I grew up with a lack of affection from my parents and held so much burden to be a responsible first-born in my family. I used to live in constant fear and anxiety.
My parents were busy with their work, and had unsettled emotional burden with their family, leading us to be their punching bag whenever something went wrong. I had to be a good example for my siblings, take care of them and the house, and yet still received all the verbal and physical abuse. It was still vivid in my mind when I thought it was normal to have parents that beat you up.
I grew up not trusting people. I got so confused whenever my parents meet their friend, and were proudly bragging about any achievements I get, they were all smiling and caring. While in private, they treated me the contrary. I felt like I was just a living trophy of my family, only cared when someone came to pay a visit.
When I was in college, I realized that all these struggles in some way ruined my personality. I was cold, not caring about people and life, being anxious but avoidant at the same time. I wanted to get close to people, but don’t know how to do so, and don’t trust them whenever someone appeared by my door.
I was very much afraid that my siblings will get similar damage and grow up emotionally crippled like me. I don’t think I have enough nerve to see that happens.
I started to confront my parents about all that went wrong in my childhood. Though I want it to be as neutral as possible, the experiences were so painful, I can’t stop crying. There were so many tears and shout, it was so hard to continue. I just want to give up, if not for the sake of my siblings.
Now, it has been 3 years since that time. Though my family is not perfect, it has gotten much better than what I remember before. My parents now are having a quite warm relationship, being open with one another, and with us as well. They have a weekly date schedule and go out often with my siblings. They learn to listen and be there with my siblings through their growth. I am very happy with the emotional progress they had done in the last several years.
But still, the memories of my childhood are there and not easily erased.
I learned to forgive, to be thankful that they care now, but that was not easy. Sometimes, I still silently cursed them for making me struggled so much and envied my siblings for having it so easy.
Funnily enough, I did not experience seeing people in two polar opposite conditions with my parents only. I saw people in their worst conditions, and they treated me so bad, it was hurtful. Then, they get better and be more humane, it was somehow unbelievable for me to see.
I learn to see that parts of them getting better is that they care for me enough, to listen to my complaints, and determine to improve their mistake. I learn to see that after all, I was loved and appreciated.
But I have this small part in my mind, that made me doubt my memories of being treated poorly.
It felt like all of my past were just a dream, that didn’t happen in reality given how different the situation is right now. It somehow invalidates all the emotional trauma that I am having, which I worked very hard to recover from all these times.
Whenever I had a hard time, it made me feel that I haven’t done enough effort to improve and recover from all my past wounds. It made me helpless seeing how I can’t still forgive them though I worked hard.
“They are doing great now, why are you still stuck in the past? Shouldn’t you move on too as well?”
I don’t want to be the only one get trapped in the past, I want to move forward. Though I don’t know when I will be able to finally forgive them and embody all the experiences without overly identified myself with it, I hope that I can still learn something beneficial from these along the way.
‘In order for forgiveness to happen, something has to die. If you make a choice to forgive, you have to face the pain. You simply have to hurt…’
The death or ending that forgiveness necessitates comes in many shapes and forms. We may need to bury our expectations or dreams. We may need to relinquish the power that comes with ‘being right’ or put to rest the idea that we can do what’s in our hearts and still retain the support or approval of others…So, forgiveness is not forgetting or walking away from accountability or condoning a hurtful act; it’s the process of taking back and healing our lives so we can truly live.”
- Brene Brown, Rising Strong