.
Because you no doubt have low self-esteem from the way your parents treated you, what you need to do is get that back. You can start with some meditation exercises. Find a quiet place to be with your own thoughts and, for at least 15 minutes a day, say, out loud, to yourself, “I deserve happiness. I am a good person. I deserve love. I deserve someone to love and someone who will love me back. I am worthy of being loved.” You don’t have to use those exact words, but something similar. You need to hear them, which is why I tell you to say them out loud. There might be times when those “little voices in your head” tell you otherwise. When they do, shout them down! Yell at them, “You are wrong! I am a good person! I deserve to be happy!” Keep yelling at them until they shut up.
SpaceBear, I know you personally (as a few of my readers might know) and I can tell you’re a good guy. Your father was wrong and cruel to threaten to disown you. You have a loving heart, and in our conversations you have repeatedly told me you want to help the furry community. Judging by your letter, other people have sensed this too, and they have approached you, but you have pushed them away.
By doing this, you might think you are protecting yourself, but you are not. You are hurting yourself. Like a person who is addicted to smoking and is damaging his health, at some point you have to stub out the cigarette and tell yourself to stop it. Self-doubt and self-criticism can become addictive, too. You’re used to it; it even feels good sometimes, doesn’t it? Like a relief. “I don’t have to get involved in a relationship because I am unworthy, so why put out the effort?”
I have a feeling you know all of this already, don’t you? You just needed to hear it from someone else. Now that you’ve heard it, do something about it. Work on defeating that inner voice that brings you down, and the next time someone comes up to you and asks you on a date, tell them “Yes!” Or the next time you see someone cute that you like, resist every negative inclination in your body and go over to them and ask them out. Dive into that ocean, SpaceBear, and be renewed.
A note on comments: Comments on letters to Papabear are welcome, especially those that offer extra helpful advice and add something to the conversation that is of use to the letter writer and those reading this column. Also welcome are constructive criticisms and opposing views. What is NOT welcome are hateful, hurtful comments, flaming, and trolling. Such comments will be deleted from this site. Thank you.