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How do I stop caring what others think?

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This topic contains 157 replies, has 7 voices, and was last updated by  anita 2 days, 12 hours ago.

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  • #295733

    Lily
    Participant

    Always in my life I have been afraid of other people’s judgement. I wish I could free myself from it. My fear of what other people think of me impacts my life deeply.

    At the moment I am very very anxious. I feel the fear in my body and it’s hard for me to stay focused.

    I live in a dormitory, but as I wasn’t feeling well for the past months, I avoided contact with the other residents. I always went into the community rooms, when nobody was there. And once or so I even left the room, when I heard somebody in the other room (kitchen and living room are connected).

    Of course, my behaviour must have seemed weird to the others. Then, there was a knife stolen and somebody asked me twice about it. I happen to own the same type of knife from ikea, but didn’t take anything from anyone! It made me extremely nervous, as I have experienced it before, that somebody accused me over something I didn’t do. I even searched my room for the knife, but didn’t have two of them. Sometimes I even doubt my own perception and start to think: what if I did take it accidently? I can become really irrational and paranoid. And I start to feel as if I did something wrong, even though I didn’t (except from being socially incompetent):

    So I decided to not enter the community rooms anymore at all. I didn’t want to know if anything else was stolen or lost. And I didn’t want to make any more mistakes. I always become nervous around the others and probably make them uncomfortable. I feel like everything I do is wrong… I feel like a total misfit and I wish I could just become invisible…

    Recently they wanted to hold a floor meeting. They sent me an extra Email for it (I never gave them my address, but they used the one from my uni) and asked me again if I can cross their list of possible dates for the meeting. They also asked me why I didn’t enter the community rooms any more and I said that I just said that I wanted to be more by myself recently. And they were friendly.

    It stressed me out extremely. I took tranquilizers and had suicidal thoughts. I had never had had such bad suicidal thoughts before, I actually started to plan things (but I won’t do it, as I don’t want to hurt my friends and family).

    I try to tell myself that I am not that important, that nobody will care so much about me. And I try to do things that calm me down, like meet friends, work or write or go out into nature. But the anxiety is still there.

    Of course, I brought this on myself. I should have integrated myself better, so people would have understood me better. But I wasn’t feeling well and after this thing with the knife happened, it was over for me. Now I get more and more anxious around people… I also have avoidant personality disorder and a lower form of depression.

    I am trying to find a new place to live, but it could take some time!

    In the meantime, how do I cope? I wish I could just not care what others think. It should be enough to know that I did nothing wrong to any of them. But somehow my fear of what others might think becomes more important than the actual truth!

    I don’t know if anyone can help me, people on these forums have given me already plenty of good tips on how to improve my life. I am still not making too much progress, I fear. But I guess I am feeling left alone with this and needed to talk to someone… So thank you, if you took the time to read.

    #295879

    Lily
    Participant

    I had a strange dream.

    There was a ghost ship, then there was some sort of ship parade and I was watching it from a hightened bulding, kind of apathetically. The river was very stormy, with a lot of waves and the ship was swallowed by the water and then came back up again.

    Then there was a big flood wave, like a tsunami or something. I was thinking about going farther up the building to be save, I think? But I didn’t. At the end I hid behind a building. But first the windows of that building burst, then the building was swept away too.. Or maybe I was just caught by the flood? But at the end of the dream I was taken away by the water, then I woke up.

    Maybe this dream represents how I feel at the moment… Completely overwhelmed with life. The thing with the stealing suspicion is just the last straw. But that is not my real problem. My problem is more that I am self-hating, socially awkward, not able to assert myself and say no… That I haven’t found my place in life and am very lost… That I blame myself for everything that goes wrong and take on too much responsibility.

    I think first I need to move away from here, as this environment drags me further down. Even though it is mainly in my own head. I wish I could just take my things today and move to another place.

    At the moment, I feel very hopeless. I try to keep things going, go to work uni, see my best friend etc., but the feeling doesn’t go away. And I don’t get anything done. My self-depreciating thoughts are just too strong. Sometimes I thought about visiting my parents for a while to recover, but they also live far away…

    I try to make it work. I try to use routines, write down my thoughts, do sports… But it doesn’t help enough… I just feel so tired.

