Julie learned from her father that love had to be earned. Good behavior merited her father’s favor, whereas disobedience to his standards and beliefs drew his anger and distance. It was all about performance. She received approval from her dad if she displayed to others what he thought to be right and proper behavior. As long as she pretended to be the obedient and respectful child, she was accepted.
Julie grew up not really knowing her father’s love but trying desperately to gain it. He was absent emotionally and, as a grown woman, Julie does not know him, though she still clearly hears his disapproval.
As Julie grew up, she made more choices that displeased her dad. According to him, she did not eat, dress, or date appropriately. Rather than gaining what her heart desired, she was farther away from the hope of ever being loved for who she was. As a result, she turned to other male relationships to find affirmation and acceptance. During this phase of her life, the connection with her father severed completely.
Julie became a people-pleasing, empty, broken mess. All her male relationships only further splintered her soul. When she could not bear the self-deception any longer, she enrolled in a Bible College as a final effort to ease the overwhelming pain in her heart. Perhaps total abandonment to God would release her from consuming turmoil and grant her the acceptance from her father. If she embraced God, she thought that perhaps the emptiness of her heart would fade away.
During her time at college, Julie began to see layers of deception to her troubled mind and determined to be honest about herself and to seek God’s plan for her life. When she finally stopped running, she met a stable guy and married him, believing her past could now become a distant memory.
Distant, but not forgotten…
For the next seventeen years of marriage, Julie was baffled by unexplainable outbursts of anger and an almost continual feeling of discontentment — even though she was married to a loving, supportive husband and had four beautiful children. What could be missing?
Unable to pinpoint the cause of her unrest, she finally broke. Julie hit a wall and admitted failure—personal, marital, parental, social and to her dismay, even spiritual. Attacked on all fronts, everything she tried so hard to keep in balance came simultaneously crashing down. Depression consumed her for the next three years.
More from Julie’s story in my book: “The 18-Year factor: How Our Upbringing Affects Our Lives and Relationships” Purchase here