I am my father

2:00pm (shared with Michelle)

I had a great meeting with my therapist, Lisa, this morning. We talked about my family and the anger I’ve been feeling towards them for their treatment of Michelle. She asked me how it was growing up. It was stressful. I was constantly worried about doing something wrong and what my father might say or do about it. Something clicked for me when I told her that. Every time I have a supervisor tell me they need to talk, I have a huge stress-fill reaction. I can feel my chest tightening up into a, “oh no, what did I do?” This is the same reaction I had as a child with my father. I was always waiting for him to find something wrong with what I had done (or didn’t do).

That brought me to Michelle, Arizona, and the stress I feel being around my family. I put that stress on her. Talking with Lisa this morning made me realize how and why. I was always nervous about what awful thing my family would say to or about Michelle.

I spent my entire childhood trying not to do anything that would make my father super critical and judgmental. In Arizona I simply substituted Michelle for me. She became my surrogate. I expected her to do what I do when faced with hyper critical people…do nothing to rock the boat, go with the flow, make everyone happy. I put the responsibility for their actions on her.

The problem is, Michelle wasn’t rocking the boat…they were. They were looking for any and every reason they could find: her playing with her niece’s hair, that she didn’t wear a bra one afternoon out, the way she laughed, the color of her swim suit bottoms, her age, that she doesn’t do enough house work, the color of her hair, her opinion of a movie, the type of beer she enjoyed, etc, etc.

So when Michelle couldn’t do the impossible, it became her fault. I always blame myself so as my surrogate, I blamed her and was angry. I told her to leave and sent her away. Simply put, she became me and I became my father.

Nothing that happened was her fault. What a mess.

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