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As Much As My Trauma Hurt Me, It Has Given Me the Greatest Gift

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Editor's Note

If you’ve experienced domestic violence or emotional abuse, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact The National Domestic Violence Hotline online by selecting “chat now” or calling 1-800-799-7233.

You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.

There is something about being the oldest child that sets you apart from the rest of the world. As the oldest of two, my parents had a lot to learn about raising a child. Add to the equation that we immigrated together and navigated a new culture and language, I think it’s safe to say that we all struggled in our own right.

I have written about the generational trauma I have experienced and I still believe that part of my struggle stems from how my parents, coming from a foreign country, raised me the only way they knew how. I have always struggled with my mental health because of this, or in part due to this, as I always felt like I was being somebody I was not and am not. There was so much fighting and yelling that it is inevitable a child would experience trauma because of it. The way my parents interacted with me deeply affected how I interact with the world and how I perceive the world around me. I am fearful of not being enough. I am fearful of shouting and yelling and even the slight raising of voices instills fear in me. I am fearful of letting my colleagues down and my supervisor down. I am scared of not being perfect, of not achieving high standards, and being the best of the best.

Despite all this, I have a lot of empathy for my parents. I see what they went through and how they have changed. Yes, it took many years of therapy on my end (over a decade) and it will take many more years for me to be able to fully understand the impact my parents had on me. It will also take many more years to be able to fully heal and know that I am accepted not just by them, but by myself as well. The trauma and emotional abuse that has shaped me has left me with little confidence and trust in my abilities and myself. It will take time to be able to trust myself again.

As the oldest, I definitely shouldered the burden of the mistakes of my parents. It has made me stronger and weaker at the same time. I am fiercely independent, having been on my own since 18 (to some extent, even younger), yet it also has left me to find others to trust in that maybe I trust in too easily and quickly. My struggles, though, have also brought to me my biggest joy in life: my little sister. She saw my struggle, she witnessed my hurt, and she has been given a life that I could only dream of. She has two caring and supportive parents, who are there not only physically to support her, but emotionally too. She has a strong and loving relationship with our parents, where they have open conversations and trust in each other to share their struggles.

Through the struggle of the last three decades of my life, I can say as much as it has hurt me, I have also been given the greatest gift of a loving and supportive little sister. She understands, she is empathetic, and she knows how much I paid with my mental illness and struggles to give her the life she has.

Through all my therapy, through all the inpatient stays and treatment groups, I am finally at a place to be able to face my struggles and try to see the purpose behind the struggle. It may not be everyone’s belief; however, for me, I believe my struggle was for a greater purpose. I am slowly working to accept my past, to accept my mental illness, and to heal the gap with my parents. I am trying to see beyond the storm, to see the silver lining.

Photo by H Yoyogi on Unsplash

Originally published: November 29, 2021
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