An Essay: One Tale Of Woe, One Woman’s Life

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It’s self-indulgent, to prattle on about yourself too much, but when you’re depressed, there’s very little to probe and dwell upon except your own pain.

Perhaps I just want someone to say, “I understand the pain you have gone through”.

Perhaps no-one will read it, or give up halfway through.

Perhaps I just want to get it out of my system.

Perhaps it’s just a shout into the void, like everything else.

I don’t really know, and I don’t think it really matters. So I’ll just start writing.

I’ve touched on my father quite a few times on this blog—even wrote an entire essay dedicated to him, in an attempt to flush him out of my system; and in case you’re wondering, no, it didn’t work—which gives you an idea of how immense an influence he has not only on my everyday thoughts, but my subconscious.

You see, so much of my self-esteem problems, my anxiety, my uncertainty, my fear of the world and the people in it, can be traced back to my father, and the kind of person he was. Yes, being odd, sensitive and shy wouldn’t have made life easy for me, but it was, I am certain, his actions that had the greatest influence on how much I love myself.

Which is very little. I don’t love myself. In fact, I blame myself and hate myself almost every second of the day, and any self-help articles only end up making me blame and hate myself for blaming and hating myself. I possess a self-loathing deep in my subconscious, cemented from my interactions with my father, from seeing the way he interacted with my mother, so powerful that sometimes the pain is excruciating enough for me to want to disembowel myself. I don’t, of course. Disembowel myself, that is. The very thought makes me want to throw up, and cringe until I shrink to the size of a postage stamp. But sometimes the pain is so great that I wish I could have the courage to do it, or at least do something the equivalent of shaking and tearing apart the world, to express the agony that lies deep in my heart.

Yes, he was abusive, as I have written before. In fits of rage, he would pounce on me, while I was sitting in my room and beat me, because he could hit no-one else. Strangely enough—and I know this sounds bad; I didn’t want anyone to get beaten by him—he never hit my mother, never laid a finger on her, no matter how angry he was, nor my brother and sister (granted, they were very young back then, while I was already entering my teen years).

He only abused my mother sexually. I’ve never spoken about this to anyone, but I feel must say it, I have to say it, the pain is crawling in my gut, I must say it. I would hear it from my room. I would get panic attacks, and cower under my blanket and try to block it out. It’s awful to say this, but he would forcibly penetrate her, even when she didn’t want him to. She let him, though, some part of her let him, in order to keep him. Later on, he would abuse her emotionally, engaging in masturbation over the Internet with someone he was having an affair with, right under my mother’s nose, as if she was too stupid to know what he was doing. I would hear him doing it, even when his door was locked. I wanted to die when I heard him.

Maybe that’s another reason why sex, and everything to do with it, disgusted me for so long.

Sometimes, he’d fight with my mother, then come downstairs and scream at me for a minor transgression and use that as an excuse to hit me. I would scream, I would cry, I would beg, I would try to escape. I once locked myself in the bathroom to escape, and he, after a few bangs on the door, left me alone, just that one time. In his eyes I would see cowardice and selfishness, a man taking out his anger on his own child to release it. Maybe he was angry at himself. Maybe he was ashamed, and he didn’t know how else to feel better. He knew I knew what he was up to. I really don’t know.

For someone as sensitive and easily hurt as myself, these beatings—he would either use a shoe, or his hand—killed my soul. I can’t begin to express the agony a young girl feels when her father hits her, endlessly, mercilessly, even after you cry out that you are sorry, that you’ll be good, that you hate him, that you’ll be good, that you hate him, that you’ll be good, that you’re sorry, that you hate him.

All I wanted was love. That was it. Just love. And I never got it. He never spent time with me, never touched or hugged me, never asked about my day, never cared. My siblings got it, at least for a brief period—he used to tickle them, in his good moods, ignore them during his bad—but I never did. I grew up at the wrong time, when my parent’s relationship grew thin. Maybe I was just in the wrong place, the perfect punching bag. I don’t think I’ll ever really know, and even now, as an adult, when I think about him, I still feel like a lost and confused and hurt child. I think some part of me will be screaming in pain until the day I die over this.

What was worse, much worse than the beatings, was the fact that I did not respect him. When you lose respect for your parents, the people you are meant to look up to, you lose respect for yourself, because as a child, you see yourself as being aligned with them, soul linked to soul.

