I DIDN'T SIGN UP FOR THIS!
By Glyndora Condon MS MFT LPC
I understand this statement more than many would imagine with life long choices that required sacrifice. From the initial decision, my eyes and want feasted on one goal after the other for various reasons underwriting it (some of which were sound and some of which were due to the need to please others so as to feel accepted due to a low self image; which cried out for love and which never seemed to be filled). My feelings of being not good enough began evolving from age 3 when I witnessed my picked flowers being thrown into the garbage (without mother's knowledge of my watching); only after I had brought her at least 4-5 arm loads of daffodils from the nearby pasture. When the first hand full was received with grace and gratitude from each of us girls (3), and we all returned to pick more-it was so good for my little heart to return with another and another gift, longing to hear mom's appreciation which made me feel good.
Perhaps my need of acceptance and love predated this event-however; as I peered into the glass storm door with expectation of watching mom placing my flowers in another vase with water-yet saw her instead throwing them into the waste can...I was crushed. I saw my siblings as those who were loved and myself who was the misfit. I believed that I was the black sheep of the family and thought that I had to achieve so as to be good enough yet found myself unable to believe that I ever was good enough. From a counselor's view-there were parenting issues that did feed that distortion, and this was followed with other reinforcements of my attempting to make friends that was rejected, peers who jumped to negative assumptions without knowing me, messages of legalism from the pulpit, and other negative reactions which firmly planted this seed of the fear of rejection.
With such an empty tank that seemed to have a hole in it-I was a prime candidate to lower my standards as to whom I associated with especially when it came to boyfriends. Anyone who was nice to me was accepted immediately and deemed trustworthy prior to the needed time and tests. Then when they began showing their true colors; I would think; they had changed, or I am a fool; I did not sign up for this! Hence, I would find myself in a failed relationship and would suffer the consequences of trusting too soon.
In my mid 20's, I had already seen that my birth defects caused unbearable pain if work included standing or sitting all the time; or if it was included repetitive motions, heavy lifting, or hyperextension or hyper contraction. This knocked out most all jobs. Although I was smart and skillful, with a license in cosmetology-and although I could get most any job; I could not hold it due to the pain. I did not sign up for this, but knew that if I wanted to be self supportive and independent then I would have to be creative in what I chose as a career. My birth defects made me stronger as I persevered and achieved in spite of them; yet also reminded me of my limitations.
My parents owned rental property and had a complex that my father simply was not able to continue to maintain due to his failing health; so I chose to buy it. Imagine someone in the their mid twenties signing a contract for approximately $220,000 at an interest rate that fluctuated between 9-14%. I had to make the mortgage payment every single month, since I wanted to prove to my parents that I was responsible and worthy of respect; but also due to my upbringing of being responsible for my choices, decisions, and my word. In addition, I knew that with my payments, then my parents were able to survive and pay their bills and therefore I could not let them down. To sign that line on that contract, I was agreeing to their terms, which included the penalties, the interest, and all the responsibility of owning a rental business. That, I knew. What I did not know was what this really looked like-year after year. I assumed that everything would stay as it was then. I was married and finances, as well as, the market was fairly solid.
Only a few weeks of occupancy and ownership; domestic violence broke out 3 doors down from mine; and out ran a woman with blood over her head as she ran to mine. I had not been exposed to actual violence yet here I was-the Landlord, and I had to make wise choices. First, to protect and bring this tenant for medical attention-and then to take her to the police office to take out a protective warrant. This was followed by an eviction notice.
Following were reports of dribbling water from the shower lead to the entire under-plumbing replacement from galvanized to CPVC which forced me to take out a loan. Upon my first 30 day inspection of the current tenants-I discovered about 3/4 of them did not know how to clean; and the unit was disgustingly nasty. During that inspection I also saw that there were roaches. I will not tolerate this-so hired a service. That was within 30 days of buying the complex. From 33 years of owning the complex, I had to take multiple loans out to do major repairs and replacement of roofs, some siding, storm doors, painting, updating counters, faucets, and fixtures, replacing and updating flooring, replacing water heaters, stoves, refrigerators, HVAC units, and more. In addition, the concrete drive and walkway broke and the city held us liable to put on handrails. Also, when the market dropped then so did the clientele. This was when I created an extended stay hotel entity-learning all about the hotel and taxes. During this transition I am taking my masters level classes in a university and am a single mother due to a divorce from their father.
When the market dropped then it was costing savings and money made on our jobs to support the complex; not to mention the difficulty in procuring staff and services. I did not sign up for this! I signed up for a business that would support me, provide me retirement, and afford me and my family-and at least some vacations once a year-yet I had loans, debs, hardships, and stress while being unable to take my children on vacations, unable to place them in Christian schools, and unable to afford anything other than bills. Their child support was woefully under paid due to it being based upon a wage far less than what the father made.
