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Brenda has been writing since grade school. She attended journalism school where she majored in professional writing. She loves to decorate, garden, read and spend time with her Yorkies.

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Chasing Ghosts



Sometimes I try to remember what it was like to drift off to sleep in someone's arms. It's been a long time. 

Not that I want that. I just want to be able to remember how it felt. 

Transient images filter across my brain. But nothing sticks. 


I'm reading a book on my Kindle right now that reminds me of myself in some ways. It's about a young woman who is a nanny in an opulent but loveless home. 


The boy she tends to seems to have dangerous tendencies. His mother is a cold, aloof TV broadcaster. 

And his father, a successful attorney, is about as good-looking as they come. And that's all she sees.

The nanny has stars in her eyes for him. She is Catholic and knows that this is against all she has been taught and believes in. 

But her heart, swinging like a pendulum, tells her different. 

***

Be careful what you wish for. 

I've told myself that many times.

I reached for the prize and somehow, despite all the obstacles involved, a man who said he'd love me forever stole my heart. 

He was the last man I slept with. The last man whose arms ever wrapped me in slumber. 

For awhile there I felt like a princess.

I never should have allowed myself to love him in the first place. But no one, no one, had ever fawned over me the way he did. 

There were times that he told me that there was no one in the world who loved me the way he did. (We had a long and complicated history)

And then there came a time when he looked right at me and told me that I was unlovable. "No wonder your parents left you," he said in such a matter-of-fact way.

That hurt the most of anything he ever said to me. 

Through all the painful barbs that went back and forth between us, I can't think of any that ripped me open like that one sentence. 

Because, you see, deep down, I believed it to be true. 


Sometimes I wonder, when a girl doesn't have a father to love and help shape her, if she ever truly learns how to choose a proper man to love and marry.

I've always looked at girls with doting fathers and felt such envy it almost physically pained me.

I think there is a hole in your psyche if that father was never there.
  
And I don't believe there is a man in the world that can fill it.


Around holiday time, I often have these feelings and memories rush back to me. I wonder why that is? Why these ghosts rear their ugly heads?

You can't go back and have a second childhood. 


I know you want to see pretty photos of holiday decorating, and I promise you that will come. But first, I have to herd the ghosts out of my mind and send them packing. 

And sometimes they are slow to leave and close the door behind them.

Did you have a loving father? Do you think that helped you in choosing a mate? 

Or was your experience more like mine?
Cozy Little House
52 Comments
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52 comments:

  1. So sorry Brenda you didn't have a father there for you. I was one of the lucky ones that had a wonderful, loving father. When he passed away 7 years ago part of me died too. I think about him and miss him everyday. I also am blessed with a very loving husband.

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    1. Well, I'm sure not the only one! There are many women and men like me who did not have parents. It does not define us. I'm glad you had a loving father. And precious memories.

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  2. Sadly more like yours. A Father that abandoned me, a new Dad that was good to me but not loving and so I searched for love in all the wrong places. I find I'm happy on my own but I miss not being held sometimes also.

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    1. I'm sorry. I know how empty it makes you feel. At least now we've "seen the light" and live on our own with our pets.

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  3. Good Morning Brenda. I had a alcoholic father that was very absent and died at 46 years old from heart complications. Soooo sad but even though he was an absent father due to the addiction to alcohol somehow I still knew he loved us. I have married my soul mate and he is the best father to my two daughters. So I think sometimes you can rise above the absent father and still find a good and loving mate. This book sounds like a good read. Hugs to you today.
    Kris

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    1. I know you and your husband have a very special bond. And I so admire that. I'm sure your daughters are grateful to have grown up in a loving home with parents that also loved one another.

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  4. my dad died of a heart attack when my brother and i were still kids in school.
    we hardly knew him really.
    he was the rock of our family. my mother died from cancer a little less than 9 years later.
    she never got over losing him I think.
    it's odd being orphaned so early. you seem to only think it will happen later in your life.
    but life often has other plans for you.
    my dad was military. not warm. but I know he loved us. he was a good man. and I adored him.
    I married a man I fell head over heels in love with. I was 18. he was 28. and totally opposite of my dad! we laughed and loved through our whole marriage until he left from cancer at 43.
    I too miss simply being held. or even hugged for that matter!
    best not to dwell on it though. a wonderful dog or doggies make all the difference! they're the best!

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    1. We never know what life will hand to us. I'm so sorry you lost your love so young.

