I’m Closed Off? It’s Because You Kept Undermining My Struggles

Never explain yourself. I thought I would never have a motto in life but somewhere along the way, I found myself saying that. I’ve said it to myself so many times that I added it to the rules I live by. It seems very simple, those three words, but it took me a long time to master it. There are plenty of things I do that I consider pointless. There are pointless things that I like and pointless people that I happily spend some time with. But when it comes to matters that triggers frustration, I always look for the point. The point of having an argument with someone. The point of telling the whole story. The point of telling my side of the story. Every time I feel the urge to defend myself, I ask myself “What’s the point?”

I’ve been judged my whole life for doing things that do no harm to others and for occasionally choosing my own sake over taking responsibility of the mistakes of irresponsible people. What I learned over the years is that no amount of reasoning, truth, and effort can make people value your perspective as long as they do not benefit from it. There is no amount of words that could change people’s minds even when you’re right. So what did I do? I moved away. I lived alone and every time I come across an abusive person, I don’t bother. I just don’t bother anymore. Every time I get the feeling or I am informed that some people are making judgments about my decisions, I let it go. What’s the point?

I remember buying my mother a card when I was a kid. Our neighbor thought it was sweet so I was excited to give it to her hoping that it will make her happy. My mother said, “This is a waste of money!” I didn’t think much of it before but looking back, I realized that was the beginning of my self-inflicted isolation.

It has been more than a year since I stopped seeing my mother and pretty much all of my relatives except for one of my brothers who occasionally stays in my place with his wife and son. Before I stopped visiting, I spent at least another year and a half visiting only on holidays or some birthdays. My mother has spread a lot of drama against us especially me. After all, I am the daughter who stopped visiting and responding to her calls and text messages. I am the daughter who gave my relatives (cousins, aunts, etc.) a mouthful each time they attempt to suck me into the hell hole the whole clan has dug for themselves. For me, it wasn’t just a choice to distance myself from these people, it was a necessity. It’s like choosing not to drink a slow-acting poison. I did it because I didn’t want the torture and I wanted to survive.

I wanted to live what’s left of this life. For decades of existence, I felt like I never lived. After I moved away, I felt alive and I started to see the potential of having a great future, a future I can write for myself. I felt unstoppable and that I have no other step but forward. Before I moved away, I had no dreams for myself. All I wanted was to someday buy a house for my parents and give them a rich life. My mother crushed that dream with her constant “That’s gonna take a long time, now. We’ll be dead before that ever happens.” That dream eventually died. But before it did, it gave birth to a new one. A new dream just for me. I realized everything that I want.

I want to build an establishment or perhaps, a school, that teaches and trains people to gain the skills necessary for us to advance into the future. I want a new kind of literacy, not just read or write. A new literacy more fitted to the future. Aside from that, I want a house and a farm, or a village of my own. I want my own home office. I want my own business. All of these dreams, I could not have entertained if I didn’t leave the people holding me back. If I never left, I wouldn’t have found a purpose. And that purpose grows each day I dream and work towards my dreams. That purpose grew a spine, enough to stop me from ever going back to what killed the old me. And as time goes by, I no longer feel the pressure and no amount of relatives and harassment can ever make me go back to that past. I have moved on but I still remember. I have to remember. But it’s just like remembering a past life. Surreal and makes no sense in my present life anymore.

I am filled with dreams and yet people find me so cold. Aloof, hard to read, closed off, and detached. I believe that every one of us has their own back story. A series of events that made us the way we are. Every one of us has their own shell. Each one is different, forged with a variety of pain and struggles. I told you a small part of my story. I would not tell you the whole story because what is the point? You’ve made your judgment by now. You’ve probably said to yourself that my struggles are nothing compared to others’. Or maybe you’re one of those rare kinds of people who understand that you have to live through another person’s life to see the whole picture. Maybe you’re nothing like the people I share my DNA with.

There was a time when I sent money for my father’s surgery which is probably one of my mother’s lies to get more money from me because after that, people have seen him drinking alcohol in the middle of the afternoon. Do they know how hard it was to earn that money? Do they know that afterwards, I had to gather coins just to have enough money to buy myself a small pack of biscuits and a can of tuna to eat for two days? Do they know that I had to borrow money just to get through the rest of the week? And the time they constantly guilt-tripped me for breaking up with a guy they thought was rich. Do they know that he borrowed plenty of cash from me that he didn’t pay and even got money from my ATM without my permission? Do they know how I felt working so hard, earning so much, and yet ending up starved? Do they know that the same abuse they inflicted on me since childhood, he inflicted on me, too? Do they know that he also tried to sabotage my career by constantly making an argument on how I earn more money than he does?

