As a child, I was not encouraged to love myself. My parents did love me but that love was compromised by their own shame. When people don’t love themselves, when they find aspects of themselves so objectionable that they deny their existence, there is a tendency to project that shame and self-hatred onto others. I was routinely the object of that projection and its infliction left deep wounds in my psyche.
My mother was afraid of her own dark memories, preferring to repress the trauma of incest, rather than deal with her grief and rage. Instead, she preached a gendered shame which blamed women for anything men might do to them. When she incurred injuries from my father’s violent temper, she blamed herself for not being a more submissive wife.
My father lived in constant fear of being cowardly or ineffectual. This was how he viewed his father, and his life was a reaction against those perceived weaknesses. In an effort to ensure he was not seen as weak, my father became an imposing tyrant who insisted that his wife and daughters live in fear of him.
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