A Dysfunctional Imprint

An imprint. A mold that presses you, and leaves an indelible design forever. I grew up in dysfunction. And yet, as a 16 year old sophmore plugging my ears in my car, waiting for my parents to stop arguing so I can enter the house- I hadn’t yet learned the word “dysfunction.” Nor had I learned that this chaos was imprinting on me as I sat there, ears covered, stomach turning, waiting for the signal- the relief of silence- to finally exit the car.

As a child, I didn’t know my family was dysfunctional. I was still a kid- doing what kids do: going to school, hanging with friends, going to soccer practice. No- I never lay in bed wondering, “is my house dsyfunctional?”

I simply reacted to the dysfunction.
I didn’t know. I wish I knew.
The monumental effect that this daily conflict would have on me for the rest of my life.



There’s a voice in my head that never stops talking. It won’t shut up. It’s been there for so long that I feel powerless to mute it. I don’t know how. It talks to me every day, it tells me things. It used to tell me the truth, but now I think it lies. It used to tell me that I can’t depend or trust my dad. And that was the truth. But now it wont stop talking…it keeps telling me that all men are like my dad. Shut the voice off, you say..but it’s impenetrable.. it’s a fortress, built over years and years..an indestructible defense mechanism. Maybe it’s useless now..but it still insists I pay attention to it. I think, maybe it’s telling me a truth this time, maybe I should listen. But then maybe I’m being deceived. I don’t know the difference

What my dog can teach us


More important than the relationship we have with our friends, our family, or our significant other, is the relationship we have with ourselves. If I’m not taking care of myself, who is? If I don’t do nice things for myself, who will? If I don’t provide positive thoughts for a peaceful mindset, who will put them there?

Treating ourselves nicely is an act  I think only humans struggle with. Today, I watched my dog begin to lay down on the concrete. Suddenly, she hesitated and chose to find a spot on the soft grass instead. This decision seems effortless and potentially meaningless- but everything one needs to know about self-love can be exemplified by my dog’s decision to lay in the grass.

At times I’ve wanted to severely punish myself. At times I’ve consciously chosen to deprive myself of everything I so eagerly want my loved ones to have. I’ve comforted others before and without comforting myself. I’ve motivated, encouraged, complimented, assured everyone except for the one person I spend the most time with- the one person who’s thoughts I can actually control.

I’m convinced that when I commit such foolishness, it’s because I need  to hurt myself before others have the chance to. But the truth is- others will always try to hurt us. Whether or not they do depends on the fortress we’ve built up in our minds. If I’m spending no time building up my confidence, there’s a thin wall protecting me from the judgments of others.  If I spend less time hurting myself, and more time helping myself, I will actually become less vulnerable to pain- not more vulnerable.

Even my dog knows this.

The Feat of Adulthood

For me the most reoccurring challenge from age 18-22 has been 1) Discovering/ working towards a career that I genuinely have a passion for and 2) Relationships.

The two of them kind of go hand-in-hand, I think.The most common conversations when I lived with my roommates for three years were about school and relationships. And a lot of times failure in one category resulted in failure in the other.

The moment I started making school/ career related decisions that were true to myself, and not to the 4-year-plan, after which you-need-to-have-a-career, I started becoming more confident and empowered in all other aspects of my life, including relationships.

I think the challenge, really, is not looking to the person next to you and comparing your success to his/ hers. For me, and possibly a lot of people my age, observing others is what guides us. Our parents, teachers, and older friends tell us to go to college. Get a degree! And make a lot of money! And we listen. I think college education is excellent, but I found flaw in that focus is put on money- and status… and not on happiness.

My biggest struggle so far has been dealing with expectations- somehow living my life taking into account both what I want and what is necessary for me to live without worrying about money problems.

While all this obsessive thinking about school and money, the second most obsessive thoughts are/were about relationships with guys.

What if I never find someone right for me? Oh, look, someone is having a baby. Oh, look, someone is getting married. I want that frown emoticon and then, that weekend, I go on a date with a complete jerk… all hope is lost and somehow, a lack seems to continuing gnawing on my insides until I’m deceived by hope again.

But yay. I finally found the love of an amazing person. Still, the challenge remains on keeping the relationship healthy in it’s infancy, and removing all doubt that this person will leave me (voluntarily or involuntarily). I might be slightly more sensitive to these doubts because I’m pregnant. But the point is-whether in a relationship or single, the challenge revolves around finding/ keeping a mate. This is just for me.

