To The Woman Who Taught Me How To Be Afraid

First of all, mom… I’m not blaming you that I turned out to be like this.

I’m not blaming you that whenever I go out of the house I need to remind myself ten times that I can do it on my own, that I’ll be fine and I’ll come home safe. I’m also not blaming you for the fact that I hyperventilate whenever it gets dark and I’m about to take an overpass to reach the jeepneys that go straight to our house.

I’m also not blaming you for all of those mini nervous break-downs I have whenever there was a vehicle slowing its pace beside me, or whenever I’m approached by a stranger in a mall. I certainly don’t blame you for the anxiety attacks I have had and the need for me to go back to the house every time to check if I left anything turned on, if I was ready to leave, or even if I locked the door right.

panic attack

It’s not your fault. But I do want to tell you, that it was because of something you said.

It was because of something you taught me. Growing up, you taught me that I was not ready for the world. Maybe it was in between your daily updates and stories of recent kidnappings, or incidents near our village where a girl my age (because of course, they had to be my age) was just going home and was never seen again. Or maybe it was even in your friend’s daughter’s cousin’s experience of getting assaulted and robbed of everything she owned in a span of a night.

Maybe it was even in the fact that it took you 19 years before you could trust me to go and walk outside to the nearest convenience store without a companion to accompany me. I think it was definitely the fact that I had to be trapped inside the house for months when you found out a boy liked me too much.

Mom, you taught me how to be afraid. You may think I’m overreacting, or maybe even brush this off as something you felt like you needed to do to protect me. But mom, you showed me how little trust you had in me… and that then reflected how much trust I should give myself.

not good enough

I was dependent on people for such a long time because I felt like I wasn’t enough to do things on my own. I was scared of anything new, anything I didn’t understand, or even anyone who was unfamiliar to me.

Suddenly all of the strangers around me only wanted to hurt me, and the world was set to always endanger me. I was so scared of getting out of the house and so scared to fail you because that would only prove that I was as helpless and useless as you made me believe I was.

You kept telling me it wasn’t safe. You kept saying I had to show you that I was responsible and alert enough to go out, but at the same time you wouldn’t give me the chance to prove myself. But then eventually I realized… you were scared too.

I realized that’s all there is; fear. You were too afraid to lose me, that you had to put all these fears in my head so that you could keep me in one place all the time. I don’t blame you because I understood your side.

I get it now, mom. Finally, after battling with the fears that you have planted in my heart, I understood why you raised me the way you did. In your own way, you wanted me to avoid getting hurt. In your own way, that was how you loved me.

You knew that it was hard to be a girl in a world that will attack you for it. You knew that you’d rather have me hate you if it meant that I would be safe and sound the next day. All those canceled plans, all those rules, all those stories that was meant to keep me from leaving… I get it now. You wanted to protect me.

But mom, you really can’t protect me forever. I’m bound to get hurt, to fail, and to make mistakes. I can’t learn if you don’t allow me to make mistakes.

I’m getting better now, mom. The fear you instilled inside me is still here, and I feel it whenever I step outside the safety of our home. But I’m braver now, and I’d like to think I’m stronger. I’m starting to choose to believe in myself as well as love myself more.

self love

You taught me how to be afraid, but you also taught me that I should prepare myself for this world.

And for that, thank you. I’m ready now.

(ALSO READ: 10 Things to Keep in Mind When You Think You’re Not Good Enough )