Aside from constantly telling me that I’m ugly, stupid, and would probably just get impregnated by some man and die poor, I guess my parents never really knew anything about me. And it’s too late for me to say anything because they never listened in the first place. They never cared unless it involves them having money. Now that I’m typing these, I feel stupid. That I’m a whiner. I whine too much about small things. I feel guilty because that’s how I was programmed to feel for the rest of my life. I’m too dramatic. I deserve to suffer, not to complain.

Would I rather be called all those things or be called “cold”? Guess which one I chose.

I’m Closed Off? It’s Because You Kept Undermining My Struggles

Detachment

Crying, I ran outside the classroom, hugged my father, and begged him to stay. I was in grade school and just like most kids, I’m not too happy being left in one place without a parent. It took me a little longer to get used to it. I remember that at some point, I would stay in my seat, look out the window, see my father walking away, and cry quietly. I did not run outside to chase him anymore but I remember the heavy feeling of thinking that I may never see him again. The scary feeling of being left alone.

Almost two decades later, I found myself living alone. I have not seen my parents for more than a year now. I did not text or greet them on their birthdays. I did not visit them on my own birthday and I did not allow them to visit me. They did not know exactly where I live. I moved out of the first condo unit I lived in and I’m bound to move out to a third one this year. Christmas, New Year, and every holiday, I spent alone. I did not respond to their texts, calls, and any relative who dared to “give advice” to persuade me into seeing my parents received a mouthful. After a few months, I got tired of it and ignored all the messages I received. I even blocked some of them. From my perspective, they are destroying my peace with their hypocritical suggestions.

“It was so easy for her to forget.”

That’s what my mother told my sister-in-law via text message. She admits that she did not read or remember most of the very long message my mother sent her except for that one sentence. My brother and his wife (my sister-in-law) often stays in my place with their cute little son while their house is being finished. My brother does not talk to my parents and avoids most of our relatives as well even when he visits his two other kids who schools in the city where my parents live.

It is easy to understand why I became detached to everything once you know the story but it is hard to imagine the progress towards the mentality that has become my way of life. All my childhood, I loved my father very much. I was closer to him than I was with my mother. I remember that until I was in high school, he would bring me food during lunch time. I rarely ate lunch with my classmates. He would serve my meals on a picnic table on the grass near the guardhouse and they would all say “That’s sweet.” But now he has become the man I would hate to see the most.

A few more family tragedies happened since I was a child. Things that are too much for me to bear at such a young age and it never stopped. I tried to fix it, me and my brother until we realized that some things cannot be fixed. I realized earlier before he did. I’ve always had this vision of where something would lead to. I knew that we would all drown unless we escape. I knew that fixing our family was not possible when the other members of it are too afraid to let go of the anchor that sinks our home. I felt uneasy after calling it “home” because it was not. I never had a home in my life. I had a roof over my head and I was thankful enough for that.

I do not know where it all started but the feeling persists in all my relationships and life decisions. Every time I see that something has no future and it does not satisfy me, I start planning my way out. It’s as if I have a bottle of liquid that represents my life and I only have a few drops left that I must be very careful not to spill. I became more conscious, suspicious more so, about the people around me. Who among them intend to drag me down? I looked out for signs that there’s a possibility that this person is one day going to betray or neglect me.

I always had this reaction that I did not plan or do on purpose. When I sense that someone, more specifically of the opposite sex, likes me more than they should, it brings out feelings of disgust. It happens even when I liked the person very much. The moment they begin showing feelings, my danger alarm goes off and tells me to run away really fast. Maybe it was a result of my experiences of maybe it is just the way I’m programmed. I’m not a robot. I cry, I miss people, I’m sometimes afraid of losing some of them and start thinking of ways to cope when they are gone because eventually everyone will be gone.

If I had to choose who I’d rather be with, I’d rather be with me because I’m the only one who will always choose me.

 

Detachment