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I started down that path yesterday.. I started to get really fucking pissed off at myself for not being "normal" and having "normal" reactions to things. But then I took a step back and started to think about why I am the way that I am. I've come to the realization that I grew up in an emotionally abusive household. I never really thought of it that way before, I just thought my father was a bit of an asshole and my mother just wasn't as affectionate as other people's moms. I'm not convinced that my mother was emotionally abusive, more like emotionally distant. On the other hand, I think I can say with some certainty that my father was, and still is, emotionally abusive.
I don't think he means to be. I'm not sure he even realizes it. The reason I never even thought of it as abuse is because he never called me names, didn't really yell at me, never threatened me, etc. It was far more subtle than that. Nothing I did was ever good enough. If I got a "B" on something, I should have gotten an "A". My report cards were always filled with A's and B's, but there was always room for improvement in his eyes.
I played a lot of sports growing up and he would come to every single game. Most people would think its great that he was so supportive, but I always got lectured afterwards about what I could have done better. It didn't matter if I was the best player on the team. It was never, "you played well today." If I was lucky, it was, "you played well today, BUT you could/should have done..."
When I told him that I wanted to go back to school for a degree in Biology, his response was, "Are you sure you'll be able to do that? I don't remember you doing very well in science in high school." That one really pissed me off. I had the highest scores on both the midterm and final in chemistry and got an A in advanced biology. Eat that, Dad.
His subtle ways of demeaning me have destroyed whatever self esteem I had. I never feel like I'm good enough for anything. Thanks a lot, Dad.
He's also extremely opinionated and if you don't agree with him, you are an idiot. You are not permitted to have an idea or opinion that contradicts his viewpoints. If you do, his phrase of choice is, "You should be shot." If you have tattoos, you're a degenerate and should be shot (I have 2 :P/> ). If you're a guy and you have long hair, you should be shot. If you drink alcohol, you're an idiot and should be shot. You get the idea... I remember one new years eve, we went to my uncle's house and we were all in the kitchen having a good time and trying to make layered shots (unsuccessfully). He got pissed off and left us there...came back after midnight to pick us up.
These are but a few examples of my dad's winning personality. No wonder he doesn't have any friends...
My father wasn't the only person to be emotionally abusive in my life. My high school softball coach was a complete asshole. He was such a mean fucker that he was "fired" from being the boys football coach, but somehow the school thought it'd be ok for him to coach girls softball?? I'll never understand that one... Anyway, I digress. I was a catcher and started on the varsity team as a freshman. I was actually pretty good and had coaches from other towns that knew who I was and said that I could probably go to college on a scholarship if I kept playing. I'm not trying to toot my own horn here, just giving some background. While I was catching, my coach would sit right next to the backstop and say shit to me throughout the entire game. Everything that went wrong on the field was my fault. Coach wanted us to intentionally walk this girl on the other team when she came up to bat, because she'd been hitting the shit out of our pitcher. So, I stood up and gave our pitcher a target well outside the strike zone. The ball slipped from her hand and she wound up throwing a perfect strike at about 2/3 the speed of her fastball... The girl hit a fucking home run off of it. Coach started screaming at ME!! How the fuck is that MY fault?? Again, that's just one example, there are so many more. He told me, in front of everyone that if we lost a game it was my fault. He made me so uncomfortable that I didn't play the next year. Consequently, I went out for the track team to do the throwing events and wound up injuring my shoulder so badly, that after 2 surgeries I still can't throw a ball. There went my college scholarship.
Every time I saw coach at school, my stomach dropped and my heart stopped. It's the EXACT same reaction I have when I think about my abuser (CSA) or anything having to do with sex. That's how I know that what he did was abuse. I never had that reaction to my fathers commentary...just anger and a feeling of worthlessness.
So as a result, I get very down on myself very quickly. Everything is always my fault, because it always has been. If someone is critical or disapproves of something I've done or said, my initial gut reaction is like you've just told me I'm a worthless piece of shit. I'm not sure how to go about changing that, but at least I've identified WHY I react like that. It's not much, but I guess it's a start.