After spending some time with my grandmother discussing dating and such, I’ve come to the completely unscientific and most likely false conclusion that romantical preferences are a hereditary curse. I also did a Bible study this past summer that suggested there might be some truth to this theory. Though the study was more about bearing the emotional burdens of our mothers and their mothers before them, naturally some of this translates into how we approach our relationships. It suggested that even though we may not have some life-altering traumatic experiences in our lifetime, the damage inflicted on the women in our blood lines before us may spill over into our lives without our knowledge or permission.
I began exploring this possibility when my father once expressed his devastation in my choice of men, because of the long-standing belief that women date the men who remind them of their fathers. And my shoddy taste in the stronger sex hasn’t done any justice to the reality of my near-perfect father. But there had to be something that led to my codependent tendencies, it couldn’t possibly be my fault, I needed something to blame—er I mean explain?
Although my mother apparently chose the “last good man on earth” (words of outside sources, not my own), her relationship with her father was nothing like the one she would have with her husband. I remember my grandfather as being an over-sized teddy bear of a man whose heart was bursting with love for his family. But I also remember him as a distant, crotchety man whose disdain for children was made apparent every time we were hit by the shrapnel of his short-fused temper. The latter man was the original before he learned to appreciate the warmth one could gain from inviting the love of family. I’m not sure what flipped the switch in him, but we were definitely blessed to experience the softer version of grandpa before too deep an impression had been made.
I sometimes wonder if my mother was not so lucky. She clearly loved her father and her heart breaks over and over again when she thinks about losing him in October of 2009. But she spent her entire childhood and most of her adult years with the man who didn’t have the patience for needy children and didn’t understand how to express the love he ultimately learned to engulf us with in later years.
On my father’s side my grandmother made a few missteps in love. Though she bonded herself to a man who adored his wife until the day cancer took over his once “hunky” frame, loving an alcoholic was a challenge. No matter how much he loved her back. His alcoholism never led to violence. Only distance. It was something he and his family struggled with until the year my little brother was born. And though my memory box of my grandfather only holds the moments when he nuzzled my grandma in the kitchen while she prepared Christmas dinner, there was undeniable damage done along the timeline that came before me.
If the butterfly effect holds authority over the love as it allegedly does every other corner of our existence, the family love stories told before my inception may be the source of some of the men I’ve fallen prey to. But I can’t continue fault my family history for what are ultimately poor decisions on my part. We all have baggage: some put upon us, some saddled on our own. Though I tend to be empathetic to the human condition I also have little patience for people who point the finger at unfortunate circumstances in hopes that it will excuse their bad behavior. It doesn’t. And I’m no exception. I’ve been in abusive relationships where I’ve chosen to stay. I’ve been with great guys who I’ve chosen to leave. And I’ve been a crappy insecure girlfriend because I chose to let past losers dictate how I feel. I’ve made poor choices in my life and been in ill-fated situations, but the responsibility for my future romantic adventures rests very much in my hands.