Posted by: Marie | February 1, 2011

(505) Just checking in

Post #505
[Private journal entry written on Wednesday, September 22, 2010]

I sent my usual status email to Edward today – I always send one a week prior to our sessions so he can have some idea where I am with things:

Hi, Edward –

Just checking in . . . thinking about next week . . .

I’ve been working on the homework assignment you gave me (write about what comes up for me in response to the following paragraph in the letter to my dad: “I was so desperate to feel connected and wanted by you that I went looking for ‘that’ elsewhere. ‘That’ didn’t come cheaply . . . I had to trade my body for it.”)

Whew . . . it is a tough assignment. I will keep working on it, but right now I don’t have anything that makes sense. It is just a bunch of random thoughts . . . often conflicting, many not accurate, some not relevant . . . it’s rather a mess. But, I guess I’ll bring the mess to the session and we can dig through it together.

I’ll see you Wednesday!

– Marie

And, he responded:

Dear Marie,

Thank you for checking in.

I’m looking forward to our next Wednesday session.



After sending the email, I realized I needed to take a second run at my therapy homework assignment. I don’t like the outcome of my first attempt because it really doesn’t address the role my dad’s behavior played in all of this. So, here is another attempt . . .


I remember being in my room and hearing my dad come home. I would stay in my room as long as possible. When I couldn’t delay making my expected appearance in the common part of the house (for supper, for example), or when I thought there was a chance my dad would come into my room to talk to me, I would take an inventory of what rules I had broken and what disappointments I could have possibly visited upon my dad. For everything I might be in trouble for, I tried to come up with some excuse or explanation that might help soften the punishment that would surely come as a result. But, I knew chances were good that I missed remembering something and I would likely be caught unprepared and the punishments would come anyway.

Photo by Martin Chen

I tried to remember at what point I figured out I would never be a source of pride for my dad. I tried to remember a time when I still had hope I could win my dad’s approval. I don’t remember a time like that; I guess I figured out very young I could never measure up. I remember wishing I could be enough, but I think I have always known I would never be enough.

I knew my dad wanted me to be a good person. But, I knew I could never be good enough, so I had no reason to try to be. My behavior was always driven by my desire to reduce the pain of the punishments – not because I was trying to be good enough.

I think at some point, I still believed I sometimes measured up – that only sometimes I was a disappointment – and that there was a chance someday I’d get it “right” and measure up. Maybe that was true when I was very young. But, by the time I made it to high school, I knew I would never be good enough. So, instead, I just tried to minimize the pain.

Because I knew I could never measure up to my dad’s standard, I tried to be enough to at least catch the attention of boys/men. I would wear make-up and I would dress up; I would be daring and bold and crass; I would be fearless and athletic. But, still, it was not enough to catch their attention. They all wanted to be with my sister or with the other girls in my class at school, but not with me.

Then, when I was 16, I dated a guy named Alan. He was 23 years old. He introduced me to “petting”. He touched my breasts. He was very interested in me when I allowed him to touch my breasts. He wanted to do it all the time. He wanted to go beyond just touching my breasts. But, he knew my dad would kill him if he did more, so he dumped me and started dating a woman his own age because he didn’t want to date a little girl. They even got engaged and I think they eventually married.

My experiences with Alan taught me I could use my sexuality to attract men. But, that is all of me they ever wanted. They didn’t care about me as a person. They would have sex with me, dump me, then marry the next girl/woman they dated. It happened over and over – they dated me, dumped me and married the next girl they dated.

When I went to college where the nice Christian boys were less willing to have sex (but still wanted to pet), the same thing happened, over and over again. I didn’t understand why. I was attractive, smart, funny, hardworking . . . what was wrong with me? What about me drove them to marry the next person they dated?

I had sex with so many penises. I had sex when I had black-outs from drinking too much, but drinking was the only way I could keep the shame from killing me. When I decided to have sex sober, the shame about having sex lessened a bit.

