Of dysfunctional homes

I had a proverbial morning. The fruit platter across me held limes and lemons—soft and bruised and on the cusp of rotting. The problem is I don’t think anyone in this house plans to make lemonade any time soon because the sorry things are left to wither away. When life gives me lemons I don’t make lemonade either because I hate lemonade, so instead of being optimistic in the face of difficulty, I numb and repress myself, and turn a blind eye to my “lemons” until they rot. It gets tiring.

I had a long talk with my brother over midnight snacks two nights ago. We talked for two hours. It’s always the same thing: Trying to wrestle with our depression while making sure our parents’ depression and frustrations in life don’t drown us. My only stability is my brother; he is the only family I recognize. It hurts me to hear him say how he contemplates about suicide often, and if not suicide, of running away and disappearing forever. It’s hypocritical, though, because I am the same way, but am more affected when it comes from him. I cannot imagine what goes through his head every single day, but knowing myself and the chaos in my heart and head, it pains me to think that my brother is going through the same thing, if not worse.

When I twist and turn in bed every night I cry because I know my brother is doing the same thing in his room. And when we wake up, we wake up with storms inside our heads and hearts, with the world on our shoulders, and sometimes he masks his pain with loud music, and I with silence or silent crying or writing, but most days we try to stay out of the house as much as we can. It only hit me recently that the root of our anxiety and depression is our own family and religion.

We’re a dysfunctional family. Emotions are repressed, our parents are depressed and pretty much giving up on life, there’s no affection and intimacy, no encouragement, no support, just silence, but the wrong kind of silence. It breaks the spirit and makes you believe you don’t deserve any goodness in life. I’m so tired. My mom is unstable and shallow and paranoid. My dad’s just as emotionally impaired; he disappears in the shadows at the sight of conflict and is always in denial. My parents are both depressed and frustrated with life; perhaps they are not happy with the lives they’ve built. They’re always fighting. They’re always smoking. Until today, I flinch at the sound of raised voices. Until today, I recoil and cry over the stench of cigarettes.

We weren’t raised to be strong and courageous; we were raised to be ass-kissers and people-pleasers. As losers. That we should always follow someone and fear someone and eat from the hands of someone. To be raised this way and grow up in a household of such backwards thinking and toxicity takes a toll on you—no matter what my brother and I do to better ourselves, it’s always going to be our anchor pulling us down. To have this much insecurity and distrust of our own selves—it turns you into glass, and when held up into the light, you just shatter. I’m tired of the emotional manipulation, of the repression, and emotional neglect. I feel no security here.

Seeing your parents give up on life at such a young age…it just breaks the spirit. It’s this kind of upbringing  that made me so afraid of life and people. I hate confrontation. I never show my true emotions, I never let people get close. I get embarrassed and guilty over everything. I can’t explain to people why I go to the bathroom to cry in between classes because little things in class trigger my emotions. I can’t explain to people why I flinch when someone says my name or why i freeze when someone hugs me or touches me or why I’ve always fantasized about death since kindergarten or why I never call anyone “friend” because it feels undeserving for me or why I’m always conscious of being “too much” of anything or why every minute movement of mine is calculated or why i refuse all acts of kindness or why i put everyone at arms length and just cant seem to connect to anyone or why every little thing is overthought or why i’d rather cut ties than develop relationships or why im an impostor because i’m always putting an act or why i can’t commit to anyone or show warmth to anyone because I’ve never known it or why my brain’s wired to believe that everyone is either gonna hurt me or yell at me or why i can’t just fucking stop being afraid of anything because fear is the only constant thing in my life.

it’s so hard being invisible in my own suffering and it’s even harder to try to explain it to someone who will never listen and never understand. I know the way i was brought up isn’t my destiny, but it’s such a fucking heavy baggage to carry because it’ll always haunt me no matter what. it’s never gonna go away. to simply say, “Take the reigns and live the life you want to live” is so much easier said than done when choosing freedom means losing everything i have and starting from nothing and suffering even more.

Sometimes I get jealous of other families because I’ve never known such warmth. What I really want in this life is to just be held at night and sleep at ease, in peace. What I really want in this life is for someone to say my name full of warmth and love. What I really want is someone to hold my hand in silence. But life is futile and existence is random. I try to see life in a different light, perhaps if I look at life this way or that way, it will take my breath away, perhaps if I looked for those moments of always within never, with unclouded eyes, I will see the beauty of life. But I don’t. And it’s like grasping at straws everyday and I am just so so tired. I’m tired of the noise outside and within, I’m tired of people and faces, I’m so tired of the fake life I have to put up with, how I am never really myself anywhere, which makes me wonder if I really do know myself or I’m just taking up different identities depending on where I go or where I am or who I talk to and it makes me wonder, when I’m alone at night, who am I really? What identity am I taking up this time? Or do I have none—that even when alone, I still cannot stare myself down in the mirror?

Sometimes I have to give my brother the credit for even having the courage to go out and face the world, even with so much apprehension and fear, that he can still be so trusting and so kind, to not let the evil of the world embitter him because unlike me, i’ve given up so long ago, that i no longer see the goodness in anyone or anything, that my heart is hardened and I’ve become unforgiving and cold and untrusting and ruthless—to others and to myself—that i never show any love to anyone or anything. and so, when i am shown some kind of kindness, i feel defeated because i cannot be angry at it, and my response is always, “Stop helping me, do I look like I’m incapable? I don’t need your help fuck off stay away”

But my brother and I love talking about life. We look forward to hours of talking about life—maybe because we’ve never lived life the way we’ve always wanted, and so when we talk about life, we talk about how we want to live it and what we’d do differently. But it’s all talk. I think at the back of our heads, we’ve somewhat convinced ourselves that life will never get better, so we just talk about our dreams and what we want to do because we don’t see anything else going for us. We talk of life’s brevity, of death, we talk about our dreams and how they might just stay as dreams forever, of broken spirits and broken hearts, of not having the will to continue on because nothing makes sense, because life is so futile. It’s tiring.


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