Damaged Goods

I have to write this so I can admit it to myself.

I have to write this because I can’t think of any­thing else nowa­days, except for how hard it is to get out of bed in the morning.

I’ve been read­ing a book my ther­a­pist rec­om­mended to me a long time ago, the one that deals with life­traps. In one of the first chap­ters, it goes through each life­trap by first explain­ing a “core need”, which is some­thing a child should have in order to thrive. It goes through exam­ples on how we should have been raised, and how a healthy mind will grow from that. Then it explains how the life­trap may develop if that core need isn’t met, by giv­ing exam­ples of destruc­tive child­hood environments.

And for almost every life­trap in the book, I saw my own child­hood in those exam­ples of destruc­tive envi­ron­ments, such as the one about “Self-esteem”:

Self-esteem is the feel­ing that we are worth­while in our per­sonal, social, and work lives. It comes from feel­ing loved and respected as a child in our fam­ily, by friends, and at school.

Ideally we would all have had child­hoods that sup­port our self-esteem. We would have felt loved and appre­ci­ated by our fam­ily, accepted by peers, and suc­cess­ful at school. We would have received praise and encour­age­ment with­out exces­sive crit­i­cism or rejection.

But this may not have hap­pened to you. Perhaps you had a par­ent or sib­ling who con­stantly crit­i­cized you, so that noth­ing you did was accept­able. You felt unlov­able.

As an adult, you may feel inse­cure about cer­tain aspects of your life.

When I was read­ing that, all I could think of was one spe­cific inci­dent from my child­hood. I was young enough that my mom would bathe me, and she would do it in the en suite bath­room of the mas­ter bed­room. One day, she came to dry me off with a towel, and both the bath­room door and the bed­room cur­tains were open. I told her to close the door, because I was self-conscious about being seen naked by the neigh­bours across the street. I was really upset about it, and instead of walk­ing two feet to close the door, she laughed and said, “You’re no Tom Cruise”, and left it open. From that point, I’ve had this irre­press­ible feel­ing that I’m never attrac­tive enough for some­one to even be inter­ested in see­ing me naked.

And that was just one exam­ple. My child­hood was filled with so many such mem­o­ries, each one branch­ing into other lifetraps.

I’ve never won­dered why I have self-esteem issues. I fuck­ing hate how self-conscious I am, because I know the extent of that self-consciousness isn’t nor­mal. I’ve strug­gled with issues like that my entire life, and I can trace every­thing back to my par­ents. It fills me with rage to know that they dam­aged me to the point where I feel so over­whelmed by my flaws that some­times I’d rather be dead.

If I were ever to com­mit sui­cide — and at this point I feel like I can’t rule out the pos­si­bil­ity of this any­more — I’d say that my par­ents would be 55% respon­si­ble1, with my mom shar­ing more of that blame than my dad.

I hope she reads this one day. I hope my entire fam­ily reads this. I hope all my cousin’s moms read this, because they usu­ally try to defend her. I want every­one to know that if I die by my own hand one day, I blame my mom more than any­thing else in the world. I want par­ents to know that they have a respon­si­bil­ity to their kids because they’re peo­ple too, that they have to treat them prop­erly, and that I was an exam­ple of what hap­pens when you don’t.

This is start­ing to sound like a sui­cide note, and it’s scar­ing me. Good thing I’ve always been a ratio­nal per­son, and I still rec­og­nize that sui­cide is an irra­tional deci­sion for me at this moment. Sometimes, I watch sui­cide videos just to shock myself into real­iz­ing how final, irre­versible, and hor­ri­ble that deci­sion is.

I’m at a lot bet­ter than where I was two years ago, before I went to ther­apy, but I’m still far from being fixed. I can admit that to myself now.

  1. The other 45% being my own inabil­ity to deal with these things, but I attribute that to tem­pera­ment, which is inborn and hence not their fault. []

9 comments

  1. I too get those sar­cas­tic remarks from your mom, she prob­a­bly thinks it’s a form of humour. I always find it unpleas­ant, but never offen­sive. She was not like that when she was a stu­dent. I’m not sure if she got that from your dad or from her work­place, as your dad has always dis­played this sar­cas­tic kind of humour ever since I knew him.

    As a child, I myself never felt loved and appre­ci­ated by my par­ents, I was just left alone. I’d say I was accepted by peers, but not quite suc­cess­ful at school. All in all, my child­hood was not so healthy either. I do appre­ci­ate psy­cho­log­i­cal analy­sis, but I still don’t think it’s an exact science.

