I Need To Be Honest With You All: I’m Losing Myself

I feel like I’m missing out on life. Correction: I am missing out on life. I contemplate over if I’m purposefully doing this to myself, but another part of me knows that I don’t bear all the blame.

In middle school and high school I was in love with reading. I would read on the bus ride to and from school, I would sneak and read in class, and I would sometimes read during lunch while my friends mingled. When I came home I would read while I cooked dinner and read a little bit before doing homework. Sometimes I didn’t do homework at all because I was so invested in my book. Reading was my favorite pastime.

As I aged and gradually learned how to categorize my emotions and experiences, I became more and more reserved — not just from my pastimes, but also from family and eventually people in general. I became accustomed to keeping secrets and withdrew into my mind in order to preserve myself. I built a wall not so that I could keep people out, but so I could protect whatever was left within me.

I was always criticized for not being or doing enough, or not being like everyone else even though I was also told not to be like anyone.

“You need to be more like your friend who quit their extracurricular activites to focus on school.” “You aren’t doing enough, meaning you won’t have anything on your resume.” “An A minus? That’s not good, it needs to be better.” “You need to smile more.”

I told confidential feelings to the womxn in my life who I thought I could depend on, but they ended up telling each other and who knows who else. As a result, I lost confidence in people and so I kept my burdens to myself because if you can’t trust blood, how can you trust others?

For a long time I struggled with figuring out who to blame for my mental health problems: myself, my family, my culture, or Western society? For awhile I only tried to pin the blame onto one subject, but I think now I know that it is a little bit of everything, yet also a lot of one or two things.

These days, all I do is stay home. I wake up, take my sibling to school, come back home and decide if I want to go back to sleep or not, later on cook dinner and clean up, and do whatever for the rest of the night — and repeat. I thought having so much free time meant I could finally work on bettering myself physically and mentally. But I was wrong. I just became more depressed. I had too much time to spend with my thoughts and emotions.

I have to apologize for the lies I’ve said to friends and acquaintances who have invited me out or whom I’ve had/made plans with. I didn’t not have time and I wasn’t going to be out of town. I just couldn’t bear the thought of being out and interacting with people. I’ve become anti-social, detached, and reclusive, all which only add on to my long-standing social anxiety.

I also think about how much energy I’ll have to expend in being with people, stretching a smile on my face and having to be jovial with the crowd. I can and do exhibit happiness for gathering(s) I attend (or host) and, yes, there are moments when I genuinely enjoy the time I’m spending with everyone. But after, when I step back inside my home, my emotional and mental battery heavily drains, affecting everything about me.

A lot of the reasons why I don’t leave my home (anymore) stem from my mother. Growing up I always had to ask if I could go anywhere and the answer was almost always “no.” When I started dating my ex, he helped me to stop asking and instead declare where I was going. (That is something that I can thank him for.) Yet even then, I’ve become tired of seeing how I constantly have to ask or declare where I’m going, while my brothers just go. I became tired of always being interrogated with mal-intent while it was always good cop with my brothers. I became tired of hearing bullshit comments thrown in my face whenever I wanted to do something with friends or on campus or just outside of the home.

“Don’t you have anything else better to do?” “Do you not care about us, your family?” “That sounds stupid.” “How is that even related to school?” “You don’t even have any money.” “Why are you always going out?” “You’re never home.” “My house is not a hotel for you.” “Do you think you can just come and go as you please?”

I became tired of having to keep track of how many days I’ve been home, and using that information like some kind of admission ticket to be able to step outside the front door.

I became tired of having to defend myself, to proclaim that I have only been out once in the entire week, when I wanted to be out of the house for a second or third time, or more.

I became tired of the accusation texts, claiming that I was drinking, doing something reckless, or not where I said I was going to be — hurling remarks to my face through text and ruining whatever good mood I was in.

I became tired of asking for money even though she pays for my younger brother’s rent while she, herself, indulges in online shopping — she’ll enforce us daughters to work while going to school, but not want the boys to work while in college for fear that they would drop out.

I became tired of realizing that she was sleeping in the room next to mine, keeping track of when I came home and who I talked to and what I did at night.

I became tired of her entering my room while I was asleep, climbing on my bed to reach over to my phone to inspect if I had any texts, or if I was on the phone with anyone.

I became tired of the emotional and verbal abuse I faced when coming home late: to walk in on my mother sleeping in my bed just so she could lecture me about being a poj laib; to hear her scold me that I was using her home as a hotel, assuming that I was playing around and hanging out with friends everyday, when I was only in the library studying and doing research; to see her ignore me some days and interact with me other days, acting as if she wasn’t bitter that I was not home to cook and clean so she could watch her Asian dramas.

My parents are still young — my mother, especially. I don’t not help out at home, so I hate that she paints this unfilial portrait of me. I’m respectful and hold my tongue, nowadays barely even speaking. I have an above average GPA in college, I’m getting my degree this summer, and I’ve been accepted into graduate school(s). I never, if ever, go out on the weekends. I drink responsibly, but barely go out to even get a drink. I party once in a blue moon even though it’s not my kind of scene; I do it for my friends and the memories. But nowadays, I can only relive the memories — if any — instead of create new ones.

Since my mother has worked so hard to restrict me, I’ve seem to inherently restrict myself too. I now understand, though, that I do it in order to protect myself from any more emotional and verbal abuse and trauma.

Like I said, I’m just so, so tired…

I’m losing myself, and death is looking ever so peaceful and irresistible.

I know that I have to break hearts, but I don’t know if I can do it since it’s towards the people who’ve raised me and/or grew up with me. I’m not strong enough. I’m not brave enough. I’m not emotionally stable enough. I won’t be able to handle the tension that will erupt at home, and I can only imagine how my mother will retaliate.

My life has been full of can’ts and don’ts and no’s, that now I’ve become a pessimistic person who’s engulfed in nothing but doubt and excessive (self) limitation.

Sometimes I wonder how much therapy or medication it’ll take for me to heal and become “normal.”

Sometimes I wonder if today will finally be the day that I do something fatal to myself.

All the time I wonder what it’s like to be, simply, content.

Hmong womxn | Feminist | Surviving & Healing

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