First post of 2010. I am slow. Anyways. Happy New Year, Happy Chinese New Year and all the requisite greetings and salutations. Have now started my third year of my medical degree. Time does fly. I'm an entire year away from clinical rotations! They promise to be fun, but first we have to fine places to go. I'm looking into places for a 2 month Health Equity placement at the end of the year. Having not really received many replies, suggestions are welcome. I have until June to finalise things, so I'm not all the edgy about it yet. Started playing Ultimate Frisbee, great fun and good exercise. Life is pretty good.
Now comes the tedious part.
During the holidays, I remember watching something on TV, and mum saying to my brother that she didn't think my father and her had done too badly by us, followed by something else. To which I remarked, in a rather throw-away manner "Don't you think you've done enough damage, mum?" I know, one shouldn't say such things to one's parents. Perhaps I've lived amongst my contemporaries too long, to lose such inhibitions. I would not have said that a year ago. Later on, mum asked me how she and dad had damaged me/my brother. I am ashamed to say, I took the easy way out and said I had been joking.
Even now, I wonder if I was actually joking.
My parents haven't done badly by me at all, to tell the truth. I've been educated. They sent me to university, and they had to pay a portion of my fees because I'm not eligible for that much financial aid. They made sure I had a set of useful life-skills. For instance, I know how to cook (you'd be surprised how many people come to live in self-catered accommodation without this basic skill). They taught me right from wrong. I would credit a lot of what I've achieved to them. They've been nothing but supportive of my ambitions, even to the point of my father demanding that I have a back up in case my plans fell through. I'm grateful for that.
And yet. Some things they taught me, I don't know if they meant to. I don't know if they know what I learnt from watching, from listening, from their actions. Perhaps it was right for the circumstances. I don't know.
I was never the compliant child; that was my brother. I-- I was always strong-willed and demanding. Perhaps my parents were stricter with me because I was the eldest. I don't know if some of what I am now is what I always have been, or whether it was shaped. I know that it was unacceptable to be disrespectful to your parents. I tried not to be. But what about when you disagree with your parents? Is that disrespect? When I was younger, my parents certainly thought so. Sometimes, now, I wonder about that. Perhaps I am over-sensitive, perhaps I feel emotions more keenly than other, perhaps I am easily upset. But whenever I feel any strong emotion, anger, sadness, frustration, anything, I will cry. I don't know if learnt that as an outlet for strong emotion, or if I've always been that way. So I would answer my parents back, reasoning, in my childish opinion, with tears running down my face. It's hard to be taken seriously when your cheeks are wet and your eyes are welling with tears. And so it went. "You're too emotional!" was what I heard the most often. Even now, any emotional crisis will have me crying. I'm not sure what to do about it. Certainly there's nothing wrong with crying, but I seem to feel so. As if it is a weakness.
We moved countries when I was 8, and the country we moved to allowed corporal punishment. I am undecided on how I stand on that issue. Being smacked might have done some kids good, but I don't know about me. Thing is, before the age of 8, no one had raised a hand to me. After that, well. Perhaps my issue is that I could remember a time when I wasn't punished that way. Or it might be that spanking was always a last resort for my parents. I remember it was usually when I'd pushed them too far, and/or they were at the end of their tether (after a long day, say, for my father). I only remember, now, that I was often hit out of anger. I was hit in school, too, but that was different. It never seemed to be anything personal there. You knew if you didn't do your homework, you'd get so many. Sure, I'd seen teachers lose control before, but somehow, it was never the same as my parents. I vaguely recall my mother saying she would not hit her children. Perhaps she didn't, I wouldn't trust my memory of that. I always quailed under my mother's anger. She hadn't wanted the move, but she gave in to my father in the end. She'd had to stop work to look after my brother and I. She told me, when I was young, it was a freely made choice. Yet, when she was angry, it always felt as if she hadn't wanted to give up working, that she regretted her decision. That somehow, it was my fault. She would complain that she had to drive us around, when I was around 12-13, still too young to get a driver's license. It wasn't safe, so I couldn't walk or bike to school, or tuition classes. I remember considering going to boarding school just before starting second form, partly to get away, partly to relieve my mother of my presence, seeing as she seemed to regard my activities as a burden.
So many times, I feel that something is bothering me, but I cannot articulate it. It frustrates me, and certainly it frustrates other people who might want to know what's bothering me. Writing helps, sometimes, but I have not written in so long. I remember I used to write stories in primary school and high school. Then my mother said "Why are you wasting your time writing stories?" So I stopped. Maybe I shouldn't have. Perhaps my problem is that I have always wanted to please my parents. Even if I know that I never can be their perfect child-- that falls to my brother. Physical imperfections, perhaps, cannot be changed easily. I am just the daughter with the twisted back and the weight problem.
I don't know if I write this to seek answers, or to realise a problem. Whatever it may be, I hope to find peace of mind someday. Who knows, it may yet be through writing.
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