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  5. It pains my heart that you grew up without a loving father. As for me, I had several divorces with men similar to my father, who was aloof and simply not capable of love. I've been married to the complete opposite for sixteen years. As I've aged, being held is less important to me.

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    1. I do think some people are just incapable of love. Especially narcissists.

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  6. It is so good and please don't miss understand me. But so good to know others ache to be held by a man. I thought I had one who loved me recently but now he seems to find fault with me. I know I have faults but they are not even close to the ones he talks about. I am 65 and felt it would be by last chance. He had not held me yet so I don't even have the memory. I am putting up a new small tree with new Shiney Brites :) And decorating more for Christmas than I have in the last few years. Making a few candies and cookies and volunteering at the Nursing Home. I must get what could have been even for a short while out of my mind. He simply disappeared.....leaving me to feel worthless and at fault. Not true but the feelings are still there. Love this Christmas to everyone who feels like this.

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    1. I hesitated publishing this post. But I went ahead because I felt there were probably other women out there who felt this way. I'm sorry for the man who couldn't or wouldn't be good to you. It's his loss. But I know how much it hurts. I'm always here if you want to chat!

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  7. My real dad left when I was a baby but I had a wonderful step-father, very loving and just a great dad... but I still continually choose the wrong type of man. Some other things happened to me though that have a factor in the men I choose though I believe. I am pretty happy on my own right now too.

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    1. I would bet it is the other things that happened to you that derailed your love life. Our environment is so important to how we turn our and how we make decisions later in life.

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  8. My parents divorced when I was very young and my father moved half-way across the country, back to his hometown. I only saw him once during the rest of my childhood.

    My mother, being a young and pretty divorcee, seemed more interested in her social life than in being motherly so I felt sort of abandoned by her, too.

    Between my inferiority complex and it being the sexual revolution, I was rather promiscuous during my early-mid-teens. Then decided to be a good girl and got married at 20. We had one daughter who is now 27.

    My husband was the best father to our daughter and I was the perfect Suzy Homemaker and loving mother, always there for her. I was the mother I wished I'd had. So she really did have a Father Knows Best/Leave it to Beaver childhood.

    Anyway, Many, many times I'd look at our daughter over the years and physically ache at seeing how happy, confident, and accomplished she was and think how I could've been just like her if I would've had a childhood like hers.

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    1. Your choice was a gift you gave your daughter. And it will affect so many aspects of her life! I first got married at 20 also, but I already had a daughter at 17.

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  9. I had and still have a loving father, yet I had two unsuccessful marriages, both to alcoholics, so go figure. Hope those ghosts leave you soon, Brenda - xo

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    1. Oh, they only last a day or so! Sorry about your marriages. I know. Been there!

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  10. I a so sorry. I remember those evil comment your x said to you. So glad you are away from him.
    I had a good dad. But when drinking became more important to him he had a hard time showing any love. He had Alzheimers he was a sweet loving dad. Sounds strange but I felt more loved then. I was glad to have him that way in his final years.
    Hugs

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    1. I had my share of mean things to say to him. Naturally. But that one he knew would draw blood. I'm glad you felt loved at the end of your dad's life.

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  11. That is is unbelievably horrible what your ex said to you. I can't imagine. My husband is very sweet and loving. Sure, he has his faults, but we all do. My father passed away 18 years ago at the age of 63. I loved him because he was my dad, but we didn't have the best relationship. He wasn't very involved in mine or my sister's lives and was more of dictator. He was physically and verbally abusive to us at times (not constant) when we were growing up.

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    1. I so envy the relationship you have with your husband! You married a winner, Melanie!

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  12. Dear Sweet Brenda: I am the oldest of nine children. My dad was an alcoholic, he regularly beat me until kicking me out of the home at 16 and telling me he was disowning me. (He also forced several other siblings to leave home one they were in their teens, until my mother finally divorced him.

    I lived pillar to post, was also promiscuous, as I desperately wanted someone to love me and validate me as a worthy person. I have been married 3 times. The first marriage to the kids dad lasted 18 years. The second marriage was a huge mistake and lasted one year. The last marriage lasted 14 years and he asked me for a divorce to be with another woman. All I ever wanted was to be married, have a family and make a home. I am a very clean and tidy person, never afraid of hard work, and was a good wife and mother to our three children.

