My Mum would fit nicely into many of the characteristics of being a horrid parent. She continually told me I was useless that no one would want to be my friend and certainly not marry me.
Not surprisingly my confidence was rock bottom, except thata little voice regularly told me that Mum was wrong. For much of my teenage years I kept myself to myself. I had several acquaintances but no really close friends.
When I was sixteen most of my school mates were dating and they’d giggle in the playground about what they’d got up to. At least that’s what I assumed.
When boys started getting interested in me at about the same time I said to myself I couldn’t be that awful looking, But I was tongue tied when they spoke to me and didn’t know what to say. I both did and didn’t want them to kiss me because I was scared how I would respond. When they did it took a while before I felt anything at all as most of the time I was worried about what they might do next.
I lost my virginity when I was 22 because you had to at some point but I was so tense and worried that it didn’t really work for me. Instead I scrubbed myself all over when I got home.
Most of my relationships ended within three months. Looking back I think I chose guys who didn’t demand anything emotional from me. That made me feel safe. I couldn’t open up. Nor did I want to.
Then it happened. I fell for someone eight years older than me. He was clever and funny and I fancied him like mad. My head told me to be careful and not let myself go but my heart took no notice. I was overwhelmed by my feelings which I couldn’t control. I had had no experience of managing emotions and I became a bit possessive.
He broke off with me and for a while I was devastated. But I gradually realised that opening myself up to love was something I really wanted and needed. I just needed to take it more in my stride. It took a bit of practice because I was so fearful of getting hurt but I gradually realised that love fills you with hope, energy, drive and confidence so it was worth being vulnerable and shedding the occasional tears. I lost a few nice guys on the way but I learnt a lot about how to manage a good relationship. Something I hadn’t seen at home.
Luckily I found someone who loved me for me and to whom I could tell my story of how my mother put me down. It was risky confiding in him but it brought us even closer together. Ten years on I feel a different person. My marriage is everything I wanted. I feel relaxed, don’t have to worry about what I say and see that I have lots of good qualities that my mother chose to ignore. It was certainly worth the risk.