In summer 2014, I opted for counselling sessions to experience unconditional positive regard as well as to undergo a self reflection. It is often recommended – if not mandatory at times – for students in my program to undergo counselling, and since I managed to procure free sessions through my own (not-so) clever means, I thought to myself, “why not, eh?” After a month of prodding and poking, my counsellor arrived at the conclusion that I have a penchant to be a martyr and a hypocritical hero – that is, I tend to value others around me so much that I would sacrifice my own well-being to help them. Then, upon facing the brink of self-destruction, I would mask everything and suffer my own broken physicality and mentality alone. Apparently, my choice of a defense mechanism is simply to give more instead of returning the focus to myself. I thought the initial assessment nonsense but people around me concur, including my supervisors, both former and current. Alas, should I protest further?
This leads me to my very first assignment, which is to write about myself. Naturally, my counsellor suggested for me to trace back to my earlier years. Therefore, the following is the abridged account of my rather pathetic childhood and young adulthood:
I was reluctantly conceived and born unwanted in a rather closed-minded family. Being the youngest born and, not to mention, a girl with unholy brown skin (which miraculously lightened as I aged), I was destined to be a derelict in the family. If affections can be measured in the number of photographs of my pre-school periods, then mine is no more than a measly thirty, of which almost three-quarters were shot in one single sitting. From the scanty records one can safely assume the impossible – that is, I did not grow nor gain any weight between the ages zero to three. I was constantly reminded that I was an unwanted child. My great-grandparent and grandparents never took to hide the fact that they saw me as a mere fleck of dust. I was practically the whipping boy of my brother; every mistake he made was somehow attributed to my lack of whatever quality God withheld from me. If I had not been so stupidly stubborn, I would have been left behind in my home country and lived my whole life on that Godforsaken island.
In elementary my family immigrated to the great land of Canada (pun intended). In grade two, during an innocent game of dodge-ball I cracked my head open on a piece of rock. On the way to the hospital my mother shed tears out of fear for my life. That was the first time I felt she truly saw me as her child; yet, for the following days and months she abhorred my stitches and subsequent scarring and thought me ugly. Whenever she saw me, she would call me a “monster”, furrow her brows and avert her gaze. Thankfully, I was too dumb to take that to heart. After all, the corporal punishment I was receiving at the time garnered more of my attention. Other than the few times that my parents tried to kill me, I dare not think that my physical abuse was more severe than my peers back home. Being of East-Asian descent, we all had shares of physical pain. However, I am quite certain that mine was based on the most ridiculous grounds: I studied too much/too hard, I woke up too early (to study), I cleaned my toothbrush, I phoned my grandparents to see if they had found my red envelope, etc. I remember on the early morning of my grade-nine science final exam, my father caught me studying in my room, so he dragged me out and gave me a good beating. I remember not how well I did, but only that I went to school with my face swollen, body bruised, and heart full of bitter animosity.
You would think these reasons odd, I am sure, and that is because they were. To my constant disbelief, family friends and teachers at school thought me an exemplary child, and my peers even nicknamed me, “perfect”; I was “famous” in my school for my achievements and supposed talents, to the point where even the freshmen knew about me and I had to have safeguards for my school projects and artworks because people would steal them (which is ridiculous for a high schooler, I know). Yet, my parents were the only ones who thought me strange. In fact, to them, I was “abnormal” and “weird” because I never had the urge to rebel nor to engage in otherwise typical teenage behaviours. They went to rather ludicrous lengths to tempt me to be more like other children. For example, on one occasion, my father asked me whether I would like to wear the same outfits as the scantily-dressed girls walking down the streets. In further efforts to find faults in me, they would give me impossible tasks and set me to fail, or would ask me questions to which no answer was satisfactory. I remember many times when my mother would feign consideration and ask me when I would like to have my hair cut, but no matter which answer I gave, be it tomorrow or next month, it would end up terribly for me. When I was nine, one day while crossing the intersection to the PNE entrance, she threatened that she would have my head shaven. Being the stupid child that I was, I got scared and told her I would never have my hair cut again. Upon hearing my response she slapped me silly and left me in the middle of the intersection. Another time I told her I wanted to wait until the end of the semester. She responded by grabbing my hair and slamming my head into the wooden armrest of the couch.