    During the last marriage I was told if he married me I had to work outside the home as he did not believe in a woman staying at home if there were no children living at home. I was crazy in love with him and thought he was my prince charming. What I actually got was a man who had several vices, some I do not want to name here.

    I have been single now for 13 years, and have no desire to ever try again with someone else. But I do miss having a person whom I love hold me in his arms. It is very hard to love yourself when you feel that somehow you are unlovable.

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    1. I agree on your insights here. And my teen years were spent much like yours.

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  13. I feel compelled to post again on this thread. Brenda, I just want to thank you that you are willing to host a blog which is so brutally honest, and that you are not afraid to talk about things other bloggers would never want to touch. reading all the responses to the post makes me feel like we are all friends, and it makes the respondents so much more human. Reading them helps me realize that all of us have similar thoughts and feelings, and many of us have experienced similar events in our lives. Doing so makes me feel better about things in my own life. Thank you, thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

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    1. Oh, you say such sweet things! I'm so glad there are women who don't mind my posting about "real life." I love decorating as much as the next woman, but I'm also realistic and pragmatic. I think we women should stick together and help one another. I want this to feel like a safe haven for honest discussion.

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  14. I lost my father to a brain tumor when I needed him in my life the most I was 14. He was kind, loving, and hard working man.

    I married when I was 16 yrs old to a very abusive fellow. (I can't call him a man because he wasn't) After I left him there were two more marriages and 2 love affairs. My choices were all wrong....I believe that I wanted something more out the relationships than they could provide because I was looking for a father image.
    I enjoy living by myself as did my grandmother, mother, and my sister. I guess it runs in the family.
    I often read a book or watch a movie, and the couples are cuddling after making love...I don't how that feels. I never experienced that with anyone I was in a relationship with. It is hard for me to hug someone, however, I love it when someone hugs me.

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    1. I think, when we don't have a positive male role model in our young lives, we often, as the song says: Look for love in all the wrong places. I too enjoy living alone, for I never felt truly relaxed with someone living with me. I hate romance novels, always have. I won't read them. I don't think it is because I'm jealous of the way the stories always seem to end. I think it's because I'm just too practical after all these years of bad relationships to believe it. Seems like science fiction to me. Although I know there are wonderful marriages out there. But I see around me far more unhappy couples than happy ones.

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  15. My father was an alcoholic and very emotionally distant from my sister and me. And when drunk he would often have rages that terrified us and my Mother. We always walked on eggshells around him as we had all been beaten severely during these rages if he was angry enough. This meant for me a childhood of great anxiety and low self esteem. My father died very young as a result of his disease. Despite all of this I did love him very much and I know that he loved his family. Alcohol was his demon and I know he had a horrible childhood himself that he never got over.
    I am lucky that as a teenager I met and later married my best friend. He is a very kind and loving man. I could not ask for a better husband and father for my children. I thank God every day for him.
    Brenda, I'm so sorry you were abandoned by your parents. And the things your ex said to you were terrible. You are such a strong woman though and it shines through here in your blog. I love the realness of your posts. Your decorating posts are great, but talking about real life is so good to read too!

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    1. The cycle of abusive parenting just keeps going. Your father had a horrible childhood, and then, most likely due to that very fact, so did you. I'm sure he didn't want that for you; it was just all he knew.

      Like they say: What doesn't kill us makes us stronger. I'm glad you found a good man to love you and father your children.

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  16. Well, it's bittersweet reading this because I just lost my father last Tuesday night! I wasn't that close to him because he and my mom divorced when I was young and he married another woman and became closer to her family instead. Once he moved out of state, we rarely saw each other. But, he was loving when he was around. He just wasn't in my life that much. So, I do feel a void there. I am jealous of people with super close relationships with a doting father. I don't feel like I had that the same way that others do. I've just had to accept that it was his personality to be the way he was. I still always loved him though. I felt sad when he died and was by his side at the time and I honestly don't think it would've been any harder if I had spent more time with him. So, I guess love was not lost despite his absence. As I've gotten older, I find more and more people that have complex relationships with family members. That helps in knowing that I am not alone.

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    1. I know you did, Kelly, and I'm so sorry. I saw it on FB I think. I wonder if having a loving father (when he's around) is almost worse than not having one at all? Hard to miss what you never had. I doubt I'd think about it as much if I didn't witness good father/daughter relationships around me and on TV. It's the reminders that hurt.