What seemed so lucrative at the time of the purchase and an answer for my health issues; did allow me to remain home with my children at first- but soon became a burden, causing much stress and struggle; and ended with loss. The truth is-I did sign up for it as I signed that line-in good faith-not knowing the unknown as to what would happen in the years to come, and regardless of what was going on in my life, I had to find a way to stand true to the contract regardless of the hardship. I learned to praise God for my time with my children and to accept that my choices do impact my life-and I learned that I persevered and endured during the hardships. I did abide with the contract as I paid it off early for my parents. Therefore, good came from the bad times even though we did without often. I grew in strength and integrity as I mustered courage to walk through the fire and this required me to stop being a victim. My choices got me here. My choices, with God's guidance, patience, perseverance, and wisdom would get me out.
Before this occurred, then let's remember back to the low self esteem and the emotional boundaries that were not strong (security in relationship and acceptance)? Remember how I lowered my standards and settled? I entered into marriages (more than one), while I sought and strove to be good enough, with constant fear of rejection that hovered over me like a dark cloud. Prior to the first marriage; I had been raped and threatened by the rapist, who held me hostage with that threat against my parents and home, where I had been abused for 5 months in a coerced marriage. During that 5 months-I endured mockery, rejection, abuse, infidelity, and shame which depleted my self esteem further. I became more needy, clingy, hyper- vigilant, jealous, envious, more fearful of rejection, and more driven to be accepted with my overachievement attitude and push. Relationships were deemed a necessity if I was going to feel valued. Fear of losing these relationships drove me to sacrifice most everything to make them happy which left me feeling empty, afraid, and resentful as they disrespected me. I did not sign up for this! Again, I was faced with the truth-I did. I rushed into relationships and ignored the red flags due to my neediness for love; and I mistook manipulation tactics as love. I personalized each failure as my own. I understand this today but then, I was completely blind to what I was doing to myself or why.
I wanted children so badly and have since I was a child. It took 13 years of praying, crying, and hoping; along with 6 surgeries to birth my two daughters. During this time there were 7 years of trying to adopt mixed in; as I used 4 different adoption agencies to attempt to be the mother that I longed to be...Many nights I cried myself to sleep during those childless years while I watched others who had children so easily. Watching others mistreat their blessings and then others chose abortions; which was unbearable for me. I was unable to walk past the baby clothes without tearing. At this time I am in a love-less marriage that was cold and I was starving for affection-which added to my loneliness. It was reported by my mother that this husband had told her, that he would not have been surprised to come home from work and find me dead due to suicide .Yet as a narcissist without empathy, he continued his affairs and kept himself from me emotionally and physically. I had not signed up for this. I felt so rejected as a woman and a person; and was so totally empty.
I chose to busy my mind and began college, taking psychology courses which helped me to begin seeing myself with more clarity. In time and with 6 surgeries-I did have two beautiful daughters via C-sections.
As I was willing to forgive the past and to embrace my family (husband and children) I learned of multiple infidelity episodes during those high risk pregnancies-and was told that he wanted out of the marriage. Here I was, finally willing to accept his coldness while counting his strengths as blessings-and was willing to allow myself to love my babies which filled a huge void-only to be left for another woman or three. My life turned upside down as many fragments of life occurred.
How was I going to survive with Nail Patella Syndrome and take care of these babies? Would the apartment complex be able to support us? Where were we going to live? Why would he cheat? Was I not woman enough? What if...questions poured from my mind. Fear ensued but I knew that I now have two babies to care for so I had no choice! I did not sign up for this! I had believed and had dreamed of an intact family with children; and here I was-a single mother, with Medicaid for the children and food stamps. The embarrassment of hearing someone exclaiming this in front of others as I am standing in line was humbling, since I was never dependent upon the government and had not been brought up this way. I did not sign up for this!
Going to court multiple times due to unpaid child support was also humiliating and draining on finances that were already tight which did not help. Thinking my girls needed a father figure who could be around-did not help either. This is not a good reason to marry. Not being able to complete my education and work did not help. Needing surgeries and medical attention did not help. Feeling as a misfit in church seemed to be the last straw that broke the camels back and I plummeted into depression and anxiety again.
It was this that brought me to my senses that I needed help and therefore I sought counseling with a Christian counselor. After a few sessions I was able to correct faulty thinking and increase my self-esteem. Perhaps I did make many choices and endured many heartaches due to what I signed into (not knowing all of the possibilities)-but with processing these-I found strength and value. I was elated and chose to use my journey and insight to help others. Life is still difficult. Things still happen that I never counted upon. Yet today I do not seek the approval of others to validate my own which I realize was violated centuries ago by my Father in Heaven. My worth is decided by my Lord who loved me enough to die for me-even when I am not perfect! Even when I am a sinner. Even when I have weaknesses. This is my story. It is what it is. Life is not a dress rehearsal-it is real. Each decision leads to circumstances that are placed into action; twisting and turning and at times going backwards-yet each teaches we who are searching for truth. We are what we think and what is in our heart; and we can choose the change both instead of waiting or expecting others to change for us.
I work to help others through their journey, accepting their thoughts and helping them to challenge their beliefs so that they can also see truth and change their future. I am here to help you rewrite yours.