    #296153

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Lily:

    I was hoping that you will get responses from other members but your thread is now on page 2, less visible, so I figured I will reply and bring your thread back to page 1, for greater visibility. Also, you can post here anytime, use it as a journal of sorts.

    I reviewed your first two threads and what fascinates me is that as a child you publically rejected your father’s religion, had the courage to do so, and even displayed these behaviors: “I.. insulted my parents and cursed like a sailor”-

    – this is so starkly different from how you have continuously expressed yourself through your threads, the opposite of an assertive or an aggressive person all the way through, no exceptions. It puzzles me.

    anita

    • This reply was modified 5 months, 2 weeks ago by  anita.
    #296169

    Lily
    Participant

    Dear anita,

    thank you for your response.

    Today I was feeling a little better. Yesterday I decided to go to this mentoring thing, after I had almost canceled the program last week. I took part in the group activities and such and even though I felt stressed, it was o.K. Even though I was socially awkward, I felt accepted.

    Today was also o.K.. I worked on my stuff for class for a few hours and even had a small chat with the janitor of the dormitory. Last time I saw him, he also didn’t respond when I said hello, but today it was more normal again. It made me feel better. I feel much calmer today.

    But at the floor where I live I still feel awkward. I kind of feel like a bad person. But I know I am not a bad person, I just have a lot of self-improvement to do.

    Yes, In my childhood I stood up for myself more. But I don’t know if I publicly rejected the religion of my parents? I told my friends about it and I also told my parents. But I still was confirmed, even though I told my parents that I didn’t want that. Once in confirmation class the pastor (I refused to get confirmed by my father) said that confirmation was a free choice and I remember this ironic feeling I got… I also took part in religion class instead of ethics class, even though after a certain age you were supposed to choose for yourself.

    In my childhood I was also more included in church activities. I went to the children’s church choir and to sunday school. But after we moved to another place, I stayed out of these things, except the confirmation and religion class in school. And we also had to go to church every other week But after I got older I stopped going to church, if I remember correctly.

    So I still caved to my parents wishes. I remember how I felt like my will was “raped” (a strong word, but that was really the word I used in my head for how I felt back then). In my therapy I understood better, that my feelings weren’t valued in my family. My resistance wasn’t valued and seen as a bad thing. They didn’t really talk to me or ask me about why I was not interested in religion anymore.

    My therapist also said that she cannot “feel me”, that I describe everything more in a rational way, without showing feelings. And that I keep my feelings bottled in. Last week, when I almost canceled the mentoring program, I felt angry at myself and humiliated. Then I smashed a glass against the wall, also my cell phone and a shoe… It made me feel a little better, but then I regretted it again, because my neighbours probably heard it and will think even worse of me…

    Yes, it seems I mostly get angry or aggressive over smaller things… But I don’t insult people or curse like in the past.

    When growing up, I wanted to be confident and strong, but I felt weak. I thought being loud meant being strong, so I cursed, like some people I admired on TV.

    Later, in my early twenties my thinking changed again. I wanted to not play the victim and take responsibility. Because other people’s mistakes were out of my control, I focused on my own mistakes. But I think I took it too far. I tried to be friendly and forgiving and pleasant. I also felt that I was bothering others when talking too much about my struggles. So I tried to keep these feelings to myself, because I felt that people only want to hear positive things. During that time, I also felt disconnected with people, even my friends, they didn’t mean so much to me on an emotional level? I thought things like: “they are a valuable person and I have to appreciate them” about them. Only in the past years I was able to feel a connection to people again. Now I have a best friend who accepts me with all my flaws and we can talk very openly about our problems and feelings and support each other.

    But I also lost a lot of confidence when I wasn’t able to build a stable career. It made me feel terrible about myself, but I also didn’t take much action to change the situation.

    Even as a child I was very insecure though, but it is true that I stood up for myself more.

     

    #296175

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Lily:

    I will try to understand the part that puzzles me:

    1. “I refused to get confirmed by my father”- you told him: I refuse to be confirmed by you!? You weren’t afraid to reject him this way, to refuse him?

    2. “My feelings weren’t valued in my family. My resistance wasn’t valued and seen as a bad thing”- so you got confirmed by someone else, not by your father, correct? Doesn’t it mean that your resistance succeeded, that you got your way?