I didn’t respect him. I didn’t respect him because of the way he scrounged money, upset even when my mother asked him for some cash to buy groceries. I didn’t respect him because he abused my mother sexually, found someone over the Internet more important than us. I didn’t respect him because he only sought short-term, sexual pleasure. I didn’t respect him because he hit me. I didn’t respect him because he was selfish. His room was decked out with a stereo system, he had an iPhone, he went on expensive holidays overseas by himself, dallying with god-knows-who, yet when his own wife asked for some money to buy some groceries—begged him, more like, which made me lose respect for my mother—he would be reluctant to fork over a cent. It makes my blood boil just to think about it. And yet, I still wanted his love. Sick, isn’t it?

Funnily enough, at the time, I didn’t even recognise it as selfishness. Isn’t that strange? I thought that was just the way he was. I accepted his miserly and selfish behaviour. In a way, I also accepted the beatings. I believed they were my due, not because I believed I had done something wrong—I knew I hadn’t—but because my father needed me to vent out his anger. I was helping him. Some part of me was glad to be of use, somehow, and that, in retrospect, is a sick way to see an abusive situation.

And he just wasn’t the kind of man a woman could respect, let alone a little girl. He was like a little boy, throwing tantrums whenever he felt like it. A very strong, very tall boy, who liked to use his money to buy his own toys and didn’t want to share, thank you very much. I never had a father, really. Just a great, big bully. You can’t respect a bully, and because I couldn’t respect him, scorned him, in fact, loathed him, as a consequence, subconsciously, I didn’t respect, scorned and hated myself, for I was his progeny, after all, and identified myself with my parents.

Looking back, I feel as though his development was arrested. I feel perhaps I might have, in some way, reminded him, or resembled, someone who had hurt him in the past. I don’t know who. I don’t even know if that was the case; it’s just speculation, he’s broken off all contact so I can’t exactly ask him, and I don’t think I’d want to. All I know is he didn’t love me. This meant that, apart from my frigid relationship with my mother, who I have never felt a connection to, and my siblings, not once, in my entire life—except for perhaps the people I have reached out to in this blog—has anyone seen, appreciated, or loved me for who I am.

My self-loathing is a tangled mess. It’s disgustingly multi-layered. At school, I received no affection because I was cold, odd and quiet. At home, I received only affection from my brother and sister, who, as they grew older, began to withdraw from their love-starved sister who begged for hugs and kisses so often it was smothering. Growing up, I was so starved for love I remember once trying to glean some from a cat on the side of the road, and feeling immensely happy and gratified when it responded to my petting. That cat seemed to love me, for a brief while, in a way no-one else had: unconditionally, without malice, or worse, irritation. It’s almost funny, isn’t it? It’s funny. I was so lonely and unloved a cat was able to comfort me.

And now, as an adult, all grown-up, though not a functional member of society by any means, crippled by her sensitivities, by her anxiety, literature and writing has become a ersatz substitute for the love I never received. In my stories, often women end up loved by her newfound friends. I can’t even write about romantic relationships much of the time because it’s too painful to include a male character when I envision myself as the female protagonist.

Whenever I was attracted to boys—okay, one boy—being around him, or even spotting him, set off panic attacks. I flee from love as if it were death itself, because I know if I try to seek it out, I’ll only get rejected, as I’ve been rejected in the past by my father, by mother, by my siblings, by my classmates, the wound so deep and intense it is somewhere beyond agony, wandering around in a no-man’s land of pain. I am approval-hungry. Terribly approval-hungry. If my doctor is having a bad day and speaks a curt word with me, such as he did last time I visited him, that small slight is enough to set off firecrackers of past rejections in my head and make me want to slit myself open like a fish and let all the blood leak out so I won’t have to feel anymore.

One of the worst moments in my life was when the boy I liked many years ago, because I had chased him, or given myself away in some fashion, hiked up my skirt slightly, I think it was, or something just as madly, wildly uncharacteristic—the memory is hazy, but the shame is not—gave me some advice, cold and condescending: he told me I needed to be “more confident”, implying my timid desperation was repellent. At the time, his words only tripled the shame and self-hate. Now, knowing what I do, I wish I could have slapped him across the face.