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  17. Brenda, I can't fathom what that must feel like. I did have a very good Daddy who loved me and my siblings with all his being...unfortunately, he was an over the road trucker who would be gone for weeks and months at a time, when I was little. My Mama practically raised me, by herself, for the first four years of my life. After my siblings were born, he came off the road. Not really, but he did put a stop to the long times between each home time. Even though he really wasn't around that much, when I was little, I never doubted that he loved me.

    Grace and Peace,
    Pam

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    1. I'm so glad you had that positive relationship, Pam. I'm sure it helped you to choose a mate and show your son how to treat a woman. Those good relationships early on are as good as building blocks.

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  18. My dad was an alcoholic turned Pentacostal preacher turned Alcohol. He died from drinking rubbing alcohol! Such a tragic end to a tragic life. His father left him and his family when he was 4. He only had a 2nd grade education because he had to work in the fields. He was a good person at times, but the very devil himself at other times. My mother was a very submissive wife. She was the loving one to the 7 of us children. I am the youngest and was born when she was 46, the day after my oldest brother was killed in Korean War. She had a horrible life living with my dad. He would line us up and tell us he was going to shoot all of us. He was miserable and made us miserable. No matter what, my mother stayed in the marriage. I married at 17 to my late husband just back from Viet Nam. I didn't have a clue how messed up he was, and I paid for it for 32 years. There were good times, but an awful lot of bad times. Many affairs by him, but just like my Mom, I stayed until he died of his 7th heart attack at the age of 52. We had been married 32 years. I am now married to a wonderful man who treats me like a queen. We married when I was 53, in 2005. This marriage is totally different than the first. I could just never do anything right in the first one. Don't know how or why I stayed, except I had no confidence that I could raise my daughter alone, when really that is what I did anyway. What tangled lives we live and there are so many things that play into the decisions we make. My daughter has been married 4 times, and divorced 4 times. She is 46 and brilliant. She just picks losers to marry. Life....it's different for all of us, yet the same. Sometimes I just wonder why we go through the things we do. I'm glad you are at peace in your home, and not manipulated by anyone. You know that's a good thing, and being held is a fleeting thing anyway. .......I'll shut up now. Thanks for your post.

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    1. Oh Kathy, what a monster. And I don't say that lightly. Any man that would line up his children and say he's going to shoot them, I can't think of any other word but monster. If you don't have a classic case of PTSD, I'd be really surprised. How could you not? Yes, life is different for all of us, yet the same. Living in peace is much better, as you say, than the fleeting feeling of being held. Especially if the man that is holding you is abusive one day, loving the next.

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  19. I also had an alcoholic father...he and mom fought so much of the time...I did feel like he loved me but still every man I have had in my life has also been alcoholic...Like you Brenda, I feel that there will never be another...I am 63 now and have quite a few health problems...I cannot deal with the antics of foolish men anymore...The one who recently left me, we were together 20 years, he had a woman out there waiting...she's 20 years younger than me... Let me advise you all of this...whenever a man starts to treat you bad, call you names and be nasty...you can bet your life that there is another woman out there waiting for him...most men do not let go until he knows he has another woman to take him in...You see she loves him...he is a wonderful man and he treats her so good...just like he used to treat you...don't waist your breath trying to convince her otherwise because she will never believe you until it is too late for her...yes definitely...be careful what you wish for...

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    1. I've also found that men usually have a woman in the wings before they leave. My ex had his girlfriend at the divorce hearing, sitting next to his attorney. And when they left that day, it was to their new luxury apartment. I wanted to tell her that she was in for a life of misery. So I told her now ex-husband to tell her. Doubt very much that she listened. She saw a "doctor" and thought she'd hit gold. Every woman thinks it will different for her, but usually it is not. What is it Dr. Phil says? The best indicator of future behavior is, of course, past behavior.

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  20. My dad was a hard worker +a hard drinker. I got married at 19.I am now 64.my husband mostly does his own thing. I'm usually alone a lot. He won't even let me get another dog. I cry a lot and try to keep busy.

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    1. Oh honey, you need to get yourself a dog! He is NOT your father. And if that's how you're having to live, you need to look at living another way so that you can have what you want!

      Life is short. I look back and see the years I wasted in fear. Didn't matter how beautiful my home was or all the possessions. It was still a bleak and empty existence. Please, please, I beg you to find a way to live a happy life.

      I was alone a lot too. And I told myself that was enough. But I can promise you, I was wrong.

