So, before I write this I want to preface it with the following:
These are highly personal thoughts and reactions to certain things in my life, especially my family.
I’m not looking for sympathy or advice, I just really need to vent and write things down so I can organize my thoughts.
That being said, I have some realizations and thoughts I need to express. I’ve been living in a different state by myself for a month and I’ve had a lot of time to think about things, especially on my own experience in my family. My mom filed for divorce the week I moved to Massachusetts and it’s caused a rapid escalation in family tensions (not surprising!). I think the combination of this stress, having to figure out what I’m going to do with the rest of my life and having free time to really reflect has resulted in me having several breakthroughs and realizations. Most have been very painful, but I’m hoping that through more counseling I can work through them.
So where to begin? I think the hardest thing I’ve had to tackle is my feelings of inferiority. I’ve always had problems with my confidence. I’ve never liked the way I look, I’ve felt overshadowed by so many of my friends and sometimes felt like my parents were indifferent to my hard work in school. The combination of not really connecting with my peers at times, being excluded from groups in several ways in different periods of my life, lack of support from my father and problems communicating my emotions during my childhood has left me often feeling vastly inferior to my peers. Unfortunately, coming to Harvard has triggered a lot of these feelings to come back. I constantly have to remind myself I earned my place here just like the people who seem to always have the most beautifully articulated discussion points in my classes. I need to accept my experiences of course are going to be very different than someone with lots of teaching experience. I try not to be intimidated, but this whole notion of “Harvard” can get to you. I remind myself it’s just a label and for now I just need to think of the tasks in front of me. I wish these small insecurities about school weren’t linked back to painful memories of having roommates spread rumors about me or having been taken advantage of by another classmate academically. But they do…and I suppose I need to let the past be the past and recognize clearly if I wasn’t capable or worthy I wouldn’t be where I’m at - 22 years old working on graduate work at a prestigious university. That being said however, I think I need to define myself more broadly than what I accomplish academically.
More concerning is the complete and total implosion of my family. I’m exhausted. I’m tired of my dad and brother getting to act out all the time and placing the blame on my mom. I’m tired of being the only one who listens to my mom. I don’t like being told to separate myself emotionally from what goes on. It’s unhealthy and totally unrealistic. I’m also upset that it took me 22 years to realize that my family is dysfunctional. I’m so jealous of people with “normal” families. I don’t know how to react when I see people’s parents still seem romantically and emotionally involved with each other. I see how much my parents’ relationship has skewed my own boundaries. I worry that I won’t be able to move beyond it. I worry that I’ll never meet and keep a normal guy around and not push him away. I wonder how badly this has affected me and if I’ll ever be “normal”. It bothers me that people constantly question why I’ve never been in a relationship…and these questions just make me feel it’s all my fault that things have never come together right - that I’m not pretty enough, smart enough, stable enough, undamaged enough. I don’t doubt that people are willing to understand, but I feel few people want to commit to highly complicated. I want to be able to trust and not feel like it’s going to backfire. I don’t want to be co-dependent or have to constantly meet someone else’s needs while sacrificing my own. I want to have healthy boundaries and have someone else respect them. I’m tired of having these questions and not know how to answer them. I don’t like feeling excluded or separated.
I also just really want my paycheck. Knowing my dad likes to use money as a way to control my family just makes me all the more anxious to have my own. I hate that I think money may have just as much control over me as it does my dad. I just want to save up a lot of money and go to Anthropologie and buy whatever I want and not feel like it’s going to ruin my life. At the same time, I don’t want material things to be the only thing that make me happy here.
I miss my support system. I wish I could trust people the way I wanted to. I need to be less afraid of being hurt.
“But who can say what’s best? That’s why you need to grab whatever chance you have of happiness where you find it, and not worry about other people too much. My experience tells me that we get no more than two or three such chances in a life time, and if we let them go, we regret it for the rest of our lives.”—Haruki Murakami