Because he didn’t know who I was. He didn’t know my life story. He didn’t know how much I had suffered, from the moment I attended school, which was when my father turned bad, his emerging cruelty synchronised with my growing discovery of just how mean children could be.

All he saw was a strange girl, trying to be attractive, to get his attention, and failing miserably. He scorned me, like I scorned my father, like I scorned my mother, like I scorned myself. Each time he ignored me after that, it was like my heart was being tugged out of my chest, the blood vessels strung tight as pulled elastic. I would feel physically weak from the rejection. I had no support, no struts to keep myself upright. I was just a starving animal, hoping for any scraps that would come my way, too thin and weak for own my skin and bones to hold me up.

Everyone wants you to be “confident”, to “love yourself”. It makes me want to throw up, this constant touting of self-confidence as the balm for all ills. What those self-help experts don’t realise is that sometimes, loving yourself is not just the hardest thing in the world, but impossible. Sometimes, a person’s wiring gets broken.

Even when any kindness does fall into my lap, any genuine love, untainted by scorn or rejection I reject it out of hand. Back in school, one boy was actually immensely nice to me. He was quiet and introverted like myself, kept to the fringes. He tried to talk to me. I think he might have even liked me. He was sweet, a little desperate. And I scorned him, because it felt good to be the one doing the rejecting for once. I felt a bitter pleasure in rejecting him. It made me feel better about myself, if only briefly, though I feel only guilt now. I wasn’t in the least attracted to him; my heart only yearns for young men with an abusive and selfish streak.

But this incident made me feel afraid. I don’t know my capacity for evil, how far I will go to hurt someone in the hopes that doing so will relieve my own pain. I am afraid of turning cold and cruel myself, just to cope, just to feel strong for once, to eternally reject people before they reject me.

I wonder if I am too broken to fix. I mean it. I really mean it. Behind the words you read on this blog is a very sad, introverted and neurotic young woman, who, if you were to meet in real life, most likely would not like very much. I’m very cold, outwardly, almost robotic, lifeless, especially around strangers. I’m quite pretty when I smile, but I hardly ever do, so therefore I know I must seem ugly to anyone I come across. And I can’t help it, the coldness. It’s just what I’ve become. And I don’t want to be that. But I think maybe sometimes there are some emotional wounds you can’t heal, just like there are physical wounds doctors shake their heads at after taking one look at them. I think maybe I’ve taken the mental equivalent of a bullet to a vital organ. I think I might die crying. I think I’ll die unloved.

Of course I am glad I am creative, my creativity is something I would never give up; but at the same time I can’t help but feel that it’s another lid hammered into the coffin of loneliness. I will get published, there is no uncertainty in regards to that, it’s just a matter of time, but even if I were to be showered with literary accolades, or simply able to make a living from my writing, receive emails from happy readers, it wouldn’t be enough to heal the hole inside me. Writing will bring me admiration and respect, but not love.

I guess in a way the act of writing, of telling stories involving imaginary people, often with the main protagonist finding love from other women than men is a way to compensate for the relationships I never had. For the acceptance and I loved I never received. Seen in that light, even my writing is a pathetic act, a young woman living in a world of dreams where everything is warm and loving, escaping from the world where real love lies, when in truth, she’s sitting alone in her room, typing away, enjoying the company of people who only exist inside her head, and whose warm touch she will never feel in actuality.

Through my writing, I can fool myself into thinking I am loved. I can pretend I am loved by retreating into my imagination. But the bed, when I climb into it at the end of day, is always cold and empty. I cry, but the tears do little to relieve me. It doesn’t matter, though. Suffering doesn’t have a point. Just ask the pigs at the slaughterhouse. Just ask the millions of people who have died horribly throughout history. There’s no home. No happiness. Only delusions.

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2 thoughts on “An Essay: One Tale Of Woe, One Woman’s Life

  1. I really resonate with this story of yours having come from an abusive upbringing myself. I know how difficult it is to learn to love yourself; it is not something that comes easily at all if your parents gave you very little love. I experience the same struggles daily and have worked for years on lack of self-love. I truly hope in time that things will get better for you, that you will allow yourself to be more open to people, especially those who are dissimilar to your parents. Wonderful people exist in the world if we allow ourselves to be receptive. You have to make some peace with yourself and realise that you deserve life; even if your parents thought otherwise, you have to really question all that the beliefs they handed to you.

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