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Quarantined When I Thought I Left Them Behind
COVID's in full swing right now. I'm a sophomore in college, finishing up my second year studying biology. I never thought I'd be forced to come back here, but with the pandemic, everything's shut down, so here I am.
In a way, I'm grateful to a degree. I don't think that everything is perfect or happens for a reason (or at least, that it's that neat). But I do think that good things happen and bad things happen, and they all help you grow to get a little bit better.
Literally made a reddit account for this. Never would've done this before, but unthinkable times call for unthinkable measures, right? Corny, but let's get into it.
So my parents are an Indian couple who got together with an arranged marriage. The immigrated to America, and I popped out a year later. I've heard from them in passing/rants about how much they've had to struggle with to build a life for themselves from scratch, and it's no joke. I really, truly respect it. I understand and empathize with it. But I think the hardest thing is that I don't get respect in return.
I'd love to write this in chronological order, but things are just to intense on the front end for me to delve into my childhood and focus up on detailing those events.
My attempts to analyze their motives
Anyway, I guess the stress of building a life here and the Indian culture made them the way they are. Both my parents have Indian musical training, and I suppose the combination of the culture, religion, and training (closely tied to culture and religion) made them this way. I've spent my entire life hearing them yell at me, beat me, whatever. (I say whatever, and one of the healthiest things to do would be to actually dissect "whatever", but this post is a first step, not the first ten lmao. We'll see). I guess they were just taught to keep moving forward and focus on what society expected from them? Our "family" – my parents, rather – are super religious.
I experienced verbal, physical, and emotional abuse all my life. I just recently put together that the reason that I didn't try in high school and wasn't motivated wasn't because I wanted to "get back at them" for being so intense in high school and before. Maybe marginally. No, I've recently realized that I've literally been depressed for all four years of high school, maybe more. That was astounding. To tie all these things together and actually be able to point to a concrete cause was the most bittersweet thing. I'm so happy to realize that, but at the same time, the situation sucks, you know?
Anyway, my parents are super religious, and so I've recently started to question their motives, to analyze why they do what they do. It's the first step to reconciling, right? I've asked them point-blank why they birthed me, and the explicit reason I got was because "God gave us the job to make you", so what I'm hearing is "society expected it of us". I call BS. (going to share my personal stance on religion, not applicable for everyone) I've turned agnostic now, because I refuse to believe that "God" simply decided to put me in an abusive family. Even before, when I did believe more in this, there was this sense of "ignore the millions of people suffering out there, karma made them deserve it". Which if you believe in, makes sense, but even still.... really?
And now I'm stuck at home with them. Coming back from college after two years has given me the perspective I sorely needed. I have actually come home for the first extended period of time since high school, and I can point to exact behaviors and say this exact thing is where you went wrong and crossed the line. I didn't have that perspective before, and it's a beautiful thing. But it matters for jack when you feel like shit.
Anyway, now I'm stuck at home, and in confronting all these thing I'm being forced to face, I can't believe in a God that would willingly put me here. To learn a lesson, perhaps? But that's bs. Literally I can just gain the knowledge. And you can make roundabout arguments about how experience is a better teacher (which I 100% believe) but, seriously, if you're all-powerful, I can just learn it in the best way..
Back off the tangent!
So a little bit about me: as a sophomore, I've done some awesome things. I don't mean that in a cocky way. I say that because I've had the privilege of being able to pursue my passion to the utmost, and at 19, that's something very few people have been able to do. I've observed medicine and surgery for months, done years of research, and even presented at a national conference. These were all with some seriously awesome, nationally-eminent institutions. I'm being deliberately vague because the more detail I give, the easier people will find it to identify me, and at least right now, anonymous is how I'd like to play it.
In elementary school, my parents were grooming me to "academic success" from the start. They pushed me into one of those high-intensity programs for nine year olds. It was actually super awesome, and it was how I fell in love with science. It's just obvious to me now that I was being pushed in that direction.
Anyway, at the same time, I sat down with all the other little Asian boys and girls (but mostly boys) for national math competitions in second grade. That was the time that I really remember the ass-whupping starting. Before, I was learning music from my parents, and would get beat for the smallest things (straying eyes, mistakes), but now I was just expected to make these gratuitous math jumps without any prior exposure. The shame from failing to ever bring home an award was... I don't even have words to describe how devastatingly overwhelming and all-encompassing it was.
Four grades of ass-whupping later, I found myself in middle school. My elementary school was full of smart kids, but I was the only brown kid in middle school, so obviously I was one of the smartest. I didn't realize until six years later that my academic success wasn't because I was brilliant, it was because I had enjoyed the luxury of a good education.
I honestly don't remember much in middle school, because at that time I actually managed great grades. There was regular ass-whupping, but nothing extremely notable.
High school, though. You love to see it.
I went to a snotty, nerdy, disgustingly academic high school. Ego and pride poured out the ears of almost every freshman there, myself included. Then it got beat out of us by some of the most difficult content children have ever had the misfortune to see.
