I am the youngest in our small family of 4. The oldest memory that I have is my mom and my drunk dad fighting. My dad has been a drunkard all through his life. He never really earned too much, just enough to buy his alcohol or clear out old debts (at times) so he could take new ones at the time of need. My mother has been financially independent. She has been the sole earner for the family and also the one to put roof over our heads (we have been living in the quarter provided by her employer). She used to be my dad’s guarantor for loans and the ultimate payer as well. My brother and I have not been raised luxuriously nor have we ever seen dearth of basic necessities. Our childhood was spent witnessing our parents’ abusive relationship. Dad beating up mom, him calling up police and then police ripping mom off her money for ‘disturbing’ them just for a family feud (threatening to lock 4 of us up if she wouldn’t), dad shouting out of the balcony that my mother is a bitch, random people coming and telling my brother and I that everything will be okay, my mother making up plans on how she will quit this world and also take us along and many more. Once I even told my friends at school that they wouldn’t see me after summer break. I was 6 when I saw my mother collapse upon drinking some liquid after being beaten up by my dad. All she used to say was she will give the man an answer once we grow up.
Time passed, we were growing up and were in our teenage. Equation between my brother and mom began to get sour. He was in a bad company of people at school, flunking classes, started smoking, drinking, ill-treating mother. We had chucked dad out of the house and didn’t talk unless he was sober. I saw my mother breaking down emotionally as her pillar of strength was becoming the person she so didn’t want him to be. My dad used to feed me and my brother nasty stuff about mom so he could turn us against her. My brother developed hatred for my mom which we (mother and I) didn’t see coming.
I moved away for completing my higher studies and returned three years back. I have a well paying job and all the hard work I ever did was so that my mother could be happy. She does not need to pay everything by herself anymore and I have always supported her. My brother is 28 years old and doesn’t have a job, lives in a separate one bedroom apartment that my mother bought. We all live in the same city and brother and dad come home once a month or on festivals. Almost everyday my mother rants about how her whole life is a mess, how dad ill-treated her, how my brother turned out to be a big disappointment. On the other hand I have become sick of listening to the same thing again and again. I know what all happened because I was there. I do not like to remember or talk about any unpleasant happenings as it depresses me. I want my mother to get out of her ‘dad and brother world’ and realize that I turned out fine. The situation is such that my mother would call them names every time they visit. My dad has mellowed down, doesn’t drink when he is home or abuse mom. But when she keeps on calling them names he would give it back to her and call out swear words. My brother doesn’t speak a word and acts his indifferent self. I shout out, ask them to shut up, cry, beg, quiver crazily, pass out. This has become a ritual for every festival from past 1 year. I asked my mother to forget about them and pick up the pieces with me and try to be happy. But she has withdrawn herself from the world, doesn’t go out other than her office. I have tried talking to her for counseling but she just wouldn’t. My parents filed for a divorce two years back but didn’t go though with it. My mother says pretty nasty things about my dad, abuses him back, says mean things. I am sick and tired of having such parents. I do not give a shit about my dad and brother but mom means more than the world to me. She weeps everyday and nothing I do makes her happy. I feel I will go crazy. I feel I should runaway but I can’t leave my mom unattended, I feel I should kill myself, but I do not have the courage to do that, I feel I should stay high all the time so that I am not able to feel anything, but that would just mean throwing all my life, my hard work down the drain. I want to fair well in life and see the world. But on the other hand I do not even want to see tomorrow. I would at times punch the window and bleed my hand, slap myself relentlessly, play with blade or knife. Basically cause myself pain, any kind of pain. I do not know why. At times I cry out aloud and I can’t seem to stop. Then I suddenly stop and I can’t cry even if I try. I am not able to control myself. I do not know how to get out of this. I am hopeless! (age 24, from India)Depressed and Need Help. Don’t Want to Hurt Myself.
Depressed and Need Help. Don’t Want to Hurt Myself.
Wow, what a life you have had! Bravo for holding it together for so long and making something of yourself. You grew up in an abusive home environment and you still witness the effects of all these dysfunctional relationships on a regular basis. It is time to stop trying to take care of your mother and time to take care of yourself. Instead of trying to get her to see a counselor, you need to see one on your own. You are experiencing symptoms of depression and possibly posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and you need professional treatment so that you can heal the wounds of the past.
I’m not saying that you can’t help your mother, or your father and brother for that matter, but you must help yourself first. Like when the flight attendant on the plane says “First place the oxygen mask on yourself before helping the one next to you.”
Life is worth living. Don’t let the pain of the past blind you to your future possibilities!
All the best,
Dr. Holly Counts