The next challenge that I’m so excited for: being a mom and a good spouse.



I both produce light and deprive myself of it


The sun is seen to pour down and expend itself in all directions, yet is never exhausted. For this downpouring is but a self-extension; sunbeams, in fact, derive their very name from a word signifying ‘to be extended’.

To understand the property of a sunbeam, watch the light as it streams into a darkened room through a narrow chink. It prolongs itself forward in a straight line, until it is held up by encountering some solid body which blocks its passage to the air beyond; and then it remains at rest there, without slipping off or falling away.

The emission, and the diffusion, of thought should be the counterpart of this: not exhausting, but simply extending itself; not dashing violently or furiously against the obstacles it encounters, nor yet falling away in despair; but holding its ground and lighting up that upon which it rests. Failure to transmit it is mere self-deprivation of light.

-Marcus Aurelius


Every day

Behind the smile, there is a relentless flow of self-destructive thoughts

Behind the eyes, there is a craving to be effortlessly understood

Behind the nervous laugh, there is a longing to be completely myself

Behind the downwards stare, there is a painful past, ready to renew fear

Who I am… it is rarely expressed outwardly. So much is hidden, burning; wanting to be released… so much is masked by pain from years of keeping a true self out of view.

Every day, I say things I don’t feel

Every day, I act to pursue approval

Every day, I want to stop

creating a human

Being pregnant confuses me. It takes all my energy, every last bit. What I’m left with is little desire to pursue anything that makes me happy.

I’m overwhelmed with emotion and fatigue seemingly all day every day. I want to rise up, to counter all that perturbs me with logic and motivation. But I dig, I dig deep. And all I find is preoccupation with negative thoughts, fueled not just by bodily fatigue but mental tiredness. 

I spend 20 percent of the day trying to tell myself to eat. Eat what though?.. I spend 20 percent trying to decide. I spend 20 percent of the day pleading with myself not to throw up. This feat itself takes the most energy out of me, besides the general tiredness that drains me all day long.

The last 20 percent I feel ok enough to have hope, to let optimism creep in, to start thinking about what I can do myself, for myself, to be happy. But an hour later I no longer have the energy to make myself happy. That’s why I feel so much better when I’m with Joel. He makes me happy when I don’t have the energy to do things for my self. 

I’m trying my best. I’m doing my best. I need to believe that there is a new mindset that I will soon be able to discover. One of appreciation and gratitude. One with stability. I need to believe that this is the storm before the sun comes out. 

I need to take care of myself when I can, and when I can’t I need to reach out to family and friends. Or else I’m just going to keep bullying myself. Feeling shitty and then bullying myself for not being able to deal with the shit on my own. I’m going to persevere.


There is neither happiness nor misery in the world; there is only the comparison of one state with another, nothing more. He who has felt the deepest grief is best able to experience supreme happiness. We must have felt what it is to die, so that we may appreciate the enjoyments of life.

– Edmund Dantes, The Count of Monte Cristo 

This pain is necessary. I must endure moments of fear, hopelessness, and loneliness in order to feel the contrast of emotions. When I feel content again, it will be an amazing, relieving happiness and appreciation for the moment. Only because I have an experience to compare it to.

There can be no fear without comfort, no hopelessness without optimism, and no loneliness without the warmth of company. 

. . . does resentment, like pain, heal over time?

All I wanted was for you to accept me, all of me, every part of me. But I don’t feel like you accepted any part of me- not the inside, nor the outside.

I felt rejected internally.

Rejection of my outward appearance only severed the wound further. Made more blood come out of an incision that was already bleeding, pouring every day.

Every day I waited for something that would never come. But at the time, I thought maybe it would come. I thought maybe one day you would say something, anything, about my character. But you didn’t. I was left alone with my thoughts every day as a child. I was only a child…a little girl…growing into an adolescent- and even now, as adult, I feel you never came around with the words I wanted to hear.

I look at you and I see an empty shell of a person who did not give me anything.

You are my dad but you are not the dad I want nor the dad I need. You weren’t even a husband. You are a sad excuse of a husband and a joke of a dad. So you played with us as kids. And so you took us on trips. That’s all you did. I don’t give a shit about trips or playing games or any of that bullshit. I would trade all of that for one day where you tell me you love me and that you are proud of me.

Maybe you can’t say the word love. Sure, okay. Maybe it scares you. Sure. But you can show it right?

