Hi everyone, I’m happy that there is such an outlet for everyone and wish everyone well. Hope my question helps others! I’m 23 this year and I have completed my university education and find myself stuck in life and unable to make choices nor believe in myself. It is very hard for me to express how I feel now that I am writing. I have many concerns and worries of my life. I would like to know if my background impacts me.
When I was 12 years old, I met this man through a mutual friend and it was my first time knowing someone new outside of school — it was really exciting for me. He showed interest in me and I liked him. He was physical and asked me if he could kiss me to which I said no as I was afraid but later on I agreed. He was 20-21 years old. It progressed on for us as a couple and he started to ask for more and more physically intimate acts. Till the day when he asked for sex. I said no. He took a while to convince me that “If I loved him I should say yes” and he acted angry around me so I agreed. It is a big regret for me till this day. Even though he did not manage to take away my first time, but he did put his private parts into mine. I was a clueless young girl and I had no ideas on pregnancy and STDs. All these were kept under wraps by me by the way.
One day I was watching TV in my parents’ room and I saw a television program about pregnancy and I started to get paranoid. I broke down in tears in fear and my clueless parents asked me what was going on. I told them what happened. My mother broke down and my dad was extremely angry. I forgot if he hit me. My mum prayed that my period would come (so I won’t be pregnant) and thankfully it did come the next day. Even when I am typing this now I feel like crying. What my mum did was also to scare and scold me. She told me that if I have sex with men I could have AIDs. It was the first time hearing that in my life and I was so scared. And there begins my lifelong fear and worry that I have STDs. Ever since then I would ask my mum if I could go check if I indeed have AIDs. Every single time I hear that word on the news or read it on newspapers I would be in deep fear. It takes a few days for me to push my fear and worry away. My mum said she doesn’t think that I have it and I should stop asking. She also told me, if you have it you have it, what’s the use of checking? In a way it comforted me, but it brought more fear that she could believe it to be true. It continued up to when I was in university. I remember my heart freezing in fear when I saw that admissions into university required HIV test, only to be relieved when I realized it was just for international students. Partially, I did not go on exchange because of the fear of needing a HIV test and discovering if I was HIV positive.
Through the years, coughs and sneezes would get me worried that I have a STD, I remember going on a trip overseas with my family and worrying throughout the trip whether I had the disease. I also went to my school doctor to have a check on some skin issues I was worried about, I wrote some issues on a list. I don’t know if he is right but he said I am a paranoid person. I only stopped worrying when I did an official test when I was about 21 and found out I don’t have the disease. I was so unsure that I called the HIV hotline in my country to confirm if I tested negative for HIV does it mean I don’t have AIDs.
Today I am facing issues in my life and I had for a period of time started to blame my past. I had also blame my parents slightly for it as they did not acknowledge my fear and brushed it off. I look back and feel sad for myself. What would a 13 year old do when she felt so much fear in her heart? Recently my mother told me that she regrets not bringing me to a psychologist when I was young also. She said she didn’t know I was so caught up and worried over it. I always tried to keep my fears to myself as I have been told by my parents that NO ONE, even my future husband, should ever know about this. I know I have caused my parents a lot of hurt also. So I have tried to be the best daughter ever since I was about 15-16 years old. I study hard in exams because of them. I got into university because of me trying to make up to my parents. I can say I have no aims in life. I wanted to continue to live my life as it is. I never expected myself to have a boyfriend also. I just want a normal life which I have set for myself because seriously I am happy to be alive — I am happy to be free from any diseases, I don’t need much more — that is how I think. I am very concerned if I have some sort of victimization of myself due to these happening? I also have a question, why did I go into a relationship with that man who obviously just wanted my body when I was 12? Was I lonely? Was I looking for love in the wrong relationship? I do have a preference for intimate friendships. I dislike relationships that are of an acquaintance level. I would like to know if the fear and worry I had over the years, even though I had my test done and am negative, still carry on into my personality in adult life? It was really extreme. I made sure I had a serving spoon on all dishes so my family will not have AIDs transmitted to them if they shared my saliva. I would also be angry if someone bit off my ice cream.
