Not enough.

August 24, 2007

“I didn’t want this life.” She heard whispered from the kitchen.

She quickly pulled the covers over her head trying not to breathe, trying not to hear these truths hissed from her father’s mouth. Under the heat of the covers, she waited. And listened harder.

“I feel trapped.” Hushed the same voice down the hallway darkened by sleep.

What does that mean? She wondered as only a teenager could see just for today. Trapped? By what? By us? That’s impossible. He comes and goes as he pleases.

She listened intently in the darkness.

“What do you want me to do?” Her mother’s exasperation sent chills down her spine. “This is your life!” She hissed back at him probably fighting back tears. “If you want to leave, go then.” The sobs started quickly after that. She never heard her mother cry over him before. Through the thick tears of betrayal, her mother stammered, “We’d rather not have you here at all then have you here miserable. Just go!”

Silence suddenly fell throughout the house. The return of midnight quietness, the usual quiet felt in that house.

They must have remained seated at that kitchen table for hours. Who knows how long they were there arguing before she overheard that thread of conversation? She awoke at dawn for school, they were still there. Silent. Her mother reading the newspaper and her father staring straight ahead. In silence, as usual.

He never left after that night. But it finally all made sense. The dynamic of their relationship was strained to say the least. For how long before that? Not sure.

But she understands now, why she truly feels like she’s not good enough.



  1. I can’t begin to imagine what it would have been like to go through something like that.

    However, I don’t believe that such a situation should be used by this “person” to in any way determine her own self-worth or lack thereof.

  2. Wow what an amazing post. I guess one of the few advantages my upbringing has was that there was NO doubt my father hated me..and most of my siblings. He stayed only because he knew he it was expected of him AND because my mother was his slave… but he went out of his way to make sure I knew I wasn’t loved or wanted. At least I didn’t have to wonder..

  3. K and I both feel trapped sometimes. We talk about it when it gets that way and try to come up with things that will give the other release at the time.

    Your Dad stayed. I think that’s important. He felt trapped and he stayed.

    Do you not ever feel trapped by it all, JJ?

    Sometimes I just want to run away. To where? I don’t know. I won’t ever do it, but I have to own that I sometimes feel it.

    It would be incredibly hard to hear it and impossible to understand it as a teenager though. I’m sorry you heard it.


  4. I’m sorry Janet. I know how hearing these arguments between parents can be devastating. It stays with you for a lifetime.

  5. I can’t imagine having to hear things like that. {{hugs}}

  6. What an amazing post, JJ. I really like OTJ’s comment, though…don’t we all feel trapped sometimes? Also, don’t we all say things that aren’t fully true?

    You’re good enough. I know it.

    Hugs to you.

  7. I wish I couldn’t, but I can relate to this post (with a parent that didn’t stay).

    I’m sorry you had to hear that and for the way it has made you feel. Hard to shake.

  8. Oh wow, I don’t even know what to say to this post. It’s very powerful. I’m sorry you had to hear those things.

  9. Crazy the things we let define us. YOU are every bit as good as everyone else and probably a hell of a lot better than some .

    If only they had recognized what their words might do

    {{Big huge hugs}}

  10. Such a powerful post. Wonderfully written.
    I also had a father who felt trapped but he chose to leave (for good.) I’m glad for you that your father stayed.
    I think OTJ’s comment is a very important one. We do all feel trapped at times don’t we?
    I’m sorry that you had to hear the words spoken, though.

  11. OTJ is right… everyone feels trapped. I do and I don’t even have kids. Sometimes I just want, no…NEED to escape it all.

    You, are an amazing woman, but more importantly – a perfectly normal woman.

  12. Hugs JJ. Jessica has a lot of wisdom in those words.

    Hang in there. Know your truth.

    You’re awesome.

  13. A true post. I love it. This is the reality of parenting. It’s not a harsh reality, just an honest reality.

    We were people before we were parents. People with plans and dreams and aspirations that may or may not have perfectly reflected the lives we are now living.

    I just wrote this on Sara’s post, but I think that the desire to escape sometimes is not a reflection of our parenting or our love for our children, but rather an echo of the individuals that we were before our lives were so interwoven with our children and family’s.

    If only more parents would be as simply honest as you have expressed, as well as the solid comment from Oh, The Joys! Denying these feelings of being trapped in a life we did not sign up for is the real danger, not the feeling itself.

    However, obviously, a child overhearing this without any kind of interpretation is devastating. Hell, a spouse hearing this without interpretation would be devastating. And now we come to the end of my mini-blog-comment. 😛

  14. It makes me so sad. So sad that you heard it, so sad that somehow you thought it was because you where not good enough … It was he that was not good enough, not good enough to know when he had it so good for having a daughter that is as amazing as you are.

  15. My mom let slip once that she wished she had never had children.

    I’m sure I’m remembering it out of context, but the damaging memory of it never left me…

    We all have dark days, but it’s a good reminder to watch what we say, especially in front of our kids.

  16. Brilliant post. I also loved OTJ’s comment. I wish I would have said it myself.

    I think this must have been that crushing moment where you realize your parents are actually people; people with faults and lives outside of your existence. I know I was crushed when I realized this as a teenager and I do not look forward to the day when my kids realize I’m less than perfect.

  17. Great writing and a poignant story. It’s hard to put feeling to words sometimes, harder still to share those words. Thanks…

  18. wow. here from Jessica’s place and am happy she sent us over. quite a powerful piece.

  19. I’m here from Jess’s too. How hard that would be to hear even as an adult. Our parents are supposed to be selfless. That could rock a teenager to the core.

    The only thing that might be worse, is having your father leave. I know I’ve felt trapped before and even voiced the same to my husband, but I would never ever leave. My kids, my life, are enough.

    What a powerful post. I’m so glad I cam over!

  20. ~JJ, you are always so eloquent in your comments to me, and others, I feel so frustrated that I don’t have such eloquence in return.

    I’m sorry that you had to hear that – it must have shattered your own illusions of your parents’ relationship. Or, if you were as perceptive then as you appear to be now, perhaps it cemented what you already suspected. Not easy either way.

    I hope writing about it helps.

  21. Understanding how you feel way more than I wish I did. . .

  22. I had a friend with a beautiful home, nice clothes, fancy car, etc…. and I always thought she had the wonderful life.

    but, after we grew older she confided that she thought it was my house that was wonderful.
    It was old, we had nothing much except each other. but love was there… and it made a difference.

  23. Just dropping by from OTJ to say that I’m sorry you had to hear that too — as a young girl trying to make sense of it all.

    It’s a lesson for parents also, that no matter what we’re feeling (trapped) it is important that we choose our words carefully if we think little ears are listening.

    Thank you for sharing this.

  24. Aww Janet…I swear we are twins in so many ways. This post brought it all back! If you want to talk, I’m here for you…

  25. Ugh. This feels like a punch in the gut. It evokes images of overhearing things I shouldn’t have.

    Ugh. (but really great post!)

  26. I think most parents have felt the same way as he did at some point or another. Life just never turns out the way you always thought it would. As Forrest Gump’s Mama used to say…”Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.”

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