I may have been lying to myself for a few years now. In an attempt not to look dramatic, I avoided talking about things that happened to me in the past. To my rational mind, none of it matters because it’s all in the past and I’m in a good place now. I ignored the nightmares. After a few minutes of waking up, I forget the details anyway. I always thought I was just misanthropic without acting on it. I always thought that I just really wanted to be alone. I never felt lonely when I’m alone and I always wondered how that could be possible. Anyone else would have lost their mind, maybe I already lost mine. It’s the classic quote “I push people away” that I avoid thinking about because the line itself makes it sound like a teenage drama crap and I hate it. Now that I think about it, it’s true, I do push people away. I disappear, I change numbers, move to different cities, and now I’m thinking about moving to an entirely different country on my own. A place where nobody knows me. A place where I can start over.
I listened to a podcast episode this morning. Usually, I just play whatever as a background noise while I’m getting ready for work. This psychologist was talking about resilience and the correlation with childhood adversity (drunk parents, divorce, etc.). She said most resilient and high performing people have experienced a lot of childhood adversity but having too much can push you over the edge (some serial killers). I looked at my seemingly normal life and started paying attention to the things people told me over and over again that just didn’t register in my brain. As a compliment, they often tell me that I’m not normal. My age, knowledge, salary, and my very independent life – none of my peers have it. People of the same age, some even older, never had what I have. I almost feel like a fraud, that somewhere if god exists, I’m his favorite and everything seems to go my way no matter what. I walked the world as if everything I want, I can have. Anything or anyone that stands in the way will regret it, they always do. Even at work, whatever idea I set my mind into, no matter how seemingly impossible, becomes possible.
I started relating to what this woman is saying and the kind of people she’s describing. I didn’t get everything out of luck. Everything I know, I got through trial and error, maybe hundreds of them. I learned everything by making mistakes, not to the expense of the company, but on my own time and with my own devices. I remember the time when they wanted to host a new technology and asked me to learn it. That was the second time they threw me into something I have zero idea on and I learned it. I even trained people on how to do it including an “expert” on the technology that they eventually found. Every time I show it to them, they ask “How did you know all of these? It all looks complicated and there are very few resources on the internet.” I always just answered with, “I just played around with it”. To me it’s nothing but I can imagine that to most people, my definition of “playing around” is an exhausting process of countless of sleepless nights doing things over and over again, making mistakes, starting from the top again, again and again. Most days, I procrastinate. Some days, when my brain thinks it’s critical, I go in fight or flight mode where everything it life and death of my career and my life. But this is how I always survived everything, anything. This is how I gained confidence that no matter what goes my way, everything will be fine. I always had my own back.
I started thinking about my childhood. If I would look at my life from the outside, I’d say I experienced too much adversity that most people couldn’t handle at a young age and I can attest to that knowing that my two brothers are both addicted to something – smoking and drinking. I always thought that the things that happened to me are no big deal and it happens to everybody but it doesn’t, I just don’t talk about it. It makes me feel less human sometimes, not having any of these common addictions, to the point that I tried to self-destruct on purpose. I tried to be an alcoholic but I couldn’t do it. My mind knows when I’m having an addiction to something or someone and it rejects whatever it is. It worries me that maybe I have a different kind of addiction, maybe I’m the sickest out of all three, so I wanted to have something that one of them have so that maybe that would be it.
One of my greatest childhood adversities was the constant humiliation. My mother and other relatives calling me stupid and ugly is too minor compared to the shame my parents brought to our family. My father was rich and yet they decided to live in a place full of criminals near the train station where all the squatters lived. The neighborhood on our side was fine, the houses are nice, the people are also not poor but the land is owned by someone else. The neighborhood used to pay rent for where their houses are built but when the owner died, the collection stopped, and to the eyes of most people, we are squatters with fancy houses. In school, I got bullied a lot because of the place we lived in. Almost every night, there’s a fight right outside the house, sometimes bloody ones caused by the criminals. None of these criminals ever harmed me, they have stolen from us but they never harmed us because we are friends. If your family is friends with criminals and that has become your normal, you know you’re fucked up.
We tried to think that we are better than these people. We have dignity, we don’t fight on the streets like animals until my parents decided it would be a good stage play to bring family drama in the streets. How many times did my father and eldest brother fight in the streets? How many times did my father throw all our furniture, equipment, and anything else he can break out on the streets? How many times did my mother cried so loud and shouted dramatic pieces of shit for all the neighbors to hear? Did I tell you about the time that my other brother who is the calm peace maker totally lost it, punched my dad on the face, and ran together with my eldest brother as my father chased them with a rock? A real spectacle for the neighbors. They loved it. It didn’t matter that I was a scholar, have high grades, and about to graduate as a Cum Laude. All that matters is that from time to time, my family is a circus for everyone’s entertainment.
The gossips spread, of course. My father had a whore and left us before. Now, my mother is a whore who probably fucked the entire neighborhood. My brother had two kids with a woman who publicly humiliates him and he would never marry. Eventually, he got another one pregnant that he is married to now. My eldest brother is an alcoholic who is now turning 40 and never worked a single day in his life. He’s always drunk, peeing everywhere, it’s hard to sleep when everything smells like a drunk man’s piss. Sometimes, he would pull his shorts down and I would see his penis. He didn’t care or believed that he did all those things. Even before I had a boyfriend or saw a boyfriend’s penis, I saw his. All these scandalous shit and I feel like I’m the only one doing anything right and yet I get labeled as a demon who talked back to her parents when they are being irrational, a spoiled brat because I didn’t become a working student like my hero brother. It’s difficult trying to sail a boat while all the other passengers are poking holes on it or stabbing the shit out of me.
When the owner’s son or whoever it was, decided to demolish the houses, they offered a free relocation site for the people living there. I was actually sleeping when two men came into my room, shocked that there are still people in there because they are about to demolish the house. My parents know this but they chose to stay anyway hoping the demolition wouldn’t happen. I remember a guy holding the tarpaulin of me graduating as Cum Laude saying we should save it. The relocation sites are just for the squatters, the poor ones. My parents, opportunistic as ever, decided to claim one. One of the requirements is a family picture. All this time, being bullied by my school mates and telling them they are wrong, now my own family proved them right. Now somewhere, there’s a picture of me with my family in a list of squatters who applied for a free home. Of course, they didn’t qualify for it but my aunt thought it was a good idea to publicly upload the picture of a miserable family on Facebook for all the world to see. My parents didn’t stop there. They sold a land we owned and bought two lots from the squatters in the relocation site because they are selling if cheap (since they got it for free) and they said it’s good for business because there are a lot of people there (mostly poor squatters who can’t afford anything and robbed us over and over again, of course). We begged them to buy a house near my grandmother’s where it’s safe and peaceful but they didn’t listen. After a few months, we got robbed, no one was buying from my mother (she sold food) and she fell into a deeper hole of debt with some Muslims who have killed non-payers. Soon after, rumors spread that she’s fucking the landlord of the stall she’s renting out for her business.
Long story short, they live in a small apartment owned by one of my aunts. My father is going blind and still drinking. My eldest brother still hasn’t worked and still drinking. And my other brother only visits them for the kids.