DAY 26

Being away from Warden rebuilds my self-esteem and sense of self. In my life, I never had my own room. Never had a time for myself. I am thrilled to discover myself. I see hopes, I see self-compassion. I see a bright future. I give up my desire to find a closure with my warden. I don’t need an explanation. She has too much problems and the best thing I can do is to focus on myself, my dreams and my hopes.

She does not deserve my thoughts. Perhaps the future entries will be focused on me, to what extent I am affected by her. I’m not sure yet. I would not restrict myself by plans. Well, not for these entries at least.

DAY 16

Some Things I wish I was told during childhood.

1. It is not your fault that you are abused

2. Children can go through stress too, and that is okay.

3. Your emotions are valid, your feelings are valid.

4. You deserve to feel safe at your home.

5. You are not owned by your Warden

6. Discipline should not be violent.

7. It is okay to be uncomfortable around people who harmed you.

8. You have a right to say no when you are touched in private areas.

9. You are not responsible for other people’s feelings.

10. You don’t need to be an abuse survivor to be a resilient adult.

DAY 15

At the age of six, my biological father drove me to school when he asked me if he could marry someone else and leave my mother.

I replied, “Yes, you can marry her”. My mother, isolated because of her mental condition, never fall for any man since. I felt very culpable to have “given a permission” for him to marry someone else.

That morning, I asked my biological father why would he leave my mother. He said, “Your mother is tired taking care of you”. I asked him, “Would you leave this woman if she’s tired too?”. He said, “No. She would not be tired”.

His response left me puzzled.

Before I turned seven, my grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer and she refused the biopsy and refused to get treated abroad just so she can be close to me. Her choice to refuse biopsy led to an incomplete diagnosis which accelerates the deterioration of her organs. The doctors cannot administer her the right treatments because they didn’t know which type of breast cancer she has.

My grandmother was an inpatient at a hospital 10 minutes drive from where I lived. Her second daughter, my Warden, was spending a lot of her time there. Since I was a minor, I had to stay close to her. I spent months sleeping in the sofa-bed inside my grandmother’s room. I went to school from the hospital and would return to the hospital.

Relatives said I was mature for my age. I looked poised and composed despite the divorce and witnessing worried oncologists coming in and out of my grandmother’s room.

I amused myself by making up algebraic equations after school. I made simple equations made of letters and numbers. Warden would asked me to go get some things at a store across the hospital. She never went by herself. I was always been asked to do such errands. There were restaurants and stores across the hospital yet there is a busy road that separates them. The road is full with motorcycles and clumsy drivers.

I asked my Warden what would she do to ensure my safety. She said, “I will watch you from here”. She is five floors high. This does not make sense even to my younger self. She can’t save me if someone was going to harm me. As a way to ensure my own security, I walked closely behind adults when I was going out. Considering the abnormally high population density, I am quite fortunate to have never been kidnapped.

Day 8

Mrs. Warden established some rules to regulate my social life.

Here are the rules:

1. Never initiate meetings or playdates

2. Saying yes to social meetings is a sign of mental weakness

3. Have to be on perfect behaviour for a week in order to go to playdates and meetings.

4. Maximum 10 text replies (all day)

I failed to meet these rules therefore I never had a chance to socialize like other children would. I wish I can go back to my childhood and reverse it, but I can’t. I am not even able to maintain conversations with people. I’m socially awkward and anxious.

DAY 5

TW: Description of auditory hallucinations, child abuse, mental illness

One and a half years after my grandmother lost the battle to breast cancer, I faced a subtle, un-diagnosed depression. I was nine years old. Being bullied at school and abused at home, I had no place where I could feel at ease. Household was stressful and school was no different. I had no access to competent psychologists nor social worker. I kept everything to myself. Before I knew it, my heart was grieving all day, every day. I got headaches, my energy was low, I had trouble concentrating. There was no break for this mysterious, persistent inner anguish. This tormenting ache in my mind and heart

My mind and heart were not at ease despite my prayers. I envied the weather above my head. There were no such thing as sunny days inside my head. Chasing positive thoughts felt like chasing the golden at the end of the rainbow. Where did my hopes go? What did I do wrong? I cried until I dried my tears.

I needed instructions, I needed guidance. I listened to my heart. It speaks. It speaks the language of terror and paranoia. The voice is subtle yet clear and commanding. I am committed to my heart. I am committed to the inner voice. I listen to it. It is fearful and it is threatening. Loving words were beyond its knowledge. Its motivation was safety. It echoes, do not look at the bird. The bird is a spy. You are being watched by secret agents. Your mirror has a camera in the back. The picture could be alive and attack you. Do not look to the left, or else you will die. Do not wear red shoes today, or else you will die. Never reveal me. Do not reveal me. You will die. You will die.

This narrative, these threats were unstoppable, and I was restrained. My individuality and sense of self were repressed. Instincts of survival was all I have left. In fact, it was the only skill I mastered during my puberty.  I was scared to the phantom inside my mind, inside my heart, but I cannot articulate it. I do not know what it is called. I do not know what I was facing. Before I knew it, my heart becomes one of the sources of my suffering. My heart, my mind, they speak every seconds. Another second, another terror. I was not scared of ghosts; I feared my thoughts. I feared them to death. I cannot run away from them; I cannot cover my ears to shut them up because they were inside me. Despite leaving all the lights on, the voices remain present and persistent. I had a phantom inside me that became a half of me. I do not have depression; my heart became the depression itself. I was not happy; I only know how to look happy. I cannot choose to be happy; I can choose to pretend that I look happy.  

To be continued …