“You Can Have Anything You Want…”

26 Mar 2013


You can have anything, ANYTHING, you want.”  That’s what my dad said to me.  I was 8 years old, and it was the only time he ever said it to me, in my whole life. 

He wasn’t tapping into his spiritual side – he wasn’t that sort of man. Nor was he encouraging me to go for whatever I wanted in life, because I was talented, and deserving, and if I only dared to dream, set my goals, and took action I would get there… That kind of thinking didn’t chime, at all, with his mind-set.  

As he saw it, the best thing I could do would be to rely on a man to ‘do’ life for me.  (In case you’re wondering, he did sit, fairly and squarely, on the emotionally abusive man spectrum.) 

Still, on that one occasion, in front of The Whole Extended Family I’d done something deemed worthy of a reward.  Hence his promise that I could have: “Anything I Wanted…” 

Can you imagine how excited I was?  I felt I had hit the jackpot.  It was as if someone had handed me a magic lamp, and I only had to rub it to make the genie appear, and grant me one wish. 

Anxious, cautious little kid that I was, I knew that good things like this didn’t happen every day.  I had to get it right.  So, I spent days agonizing, until I finally knew what I wanted.  Then I went to my dad, reminded him of his promise in front of the family and… 

Can you guess what he said? 

He said: 

“Tough.  You left it too late.  You missed the opportunity.  It’s gone now.  You can’t have anything.” 

What did I learn from that?  

And what could I have learned? 

I learned a  – BAD – lesson that would stand me in good stead when I married an emotionally abusive man.  In fact, what I learned conditioned me to settle for an emotionally abusive relationship.  I learned that good things didn’t happen to me.  I learned that promises of good things didn’t turn into reality. 

Not a helpful learning.  But it’s one that a lot of emotionally abused women experience – often when they are as young and impressionable as I was.  Or, maybe, even younger. 

A more helpful lesson would have been: you can’t always trust people’s words, and the promises they make.  

But this was my father I’m talking about.  How could I not trust my father?  

Like a lot of trainee emotionally abused women, I carried on trusting him because he was my father

When I grew up, I carried on doing what I’d always done.  I met my emotionally abusive partner, he made some toothsome promises, but soon gave me clear signs of not being trustworthy…. 

What did I do?  

I carried on believing the promises.  

I married him.  

He became an emotionally abusive husband.  I carried on believing the promises.

He was my husband, wasn’t he?  How could I not trust my husband

In the bad old days, when I asked myself: “How can I not trust this man, he’s my husband, after all?”, I was simply asking myself a rhetorical question.  The answer lay in the question.  The answer was: 

“He’s my husband”.  

A few of the sobering realities I’ve learned in my life are: 

  • Anyone can get laid
  • Anyone fertile can have a child  
  • Anyone can find a partner, or spouse 

Being a husband – or a partner – offers no guarantees of good behavior.  Just because anyone can be a husband/partner it doesn’t mean Anyone will be a good partner. 

It certainly doesn’t mean Anyone should be your partner. 

But suppose you ask the question: “How could I not trust my husband?” and you do so clear-sightedly, with a view to weighing up the evidence.  You adopt a slightly more scientific approach and say: 

“Let’s look at his Track Record, and see what EVIDENCE comes out of it…” 

Then it becomes very easy to see exactly how and why trusting him should come with a government health warning.  Broken promises are seriously bad for your health.  Being subjected to repeated disappointments is seriously bad for your health.  Being treated as though your feelings don’t matter is seriously bad for your health. 

“You can have anything you want…” is an immensely seductive promise. 

The truth is, you probably can.  There are just a few conditions: 

  1. 1.    Not with an emotionally abusive man.  Ever.  One of the ground-rules of an emotionally abusive relationship is: “You can never have anything you truly want.”
  2. 2.    You have to do it for yourself.  You can’t have it – whatever it may be – unless you start taking action to get it, for yourself
  3. You have to start giving trust appropriately.  Instead of casting your pearls of trust before unappreciative swine, put your trust in those people who have shown themselves to be worthy of it. 
  4. Learn how you can trust yourself.  We’ve all had to deal with The Enemy Without.  Isn’t it time you ditched The Enemy Within?


Annie Kaszina, international Emotional Abuse Recovery specialist and award-winning author of 3 books designed to help women recognise and heal from toxic relationships so that they can build healthy, lasting relationships with the perfect partner for them, blogs about all aspects of abuse, understanding Narcissists and how to avoid them and building strong self-worth. To receive Annie’s blog direct to your Inbox just leave your details here.

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