Never (Feeling) Good Enough

One of the biggest reasons I've done well in school all these years is my father, or rather, trying to earn my father's approval. When I was in elementary school I would hear all the yelling and arguments between my brother and father as they were going through his homework. To be honest, it was pretty brutal. When I look back on it I can't believe how rough he was with my brother over all that junk. And from the safety of my bedroom, I vowed to never have to be yelled at like that. 

Later on when I was in junior high and high school, that fear had pretty much diminished – my mom had finally gotten him to simmer down with the aggressive approach and my brother went to college. The drive I had when I was younger was still there, but like most kids, I really sought after some parental approval. And even though my mom wasn't shy about telling me she was proud of me, I never got it from my dad. No matter how well I did….instead of a 'good job' I got lectures on all the stuff I could do better. And me being human and all, I wanted what I couldn't have, and kept working harder and harder and continuing to succeed – but still without any praise. 

All these feeling were stirred up again because I just got finished cleaning out a file full of test scores, old report cards, and college acceptance letters. I know that your own sense of accomplishment should be enough, but between that and feeling like no one wants me in this house right now, it's starting to get disheartening. A couple days ago my dad basically gave me a speech about how he wants me to be out of the house more and today my mom was trying to disinvite me from something so trivial as going to the freaking mall tomorrow. I'm hardly around anymore and this will probably be one of the last times they get to see me for a prolonged period of time. I'm tired of them acting like I'm this giant chore – a mess they have to pick up after. That's what my graduation felt like – some chore they had to sit through instead of something they were proud of me for getting to. I greatly appreciate all the financial help they've given me over the last 22 years, but I also think a family should be more than that. And the more I hang out with other families and see how they act the more that ache I bury under humor and sarcasm starts throbbing. The thought that all families are like this becomes harder to believe. 

Maybe it doesn't help that I'm so different than them – perhaps that's why we can't connect on some deeper level. I feel like the only answer I have to this right now is to hide in my room as much as possible. It feels like high school all over again. 

6 responses to “Never (Feeling) Good Enough

  1. Kern, I’m sorry this has you so down. I never understood why your dad acts the way he does. (I wonder how his parents were with him…) It could be that that’s how he was treated. Or maybe he is unhappy with his own accomplishments or lack there of, and therefore pushes you harder. I know it sucks not getting any sort of acknowledgment for your achievements, but I would bet that your dad pushes you and Brian because he wants the best for you (maybe better than he had or than he was able to provide) and he knows you can do so much. Yes, he’s taken it too far, but I like to believe the intention comes from a place of love. Of course, I don’t know him all that well, so who knows.
    I can empathize with feeling different. I still feel like the black sheep of my family (a fact that was only proven further after our family reunion). I think for both of us, that comes from being more cultured, educated, and open-minded. I mean, look at where we’re from and compare it to our lives in Philly and Orlando. Most Charlestonians probably couldn’t survive the lifestyle and the opportunities that those types of places offer. When people see you at a higher level than them, in whatever way, it does make it harder to connect or to even want to. And so I end up sitting by myself at family gatherings with no one talking to me…and you stay locked up in your bedroom. It’s like we’re being punished for who we are. (I’m flashing back to Buffy’s Inferiority Complex about her Superiority Complex). It’s also possible that in a lot of ways, your parents are jealous of what you’ve accomplished and where you’ve been and where you’re going. Sometimes a child’s success does nothing but highlight a parent’s failures.
    This is mostly my babbling cuz it’s late and I’m exhausted, but the most important thing I have to say is that no matter what, I am so proud of you and all that you’ve done and all that you are. I was talking to Laura on the phone the other day about your grad school plans and we were both in agreement that you are such an awesomely amazing and intelligent person. We’re both so proud to be your friend. And my Grams is proud of you too!!! ๐Ÿ˜€
    Just keep in mind…”Anytime you’re hurt, there’s one who has it worse around.” Don’t let this get you down too much.

  2. Karen, I’m proud of you big big.

  3. Thanks for the awesome comment Andrew. I know that deep down he probably does care and just doesn’t show that kind of stuff, and that’s probably how it was with his family. But, I’ve always dreamed of having a close family and it’s hard having to dwell on those kind of feelings a lot when i’m living under their roof for such a long time. Since things tend to happen for a reason I know that because of this it’ll give me more drive to create a positive environment when/if I start my own family.
    You are also totally right about the going off and getting education/culture. Every time I run in to people now I feel like it’s so much harder to connect. Once I tell people what I am up to it’s just an awkward silence party. No one understands, oh well, we are awesome anyway ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Thanks Ellen! I miss you. Hope all is going well with your many jobs!

  5. Of course you know that I’m proud of you also! My family loves having you around and you click so well with all of us….you can come over here whenever you want. Mom was just talking about how fun and cool you were this morning.

  6. Aww that makes me happy ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m glad you’re family likes me because I like hanging out with them a lot. Even if it’s just sitting around watching sitcoms and helping katie grout. I’m glad I’m not wearing out my welcome.

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