!With the type of childhood and the teenage years I’ve had, when the time came, it was easy for me to choose the type of parent I wanted to be. You see, it was important for me to give my daughter a childhood that she didn’t have to get over with when she was an adult.
I dealt with all kinds of childhood drama and a quarter-life crisis that was filled with drugs, sex addiction, and a lot of therapy. I remember pain, and trying endlessly to numb it — going so far as to starve myself, wishing my intestines would melt and the world would be rid of me, and I rid of it, sooner.
My Quarter-life Crisis
I lost a lot of weight, the least I ever got was an unhealthy skin-and-bones of 97 pounds (44 kilos), and the pain lingered.
I learned that all the narcotics, interesting people, and experiences in the world did nothing to take away the hole in my life. That hole was shaped like a loving, patient father, and a concerned, appreciative mother. I know that my parents did the best they could. Given their education and the circumstances of my upbringing, I had a decent roof over my head, food aplenty, clothes galore, and education from premier institutions.
So, you’re probably wondering:
- What is all the fuss about? And, perhaps more importantly,
- What in the blazes is someone like me doing raising children or advising you about how to raise yours and beyond!?
I’ll answer the second question first.
I’ve realised that all the information you need to bring a healthy baby into the world can be found with a smartphone and a halfway decent Wi-Fi connection. I had access to both.
And, naturally, my baby came into this world healthy, and I’ve managed to keep her that way. But keeping her happy? This is an equally – if not more important a question.
The struggles I faced, growing up
My deepest wounds were not being able to communicate my feelings and my way of life to my parents. I have never felt a bond with them and always reached outside to find it; experiencing many unhealthy incidents in the process.
Much to my mother’s dismay, I found attachments with neighbours and escaped family time with my face stuck into books when I was younger, and my mind to boys and drugs when I got older.
My parents tried very hard to bring me back to their lifestyle but I was cautious of all our relatives, friends, even down to the type of food we had at home.
Then I faced sexual abuse.
When I was 8 and many times over in the next few years.
While I was trying to make sense of what just happened and how to deal with it, my family decided to move to a city full of promise and hope for our future! Or so my parents thought.
I felt uprooted and isolated (all the more).
A whole new city, a new school and a new phase of life, was just too much for me to cope with. But I pretty much settled within a year, but then it happened again.
This time, it was ‘family friend’. I told my father, and with all the fierceness that my father appeared to be, I thought he would murder this man! He advised me to keep this to myself and not to share it with anyone, especially my mother. My pain and disgrace wasn’t acknowledged; I continued to feel alone, dirty, and full of shame.
In hindsight, my father was only trying to protect me; this was his way, he didn’t know any better. I know this because I confronted him about this a decade later and only then was I able to forgive him.
But it was those 10 years that I detached myself from my family; feeling hurt, unprotected and vulnerable.
The vulnerability wasn’t lost on some of the boys that I dated in my teens, and every one of them wanted what I was readily dishing out as lemonade on a hot summer day.
Being sexually active at a tender age of 16 wasn’t easy because I did have my fair share of consequences. I had encounters with infections, hormone imbalances, unsupervised intake of birth control pills, and eventually one abortion. This fell the hardest on me.
There was a lot of guilt and I punished myself further with substance abuse that helped me hide my guilt, my shame (at least momentarily).
To Numb the Pain
I grew up fast and started working while in college; hoping that I would find a way out of all the mess.
My father advised the Human Resources (HR) profession for me; he said it was a great career because as you get older you’ll have less work and more pay! You can have adequate family time, not like the other typical careers Indian parents lean towards – like medicine or engineering and that’s so true! My father says the darndest things and makes so much sense sometimes. God bless him.
While in HR, I had the opportunity to help people know their rights and I was also in a position to empower them whenever necessary. I also volunteered at Connecting NGO, Help Save Lives, a suicide prevention helpline for 2 years.
To be of integral service to others did empower me, but very briefly.
I worked very hard and long hours too, coming home only to sleep and shower.
A Crucial Turn of Events
I was married a couple of years before I thought I would. My first year was the hardest – different cultures, different rules, very different ways of communication. I found it very, very hard to cope with it all. This is the case for any new Indian bride moving in with a new set of a family, no?
We all faced our fair share of complications. But it also drove me to become suicidal.
Fast forward a year and I have now grown to love, respect and honour my extended family! God bless all their souls because this episode was one of the most crucial highlights of my life thus far, and it turned my whole being around a quintessential 360 degree! Things have changed drastically and we share a great relationship now.
But that would take more years to change from who I was.
Meanwhile, I was still an angry, loveless soul. Walking around with pimples on my face, and an honest and welcoming smile. Only to hide the hole in my heart.
There is so much more to life than the baggage we carry. This blog is my way of letting you cue in on all the experiences. How God changed my life (for the good!). Perhaps, it may help you fill that hole in your heart too?
Read on to know how I became a Brand New Liz, that I am today.