I’ve just had my birthday and I made a note.
Just yesterday (November 2019), I turned 33. I want to write about myself, and I want you to read it.
Over the last few years, I have celebrated my birthdays in silence, I kept it so that only a small group noticed it. When the social world is getting more and more mediated by technology, I don’t have the energy to accept congratulations from people I don’t know well. Of course, it’s not on them the problem is since their greetings and prayers are good intentions of whom I know or not. The problem is I don’t have so much energy to share about how happy, or how meaningful my presence into this world is.
I know we can not choose our parents and family environments. So do my children. A friend once said that I’m a person with a wandering-mind. Wandering, rambling, absenting? Not resting for a moment. Not present. No carpe diem. Wherever my body is, my mind wanders. For me, getting chill takes skill.
If there is a thing so disconcerting and make me suddenly cry in a silent night, it is my role as a parent for my children. Many parents must feel this too. As a parent, I’ve been taking care of children daily by myself for three years. I doubt if I am broad-minded enough to raise them. I doubt if I have enough energy and affection for them. How do my children get the love they need from someone who’s already broken? Broken and hollow. It sounds melancholic, but this is not just a thing. This is a parent-child relationship… Whoaaa…
How can one witnessing and experiencing violence since childhood has a vocabulary for the word gratitude? Okay, I’ll try a little bit. Thank you, Mama, for pointing a knife and making me scared, I was so scared that I would be cut and really eaten. Oh, I should be grateful to Papa who worked hard raising and sending children to school. Thanks to Papa, because of you Mama went crazy. Oh well, not to Papa only, because according to psychology, he’s in the Precipitating stage. There is something called Primary Cause and it’s said this is genetical, although with just a small percentage.
But you can switch it, no? As you’ve experienced bad things, don’t you become aware that your children shouldn’t experience the same? That you try to swift perspective on life, it’s true. But the bank of experience, the distorted nature of the mind has become a comfort zone. There’s not much left of me to tell my kids that life is, for example, beautiful. Just for happy souls, self-sufficient people, the flow of happiness is simple, that positive vibe school. No, I’ve never had enough of that. I’m so sorry.
Once, I didn’t understand of why I could cry to see a family photograph at my friend’s house. Or to see children who can warmly talk to their parents, have friendly mothers, it’s weird. What a weird sight, it’s even weirder because I cried seeing all that. Even now I still feel awkward to see children (adults) able to praising their parents. Because I can’t ha-ha …
Now, when people talk about privilege, they forget one thing that privilege is not only about wealth but also health. Indeed, so fortunate they are who live well, have opportunities to go to schools and have a wide network, have good access to health facilities. It’s a pity for the poor, the not prosperous ones, who seek for alternative medicine, violence is around.
But hey I don’t come from a poor family, we are well off though we have not much. It’s really complicated when your mother, who can afford many things, always feels poor. It’s a destructive mentality. The privilege in my view is “how lucky you are to have a working mom, you’re lucky that your parents have a harmonious relationship, how lucky you are to have grown up happily and didn’t have to see your mother getting slapped and kicked, lucky for you as a girl to not get abusively yelled with words like bitch and prostitute by your own parents.”
A harmonious family is a privilege, mentally healthy parents is a privilege. Because violence is all around us, inaudible, yet shouts loudly inside.
So for me, building walls and closing doors is a mode of survival. And yeah, at least twice a year I visit the therapist to cope up with PTSD. I’m trying. We’re trying.
Happy birthday, Galuh.
Illustration by Eilwa