TRIGGER WARNING: mentions of abuse and trauma
Emotional invalidation and wrongful comparisons can go a long way to affect your focus and daily life.
From high school until mid-college, whenever I got into misunderstandings and arguments with my parents, I used to willingly let them say what they wanted to say because speaking my mind was viewed as talking back. On top of that, my parents were quite strict. I couldn’t risk anything and I feared the consequences if I did say something. Looking back, I was so dependent on every aspect, particularly when being cut off was a possibility in our family.
This was my mentality for so long until one overwhelming Friday morning with my mom changed it all.
During that time, finals week was coming up and my classes were bringing me to the edge due to the influx of exams and papers. Lack of sleep and cups of coffee flowing down my veins, I was a mess. I accidentally snapped at my younger siblings, which I genuinely apologized for since it was a rare occurrence. On top of that, someone in our family who I despise heavily unexpectedly came back to our lives after staying somewhere else to get rehabilitated. I still hold so many grudges against him/her because this person was so abusive and manipulative when I was growing up, and I cannot simply let it pass. Thus, it led me to be distant to my parents specifically because of pain and trauma.
When luck still wasn’t by my side and my mom was the one who drove me to school, I recalled when she interrogated me. My voice inevitably cracked as I answered truthfully and wiped the tears that were beginning to fall. One of those questions was why I was so sensitive to everything after she saw me snap. When I simply told her that I was stressed out with school and I didn’t mean it, she bluntly told me
“Everyone’s stressed out with life. What makes yours any different?”
Out of the blue, she brought up my current status on that person. She is very aware that I don’t see eye to eye with him/her, but she just had to add on.
“You know you giving the cold shoulder is hurting him/her, right?”
Quite frankly, I do know. But frankly enough, I am still hurting more than him/her after everything he/she put me through.
Looking back, never had I felt so vulnerable. I didn’t want to show that side of me to them because I’m viewed as the strong, put-together daughter. Admittedly enough, I hated being weak. Eventually, I was getting fed up at how she was treating me because my self-worth was on the line, which is something I protect whole-heartedly. I just had to say something because it felt unfair that she dismissed my emotions just like that. In a heartbeat, I did. Though it’s painful to be remarked as disrespectful for talking back, the regret of not presenting your side – all the unsaid words and emotions – stings more because you’re letting your parents get away with it again. Because I had years-worth of hurt from the times they misunderstood me, I became more vocal in speaking my truth.
I retaliated back by inputting the fact that people express things differently, so there’s no need to invalidate my way of handling stress. Next, I responded as to how rude also it was to try and compare me to that person. Not gonna lie, but giving him/her the cold shoulder is the sanest thing I can give. After that outbreak, I was really scared but there was no turning back. I owned up to what I said, and now I had to mentally prepare for whatever consequences she could give me. One was ignorance followed by cutting me off financially by not giving my daily allowance and extra commuting fee for going home that day.
Luckily, I had a savings account, so I made use of it to sustain myself. I did try to reach out to my dad, but he didn’t budge because obviously, he sided with my mom. After she dropped me off, only there I was slowly breaking. I repeatedly kept reassuring myself that I would be okay so I can do well in my classes. Good thing my first class was free cut, and one of my friends was available to talk. He was someone I relied on when times were rough, listening as I ranted freely. After that, I resorted to doing school work to distract myself. It helped quite a lot, but then the pain found ways to strike again just before my last class. My mom pushed away from the ignorance and texted me to meet my dad at his office not so far from my school so we could go home together. It seemed like to her, everything would be okay in a snap!
The word home. I pondered on that deeply before I responded back. Home is a feeling, not a place. I rushed to the nearest women’s restroom and locked myself in the cubicle. I kept constantly reassuring myself, but eventually, my body betrayed me by shedding more tears. Only there, I felt everything.
I was just so done.
At that moment, going back to the household didn’t feel homely at all. So thank God for another friend in my life who opened her house to me, especially since I was already counted as part of the family by her parents. Immediately, I texted back that I would be staying over at her place for the weekend. I just needed space. Rather following their rules, I went on my accord. Some might interpret this as teenage rebellion, but it would mean that I felt powerful for not obeying and doing sketchy things behind their backs. In fact, I felt really afraid and anxious because I didn’t know my next moves aside from staying over. But two things were for sure:
I am not a teenager at rebellion with superiority. I’m a young adult who grew up knowing that when things go wrong, you have to be strong to interject them rather than be shushed about it.
It’s been more than a month since it happened, and for me, it was worth the risk. It both changed things between me and my parents both for the better and some for the worst. For the latter, it was the biggest argument we’ve had and it tainted our relationships. The fact that we exceeded limitations to the point that I stayed someplace else without them checking up on me for days shows that our future arguments may worsen and lead somewhere else if not we do not handle them properly.
However, it did challenge my independence because eventually, I will be living on my own and making my own choices. It made me realize that I deserve better when an environment like that was existent, that I needed to take care of myself too. It taught me more about how I really need to take a stand when things are unjust and misunderstood. Nowadays too, my parents slowly trust me more and let me do more things freely. Even if we have family secrets that can be used against them, I don’t say anything. I’m not in the position to disclose those things, and I don’t want more drama to pile up.
Parents aim for their kids to be independent and empowered as they grow up. Though the situation that made those realizations come to me wasn’t ideal, it still established more maturity in me than before. If there are any kids who are too afraid to stand up because of the consequences, please remember how important your feelings are too. Being aware that something is wrong is one thing, but speaking up about it is another.
If you respect yourself enough to know when the line has been crossed, take a stand for yourself.
Have you ever stood up to your parents? Tell us your stories.