I think I’ve felt alone and not belonging to anyone or anywhere for pretty much my entire life. I do not have any recollection of any point in my life where I felt comforted or secure in the people or place around me.
It started with my family. We are all brought and born into this world by a pair of people. Stable and well adjusted people are fortunate to have been brought into the world by two loving parents who at some level, recognized that having a child meant giving of themselves. I was conceived unintentionally and then carried to term and brought to life to either be abandoned or to serve others. Literally. My mother had me because she wanted to fill the void that my father could not. She has explicitly told me that when she found out she was pregnant, she decided to keep me because she wanted to be loved by someone. Conversely, my father at a young age told me to my face that the reason he had never been in my life was because he had never wanted to have any children. When he found out I was to be born, he was clear he wanted nothing to do with me and that included being completely uninvolved in my life.When I was 11, idolizing a father that I thought would some day come charging into my life on a white horse, he instead came unannounced to visit me and shared with me these pearls of wisdom that were the truth about how I came into being.
I grew up until age 5 an only child. I don’t recall whether I had a happy early childhood but I do remember succinctly the moment it became horrifically traumatized forevermore. My mother finally married and with it came the misfortunate of being at the mercy of an abusive alcoholic stepfather who decided that I was an excellent punching bag for all his own personal angst. From age 5 to age 12, I do not have a single happy memory. I remember tortured punishments, beatings, yelling, screaming, bleeding and feeling like how could I be such a bad person to deserve it all. My mother would try to intervene, but she would then just become the target of a pummeling fist instead.
I remember my stepfather would always reiterate to me “you are a worthless piece of shit”. It was his most favorite expression hurled at me. I heard it so much, I learned to believe it. There was no counterbalance of love, of affirmation of being told that what he said was not true. My mother never said anything to me at all.
The only person in my entire life from whom I have felt unconditional and true love is mi abuelita, my maternal grandmother. From a young age, on the rare occasions that I would see her over the summer or winter, she would just take me in her arms, embrace me and kiss me and tell me I was special and that I was her favorite. These were moments of pure bliss for me, of the tiniest hope in belief that I actually deserved to be loved, by someone, for no other reason than just because I was myself. Mi abuelita has been selfless to me.
At age 12 in one of those rare moments of extreme rage that signaled a severe beating by my stepfather, I decided to run away. I opened the window in the bedroom where I had been grounded and I just ran, convinced that had I stayed the next beating would have been the beating of a life and possibly death. After spending time in foster care and with an adopted family, at age 15, mi abuelita at the age of 68, came to be my guardian. She used her small welfare check to pay for an apartment for us to live. I started working full time that summer to pay for our food, my clothing and school needs. It was a humble existence and one which depended on me at a very early age making my way in life, paying for the things that most young people have parents to provide. I had my grandmother and myself. I remember she didn’t drive; had never gotten behind the wheel of a car. In that first year, she learned how to drive, just so she could take me to places we needed to go.
With the background of my upbringing, I became a person who does not know how to do anything but give a 150% at everything I do. When I was young, I had no choice but to survive. In high school, I worked full time every day after school from 4-11pm. I also excelled academically pursuing honors and gifted classes and graduating in the top 2% of my class.
In college and grad school, I performed in pretty much the same way. Always taking on the challenging curriculum while maintaining a high grade point average and working full time. I graduated with distinction from my Bachelors and subsequently completed two Masters degrees by the age of 25. At one point in those years, I tried to take my life. I was at the brink of desperation; alone in New York City, broke, 100lbs of anxiety, stress and bone and I just didn’t think I could take it anymore. I had to save myself, went to the ER alone, got my stomach pumped alone and woke up 5 days before Christmas alone in the psychiatric ward of a sterile New York hospital.
Nobody noticed my failure. Nobody noticed my accomplishments. Life just went on, as did I all alone. I never told mi abuelita about this as I knew it would break her heart.
I’ve always felt I have to prove myself, to be worthy of the recognition of peers and as an adult, of colleagues. Despite this, I’ve never felt as though I were accepted, anywhere or with anyone. I was bullied in my secondary school years and in university I was only able to find some semblance of “belonging” by not fully being myself. Amongst my family, I was always the black sheep or the dark secret problem child that ran away from home. My father and I do not speak. My mother keeps in touch so that she can ask for money as needed, I have one younger sister who has ostracized me and decided that I damaged her as a child and one baby sister who has her own family to attend to.
The only one that remains as the only true love of my life is my grandmother. The truly only other soul who will forever be linked to mine. She is 94 this year. As I write this, I cry with the knowledge that when she is gone, I will literally be nothing to nobody.
The “friends” that I have made, are far and few between. Most of them I met when I was a young 20-something with some version of a foolish notion that I could be happy in life. I went out a lot, had a “good” time and thus made connections with others based on one version of who I was. As long as I could make people feel good, they were keen to be in my life.
Today, in the face of my turmoil and solemnity, they are nowhere to be found. When I’ve tried to share my pain and my woes, they have found it to be all too much and thus I’ve been left alone and isolated. They do not know why I am down and depressed. They suggest that I just get over it. I am after all an adult and as an adult, shouldn’t we all just overcome the childhood traumas that were inflicted on us? It seems I cannot. Where others have succeeded, I have regressed. I cannot blame others for not wanting to involve themselves in my life. Everyone has their own lot to deal with, it is only natural that your friends are meant to be your escape, the good time, the celebration of our existence.
I’ve been scarred by living a life completely void of my own self interests; instead I’ve been in self preservation mode for as long as I can recall that I do not know any other way to operate.
More recently, over the past 8 years, I’ve loved somebody who is tortured, pained and broken but whom I cannot help. Feeling a sense of identification with a kindred spirit, I dove heart first into this relationship; but it has run its course and on the way, I sadly fallen further into my own abandonment and self neglect. To be honest, I do not think I’ve ever really known how to take care of myself, to give to myself, to be good to myself. I do not know what that means. I went to therapy for a period of 5 years once in my late 20’s to early 30’s. It was perhaps the most stable time in my life.
And so we come full circle, to understanding how deep my exile from any one or any place. In the light of the severe dysfunction that has been an unhealthy relationship, I find that I have become all but a mere shell of a person; a ghastly apparition of a human being.
Perhaps the only way to truly live, is to die to who I am today and hope that a better version of myself awaits me in the next life………….