How My Bodyguard Became My Bully

It was how casual he was about his departure that upset me the most.

I knew.

Mom knew.

He wasn’t coming back.

We didn’t even get to enjoy an entire season with my father in our new home in Denver before he flew back to Tehran.

I detached.

I felt my spirit detach from the walls of my skin and shrink to almost nothing. My emotions shut off. I began to watch my life in third person as a way of coping. Allowing my Inner Voice to serve as the voiceover for this bad dream.

I was nearly eight, and I had no idea my challenges were just beginning. What I didn’t realize is that surviving the war in Iran would end up being easier than surviving the war of words within my own head well into my 30s.

Almost every day I would visualize boards, bricks, chains, and locks going up around my heart. My Inner Voice made sure to mimic the same message by repeating: “I won’t let anyone hurt me again.”

Anger invited all my sadness into her home. She guided my inner dialogue, turning my Inner Voice into my Inner Bodyguard.

My Inner Bodyguard thoughts were always of perfection and emotional independence. These were remedies for keeping me safe. For making sure I didn’t get abandoned again, and if I did, I would still be okay.

Emotional independence turned into actual independence when I discovered I could make money babysitting.

At the age of 13, I founded my first company: pet- and babysitting. I asked my friend to join on for jobs with two or more children. I hand-made flyers on lined paper using crayons and put them in every house, on all 16 blocks starting on 6th Ave, ending at 8th Avenue, between Krameria and Niagara streets.

I have not stopped working since the age of 13, and neither has my Inner Bodyguard.

She protected me with independence by motivating a sometimes unhealthy work ethic.

She keeps the fortress strong around my heart by reminding me that if I let love in, I risk pain from abandonment.

Abandonment, I should mention, is a guarantee.

Because if it isn’t the man walking away, it is me sabotaging the relationship.

I simplify a realization that has taken well over a decade in a matter of two sentences, because I am not here to spill my truth into your consciousness.

I am a Truthteller, here to tell you that until I became radically honest with myself, I kept repeating the same relationship I had with my father with every man.

I had to be honest that my Inner Bodyguard had actually been fired a long time ago.

You see, while she was busy protecting my heart, I began to wonder why I was abandoned by my father, as well as my first love.

I became the problem in my mind.

My Inner Bully tattooed “Hard To Love” on my heart.

My Inner Bully took over the voiceover for my life around the age of 16.

I still visualized my life in third person. I had to do something to romanticize the cycle I could not break. I was often aware I deserved better, but stuck it out anyway—and before you know it, 19 becomes 25, and then you’re 37, and then…well, you get it.

I was fed up. With myself, mostly.

I asked what all of these experiences had in common.

I deduced: ME.

But, not in a blaming kind of way.

I allowed myself to adopt the voice of love.

If I saw every relationship from the perception of love, which is the underlying truth, what would I really see?

I can tell you that 100% of the time, I saw a young girl and a young boy, hurting and scared.

I realized that I had intellectualized so much of my pain to avoid really feeling it through. And the “it” I refer to is anger. The one emotion that reminds me of my father is the one I refuse to feel.

I manage to sidestep this part of my process by offering an immense amount of compassion to the other party, ignoring my own.

With the inability to feel that step came the impossibility to deeply heal. I had no idea that my anger was housing all my sadness, and a truth that I had yet to give a voice to: I am hard to love.

Under all the disconnection and anger, I was scared shitless that no one would love me.

And what I feared became my truth more times than I would like to recollect.

The illumination of this cycle and breaking it started with a conversation I was having with a male friend when he simply asked: “When it comes to long-lasting love, do you believe you are whole or broken?”

What is your immediate reaction?

Your answer is your starting point.

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About the Author | Sahar Paz

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2 comments to "How My Bodyguard Became My Bully"

  • Irene

    I love your courage to look deep inside yourself and share the lesson with us. “With the inability to feel that step came the impossibility to deeply heal. I had no idea that my anger was housing all my sadness …” – I too am digging into the anger that I still feel around my father and that I pass onto men in my life. More and more, I see that underneath the anger is pure sadness. We couldn’t sit with that sadness when we were young, but as adults, facing that sadness is the key to our healing (and healing with our men). Keep healing sister and thank you for sharing <3