Wrong. You can’t show it. You can’t even pretend to show it. Oh, you’re not around for a whole week, going out late at night. Coming home, only to make a house erupt in turmoil. Only to exacerbate an already HORRIBLE situation that YOU caused. If you go out and cheat, at least come back with a good enough excuse to where your own children don’t know what you did. Jesus Christ.

You are a horrible liar.

You are a horrible liar at lying about your horrible behavior. You ruined my adolescence. You ruined my self-image. Not only because you were never around but because you gave me NO confirmation of good qualities I may possess. You gave me NO quality time. You were gone. You took off, came back, was rude as FUCK to mom, disrespected and even bullied a handicapped deaf person who happens to be your wife. You are sick. You are disgusting and I believe you have no heart.

To look at someone in the face, who cannot hear you, and turn around, make fun of them, ignore their existence for 8 years, while I have to stay and watch. I see you bully and emotionally abuse my own mother for 8 years. I feel you detach yourself not only from her but from me.

You run away. FROM EVERYTHING. I don’t even want you here anymore- when you are here, you just make everything worse.

I used to actually want your approval and quality time but now there is no room for improvement with you. If you have any effect, it is a negative effect on our family. Your presence actually manages to do more damage than when you’re gone. We don’t even care anymore.

Me and mom have given up on you. Why do you even bother to come back home at night…? Just leave. You come to my soccer games. Yay. Not. You’re not good at hiding disappointment the few games I don’t score. You criticize my performance, nit pick at everything I did wrong, and make me feel horrible, once again, at not having a dad who’s proud of me. And it never ends. Ever.

All the memories I have of your comments toward me are negative. And the ones that are verging on positive- those ones are conditional, they don’t last. They don’t suggest you love me no matter what, they suggest you like what I’m doing in the moment, but next time I fail, you show a shit load of discouragement on your face. And you don’t even try to hide it.

What am I supposed to do now? I’ve shed so many tears over a lack, over a longing that doesn’t cease, even with the approval of other people. Every time someone criticizes me- I’m already on the edge…and unfortunately for the people who spout, even ambiguously, offensive comments towards me- those people are IN for it. They don’t know that I have been on the edge of a cliff already- for so long- and that the simplest comment can tap me over that edge.

I am at risk.

And I feel sorry for the person who chooses to put up with me. The problem-the real problem- I think, is that you broke me down at my most vulnerable state: when I was just a child. Just a girl, growing up from age 10 to age 18- the most crucial time for building positive self-image.

I could’ve prevented all of this- I believe I could’ve combat your remarks- if only I were aware of the effect you had on me at the time. Your behavior would go on to affect the rest of my life, on my relationships with guys, even with my friends.

Thank you for looking at me in disgust when I came out of my room with makeup on in middle school. Thank you for giving me that look. For telling me I look bad, and then walking away silently, randomly. Thank you for that. Ten years later, I still think of your remark when I’m getting ready in the morning.

When it happened, I went in my room and cried. But I recovered because I thought some day you would take it back, apologize, or at least tell me I deserve a nice guy when I grow up. None of those reassurances were there to give me hope. And now that I’m adult, I know that you meant everything you said and, more importantly, everything you didn’t say.

Thank you for being silent when I was 11 years old, and I was crying because I had a bad day. You were on the couch and I was sitting on the side, trying to hug you. But I felt the distance you put between us. I was unsure you even wanted me as your daughter.

Mom told you to tell me you love me. She said, “tell your daughter you love her.”

You looked away and were silent. Thank you for that. Those are three words. Three words you had to say. But I didn’t even need to hear them- as long as you showed you cared, and then I’d be fine. You didn’t show me, you aren’t showing me, and now I know you will never show me.

Some days I feel like someone is sitting on my lungs. Moments when a person, most likely a guy that I like, makes a remark that mirrors a comment I heard from you. My breath becomes shallow, my body contracts, and my throat tightens as firmly as I’ve ever felt. My chest, shoulders, and upper stomach suddenly feel pricked with knives. The pricks immediately initiate a chain reaction to my arms, and to my fingertips. My fingertips are tingling with a surge of pain. Every part of me tells me to run away. My jaw clenches, and my eyes stare fixedly downwards. I feel them close…and then I know I am going to cry.

In me, this reaction is timeless. I feel controlled by an unseen force that bears down on me whenever it wants. As soon as I start to believe I control it…the force proves that it still controls me.

To a guy who wants to be my husband- I say to him, I’m warning you that I’m fatherless. I don’t feel worthy of love and I can’t promise you that my opinion of myself will change. But I promise that I will keep trying.