Trigger warning: The following article contains content about suicidal thoughts.
I had a friend who once told me I felt alone because I wanted to be alone. Deep down, I couldn’t help but agree, I did want to be alone and yet I complained of the same loneliness that plagued my soul.
I know I’ve been running away from myself. Every time I have felt pressure from a significant other to open up, I struggle to find words that express them better than replay the events in my head.
But here’s a try at my tale.
I longed to have a ‘normal family’, I never understood why mine was different from others. My parents were so eager to divest their turbulent marriage, they didn’t feel the need to give me the divorce talk. All I could decipher was that they were going their separate ways.
When I realised that the reason my parents got a divorce was because my Dad had strayed, I was 12. Mom wasn’t struck by grief, nor was my Dad guilty. Theirs was a love marriage gone wrong. And I was the byproduct of my Mom’s suffering.
My seven-year-old brain couldn’t comprehend the complexities of marriage and divorce and, for a brief period, I couldn’t stand the fact that my Dad had married another woman and had two other children.
Also read: ‘Break the Pattern Before it Breaks You’
My Mom kept telling me stories of the abuse my father had put her through. It wasn’t surprising. I’d been subjected to the same abuse and it wasn’t just me. He had a pattern, of course, I realised when I saw him slap his pregnant wife. It is safe to assume my father was a victim that fell prey to the ideals of violent masculinity.
Soon after, I felt afraid to go to his place. My Mom told me he was controlling and manipulative, but I hadn’t realised it was to this intensity. I couldn’t accept that my father was an abusive, egomaniac whose sole purpose in life was to control everyone.
Both my parents had a long who-is-the-better-parent rivalry. My Mom pushed me to be better, and never undermined my abilities. She didn’t expect much though.
My Dad, on the other hand, reprimanded me for not being good enough in a highly competitive world. He wanted me to be a part of the very rat race I was running away from. At my Dad’s place I studied what I was told to study and not what I wanted to. It resulted in exhaustion and an endless cycle of wanting to be on the other side, with my Mom, to finally have time for myself.
One time, a classmate asked me where my home was and I did not know how to answer because I had to pick. This put me in a dilemma that troubled me because I felt like if I picked one, I would be betraying the other. I couldn’t imagine the pain my mother would feel if I preferred to live with my father. And had I picked Mom, it would prove to Dad that I am my mother’s daughter and that I’m just “as emotionless as her”.
Also read: Lockdown in a Toxic Household
Years went by, and I expressed my distrust about my father and how I didn’t want to live with him because of his abusive tendencies many times. My Mom listened in silence. Can’t violate court orders now, can we?
Years of pent up rage and frustration, and there I was comprehending that I had no real home. To make matters worse, I was failing at many subjects at school. Both of my parents had been chucking me from side-to-side to win their own muddied competition.
I had no place to be, not one I could call mine.
With this painful realisation, I lashed out.
My mother still flinches when I talk about me being a suicide survivor. She says, “Chup raho tum, theek ho abhi (be silent, you’re okay now)”. She has never disregarded my mental health, but it does not change the fact that she’s still not ready to digest the truth that her daughter at one point suffered to keep herself together.
I stayed quiet. Went on with my life like it didn’t almost end and begin again. I pretended and everything went back to normal, no questions asked. I realised I had a second chance at life. My life after wasn’t happy, but at least I felt at peace with myself. I came to believe that’s all I ever needed. More than warmth and affection, I craved calm and solitude.
I have a past I can’t openly talk about, but I have accepted that my traumas are an undying part of me. My father’s sins don’t follow me anymore. I realise my mother’s neglect has shaped me equally as much as my father’s torment.
And I didn’t turn out so bad.
If you know someone – friend or family member – at risk of suicide, please reach out to them. The Suicide Prevention India Foundation maintains a list of telephone numbers (www.spif.in/seek-help/) they can call to speak in confidence. You could also appear them to the nearest hospital.