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  21. Hello Brenda, I haven't visited with you in a while and am so glad I knocked on your door today. There's something about the holidays that make us happy one minute and sad the next. Perhaps it's because holidays are meant to be shared and sometimes that just isn't possible. I know your honest post touched many women and I wish I could give you a warm hug for it. Pat @ Bringing French Country Home

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    1. I think you're right. It's the holidays that bring out such melancholy. I've gotten behind on things, but I'm going to come visit you! Thank you for visiting today.

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  22. My father was violent alcoholic who ruined every Christmas except for the ones where he disappeared, then my Mother would spend Christmas crying for for him. They had one of the most dysfunctional relationships you can imagine and it was all about them. I loved my folks, but our upbringing was grim and colorless at best. When a person grows up in a crazy household, recognizing "normal" is non existent, You tend to be more comfortable with crazy because it more convenient. I've had three very unsuccessful marriages and now in my sixties, I realize that I'm not really a person who needs to be married. I began to feel trapped and have to get out. I no longer look at it as sad or to be pitied, it's just my reality and that's the way it is. Life can be wonderful. We create our own reality. I have a beautiful life.

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    1. I felt the same way after a period of time: trapped. In the first two marriages, I just had this feeling of needing to get out. In my last, I felt fear. Like you, I feel that life is just my reality. I've made some good choices in life; I've made some bad ones. And now I have a beautiful life too. Cheers to us!

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  23. I love your open and honest discussions Brenda! I have to tell my sister-in-law about this one! She has been with some nasty guy for over 8 years. (as in we all DREAD seeing him). She is sweet and kind and no one can figure it out. She is my sister-in-law but if she was my sister???? I would tell her to run like hell! I just saw a funny post today on FB "You can't fix stupid....you're not the jack-ass whisperer!"

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    1. I like that: The Jack-Ass Whisperer. No, I don't think there are any of those!

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  24. Hi Brenda...my dad was not a very loving man he beat my mom and was abusive to all of his 9 children...I made sure I picked a man just the opposite of him and I did and my husband is the sweetest husband and Father and papa there is...I thanked my Mom for showing me I needed to pick a man just the opposite of him...I am blessed! Merry Christmas! Carol

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    1. Then you got a lesson out of your childhood that made for a wonderful adulthood. I'm so glad you didn't continue the cycle.

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  25. NO loving father / experience like yours :) Many of us survivors out here :)

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  26. I had a pretty good childhood, but it was full of nuttiness because both of my parents had crazy childhoods in part due to alcoholism and poverty. My parents wanted to give me and my siblings a better childhood than they had, but they then seemed to resent us because we had it better than them! They both said mean things to us kids when we didn't show enough gratitude for what they provided. My dad had a huge ego and was very insecure at the same time. He built us kids up and praised us, but he needed to be the master of ceremonies and center of attention. If one of us kids seemed to be getting too much of the spotlight, he could make a really cruel remark to cut us down to size and get us to exit stage left. Our mom was his biggest fan, telling us that she babied our dad to make up for his poverty-stricken childhood. But it just meant that we kids had a dad who was also the highest-ranking kid in the family. He got to be the fun leader and also the whiney baby and the bully. Even though he said some things that were cruel to me, and have left me with some huge self-doubts, I actually liked being around him better than my mom. She was, and still can be, such a bully. I'm getting better at realizing it is just her way of dealing with the world and covering over her own insecurities, it really isn't about me personally. But, I'm 61 now and she's 86 so I guess it's about time I start figuring it out! Unfortunately, my first marriage was to a man whose childhood was crazy somewhat like my parents' childhoods were, with an alcoholism as a big factor. My first husband was the master of ceremonies and me the circus dog, all over again. Things had to be his way. It was a big step for me to leave him, but, then I didn't really know how run my life on my own. I'd always had someone managing things for me. I have really bumbled along. That is probably the biggest negative about childhood -- my dad, and mom, didn't help me to develop a strong sense of self. Or, maybe they just left that task for me and I'm still working on it.

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  27. I think it takes those of us with negative childhoods longer to find joy and fulfillment as adults. I was afraid to leave my last marriage because he had me convinced I couldn't take care of myself. Guess I finally fooled him.

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I always enjoy reading your comments and having you join the conversation here at Cozy Little House. It is like having a gathering of friends sitting in my cozy apartment. Enjoying coffee and dessert, chatting and having a good time. I appreciate each and every one of you!

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