Maybe not that story you are thinking about
I met my husband when I was seventeen. I had lost my mother to breast cancer right a year before that. She gave me a scary childhood because she refused to leave my father to kill himself with alcohol. She told me she needed my father because she didn’t want to be alone once I had gone to college. My mother’s family lived in the same neighbourhood as us. We were in each other houses all the time. I decided that was an excuse. I promised myself I would never entrust a man with my future.
When my mother died and I stayed at home with my father, I felt so lonely. I kept saying that at least I had my brother and my sister; they are much older than me. As long as I had them, I wouldn’t be alone. So when I met my husband, he was third on the relevance line and never to be fully trusted with eternity.
I spent years battling to survive, unaware of the rules. I gave myself to others in expectation of collecting potential helpers for when my turn of loneliness was to come. I became a nurse to ensure a regular supply of good karma. I disregarded emotions that made me feel weak or powerless, becoming as independent as possible. A few years later, my father died of lung cancer, not liver cancer, ironically. It took me a few days to go back to normal. Then I continued with my life project.
I did well. I worked my way out of a low-income family to spend my honeymoon in Argentina. Yes. After eight years of unconditional support, my husband finally proved to me that I could start trusting him. I was never very romantic, so my explanation for me getting married was that I considered him the best person to decide for me if I were to be unconscious. Love understood by a nurse, I guess.
I didn’t have my mother or a father, but I got married with the rest of my family next to me and a whole lot of friends. And I continue building this independent woman that could be anything and care for everyone and never get tired. People used to tell me that I never looked anxious or angry, I always had everything under control and could always squeeze a smile. Now that I think about it, it should have been a huge red flag.
Those feelings I was storing in my body eventually started to flourish. I was finding it very difficult to deal with my siblings. My job was becoming more stressful than I had anticipated. My husband tried to support me, but I felt he could not understand me. Being a health professional, I knew I had to get help. I did. I ask a therapist to teach me how to improve my relationship with my family. She heard the summary of my childhood, just what I wrote in the first paragraph, and she started to give me advice. She didn’t ask many questions. She didn’t need to know all details about the past, she said. I needed a good family relationship to ensure that, if my husband turned out to be a bad apple, I had them as my backup. I really didn’t want to be lonely again. For a while, I seemed to improve until I hit a wall, and depression was all I ate.
But one day, with a different therapist, I remembered. I started to talk about the relationship with my siblings at the time of my mother’s death. They claimed they were sick-worried about me, but refused to take me with them away from my father. They used me as their personal assistant. My brother (ten years older) wouldn’t spend time with me, only to eat the meals I cooked, which always had a problem, or if I went with him to help him at work. He wouldn’t give me any money for it, by the way. My sister (four years older) would come every weekend and summer to demand a clean house, clothes, and perfectly cooked food. She would always be in a terrible mood. Most of the time, it was because I existed. It was difficult enough for me to stay living with my father. Why did I have to do all those things? I was only sixteen.
I did them because my mother untiringly told me I had to take care of my siblings. They are older, she would say, but you can be more mature. I want to think that it doesn’t often happen that the youngest child takes care of the older, but something tells me otherwise.
I cannot count how many times a friend asked me how old my sister was. Given the way you talk about her, they would say, I thought you were the older child. It’s sad to think that although my wedding was filled with people, I didn’t have that many friends that would listen to me, nor I would dare to share any of it with anybody. I was a weird, shady independent woman, I guess.
I met my husband when I was seventeen. I had lost my mother right a year before that. She gave me a scary childhood because she refused to leave my father to kill himself with alcohol. My older siblings refused to take me with them away from my father and they used me as their personal assistant.
After I started to put together all the pieces, I soon understood. I was always alone, and it is only now that I can openly talk about it with my husband and feel his compassion that I don’t feel lonely anymore. Today, I can understand why my mother would feel lonely with her family around. I, however, would choose to be alone for real—quiet and peaceful (chosen) solitude.
They say we are born alone, and we will die alone.
But we don’t have to live lonely if we choose the right people to hold onto.
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