    3. “I don’t insult people or curse like in the past”- what was your father’s  response when you insulted him and cursed him, if you did; your mother’s? Other people?

    4. “Later, in my early twenties… I focused on my own mistakes. But I think I took it too far. I tried to be friendly and forgiving and pleasant”- like a good, friendly, forgiving Christian, as in taking on the religion you rejected with a saintly emphasis, as in being a saint, all forgiving, zero aggression, zero assertion?

    anita

     

    #296177

    Lily
    Participant

    Dear anita

    1: Yes, I told him that I don’t want to be confirmed by him or confirmed at all and I don’t think I was afraid to tell him. I did not respect my father very much… His way of seeing the world seemed wrong and crazy to me.

    2: I got my way in not being confirmed by him, but I was still confirmed, which I did not want. Maybe it’s a compromise, but not really. The very important thing, choosing my own faith, staying true to what I believe in, was not achieved. This religion was forced upon me, that’s how I felt.

    3: I think they would slap me or insult me, tell me hurtful things, put me down. And I don’t know if I insulted so many other people, outside of my family? I think in school or so, I reacted differently. I remember one child calling me a freak and the teacher was shocked, but I said something like “it’s o.K.”.

    4: No, I never took on that religion and felt great disdain towards it for a long time. And I wanted to be open, not wanting to see the world so black and white like my parents. I don’t know if I wanted to be like a saint, but yes, I didn’t want to be aggressive or difficult. But I surely didn’t want to be like a “good Christian”, I would have probably rolled my eyes at that. Maybe subconsciously?

    Now I can see that it is not possible to be always perfect and pleasant, but back then I just thought that people don’t want to see the negative and I hid myself away more and more…

    #296183

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Lily:

    I will be able to read and reply to your recent post (and anything you may want to add to it) when I am back to the computer in about 15 hours from now.

    anita

    #296209

    marrriee
    Participant

    Hi Lily,

    Reading your post was so surreal because you sound exactly like myself when I was your age. I was extremely anxious in situations in any situation where I was visible, I would avoid people and never speak up because I didn’t want to be seen or heard, mostly because I was afraid I’d say something stupid or wrong. The thing is, you know that you should stop caring what others think about you, so rationally, you’re half-way there. The difficult part is actually not caring. It sounds like you are surrounded by people who are friendly and nice to you, which is good. I’d suggest first starting with yourself and following these steps.

    First, figure out who you are. I know you’re young but I’m putting you on a mission. Determine your values, what you admire, who you admire, your ethics and morals and what kind of person you are/you want to be, what you like doing and how you like spending your time. Maybe you already know all of this, that’s good. Second, I want you to learn some skills or hobbies, anything that interests you and become really, really good at it. It doesn’t have to be overnight but find things you can do in your spare time or learn things that will get you closer to the kind of person you want to be. It doesn’t matter if you can’t find one good thing or if dozens of things catch your interest, there’s no wrong way. This is how you build confidence, by building competency, investing in yourself, mastering and educating yourself, so no one’s opinion will be greater than your own because you know what you’re capable of. Third, and this is as important as the first and second, if not more, replace every negative thought with a positive one. This may be really hard at first, but don’t even entertain the negative thought or let it grow. The moment it seeps into your mind just say ‘ok, but what if *insert good thing that might happen*’. ‘What if’ is a powerful motivator that can challenge even your most difficult thoughts. Always end it on a positive thought, never a negative one.

    I still get anxious from time to time, but I found that it’s because I think SO much. I am literally always in my head and I think that’s my biggest downfall. My head stopped me from doing things I really wanted to do. What I found was that, unlike other people, I had to do first and then think, rather than the opposite, otherwise I’d never accomplish anything. Love, it’s so so so important that, first and foremost, you put yourself on a pedestal and worship yourself. Think of yourself as the greatest thing to walk this earth. No one can tell you anything to bring you down because no one’s opinion matters as much as your own. No matter what environment, you’ll always thrive when you believe in yourself.

    So let’s recap, do first, then think. If it’s negative we throw it out the window and replace it with a positive one or a ‘what if’! Find things to fall in love with, like hobbies, skills, passions, interests. Lastly, worship yourself and who you are, even if you don’t think of yourself as the world, find your strengths and magnify them by a 1000x.

