My dad always wanted a boy. I’ve been aware of this fact my entire life. Maybe it’s the reason I’m a tomboy. It certainly isn’t a coincidence that I play tennis, like my dad does. I went to Michigan (Go Blue) which was his dream. He actually came to class with me more than once!! And making him proud has always been so important to me.
But I don’t think I realized how deeply this effected me until just over a month ago. I was at a private mastermind retreat and we did an exercise. The first question was something about an area where we feel stuck. My instant thought was being successful in Colorado.
I’ve been successful my entire life. Without struggle, if I’m being honest. In school. Professionally. Socially. Until I moved to Colorado. Which I did without hesitation, to marry my soulmate, Jim. The one who got away. The love of my life. I met him when I was 24, and we were together for a few years. Everyone, including us, thought we’d get married, which we eventually did…. we just “were on a break.” For over a decade.
So anyway, the next question in the exercise was what feeling does this bring up. Easy. It makes me feel like a failure. (Something I’ve never been). And I should mention that this exercise is like a meditation, not a question and answer. Ok. Next question. When is the first time you remember feeling this way. When my brother was born.
Stop. The. Press.
This is a thought I’ve never been aware of having.
I should add that I’m relatively new to mediation at this point…. it’s been about a year. And I’ve just gotten to a place in my practice where I’m actually feeling things. For years I “tried” to meditate and thought I was doing something wrong. My mind wandered. Or nothing happened. I thought about all the things I had to do. I’m the girl at my first Jack Canfield event who raised my hand and said I don’t know how to visualize. I truly thought I was doing it wrong. And within 30 seconds Jack had me understanding that visualizing is more like imagining.
I can’t tell you how relieved I was!! I’m the type of person who really needs to understand things. So visualizing and meditating…. I’ve always wanted to do these things. I hear what amazing results people have and I sit down and get all prepared and think to myself “what in gods name am I doing wrong?” And I laugh at myself.
So last year when Jack explained this to me, I was genuinely happy and I committed to give it a go. And nothing miraculous happened. My mind still wandered. I didn’t see anything. I didn’t float. But I kept doing it. And I was able to go longer periods of time without my mind wandering. And when it did wander, I was able to kindly bring myself back to the meditation. And I did have profound experiences.
I created my logo from a meditation. I defined my purpose in a meditation. So let me tell you that when I had this moment, this aha, this awareness that my brother being born was connected to so much of my current circumstances….
I’m getting ahead of myself.
Back to my dad always wanting a boy. This is just a fact. A given. Common knowledge among myself and our family and friends.
And I’m daddy’s little girl. The tomboy. His mini me, only with long hair. I really am so much like him. Dark hair. Dark skin. I think like he does. Our personalities are so similar.
Do you watch Friends? It’s my favorite. There’s an episode where Rachel has an aha moment. She says “I spent so much time trying not to be like my mom I didn’t even realize that I’m just like my dad!” That’s me.
Don’t worry. I figured out that he’s not perfect years ago. I took him off the pedestal. I saw the flaws, and I put in the work to make sure I don’t have all of them…. still. Some of them I definitely still have in my personality!! OCD? Yup. But I consider that a strength. Unrealistic expectations? Guilty. Quick to walk away? In the past, yes. Unwilling to compliment loved ones? Not a chance. I’m the complete opposite.
Remember that I said I’ve always wanted my dads approval? He’s literally never once told me that he’s proud of me. Ive desperately wanted to hear those words. And he’ll dispute this with me all day long. The truth is, he tells everyone else how he feels and how proud he is of me. And in doing so, he’s utterly convinced himself that he’s told me, too. Nope.
And believe me, I’ve spent years seeking his approval. Driving myself crazy. Until I finally realized and accepted that he shows me in other ways. So I really don’t need to hear the words. Anymore, that is.
He desperately wanted me to go to med school and take over his dermatology practice. I wanted to be the psychologist I am. That’s one of the very few times in my life that I’ve “gone against” his wishes. And it wasn’t easy!! In fact, it was far more difficult than it had to be.
Yes, of course I rebelled and had idiot boyfriends. But I honestly made very few choices that went against his wishes.
For example, My family has dinner every Sunday. One week I was extremely upset with my mom. Ok, probably more than once. But on this particular occasion, I didn’t want to go to Sunday dinner. I wanted to stand up for myself. For my principles. Make my point. “Do it for me,” my dad said. That’s all it took. That pretty much sums up my entire life. And I was so angry with myself for giving in.
My brother, who came 7 years after me, didn’t get this gene. He can do whatever it is that he wants, even if it upsets my dad, and not miss a beat. I envy that!! It’s just not me.
