My father taught me one woman will never be enough for anyone. He taught me to keep both my eyes open, to always look over my shoulder, because no one is capable of staying faithful. No one is going to keep their promises if they have a chance to choose the selfish path. They are always going to do what is best for themselves. They are always going to hurt you.
My father taught me to become a paranoid mess. He taught me to be skeptical whenever a boyfriend works odd hours, whenever he gets home late, whenever he mentions a female name. He taught me to be wary of every waitress and maid and nurse because they’re all potential one-night stands. He taught me to look at other women as competition instead of friends.
My father taught me that it’s okay to use your fists when words aren’t enough. He taught me that it’s okay to call the love of your life a useless piece of shit. He taught me that it’s okay to drink until you blackout because as long as you say sorry in the morning and sound like you mean it, all will be forgiven. He taught me that alcohol is the answer to every problem.
My father taught me that love is violent. That love is cruel. That love is pointless. That love is a waste of time because it will all unravel eventually.
Because of my father, I get into screaming matches instead of coming to compromises because I expect things to go my way.
Because of my father, I get defensive instead of saying sorry because I can’t admit when I am wrong.
Because of my father, I flinch at every loud noise I hear because I am expecting another fight.
Because of my father, I drink instead of dealing with my problems because I am used to the house smelling of alcohol.
Because of my father, I get jealous when my person has done nothing wrong because I expect my heart to get broken.
Because of my father, all of my relationships suffer. I have no idea what real love looks like because I grew up watching an imitation. I grew up watching a horror show.
I know that I can’t keep blaming him for my relationship problems, for my anger issues, for my self-hatred. I know that I am an adult now. I know that I am in control of my own life.
I know I am not going to make the same mistakes he made — and I am not going to let his mistakes convince me to swear off from love. I am not going to assume every relationship will mimic his. I am not going to let myself believe that monogamy is an impossibility, that love is a falsity.
I know the lessons my father taught me are bullshit. I know he is an example of what not to do. I know he is an example of what not to settle for.
I know that a real man would never put me through the bullshit I grew up watching.