My high school is well known (which is why I omit the name), and you had to apply to get in. There is an entire industry devoted to beating little Asian middle schools into shape over two years, and forcing them to get 100%'s on the admissions exams. Needless to say, I disappointed my parents further when I didn't score well in the course they were paying for, and I felt the effects at home.
Though I will say one thing that I am so grateful for. My parents bought me nice things, my mother went out of her way to always make home-cooked meals, and for that I was grateful. The abuse was hard. But what has driven me in my life has been the fact that they never pushed me towards a career. I want to do medical research now, and it's solely of my own volition. That much I'm confident in. They drilled in a hardworking ethic and always doing my best, and I struggled for a long time with the fact that their core values became my core values. But at this point, I am what I am, and I love myself.
I guess the problem is that they don't love me anymore. And maybe they do, but I haven't seen it where it counts for years now.
Like I said, we were all arrogant kids until we realized high school was not going to be middle school. I'm sure all the other kids at our pre-dominantly Asian institution were beat at home too, because goddamn, suicide rates were high there and no one talked about it.
Anyway, that was when the shoe really dropped. My parents pushed and pushed until I just didn't want to work. Before, I thought my lack of motivation was to get back at them. But now, I realize that it's because of depression. I was so depressed. I didn't have friends, didn't fit in. I was entirely socially isolated.
It was really because that's when the dream fell apart (in their eyes). They had pushed and pushed me towards this hallmark of a school I had heard about their entire lives. But then, I failed so abysmally that they took their fears and frustrations on me. That was probably the hardest time of my life.
And it truly disgusts me to say that. So many people out there are struggling medically, personally, and the like from, wars, famine (right now, disease), poverty, and actual domestic violence. I know that part of my problem has been finding difficulty in accepting that my childhood was actually abusive, but at the same time, I never feared for my life. (Though that was because society would ask inconvenient questions, not for any wealth of love for me on their part). I probably got threatened four times a week that I would die, or that I should die, or that I was a waste of space or the like at its pinnacle in high school. But I'm just so disgusted to say "yeah the hardest time of my life was when I was abuse at home", with three meals, a bed, clothing, a home, and an education most people can't even dream of". There are people out there that are literal prisoners of war, or suffering from the trauma of taking lives – people who watch their family starve, or are stuck in internment camps. It's what I want to help through my career. People who have it worse than me. But I guess I have to recognize the reality of what I've experienced at home.
I was depressed a lot of the time, and college applications in senior year were suffocating. That constant pressure and amount of attention from them changed it to the point that I truly began considering suicide. I was beat multiple times a night, called stupid and a waste of space (the kindest of their compliments). It was almost always my father. My mother mostly stood by and watched, but sometimes she'd beat me if she was annoyed at my mouthing off. Didn't hurt nearly as much, but still sucked.
Senior year was the first time I recognized my own depression. But after four or five months, I slowly worked out of it. I started figuring out how friends worked, and made one or two. Also though (I'm so sorry guys), Logan Paul. I was watching those vlogs and they genuinely helped. Wherever you are dude, you screwed up, but you kept me going for a little while too. I read this thing recently about how some doctors are annoyed in NYC about the COVID applause, but others have come forward and said while they cringed at it while well, when some doctors got sick w COVID/tired from overwork, that was exactly what they needed to push through. I imagine those vlogs were exactly like that. Cringe-worthy and terrible now, but what I needed to distract myself/keep pushing in the moment. I actually was past considering suicide for a month when his end of the year infamous Japanese forest video came out. I had already been questioning some things as I came out of the depression, but yeah, that was the day I dipped for good. Never thought I'd be talking about this, let alone on the internet, but yeah, there it is.
I just don't want to be sad now. The beautiful thing is, college was the first time I wasn't sad. I realized I didn't have to be when I wasn't home. I struggled for a while, spouting off my parents' ideals about life and society, until I realized that I didn't believe any of it. I was depressed throughout high school, though I still pursued my clinical aspirations. I did two years of research at an eminent organization, and it set me up for success in the future. I pushed through, made amazing friends with peers and faculty, and have been growing on a journey of self-discovery for the last two years.
People know me at my university well for my work ethic, passion for science, and ideas and contributions. And it's not a small university. Take that how you will.
The saddest thing about this whole situation is that I was truly beginning to grow out of my parents' oppressive attitudes and my past, to become an emotionally whole person. Then this corona thing hit, and now I'm stuck with them. The only thing it's been good for is proving my questions in college about whether I should cut them out of my life. I will.
And the sad thing is, I expected that a 4.0 would keep them off my backs. Because in college they would call, and the reason I wanted a 4.0 wasn't for me. No, I was fine with decent grades. Obviously it sets me up great for grad school apps, but I wanted it so I didn't have to hear from them about what a waste of space I was. There's no room for criticism there.