Also, family was my priority so I didn’t care much for making friends. I wanted to be the sister I never was when I was young and to be a good daughter. (I was moody and didn’t care much for others). Now I have a boyfriend and I had multiple nervous breakdowns in front of him as I feel ashamed that I don’t have friends and other insecurities of myself. In actual reality I am really happy with my life — I am unable to keep friends close as I don’t make the commitment — I do have friends, they’re just not close. I am just extremely worried that people will judge me. I also think into the future and worry that I won’t have bridesmaids at my wedding but I really am happy with my life if I just have my family and my boyfriend. I am just worried of how people would think of me. It’s like everyone has friends and have a boyfriend with no issues. To me it’s such a big deal I have breakdowns and such. I also have thoughts of wanting to escape as right now I am attempting to be an entrepreneur but for the past 1.5 years I have only put minimal effort into it so I don’t blame my family for discouraging me from being one. For the past 1.5 years I have been having emotional problems. I don’t know how to balance my sister (whom I was really close to) and family with my boyfriend. (He is my first official boyfriend). I feel guilt when I can’t respond as enthusiastically to her like I did. Now, I don’t even talk to her much. I believe it could be me feeling afraid that I cannot meet her expecations. Nowadays I see her like an enemy. My family used to be my world and now someone else is coming to be very important to me. My family has also voiced out their opinions of me changing, I know I was the perfect sister (at least much better than who I am now) so I have big shoes to fill. I also feel sad that they have to deal with me changing. I feel sad that I don’t know how to balance things. I use to care a lot and always asked on everyone.
Now, I am just someone who does her own things. I don’t want to care about others anymore. I feel like the old compassionate me can’t exist anymore with my sister around. I could still be nice to my other family members and siblings without her around. But when she comes I just pretend she is not around. She always has much to say. I have come to dislike her. I used to be more religious before having a boyfriend. My religion helped me a lot and grounded me. It also helped me keep my compassion there. I am someone who can come up with a lot of words and reasons. As I am a compromiser usually I don’t take stands if it hurts people. Is that a problem? It’s also not to help that I always judge myself. I judge myself as being immature, as being different from society. There was a period in the previous 1.5 years I kept checking online on this and that psychological issues like depression etc. I was again worried that I have a certain mental illness and I sort of sometimes convinced myself I have a certain illness. Until today it is very easy to break me down. I have cried multiple times and little things that my sibling says that hints at rejection can make me very emotional. I don’t want to hear that I have a problem but I feel overwhelmed sometimes. I numb myself by immersing myself in my work but thoughts like ‘are you wasting your time on your entrepreneurship’ and ‘what would your aunties and uncles think of you when you have graduated from a prestigious university but am not working.’ I do realize I care a lot about what people say and I have low self esteem but I’d really like to know why? Is it because of my past? What can I do? I also think I am socially awkward. My family thinks I am fine, but I am pretty sure I do have some issues. Or did I make myself believe I have some issues? That is how unsure I am. Please help me. I really need to know why. I come from an Asian country if that helps. Looking forward to your reply. (age 23, from Asia)Is There Something Wrong with Me?
Is There Something Wrong with Me?
A: Thank you for writing in with your questions, however, you have included too many concerns for me to address them all in this forum. My bottom line advice is that you could benefit from seeing a mental health professional. In my opinion, you were the victim of sexual abuse and although I’m sure that your parents meant well, the manner in which they handled your disclosure caused you even more problems. You were young and impressionable on all fronts. It is not your fault that you ultimately “agreed to” a more intimate relationship with the older male. He demonstrated a pattern common in sexual abuse predators.
To add insult to injury, your victimization was complicated by the added fear of pregnancy, STD’s and HIV and these fears ultimately became phobias and obsessions. So yes, I do think that your past has everything to do with your current self-esteem issues, social issues, emotional break-downs and confusion about your relationship boundaries.
It’s time to stop worrying about what anyone else will think and go get some help. It’s time to stick up for yourself and do what is right for you.
All the best,
Dr. Holly Counts