Was it too much to ask you to show me love? Was it too much to ask you to even care about me?
I don't really know what love is. I mean, how would I know when you never showed me any? Even when I was younger, all I wanted was for you to show me affection and tell me you were proud of me. Instead, all you did was pick at my faults and close yourself off from me when I did something you didn't approve of. It was something I'd seen you do with mom. You treated her like she was nothing. You controlled her, made her feel like no one else would love her and dismissed her feelings like they were nothing.
And you did the same to me. As I grew older, I became used to all the names you used to call me. I would cry alone and silently in my room and I truly believed I was everything you called me. Looking back, I was so naive to think that despite all of this, I actually expected you to keep your promises. All those times you said you would come to my dance recital or be there when I scored a goal on the soccer field, I believed it. And then my heart would shatter when you didn't keep your word. I never understood how you could be this way towards us but be so nice to other people.
I don't know how I managed to continue breathing when you would emotionally break me. I lived in constant fear of your anger and derision. For every test I failed, for every small thing I accidentally broke, I was terrified. Every small noise would keep me awake and even a slightly raised voice from you would make me jump.
I was so scared to ever fight for myself, not just because of what you would say, but of losing your love. Little did I know then that you never loved me anyway and that it was futile to expect it from you. I had to walk on eggshells around you all the time because I never knew how you were going to blow up at me. I dreaded whenever something went wrong, because you would find a way to blame me, even if I had nothing to do with it.
You criticized me to the point where I started to believe I was truly everything you made me out to be. Before I knew it, I thought I was mediocre, stupid, and could do nothing right at all. And this stuck. Whenever I got into a relationship, I always waited for the other shoe to drop and awaited the day my partner would leave me. Even if I bent myself backward to become someone they would love, I never expected the relationship to last.
I went through all my relationships believing I wasn't worthy of love and thought that people who complimented me were just lying. I couldn't stand up for myself, I couldn't trust my partner, and I just couldn't fathom the idea that someone could actually love me just the way I am. But now, even though I understand the kind of damage you did to my soul and heart, I can't seem to break out of the pattern.
I'm trying. I really am and maybe one day I'll finally get there. I'll build up my self-respect and confidence without you. I don't care how long it will take but someday I will finally know that I am worth loving and that I will find someone who respects that and loves me unconditionally — something you should have done. And maybe that day, I will forgive you because then I will know that I was strong all this time. I will get there. I know I deserve better.