Posts tagged with "parents"

perpetual eve

This day is the same every year. The streets are dead and filled with slush, the stores all closed. No mat­ter where I am, it seems peo­ple are look­ing for a chan­nel on TV to watch a cor­po­rate-spon­sored count­down, and I always feel alone even though I’m sur­round­ed by friends.

If it’s the same every year, it’s strange that my mem­o­ries of New Year’s Eve are so mixed. Jocks harass­ing me on the bus. Bundling up in big coats to share petit coro­nas out­side. Panic attacks. Blonds and red­heads. Rich foods and too much drink. And some­how the peo­ple I love and the peo­ple I hate end up at the same par­ties.

Sometimes it reminds me too much of my child­hood. My fam­i­ly host­ed the same count­down par­ty every year that became the only real time we spent with oth­er peo­ple, and the only time we ever caught up with our “friends”. Numbers would be shout­ed in uni­son, cham­pagne would be toast­ed, noth­ing would change. An emp­ty rit­u­al for emp­ty peo­ple. Maybe that’s why I nev­er feel like I belong any­where on this day. It’s like I’m wait­ing to feel what every­one else around me is feel­ing when the ball drops.

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. []

Chip Off The Old Block

I don’t know what’s worth fight­ing for
Or why I have to scream
I don’t know why I insti­gate
And say what I don’t mean
I don’t know how I got this way
I’ll nev­er be alright
So I’m break­ing the habit
I’m break­ing the habit tonight

—Linkin Park, Breaking The Habit

Studies have shown that kids with divorced par­ents are much more like­ly to end up being divorced them­selves. As role mod­els, we take the way their par­ents treat each oth­er and use this as a mod­el for our own rela­tion­ships. And even­tu­al­ly, our kids end up treat­ing their kids the same way because that’s all they know1.

I used to take my girl­friends for grant­ed. It could have been a way for me to dis­tance myself to pre­vent get­ting hurt (as ther­a­py has shown), or it may have just been what I thought rela­tion­ships were like.

I can recall my par­ents doing the same thing to each oth­er. They did­n’t mar­ry out of love, they mar­ried because it was the thing to do when you reached a cer­tain age. Eventually, they mere­ly inhab­it­ed the same house, not even sleep­ing in the same bed or room.

It’s a cycle, a trap. But that’s not an excuse for me.

I refuse to be like them. I refuse to end up like they did. I’m going to do my best to change that about myself.

And I will break the cycle.

  1. At least, that’s the excuse my mom uses. []

Father-Son Bonding

I called my dad on his birth­day this week. After the divorce I would nev­er call him, spe­cial occa­sion or not, sim­ply because I need­ed to dis­tance myself from the sit­u­a­tion. He did call me on mine last year though, which reestab­lish­es a sort of prece­dence and rit­u­al, and he actu­al­ly thanked me for the call.

We made the usu­al small talk, about work and home.

Mercedes Benz SLK 55 AMG 2006

He told me he bought a car: a 2006 Mercedes Benz SLK 55 AMG hard-top con­vert­ible with 18″ rims and 7‑speed-auto­mat­ic trans­mis­sion. He’s going to keep the Beemer for win­ter dri­ving. It filled my heart with qui­et joy when he said I could dri­ve it the next time I vis­it­ed him. Not so much because he was let­ting me (for I was always allowed to dri­ve the Sportline 300CE while liv­ing at home), but because I could tell in his voice that he want­ed me to try it.

I asked him if there’s any his­to­ry of col­orec­tal can­cer in the fam­i­ly, which the doc­tor want­ed to know at my last appoint­ment, to which my dad answered, thank­ful­ly, no. He shared with me his own health con­cerns, the med­ical terms of which he only knows in Chinese. These are things I avoid ask­ing about when I vis­it him, as he pops some pills from a bot­tle kept with the dish­es in the kitchen, and I real­ize that I’m learn­ing more about my dad than ever. It’s not so much out of a need for pri­va­cy or avoid­ance of embar­rass­ment, but sim­ply out of con­ve­nience, as these top­ics would nev­er get brought up.

It’s strange to bond with him in this way, only after so many years of leav­ing home.

I remem­ber him try­ing to teach me pho­tog­ra­phy when I was younger, but he soon lost inter­est, in both pho­tog­ra­phy and me1. Maybe it’s the dis­tance that makes us appre­ci­ate each oth­er more, and it would­n’t be the same if we lived in the same city.

In a way, I’m glad to have the rela­tion­ship now, and I’m able to for­get that I’ve nev­er had it for most of my life.

  1. As such, all my pho­tog­ra­phy is self-taught, aside from one trick used to zoom a lens towards the sub­ject so that the edges are blurred that he showed me at the Statue of Liberty. []

Psychoanalytic Reflections 05

Sometimes I come out of a ses­sion feel­ing great. Sometimes I come out feel­ing like a mon­ster, like some hor­ri­ble, fucked-up per­son.

During my first ses­sion, my ther­a­pist not­ed that this was a mutu­al process. It was­n’t as if he was going to sur­gi­cal­ly remove an issue with me, it would take the both of us work­ing togeth­er, with a pro­gres­sive effort from me.

That’s what I’m doing now. I’m deter­mined to fix myself.


  • I have a gen­er­al feel­ing of incom­pe­tence, which leads to a lack of trust in my own judg­ments. As a result, I have a very dif­fi­cult time mak­ing deci­sions because I’m par­a­lyzed by the fact that I may make the wrong one.
    • I can trace this back from my child­hood to my ear­ly twen­ties when my par­ents were over­bear­ing and would nev­er let me make any of my own deci­sions. In fact, they would make most of my deci­sions for me, includ­ing sig­nif­i­cant ones, like my pro­gram of study in uni­ver­si­ty.
  • The result is that I tend to ask peo­ple for advice on every­thing, although I’m depen­dent on Pat the most. This is because Pat is so smart and expe­ri­enced, and has nev­er, ever let me down. What I’ve come to real­ize, how­ev­er, is that Pat is so smart because he’s already made his mis­takes.
  • This was linked to my anx­i­ety, where I felt like I could­n’t han­dle any­thing on my own.
  • I’ve been try­ing to fix this is to keep in mind that it’s not the end of the world if I make a mis­take, and that some­times, mak­ing mis­takes is the only way to learn.

Unrelenting Standards revisited

  • I real­ized that I tend to have unre­lent­ing stan­dards when it comes to life in gen­er­al, but espe­cial­ly in my writ­ing, pho­tog­ra­phy, or art because I feel like this is the only way I will ever dis­tin­guish myself and be worth some­thing. I feel like if I’m not the best, then I’m worth­less. As a result, it’s dif­fi­cult for me to enjoy my life, even some­thing as sim­ple as sit­ting down and watch­ing a movie.
    • The roots of this are more dif­fi­cult to trace than I ini­tial­ly thought. While my par­ents were a tremen­dous influ­ence in terms of mak­ing me feel like their love was con­di­tion­al, I believe a large part of this life­trap has to do with me mak­ing up for my emo­tion­al depri­va­tion by fill­ing my deep­er empti­ness with suc­cess.
  • Even when I do some­thing that I know I should be proud of and sat­is­fied, I feel like there’s always anoth­er thing to do, anoth­er lev­el to reach. While this fuels my self-improve­ment and has got­ten me to where I am now, I’ve come to real­ize that there’s an imbal­ance between the effort and the pay­off. I work too hard for too lit­tle enjoy­ment.
  • I may real­ize this, but it’s a hard habit to break. I have a feel­ing that I’ll need to fix my emo­tion­al depri­va­tion at the same time to do so.