Suffering is a human condition. What separates each of us is how we deal with the suffering we face. Do we scream and wail to feel the harsh vibrations of this debilitating emotion or do we silently shed tears to dry on their own? I have been thinking a lot of about suffering lately. I am suffering a great deal because I am trying to come to terms with accepting a life without my family. Just few days ago I was invited by my elder brother and sister to have that long awaited “chat” with them about my disbelief. My mother pleaded for me to accept and discuss with them (in the hope that some change may occur). I simply accepted this offer; after all I’m still naively eager for acceptance. For the last few days I wondered why I had done this, and why I was taking it so lightly. I mean, I was going to walk into a lion’s den, and yet I appeared to be calm about it.
Days went by and my anxiety grew. I thought of whether they wanted to talk to me to lovingly tell me what they thought would be a better way for me? Or that maybe they truly wanted to tell their little sister to not make this life mistake by forsaking their God. Thoughts of reuniting with them gave me comfort and terror. Anticipation of a bittersweet ceremony. I spoke to a few of my close loved ones and all highly disagreed with this proposition. They felt that it was not going to work out well and that simply it was way too early to get into such a situation where I would be outnumbered and simply, beaten through emotional manipulation and abuse. Even though my intention of going into this was only to “stand up” for myself and speak my mind, in reality I would be entering into an unequal territory and conversation. They don’t want to hear me. They want to control me and keep me in line. Why should I put up with such abusive behaviour?
Abuse. That’s when the penny dropped. I cannot imagine my family and abuse being in the same category. I don’t want to accept that, perhaps, there is some abuse going on there. That perhaps they are being vile and unaccepting of me, and they simply wanted to be seen as the saviours in our family dynamic. They wanted to save my parents from the evil horrors of their younger sister. I find it so hard to believe this. I believe a part of this is because I am unable to accept myself being the victim of abuse from my family. I always say I am lucky as my family have never ever been physically abusive and nor have they threatened me. However, this emotional manipulation and abuse through the systems of honour and shame have been crippling me. I speak about the horrors of this, and yet, how could I not comprehend that I myself was living through this?
Abuse. It is a hard term to swallow. A hard acceptance to know that perhaps you’re the victim. Despite feeling supremely strong and brave at times, I feel like I am a victim of my experiences and family. I want to be angry to tell them this is not fair. I want to say that I’ll be completely ok without them and that why should I want such people in my life who do not accept me, and simply, wish to control me? I mean, after all, isn’t the whole purpose of this meeting for them to “understand” me and then somehow want me to “seek their permission” for me to change, and be the way I am. I know they’re not bad people, but even good people can be abusive because all they know is how to control because they are simply insecure.
Validation. That is key. Pursuit of validation from family compounds the inability to recognise abuse and to acknowledge it. Pursuit of validation from others gives us little self-worth. But then why do I seek it? I have become this woman who on the face of it has it all together, but, look deeper and you’ll see the fragmented pieces. Although I know true validation comes from oneself, in reality, practising it is pretty darn hard.
Validation. Abuse. Control. Survival. Suffering. All very important conditions to deal with make me overwhelmed at times. I am not speaking of this because I am weak. I speak of this because a family based on a religious and cultural upbringing which demands such levels of conformity leaves a person this impacted.
Nonetheless, suffering is a human condition. What matters is how we deal with it. Today, I chose to share it.
Edit: This post has been cross-posted on the Double Bind Magazine.