Most of the things we know, we learnt from our parents. Some of the fears that we have, we inherited them from our parents. Parenting is literally code for programming. I mean if you could look like a photocopy of a person, what more if you had to live with them for 18 years? Our parents programmed us on how to think and behave and whilst doing that they also managed to condition us for toxic relationships.

Let’s just sweep things under the rug

My father ever apologized to me once. It was the only apology I needed and I am blessed to have even received it. My mother would probably chew a denim jacket before she apologizes to me for anything. Even a novelty sorry. Apologies are uncomfortable, like most critical conversations and that’s why we avoid them. We leave the elephant in the room until it’s a permanent fixture in the house. How many people were molested/sexually abused and up today no one has ever brought up the issue to resolve it? And now when it goes down you’ve learnt to suppress it and pretend that it never happened.

The emotional neglect/A girl marries her father

Let’s not even touch on mommy issues, let’s discuss the obvious daddy issues. The idea that an absent father could affect a young girl to the extent that she looks for that fatherly love in all the wrong places. That parental neglect is fertile breeding ground for all sorts of chaos and toxic relationships. If you grew up with an abusive father, that might be your perception on an ideal man. Your earthly father is supposed to set the standard of what a man should be like. Have you ever met a girl who was truly cherished by her father? You can’t tell her nothing!

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree

I got my paranoia from my mother. When we first moved into the house we are staying in, the first thing she did was invest in a high security wall with an electric fence. She has invested a lot of money into the security of the home. When I was staying alone in Harare, I’d be home by 6pm and the house would be secured before I even change. Some of the toxic traits y’all are bringing into these relationships are learned behaviour from your parents. I had a male friend in high school who said to me, “I’m promiscuous because my Daddy is promiscuous.” I didn’t know how to respond because the whole town knew it was true. On the other hand, we have mothers who have a PhD in EMOTIONAL BLACKMAIL and playing the victim. Like when a girl gets pregnant, the mom is more concerned about ABANTU BAZOTHINI instead of more pressing issues. When you get pregnant out of wedlock, they are more worried about the shame more than anything else.

Communication is a one way street

I was never allowed to talk back to my parents. Even when I had an idea or a valuable contribution, I had to keep it to myself. If I felt offended by either of my parents, I couldn’t say so. I’d just take it out on the door slamming and my diary. Now we can’t speak up for ourselves or establish boundaries because we have learnt to live with pain and negative trapped emotions. We have established that it doesn’t kill to not defend yourself. The other person knows better and your feelings about it, don’t matter. This is why, “indoda kayibuzwa,” comes so easily to us.

Building characters

I don’t like staying in a situation that’s uncomfortable for me especially jobs. Every time I’m about to resign from a job I call my birth-giver to let her know and she will always say something about every job having it’s own adversities and how I should stick it out because it will build my character. If my luck is particularly rotten, she will walk me down the memory lane of her worst days on the work force.

Most of my married friends will tell you know their mothers and aunts are the biggest reason why they stay in bad marriages. The spiel is some cock and bull about how marriage is a hard thing and men are like that. Bad marriages happen but you can’t leave your home just because of some small small disrespect.

What are some of your toxic traits and where did they come from?