    • I think it’s much eas­ier to deal with those remarks when you’re adult than when you’re a shy lit­tle child. Maybe there was some­thing dif­fer­ent in the tone of their laughs, or maybe I was just biased, but my dad never seemed mali­cious or mean-spirited or cruel if he spoke sar­cas­ti­cally like that.

      And I agree that psy­cho­analy­sis is not an exact sci­ence, only because every patient and case is dif­fer­ent, so it can never be com­pletely accu­rate or precise.

    • wow,i stum­bled onto your site look­ing for some­thing sig­nif­i­cant about sui­cide to share with a friend who has just lost a friend to suicide…one thing leads to another as they do and then i was drawn to your beau­ti­ful pho­tog­ra­phy and then to more writ­ing and now this, issue 6 on not feel­ing worthy..a left­over from being unloved, unknow­ingly unloved by par­ents who had not the emo­tional matu­rity to know how to care and nur­ture you, or any­one for that matter.

      wow, what a sur­vivor and insight-fully mature per­son you have become…wow, how all this cre­ative energy and insight­ful know­ing­ness comes from you through this page and your views as an artist…

      wow, you have so much more than most…a fear­less­ness. please keep writ­ing your thoughts…i too love to speak my mind and dive into the rea­sons why we think and do and feel the way we do..not always find­ing the answers.

      the Tao works too..i will con­tinue to dig into your site for enlightenment…stay around so we can see your wis­dom as an old old man…who is loved by one and many and sat­is­fied with all the gifts given to him through the magic of reincarnation…

  2. It’s really very dif­fi­cult to bring your­self to actu­ally toy­ing with sui­cide. I would wager that you are too good at double-thinking every­thing to allow your­self to actu­ally go through with it. And I myself have always had my sui­ci­dal moments col­ored by a radio inter­view I heard with a guy who jumped off the Bay Bridge in San Francisco and actu­ally sur­vived (I believe he may be the only one who did). He said that he drove onto the bridge, parked the car, climbed up the side and moved out on the ledge, and noth­ing in his mind changed. He was so black inside with numb­ness. Then, the moment his hands left the cable and he began to fall, he IMMEDIATELY knew he did NOT want to die, and wanted with all his might to live.

    Horrific thought. I fig­ured I’d be like that, and didn’t want to expe­ri­ence that kind of wakeup call. No mat­ter how bad things get, too, I have a curi­ousity about the rest of this … thing… this dream we go through. I won­der what’s going to happen.

    • I think you’re right in say­ing that if it ever came down to it, I prob­a­bly couldn’t do it. I imag­ine Eric Hoffer tak­ing that swig of oxalic acid and spit­ting it out again when he couldn’t bring him­self to do it. And one of the scari­est things is not to do so suc­cess­fully, and hav­ing to deal with poten­tial repercussions.

  3. Everybody’s par­ents fucked them up. Rich kids par­ents gave them too much. Poor kids, not enough. You know, too much atten­tion, not enough atten­tion. They either left them or they stuck around and taught them the wrong things.”

    Parents edu­cate us until we are old enough to make our own deci­sions. Maybe this blog is your attempt to re-educate your­self, thereby mold­ing your­self into the image of who you want to become.

    • Great quote from Before Sunrise. Makes me think of a line from one of the books my ther­a­pist recommended:

      Our child­hood does not have to be per­fect for us to be rea­son­ably well-adjusted adults. It just has to be, as D.W. Winnicott said, “Good enough.”

      I def­i­nitely feel that being able to write all of this down has helped me under­stand these ideas. When I have to explain it, it forces me to ratio­nal­ize things, and I can view them objec­tively, instead of with this bias of depression.

  4. no mat­ter what i do or say i will never live up too what peo­ple want or expect of me it’s like i’m in some catch twenty two type of sce­nario if i play there game i win but i lose in the process it’s just so easy too be so apa­thetic about every­thing call it what you will emo­tion­less jaded bro­ken dam­aged alone worth­less un wanted i walk a fine line of pain and rejec­tion and i know no one know’s me bet­ter than i know me some day i will just have too make due with who or what i am but for now i will try harder too hate what i’ve become j.r zom­bie chick stew­art bye

  5. as a col­lec­tive whole american’s are jaded as well because of the sense of hope­less­ness we all feel i think if this time in my life as well as many other’s is just what it is a lost turn of phrase i’m try­ing too be per­fect but los­ing sight of what per­fec­tion­ism is too peo­ple bye

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