My dads input has always played a giant role in my choices, even when I don’t like what he has to say or if I disagree with him. All he has to say is “do it for me.”
On the opposite spectrum, I wanted to go to camp, which was a battle at first. My dad wanted me to stay home and have a fun summer with the family!! This time, I stayed true to myself! Win!! Sort of. When I came home, I didn’t really feel like daddy’s little girl anymore. I felt like my brother took my place while I was gone.
So somehow, as this little girl, I translated that doing what I wanted meant that I lost daddy’s attention.
So I have these two spectrums. Do it for dad. Or be true to me. At a cost.
It seems so long ago. And in the years that have passed, so much about that little girl has changed.
I remember being this carefree little girl who had quite the mind of her own!! I absolutely refused to wear dresses and anything remotely resembling pink. I wanted nothing to do with dolls and could instead be found playing in the dirt or riding my big wheel up and down the block.
Wind in my hair.
Not a care in the world.
Maybe it started changing when I went to camp. Or maybe it was when I had to become the parent. Or maybe it started when I got boobs. Instantly. Like overnight. I went from having a flat chest to having a giant chest. And I hated it!! I hated the attention that came with it. I hated that it was more proof that I was a girl.
Because remember…. my dad always wanted a boy. And until this exercise at this retreat, I don’t have a clue how much this impacted my life. I really didn’t. And in that moment, in the meditation, I suddenly saw it so clearly from this new perspective.
Maybe if I got one more good grade. Joined one more team. If I followed the rules to a tee. Maybe then I’d get that approval I so desperately sought from my dad. Maybe I’d finally feel like I actually belonged somewhere.
I think it’s important to mention that while the world was extremely nice to me, I wasn’t very nice to me at all. Ok I was downright cruel. From my appearance to my performance, I was my biggest enemy. Especially once I developed that chest! If I treated others the way I treated myself, I wouldn’t have had anyone in my life.
I had these mean girls in my head. It didn’t matter that I had amazing friends in real life. I had enemies in my head that erased any and all realities that I was living.
Good grades? I still wasn’t good enough for myself. Getting into Michigan the first day it was possible to be notified? That wasn’t enough for me to believe in myself and my potential. I was convinced I wouldn’t get in, by the way. I didn’t even attempt to date people I was interested in because I didn’t think I’d stand a chance. There were prettier girls. Funnier girls.
Somehow this self doubt didn’t translate into my profession. I remember telling my therapist, in tears, that work was the only thing I was good at. I think I believed that for a very long time. And if you met me, you would never have guessed it. I’ve always appeared very confident.
In the last year, I’ve learned the importance of not wearing this mask! People can’t be here for me if they don’t know I’m struggling. And I didn’t always know I was struggling. We live in this fast paced world of go go going. Its not me and it never has been. Slowing down is a gift. This exercise was a gift!
It allowed me to see truths that I needed to see!! Yes, I’ve always known my dad wanted a boy. But I never took the time to ask myself what that meant to me. As a girl!!! As a badass girl, I might add!!!
I’ve known since I moved to Colorado that it hasn’t been the same professionally. But it didn’t matter. Because I had Jim.
Only then it did matter. A piece of me was missing. A big piece. Being a psychologist isn’t just what I do. It’s who I am. It’s who I’ve always been. And it’s a story for another day. It’s relevant now because of the exercise. The question about where do you feel stuck.
And what does that have to do with my dad always wanting a boy? How is that connected to feeling like a failure? To that feeling I went back to when my brother was born, or when I came back from camp and felt replaced?
Because I didn’t feel good enough. Because I never felt good enough. And then moving to Colorado, for the first time ever professionally I felt that feeling. I truly never connected them until that meditation. It was so profoundly eye opening. And something that I’ve lived with my entire life until that moment was instantly gone!!
I knew right then and there not only that I can be successful in Colorado, but that I will be. I knew right then and there that girls are way cooler than boys. (I’m only somewhat kidding). I really could go on and on, but what I think is important isn’t listing everything for you. It’s all the awareness that I gained in that moment.
I realized how much pressure I was putting on myself. How much pressure I’ve always put on myself. To be further along. To be better. To be as close to the son that my dad always wanted.
Until I literally felt like I was going to burst. Explode. And it physically hurt. And I let it.
And somehow during that pain, I discovered not only the desire to be that little girl again but also the strength. And the one trait I admire in her the most, the one thing adult Sam lost along the way and is missing the most, is her ability to live life carefree. Not giving a damn what anyone else thinks.
Living in the moment. Enjoying herself. Enjoying life. Wind in her hair.
So lookout world. She’s back. That girl with mismatched socks, who doesn’t wear pink!! And she’s on a mission to find another big wheel!!