Not a Grown Up

Me: I’m not a grown up. I don’t know what I’m doing.

Skyspook: No one really does.

*

When it comes to feeling truly loved and understood by another human being, I am roughly 3 years old.

My relationship with my mother is deeply troubled as she is mentally ill and only recently compliant with any sort of treatment (to the tune of starting talk therapy about 3 or 4 years ago). Great swaths of my childhood and adolescence and even adulthood were devoted to enabling her whims, serving as her punching bag and scapegoat.

My relationship with my father is virtually nonexistent. I barely know the man. He is a certified workaholic, an expert in his industry, brilliant but emotionally stunted, a man of few words. He never really wanted children but knew that it meant a lot to my mother so threw himself into his job as a form of escapism – as there were 4 little ones at home, quite a lot for someone leaning no on the issue of children to handle.

Compounding this, my romantic history is riddled with abuse, indifference, entitlement from others. I started seeking out relationships quite early; hindsight tells me this was because I was craving love and validation I wasn’t getting at home.

When you’re used to abuse, you don’t feel it when it happens to you. It’s not painful. It’s what you know. It’s only when you enter a good relationship does the immensity of what has been done dawn on you, the years you’ve lived become a parade of pain and disappointment played in excruciatingly vivid detail on an endless loop. And that’s when you start to hurt. When you’re loved, when you’re happy, that’s when abuse becomes a problem. It’s confusing, and worst of all, it leaves the person who truly loves and understands you, a person who has done nothing wrong to you, to have to be the person to support you while you heal. I’m high functioning, go to work, live my life. Skyspook never complains. Still it’s unfair, and I hate it.

*

It’s been a 12-hour day at work, all while struggling through layers of feeling in stray moments. Skyspook loads up “The Land Before Time” on the television.

“You said you were feeling 3 years old,” he says.

I lay my head in his lap, and he strokes my hair.

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