Growing up, my parents’ primary means of discipline were verbal insults and corporal punishment. When I misbehaved, they would physically discipline me with a broom or bamboo stick. I would get welts on my back when I did things like throw out spoiled milk that was given to my dog after being instructed not to. When I was 14 years old, I was backhanded for speaking disrespectfully to them. I was hit with so much force that I flew against the wall. I was often called “stupid” or a “stupid whore” when I made mistakes, didn’t understand something or expressed opinions that were different from theirs. When I didn’t perform in school at the level they expected, I was told I wouldn’t amount to anything worthwhile. In 6th grade, there was a semester that I earned “A’s” in all of my classes except one. I struggled quite a bit in this class and thought I was going to fail. When I got my report card and saw that I earned a “B”, I nearly shit my pants - I was so happy. I proudly showed my parents my huge accomplishment, and was absolutely crushed when they scoffed and said “why are you so excited, you got a B.” Their words cut deep. How was it that trying my best wasn’t good enough for them? It was one of the many defining moments in my upbringing that laid the foundation of my belief that I would never be enough. I carried this with me well into my adulthood.
When my family moved to northern California in the summer of 1996 after I finished 7th grade, my experiences became progressively more painful. The verbal insults got worse. Any ounce of self-worth and confidence I had became non-existent. Other family members would physically abuse me. This didn't happen often, but when it did I was the one who got in trouble for it. It wasn’t the physical pain that hurt, but rather being blamed for it that pierced me to the core. The biggest blow came the summer before I started my sophomore year in high school when my older sister left home to go to college. My world got even darker having to face life without her. My grades started to steadily decline in 8th grade and hit an all time low my sophomore year. I barely made it through with a 2.0 GPA.
There was only one thing I was ever praised for, and that was my physical appearance. From a very young age, any time I was the topic of discussion it was about my looks. I was always told that I may not be the smart one in the family, but at least I was skinny and pretty. When I didn’t feel like wearing make-up, I was told to put some on. When I gained a couple of pounds, I was told to be more mindful of what I ate. When my acne raged like it was at an EDM concert, it was pointed out to me as if I wasn't already aware of it. Presenting a “pretty me” was a constant reminder. Important qualities that actually matter like my creativity, intellect, sensitivity, kindness, compassion, humor, playful nature, wit, and courage were never acknowledged. One of my top two love languages is words of affirmation, and this was something I never got from my parents. I didn’t receive what I needed from them to establish a healthy and loving relationship with myself. When a person gets told something repeatedly, especially from their parents, it becomes reality. I grew up believing I was stupid, worthless, useless and unlovable. And while I was consistently praised for being physically beautiful in their eyes, I never believed it. How could I when inside I felt absolutely ugly and broken?
At the end of my sophomore year in high school, I had a desk thrown at me while I was laying in bed. I, yet again, was blamed for it. This experience was a turning point in my life because I knew that if I continued to live in that environment, my next suicide attempt would be a successful one. The Universe answered my prayers in the form of my oldest sister and her husband opening their home to me. On the last day of school, I waited for my parents to leave for a wedding, then packed all of my belongings in a trash bag and headed to southern California to live with them.
The anger and pain I felt from feeling unloved and never enough fueled my drive for independence and self-sufficiency. I not only wanted to prove my parents wrong, but I needed to prove to myself that I was more than what they made me feel. I started taking college level courses during my junior and senior years in high school, brought my GPA up to a 3.8 in my first quarter and was accepted into California State University, Fullerton. While in college, I also worked full-time to financially cover my education and living expenses. After 4 years, I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and started my career as a Human Resources professional. At the age of 31, I had my daughter and have been raising her as a single parent since. When I turned 34, I bought my first home. Three years later, here I am having recently stepped out of a financially secure and stable career and into a purpose driven life….in the middle of a freakin' pandemic!
What are some experiences with those involved in your upbringing that have caused you pain? How did that pain affect the beliefs you have of yourself?
I knew I had to mentally and emotionally prepare myself to embark on the journey of healing the pain, anger and resentment I felt toward my parents. With the support and encouragement of my mentor, I set out to face my life long simmering demons...
Love & Light,