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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