I went to see my psychiatrist the day after my birthday this year. I guess it bears emphasizing that I have been making such trips since my ex-partner and I broke up. The whole experience tore me apart and left me in pieces. I’m ashamed to admit that I almost allowed it to end the best of me. I knew I had to throw myself a lifeline because no one else was going to.
That was in the past. This time around, I made the visit over an entirely different matter.
I’ve been reading Love Factually: The Science of Who, How & Why We Love by Laura Mucha. Mucha explains how relationships are complex and how, at the bare minimum, our relationship with our parents affects the personal ones we have with ourselves and others. She builds her hypothesis on the Attachment Theory and cites studies on the field. I realized that I am messed up because I do not have a good relationship with my parents.
I have not yet revisited or addressed the psychological trauma my childhood caused. Growing up, I’ve faced so many challenges, and some I can still remember vividly up to this day. (READ: The cruelty of mental illness)
In fourth grade, I was accused of misplacing an important cassette tape my Music, Arts, Physical Education, and Health (MAPEH) teacher owned. I remember being asked to report the incident to her by classmates who were behind what happened. The next thing I knew, I was accused of being the culprit. I am unsure why I did not clarify things myself while that was happening. All I know is I have lived with the trauma and shame it caused. (READ: [OPINION] Shame is not my name)
Freshman year in high school, I was accused of malversation of, and stealing from, the class fund. I was the class facilitator for the first quarter only. Fast forward to the last days of the school term that year, our adviser addressed the class over the fund and noted the sheet was nowhere near balanced. I can’t remember how it got to the situation but I was crowned the class thief.
There were other incidents where I got abused, manipulated, accused, and misunderstood at school, and I thought I was okay and moving on. I thought allowing and warranting myself a new start would help me get by. I guess I’m a true escapist.
I didn’t know the psychology behind repressing memories until I reached college. My psychiatrist told me that’s what happened – I pushed the memories at the back of my mind, and they are now manifesting through immense anxiety attacks and breakdowns. I was diagnosed with clinical depression late last year. (READ: How these milllennials are fighting mental illness with art, Scripture)
I blame myself for not speaking up for myself but I didn’t know how to do that back then. I blame my parents because they did not teach me how to fight early on and to defend myself when deemed necessary. Now you can see how I am capable of debating, having my thoughts be heard, and being vocal both in person and on social media. Who I was back then was nowhere near who I am now.
I felt I could have done more, be more, but the very institutions that were supposed to help me get there already discredited me and saw me as insignificant. In the process, I’ve lost self-confidence even before I gained a modicum of it.
I don’t think people see me as someone credible, someone worthy of attention for his skills, knowledge, talent, and achievements. I feel like I was robbed that opportunity and it has left me trying relentlessly to prove myself to people in a bid to get their approval.
I guess you could say my experiences can corroborate Mucha’s hypothesis that our relationship with our parents greatly impacts the way we live our lives. It does because it serves as a foundation in making choices as we grow up – irrespective of whether we are aware of making those choices or not.
Growing up, I’ve always been afraid of my parents, my father for the most part. I’m thankful he disciplined me the traditional Filipino way because it put me on track. But at the same time, without proper explanation why he did those acts of punishment, he effectively closed the door for me to open up and, by extension, damaged my mental and emotional health.
Most of the time, I wish I had my parents’ support back then when these things were happening to me. It would have made all the difference in the world. But knowing my parents, even if I told them, they’d deadpan everything behind the words, “Do not mind them,” which is not going to make a whole lot of difference.
I am living a life with little to no self-confidence – always anxious and doubting every step I take. A voice on loudspeaker inside my head wishes things were completely different. I wonder what I would have become and what greatness I would have already achieved at this point in my life. I know it borders on narcissism but who can blame me when all of us harbor the same kind of thought, right? – Rappler.com
Juseph Elas is a contributor at Thought Catalog and Spill Words by night, and media monitor for a media intelligence agency by day. He's the author of self-published books Catching Feelings and Between the Lines: The Visual Diary.