    Let me know if you need any more help. You can always contact me on insta @sorcell_ca

    Marie xoxo

    #296231

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Lily:

    I believe I am missing something very important in understanding you and that I have missed it all along. I will keep asking you questions and if you answer them, I will get to what it is that I am missing, that which puzzles me:

    You wrote regarding your father, “I don’t think I was afraid to tell him. I did not respect my father”-

    – if you were not afraid of your father, who is it, in your childhood, that you were afraid of, who did you fear?

    – you didn’t respect your father as a child; who or what did you respect, as a child?

    anita

    #296235

    Lily
    Participant

    Dear anita,

    I don’t know if I was never afraid of my father. During the time of the confirmation, I was already a teenager, about 14 years old. At that time, I had already disconnected from the relationship with my parents. I did not feel, like they were a good example for me. My mother was overwhelmed with the children and the household and I think hadn’t found her own path.

    My father was very stubborn and judgemental. He was not able to take criticism and I, as a difficult child, posed a threat to his self esteem… My mother , I think, followed his lead. So I was seen as the bad one, or that’s how I felt.

    I did not really have a relationship with my parents, they did not understand me. I did not fit into their box… And I did not trust them, I did not trust in them to tell them my feelings. Later they kind of gave up on our family… Everyone came home at a different time, to eat cold food by themselves… When I went abroad for a year after school, they didn’t even bring me to the railway station, because they had to work (they had to work, but still? I was going away from home for months for the first time…)

    What was I afraid of? I was very afraid of people judging me, that I remember! As a child I felt very ugly and thought people wouldn’t like me because of that (now I feel o.K. with my looks, but am insecure about my personality).

    I remember blaming my insecurities on getting bullied in school. Boys told me how ugly my face looked etc. Children threw paper balls at me… I always had the feeling of being different and not likable.

    My therapist said, that this makes sense, that I sought the reason for my problems outside my family. That every child wants to be loved subconsciously… I think that I didn’t realize the gravity of my parents influence until later. Once back then (as a teenager), I talked with a friend about my insecurities. And I thought that it came from the bullying, but she believed that it had to do with my father. And I rejected the idea, even though I already disliked my father by then.

    Yes, I was very afraid of judgement. And who is very judgemental? My father. He always points out the flaws of others, while not wanting to look at his own. Maybe I was afraid of him? He definitely hurt my feelings and made me feel miserable. But after some time, I wanted to break free from it. I made fun of him and insulted him, but I don’t know when this started.

    But I don’t understand it myself, I am confused about my childhood. As a teenager, or maybe a little earlier I rebelled. But maybe as a child it was different? I remember, when I was maybe around 10 years old, I did see the confirmees one day. And I said to myself: I will take a break from this religion thing until I become a confirmee myself. Religion to me was like a duty, like a burden. There came lots of rules and prohibitions with it… It was very black and white from my fathers side and overly emotional (similar to evangelicals) from my mothers side. It just wasn’t my thing. My parents never were able to show me the good side of it. And it was seen as a problem, that I resisted.

    But it also means, that for a time, I followed the religious christian rules like my parents. Maybe at some point, I also cared about their opinion? I cannot connect the dots myself…

    What did I respect as a child? I respected my cousin, the daughter of my fathers brother (they don’t get along: while my father chose the religious route, my uncle was part of the socialist youth organisations of the GDR and married the daughter of an activist. There was always competition between them, they even compared us children).

    My cousin and I lived far away, but we wrote letters to each other. I looked up to her, wanted to listen to the same music as her and watch the same movies. She also worked as an Au Pair, one year before I also worked as an Au Pair, just in a different country.

    There was also my grandmother, but I also only saw her during some weeks in the summer.  She knew everything about plants and lived a simple life. My grandmother was a farmer and lived by herself in an old beautiful house after her husbands death. The holidays there are some of my happiest childhood memories. She taught me how to milk a goat, we harvested potatoes and raspberries together. We went hiking together at the nearby forests and collected mushrooms. The paths and other things had special names like “snake path” or “moonlight lake” (it was just a pool with duckweed on it, but it seemed so magical). She also had all these sayings… She called her best shoes “sunday-afternoon-take-out-shoes” or said weird things like “don’t be such a coward, let me hide behind the bushes!”. I wanted to become a farmer like her. And I still think at simple life in nature would suit me most! So yeah, writing this out I can feel how much I liked her.