But, even then, a little bit of shame multiplied by dozens of encounters still adds up to a lot of shame.

I feel like I am all used up now. Who would want to be with a used up slut? I feel I deserve the STDs and the abortion and the assaults and the fat body. I am damaged goods. My sexuality is garbage.

I can’t imagine that I will ever measure up . . . I can’t imagine that I’ll be sexy enough (even if I get skinny). I don’t have faith in my ability to be an engaging and smart and good-natured partner, in my ability to be someone worthy of someone else’s pride. Who would want to be with me? I’m trash. Every man I’ve been with has found a million faults with me – they can’t find anything positive about me. I can’t find much positive about me, either.

And, I believe I’m stupid and lazy and overly dramatic to be stuck in this way of thinking. I should just get over it and see myself as a worthwhile person . . . but something is wrong with me and I am not capable of shifting how I feel about myself. I guess I know the truth all too well. Putting on this show of how I feel good about myself when I don’t seems like a waste of energy . . . people are going to learn the truth soon enough, they might as well know the truth up front.

I can’t tell anyone this because they will just chew me out and tell me my thinking is wrong and I should think differently. So, I say nothing and put on this front showing I do believe good things about myself. I can keep up a facade for a while. But, in time, the facade crumbles. I know the truth about me . . . . I will never measure up. I will never be enough. No one who really knows me will ever be proud of me – at least not men.

I am fighting the belief I have no right to complain. I logically know I do have that right. I know Edward won’t see this piece of writing as complaining; I know he welcome it. Nevertheless, I still am fighting that battle.


  1. Marie, I had a similar experience of a disapproving father. It’s a horrible feeling to be that much of a disappointment when we’re young. I went the other way though, by avoiding men almost entirely. Good for you for bringing the painful memories and experiences of acting out to light where you can heal them.

    • Hey, Ellen –

      Yes, the weight of all the disapproval sucks the life out of a young soul. I’m finding it very difficult to move out from under that weight, even now, as an adult.

      The process of moving out from under really sucks . . . just for the record.

      – Marie

  2. I hope by now that you have had the experience of having faith in your self (or some parts of yourself) and perhaps of others doing so too. It is a huge issue.

    • Hey, Evan –

      I’m glad I have others who have faith in me . . . it makes it easier for me to have faith, also!

      – Marie

  3. I relate a lot to this. Its also where I am at in therapy. My sense of self. I feel very similarly to you and have gotten to the point also where I just accept it as just how life is. The negative feeling does seem unmoveable and persistant. I am now more aware of my feelings and in a way I wish I wasn’t. Its not fun and I’m interested to see how you handle this because I haven’t found a solution for my self. Mindfulness/ awareness/ affirmations just seem be akin to putting a plaster on a gaping wound. It just doesn’t seem enough. I hope it goes well. Good luck and thanks your for your honesty.

    • Hi, Marie –

      I sometimes wonder at what point is it more effective to accept things as they are as oppose to always fighting and never moving forward — always hoping and never enjoying. I still struggle with this.

      – Marie

  4. I think its always clearer to see the value in fighting the lies when seeing it through another persons eyes (which is part of the reason why I find this blog so helpful) I have followed your blog for a while and its apparent how intellgent you are and how much you have to give.

    I’m beginning to feel it really is a choice. I intellectually know the worthless feelings are a result of what I went through but living this knowledge is a difiicult and I now realise its a choice I have to make. Knowing those feelings are a lie and living as if they are a lie are different things

    I think the more I just take the leap and try and trust what I know, that those feelings are not valid and re-proggram, the easier it will become. so…Yep, I definitely think its worth the fight. :-)

    • Wow, Marie . . . thank you for all the kind words!

      Yes, it is always easier to see things clearly when you’re armchair quarterbacking! How about you and I trade lives for a week and we can clean up each other’s messes — trading spaces! Hah! It ought to be easy with the same names!

      – Marie

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