I must note that my parents were not very creative when it came to inflicting pain on me. I suffered through sticks and stones (literally, because being in Canada everyone has backyards where fallen tree branches are aplenty), punches, slaps, neck-chokes, kicks, etc. Thinking back, I think the most impressive instrument had to be the meat-cleaver, the most frightening moment was the time my father sliced a piece of my finger off (which, for some strange reason, hardly left any marks), the most impulsive motive was my mother trying to wring my neck on a drunken whim, and the most lasting effect was the time I was kicked downstairs and ended up crippled for two weeks, of which the final was during my high school prom where I declined all invitations to dance. I spent many a nights in fear, crying on the stairs or shivering on the cold floors after a smarting beating. Ah, such fond memories of my childhood…
At the mercy of public hands, my high-school and post-secondary years were at least equally as, if not more, delightful. In fact, I was one of the privileged few who had experienced, to name a few, racial/age discrimination, emotional abuse, false accusations, and several sexual/physical assaults. My only solace was the fact that very few of perpetrators were my peers, of whom most of them, even the delinquent boys, were unusually kind (I had some rather unbelievably anime-like experiences with the latter).
As you can assume, my graduate years did not leave me unscathed either. In fact, I spent two years starving in a rather unfriendly and senile community that was very discriminatory towards foreign-looking faces. Funny as it were, I was constantly bullied by the local seniors, who found pleasure in harassing the strange, visor-wearing East Asian who actually put the store coupons and price-match policies to use. Funding was abominably low at the institution of my study. To exacerbate things my parents chose a rather high-ended suite for me, which ate into my budget deeply. I also had to send money home on a regular basis to keep up the pretense that I was actually working, not studying. I estimated that my weekly grocery spending was around ten dollars. I was hungry and thought about food all the time. My supervisor at the time thought me unusual, if not even a bit ungrateful, as I actually had one of the top funding packages yet still kept trying to find extra sources of income. It was not until the end of my program that she found out what I had endured over the past two years but even then she only had an inkling of how miserable I was. Her reaction to what I had revealed to her was, “Oh, my God!” She remarked how I made the sad history as the first student who ever had to endure what I had gone through and that no other student, including her, could have bear what I had without letting known another soul.
My trials continued into my PhD program. On the day of my last birthday (Christmas 2013), I walked by myself to the police station and to the lawyers, feet soaked by the icy snow, to report a heinous, prolonged crime inflicted upon me by a psychopath. All of these experiences left me no closure, but just endless questions of why me? With the most recent two, I could find no good answer: I have no great physical beauty and am of short stature with unremarkable features. I have no merits to attract their attention, yet against all odds I was pursued and hurt most terribly. On one end, I thought that perhaps all of the inequities I had suffered were part of a greater punishment for the lowly specimen that I was in God’s hands; on the other, I honestly do not understand why there are those who kept up with the pretty words on so many levels, be it on social media or in real life, yet when they commit mistakes they simply dash off and vanish, pretending nothing had happened. It is beyond my comprehension how people can carry on and live in stupid bliss after destroying another life. Perhaps I am too haughty to harbour this thought. Reflecting back on my entire life, I have only one instance in elementary where I can honestly say my act was maliciously intended. Yet, my heart is not kind at all. I only refrain from hurting others because I am a coward and I only make amends because I could not bear the guilt afterwards. I am a sinner, and I admit it freely. My faults are solely my own and I am one in desperate need of mercy and forgiveness.
There is so much more I could write about, but to go on and on would be just me droning and not at all productive. From hearing others’ stories, I know that there are people around me who have also suffered in life. A woman’s father had Asperger Syndrome and was a sex addict who destroyed his own marriage. A man’s parents were alcoholics and whose father abandoned the family, which he claimed drove him to turn to substances and promiscuity at a young age. Another’s family was broken apart, and the children were all separated and adopted into different foster families. I have heard many similar accounts…
We are all broken in some way, but to keep latching onto these pathetic (tear-inducing) memories and using them to excuse our current behaviours and the hurt we inflict on others is just plain pathetic (despicable). Therefore, I choose not to dwell on them and not to be a victim anymore. Perhaps that is the reason for my defense mechanism of choice. Regardless, I am here and have arrived at yet another pivotal stage in my life. This blog will be a testimony of my path to losing and to finding myself again~ \^o^/