    I also found role models in TV shows or music groups. For example, I liked this TV show “Buffy the vampire slayer”, about a girl that was fighting against demons. Earlier I also liked Sailor Moon, where girls also fight against evil. Both shows were disliked and forbidden by my parents. By the way, I followed my parents rules more when I was younger and stopped watching Sailor Moon. But with Buffy, my cousin recorded the show for me and I watched it secretly.

    And with music, I also liked strong female figures (or that’s what they appeared to me) like the Spice Girls or Destiny’s Child. They sang songs about being independent and strong….

    Yes, I think my worldview was formed a lot by television and music, I was looking for role models and my parents didn’t really offer one?

    Not sure if this will make more sense to you? Sometimes I get confused myself. And I realize that I am a living contradiction…

     

    #296241

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Lily:

    “As a teenager, or maybe a little earlier I rebelled. But maybe as a child it was different?”-

    yes, it was different.

    “Maybe at some point, I also cared about their opinion?” – yes, you cared very much about your father’s/ parents’ opinions, more than anything!

    “I don’t know if I was never afraid of my father”- yes, you were afraid of him, very afraid.

    Lily, after all this time communicating with you, I think that it is now that I understand something fundamental about you that I didn’t understand before. Here it is:

    Your thoughts regarding who you are and what your childhood was like are based on the thoughts you had from the time you were a teenager, not from before. Here are some of those thoughts of adolescence: “I did not feel, like they were a good example for me. My mother was overwhelmed… hadn’t found her own path. My father was very stubborn and judgmental. He was not able to take criticism, and I, as a difficult child, posed a threat to his self esteem… My mother.. followed his lead.. they did not understand me. I did not fit into their box.. And I did not trust them”-

    – reading this quote, you read like a person who figured everything out, an independent-thinking, strong individual, and that is what puzzled me. Because the way you have lived your adulthood so far and your very current sharing in your very new thread, indicate a person very far from having figured everything out.

    The way you have lived your life so far, as an adult, is not according to what you came to think and feel as a teenager, but according to what you thought and felt as a young child, in the first decade of your life. Problem is, you don’t remember at all what you thought and felt in the context of interacting with your parents in the first decade of your life.

    So you keep thinking and feeling the same ways that you did at that first decade of your life, not realizing this is how you thought and felt then and erroneously believing that your thinking as a teenager represents who you are!

    No, it is your thinking and feeling as a young child, in your first decade of your life that is who you’ve been ever since.

    Do you remember the time when you felt like your parents were a good example for you, when you trusted your father, when you thought he was the best thing in the whole wide world, looking up to him as all good and all powerful?

    “I did not fit into their box”- do you remember desperately trying to please them, that is, to “fit into their box”?

    anita

     

    #296243

    Lily
    Participant

    Dear marrriee,

    thank you for your post, it inspired me a lot!

    Deep down I already know who I want to be and what my values are. I want to work harder, be kind to people, but also stand up for myself, be honest. The person I want to be is also confident and strong. And I think that I already do have some strength in me. Also, I want to be a good friend and be there for my friends and family. The environment is also important to me.

    There are also a lot of things that I like and am interested in. Too often though I get carried away by my worries and self doubt. And I also need to become more self-disciplined. I think I need to start parenting myself.

    In my childhood I always dreamt of traveling the world, being an artist, exploring the world. But later I kind of lost my drive and became depressed, I think. I did not care about the things I loved so much anymore, for a long time, everything I did seem useless.

    But I still have a lot of things I am interested in. I love experiencing the world in a sensual way. Smelling things (I like to stop and smell roses or lilacs), watching the world around me (today I saw a baby bunny eating daisies, it was so cute), seeing the colors of flowers… Small joys are very important to me. I love to cook and trying out new recipes, I love dancing (maybe it doesn’t look good, but that’s when I feel most like myself, most free and passionate). I am interested in learning more about other cultures. History is also something that I want to learn more about. And of course I love nature. I like to go hiking and I like plants, especially healing plants and edible ones.

    Of course there is art, and I already study illustration.

    I guess I just have to work harder on doing more of these things and including them into my life. It also takes some effort to do the things you love, it is too easy to get distracted by the internet and so on. But I know it will make my life better to put in that effort.

