I grew up in a culture where men came first. It sounds negative but it wasn't always. Men being first on the food chain also meant they were to shoulder the heavier responsibilities in life; such as earning the family's income and disciplining the kids. Males went forth and slew dragons while the females looked after the household, their man, and the children born of that union.
The life I signed up for was the life I knew was expected of me. At fourteen I fell in love without reserve and planned my future around him; his work and provision for us, right down to the used, modest mobile home with dark paneling and shag rug. We would set up home in the yard of a family member like young couples did in my hometown; until we grew enough equity to place the trailer on a small acreage.
One day he just turned and walked away. We were fourteen - neither of us had the skills to manage a relationship muchless a breakup. It hurt me deeply then and it often comes to mind.
After a second boyfriend came along I found it helped assuage the pain of rejection from the first. And so on. I went through a string of unhealthy relationships. So desperate for love and affection that had been missing from my austere upbringing. I did not date so much as seize ahold of someone and hope to build something that worked. I became a relationship addict.
My children were conceived in ill fated relationships and I have many major regrets around that and the numerous failed romances they were affected by.
"You have a broken picker," a friend told me once, in regards to men.
I have a diploma in addictions counselling that has helped me along the journey of healing, self forgiveness and acceptance.
"Addiction is that thing that makes you fail in your responsibilities," was the speech the principal gave at my oldest daughters grade nine graduation. He continued on to say that the fourteen and fifteen year olds were at the age where addictions were established.
Sometimes I still get an outbreak of the; "if only's," that I have to talk back to. "If only my first love had worked out...life would have been so much more organized." Then I ask myself; do I really wish I was living in the shadow of another? Would I be happy stuck in a town so tiny and equally small minded where even stomach aches are practically communal? No, no, and no.
Today I have two beautiful daughters, a dozen careers and a rainbow of experiences to draw wisdom from. I refuse to have hurtful relationships; friendship or otherwise. When I visit my hometown the women and I exchange admiring glances. They perhaps looking at my freedom of clothing and expression; myself appreciating the role they staunchly perform in starched dresses.
I am grateful life turned out better than I signed up for.
A Moodscope member.