I'm new, and somehow an immensely long and detailed 'Hello'...

Hi there, 

Ah... the hard part. My story. I don't like to talk about it face-to-face because there is still an element of stigma attached to talking about things that make other people uncomfortable. 

Or rather my parents' first. 

My father's domestic issues are generational. My grandfather (dead before I was born) had a traumatic childhood which involved nursing a dying relative. He repeated the cycle of abuse with his own children and wives; my father was the younger of two from his second marriage. I don't know if my grandfather was an addict, but it wouldn't surprise me. My father was sexually, physically and emotionally abused and started suffering from depression and suicidal tendencies since childhood. He first tried to kill himself when he was about thirteen. With such a start in life, it was only natural that my father self-medicated the only way he knew how: alcohol. He drank and drank and drank until, decades later, he finally emerged a sober man after a second stint in rehab'.

My mother (amazingly) was there, waiting for him. But my father is a serial-addict, so to speak. He simply switched his poison of choice and took up cigarettes, eventually smoking 60 a day. Mum then realised she was pregnant with me and immediately gave up smoking (she was smoking 40 or so cigarettes a day at that point). My dad smoked until I was nearly three and his addiction demon cast around for the next form of 'medicine'...Food. That is what, for the last twenty years, he has overdosed on. He is also a huge hypocrite--diagnosing all his problems, his family members' problems, even diagnosing dysfunctional acquaintances with this syndrome or that... Ironically he recommended this site. 

He knows (on a certain level) that he has PTSD and a whole host of issues, including his addiction; but despite two therapists and mountains of pills to keep his failing body from giving up the overwraught ghost, he cannot face them and overcome them. He is addicted to food and (amazingly) his own depression. He isolates and pushes everyone away, while employing therapists who simply support him in his efforts to validate the impression that we, his family, are the enemy, trying to control him. Moreover, this self-taught psycho-analysis means that he is incredibly well-defended (verbally) and despite toying with the idea of a family intervention, we know it would be a futile attempt. He cannot heal himself. He cannot care for himself. And because of this, he cannot care for my mother, myself or my younger brother. His volatile moods and complete unreliability and neglect of our welfare (emotionally and physically) are a form of abuse. 

My mum also grew up in a very emotionally violent household and cannot admit she is wrong. Ever. I know this sounds extreme, but it is her way of coping and surviving her own family issues. Also, with the aggressive nature of my father's self-neglect and self-harm, she is incredibly passive-aggressive and wins most arguments we have through a heady mix of self-martyrdom and sly guilt-inducement.

I was always well-acquainted with the knowledge of my father's alcoholism since childhood. I am not sure if my mother knew of this, but there was no shame in talking about it amongst ourselves. But with no shield from the ugly truth of my father's childhood or continuing depression and suicidal tendencies, I realise that . Living in a house in the country there were few children around to play with (although I had a few friends), so I automatically learned to enjoy my own company.

That is not to say we were rebel children. Far from it. I was always a naturally serious and mature girl. What's more, my brother and I aren't close. I was often very cruel to him when we were little and he hasn't forgiven me for it. Part of me wonders if my mother's constant reminding me of these misdeeds (especially in front of my brother) have reinforced his impression of it. We get along mostly, but I know that he would love to lose his temper and break my arm. He often threatens to do this as an act revenge for those childhood years, which saddens me greatly, even though I am sure I deserve it.  

For truth be told, I wasn't easy to get along with. I was prickly, stubborn, critical, too clever and too dismissive of my peers' ways. I held them in contempt and they returned the favour. I learned to stop caring what people thought or felt about me, because I did not respect them anyway. But this turned into a deeper emotional 'quiet'. I often find it hard to feel stronger emotions and am mercurial in my moods, oscillating between happiness, introspection, irritation and (most commonly) quiet, detached nothingness. 

I got through school by reading books and learning to love academic work. I read books before I knew how to read, staring at the pictures and creating a new narrative, perhaps because my own was too bizarre for a three-year old to consciously understand. Living in a household with two hypocritical parents (albeit in different ways), means that I have developed a very acute sense of personal integrity -- I do not ask them for advice, and my brother and I aren't that close. It's my mother who is the glue -- trying to drag three strangers together to be a family. It's hard, and I find myself chafing at the role of 'daughter/sister', when that means being emotionally manipulated by Mum's passive-aggressive ways; and always walking the emotional knife-edge of my brother's approval/tolerance/resentment. 

So now I'm now a 22yr old student, in a self-imposed exile from this strange domestic scene. Yes, the books that once gave me solace and escapism from the quiet wrongness of my parents' world and I found my calling. I have a few real friends, but mostly just acquaintances. But I am still the sympathetic ear for my parents' woes -- how difficult they find each other; what one said to the other... I am the referee for their marriage, despite living miles and miles away and rarely going home outside of holidays.I am going to start the first year of my Ph.D. next September and hope to become a university lecturer in the future, in the vain hope of keeping my brain too busy to contemplate the undercover shambles of my life (so superficially, so fiscally blessed; and yet so emotionally poisonous and self-destructive).

I am not well.  I struggle with my chronic apathy.I am hyper-critical of my thoughts, words and actions. I find physical and emotional intimacy impossible -- I cannot even stand massages and have never had a serious boyfriend. I don't think I'm worthy of my life, despite working hard and fighting for it every day. I struggle to forgive myself for the way I have had to stop caring about my father's behaviour (because it's the only way I have left to protect myself). I cannot forgive myself for my negative behaviour towards others, particularly my brother. I self harm (picking at my toenails until they are nothing but bleeding stumps), but no one knows this. I hate my appearance and have already undergone plastic surgery. I cannot bring myself to have more than one alcoholic drink a day and am repulsed by needles, pharmaceutical medication, prescription drugs and cigarettes.

 

If you haven't fallen asleep by now, congratulations! I am seriously impressed. But I felt I had to lay it out with as much detail and honesty as possible while I could.To any who made it this far, I am here. This is my story and I hope others out there will read it and know that they are not alone. I am not trying to be perfect, I just want to like and respect myself. I want to do more than just survive, I want to live.  

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