    My biggest enemy is my own inner voice telling me that I will never succeed. Sometimes the thoughts get very overwhelming, but you are right, I have to work on using counter arguments. I think it will be very hard to change my way of thinking, but it would be worth it.

    I can absolutely relate to you, I also tend to overthink! So doing more and worrying less would be a good motto for me.

    Thanks a lot. I feel motivated now, now I have to take the next step and start doing those things.

    #296245

    Lily
    Participant

    Dear anita,

    thank you for your response. I think I will reply tomorrow or so, for now I have spent so much time on the computer. Time to do something else.

    I wish you a very nice day!

    #296253

    anita
    Participant

    You are welcome, Lily. I hope you have a nice day yourself.

    anita

    #296393

    Lily
    Participant

    Dear anita,

    when I wrote that down yesterday I thought that maybe I wanted to see myself as strong and wanted to forget how I felt as a child. As a teenager, I prided myself in distancing myself from my parents, being an atheist and forming my own opinion.

    But then, when I left home, I was overwhelmed with life and didn’t have a direction. I looked for advice everywhere, in movies, blogs etc. And I understood some things, knew what I should do. But I also felt like a loser, felt like I couldn’t change something. I think I felt numb, powerless. And I distracted myself with the internet and other things, instead of facing my problems.

    There was this strong belief that I couldn’t do it, that I was a loser and unworthy. So I didn’t even try, because I felt that surely nobody would accept me for internships and things like that. Even though I would have probably been able to do it! After all, I went abroad to Spain at 18 for 10 months, moved to another city far away from my parents at 19. And I also organized my own flat there and moved again and again, also organizing my own places to stay. I lived by myself for many years, cooked for myself, cleaned and everything. But when it comes to my career I failed. But most likely, I would have been able to do it, had I been more confident and more calm.

    Yesterday I talked to my therapist about the suspicions in my dormitory. And she asked: “What came first, the feeling of being guilty? Or behaving like I am guilty?”. And she said that in such situations, I basically volunteer to be the guilty one.

    Similar with my career. I believed I was not able to make it and I didn’t make it.

    I think even though I distanced myself from my parents as a teenager, I still hadn’t really understood everything. And some of the things you quoted, I only figured out more recently. And the teenager me, that was still me. I understand a lot of things on an intellectual level, I think that I am intellegent enough. I don’t think you can separate the two parts of me that much?

    But it is true, I am not living my life like a grown up. I depend too much on other people’s opinion of me. And in stressful situations, I go back to that childlike state especially. And when somebody else comes a long with an opinion about me, it shakes me up, making me even doubt what I know is the truth. They treat me like a bad person, so I must be a bad person? That’s how I feel then…

    I think emotionally, I am underdeveloped. As my feelings were never valued or regarded. My therapist said, that my parents treated me like an object. And I remember my father picking me up, carrying me away and “whooping my ass”. I was helpless then, but I am not helpless now. Even though I still feel like it.

    Anyways, I don’t want to remain like that. I want to grow up. Even though, things go slowly, I think I have started to see things clearer already and I think that the changes have already started within me. But very slowly… And in stressful situations, the fear takes over and I become irrational again.

    You asked, if I tried to please my parents and tried to “fit into their box” ( I don’t know if this is correct English, sorry). I cannot remember. All I can remember is feeling sad and desperate as a child, even thinking about suicide at an age below 12 years old.

    My mother once told me that my father was jealous of me as a baby. Because I needed all her attention and care? So my relationship with him was probably never that good. He liked my sister more. Who knows, maybe I still wanted his approval?

    But as an adult, I have experienced that I wanted to please him, not wanting to make his mood any worse. Once we went on a family trip together. We went to a remote place, you could only go to by foot, bycicle or horse-drawn-carriage. As my father hates long walks and nature and it was also after a storm and there were huge puddles everywhere in the forest, we went with the carriage. But when going back home, we missed the carriage because of my father. My sister and mother fought with him while my brother and I stood by. Then we walked home, my father walking behind us and my sister and mother being angry. And I felt sorry for my father and went to him, to talk to him.

    I think in my twenties, I wanted to forgive my father and be compassionate. I thought I had moved on and was over it. But apparently, there are still a lot of things that I haven’t dealt with.

     

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