Senior summer going into college first year was so difficult. My parents always wanted me to study, so I never worked. The assumption was that they would pay for my college, but they almost pulled out entirely. I would've been stuck with them for the rest of my life. Jesus, that's terrifying. So I used their money and took out loans freshman year, but I've promised myself since that I'll do whatever it takes to fund my own education. The only way now to do that while remaining competitive as an applicant is through scholarships, so I swear, that's what I'll do. I've already funded this year through scholarships and financial aid (which my father fills out), and I don't want another penny from them. The goal is to gain enough scholarships and earn enough money with two side jobs (while taking 19 credit hours, mind you), to fund my education and rest of my life.
What's so funny is that my father stopped working when I was 16. They hid it from me at first, but now it's a known fact. It touches at the heart of why I'm abused, and how I figured it out. He's just an unfulfilled person, stuck in his own self-delusions. He's earned enough money with a lower to mid-middle class income to sit back and watch the savings shrink for a bit, but now on the edge of four years later, we're cutting it close. And my mother came down with a big illness (that is lifelong), so that really stirred the pot.
Oh man. My favorite part of college was getting texts saying, "hey, why don't you listen to us or call us? stop ignoring us and call every day, we worry about you". Then I'd get on the phone and actually, two out of three calls would be civil. But every third one was a guaranteed shouting match. And my FAVORITE favorite part of college was getting texts saying "oh by the way, your education doesn't matter. it doesn't matter how well you do. The doctors are asking your mother if she is under any stress. YOU'RE the reason she's sick now, because YOU are the cause for all our stress".
Motherfucker, I'm hundreds of miles away.
I had to stay home for the summer. There's an important medical application coming around, and you need clinical experience. I literally spent every waking moment of my summer with doctors. LITERALLY. I shit you not. It's hilarious because so many people envy my depth and breadth of clinical experience. And I called maybe two hundred doctors to establish this experience, and heard maybe 198 no's. But I persevered and worked my butt off.
The biggest reason was to gain the clinical experience and learn about a profession I'm passionate about. But in the back of my mind.. "if you don't get it, you'll be stuck at home 24/7". And that terrified me more than anything else. So I organized a kick-ass internship that third-year medical students would die for, and woke up at 4AM every day, walked to the bus stop (bc we have one car, and I'm sure my dad would let me touch it), and took a two hour commute by public transport to reach pre-rounds by 6:15AM every day. I'd stay in the OR until 6 or 8PM, but sometimes 11PM or 1AM for an emergency case. Then I'd get up the next day at 4AM to rinse and repeat.
God dammit, that was the fucking life. I didn't have to see them, and I was getting clinical experience like no undergraduate would believe. I have an insane number of hours now, and I am so grateful for that opportunity. I actually observed some medical lectures, and grasped concepts in cadaver labs quicker than even the first-year medical students there. I was so happy about finally feeling success by my own metrics. My parents would never understand, and don't understand anymore, what I do, and so success is on my own terms now. I'm so happy about that.
But here's the thing. I can gas myself up all day long, saying "great job for doing your best". But so many of my friends had to work jobs over the summer or the like. Because I didn't have true obligations (though my obligation was studying and to a lesser extent, looking good for society, or risk getting my ass beat daily), I could afford the luxury of observing medicine unpaid for all of summer while my parents paid for food, housing, clothing or the like. I have these accomplishments, but I can't share them with 98% of people because they despise me for it. For doing it better than they can. But the thing is, it's not even to brag about it. It's literally just, "oh yeah, I actually observed this awesome neurosurgery case where they were discussing the action potentials we're learning about in cell bio rn". And then its fifty people looking at me going "fuck you, you're the reason we fail". LMAO bro, clean your own act up. I've made my peace with that, but it's just the hypocrisy of it, you know? Sure I've accomplished things, but it's only because I've had the privilege of having food and other standards of living provided for. I don't feel guilty about my accomplishments yet, but I am worried it might go in that direction.
I was so in love with my life at college. I was living my best life, and all my successes and failures were of my own making. I loved that. Not only was I succeeding by my own merit, but the mistakes and shortcoming I was making were of my own making.
Things are nice now bc they have nothing to say about my academics. But what really changed my mindset from questioning if the was real to showing me that it was was when I came back home to the same offensive, disgusting dialogue that I had left. On breaks, they engaged in it after a week had gone by. Now its "studying isn't everything, go exercise, you suck". Though maybe not that nicely. They also hit me much less, but it's really a slippery slope right now. They didn't do anything at all and yelled barely four weeks ago or in the first week of breaks, and it's all slowly increasing, just like it did on breaks
Now I'm stuck with them at home, and I can feel myself feeling that depression I need thought I'd have to.
Once I am independent, the first thing I'll do is seek out therapy. Until then, though... this'll have to do.
I guess this is my way to share my story and ask for help. What are y'alls thoughts?
TLDR: Soon-to-be 20yo college kid, quarantine at home w crazy parents. I'm a sophomore who (feels like he is) on the path to doing great things if he could live alone (not in a cocky way, but a self-encouraging way), and just is trying to cope with the idea of being stuck at home for the next four+ months, and processing the last decade+ of abuse.
submitted by Mystic-216