I hope I am the last victim of victims in my family.
There’s so much to lose by living in fear and passing on the opportunity to impact the lives of others. Christopher D. Connors
Hannah Gadsby’s special had been on my Netflix list. Half way in, and I am crying like a baby. I empathize. Yet Hannah did more than move me to tears; she explained better than I ever would why I should likewise make my story known. Below is a quote from her valiant monolog that inspired this article:
“I am not telling you this because I am a victim, but because my story has value. What I would have done to have heard a story like mine. Not to shame, but to feel connected. There is nothing stronger than a woman who has rebuilt herself.”
The painful memories
Great sections of my life flashed before my eyes. I was listening to Hannah, shedding sweet tears and mentally embracing a frightened little girl who hadn’t had the change to evolve and become a woman. I showered the young me in warmth and tenderness. I embraced my pain in tandem with another woman. I acknowledged a connection through the pain.
Fragments of my past made an appearance: the torment and oscillation between the victim and aggressor roles, my incomplete growing up, the silent crying and hitting my skull against the headrest until it hurt, the dread of sounds, lights, shadows, raised voices, interminable fights, the need to defend the underdog and give all my food and candy to other kids, ultimately, the fear.
The full experience of hunger for human contact, for love, for quiet nights watching a movie, for someone to listen to me once, for having one single birthday party in my life, all that hunger, all that dearth of connection materialized in excruciating pain in my chest.
Some members of my family and the communist regime where I grew up in Romania forced me to internalize, hide, learn by myself without healthy guidance or parental support. My bizarre behavior manifested frequently in beating and then embracing my classmates. My grandfather confessed a few months before his death in 2018:
“You received a lot of beating because you had too strong of a personality.”
His wife, my maternal grandmother, would also beat me and kiss me a few hours later.
The solid and stern pain buried deep down in my cells burst out in an explosion of love, tears, compassion, revolt, and forgiveness while following Hannah’s confession. The occurrences that qualify as “triggers” for me are a smile, a kiss, a tree, a smell, a color, a texture, a gust of wind, a song, a certain name, a voice. Hannah’s pain was the trigger.
How I craved (between the age of 5 and 14) for someone to hold me and just tell me something nice about me, about the world! At 14 I was equipped to have no friends, listen only to dark electronic music, read about occultism, mysticism, love, loss, geometry, travel, symbols and old civilizations like a maniac. I lived in my head, in a parallel universe where demons would attack me at night and I would perpetually save the planet by creating a new species of tortoises that would grow olive branches on their backs. I craved peace and love. And I wrote incessantly and honestly, unconsciously teaching myself a coping mechanism that would later keep me in limbo, not allowing me to develop into an adult.
I picked up everything from books. But most good stories are tragedies, as we are all drawn to misery. We subconsciously recognize that the deepest knowledge is revealed in distress. My regret is I have had too little warmth and empathy in a childhood full of dreams, curiosity and repressed emotions.
My daughter is a miracle. She is the reward for all my psychological suffering. The way I raised my daughter is the way I would have fancied to be brought up. I am proud of my effort. My ego pumping every day helped me keep up the good work. My ego goes hand in hand with my fear, obedience, guilt, and shame.
I feel disappointed when I fail my daughter. And I don’t exactly let her down, I project my fears and guilt and read between lines she does not even “write”. This is who I was trained to be. A cold, crippled, scared 14-year-old who discovered life by reading and listening to music, while internalizing pain. I excel in paranoia. I excel in scenario making.
Truth be told, I should use the past tense as I don’t do these things anymore, but I think they are worth mentioning here. I am the sum of my experiences. Not going through all the suffering may have had the adverse effect of creating a narcissistic monster. My difficult childhood is not something I would like to repeat if given a choice. However, if that was the price to pay for my daughter to ultimately have a healthy childhood, I would pay it gladly.
I graciously taught my daughter to stay away from isolation, somber music and “why is everyone against me” attitude. I encouraged her to experience love, heartbreaks, independence, responsibility, and great challenges. Sometimes laughing, sometimes crying, she took everything as an adventure, not a trial-and-error experiment. She has helped me become the mother I wanted to have.
1. I have been reflecting and writing since the age of 6, and this is the sole constant in my course.
2. The examination and inquiry brought me where I am. And I am in a good place now.
3. I am certain, just like Hannah said, there are individuals who require a connection to others’ misfortune to grow stronger.
I write candidly about sensitive life issues: understanding of the world, introspection, self-realization and relentless examination of events.
My duty is to talk to people about the value of life itself. I will debunk the adversity, emotional torment and coping techniques that helped me survive. Living in fear is an abomination. Fear keeps us alive, yet kills more dreams than failure.
Life is a gift. We have one shot at living the best life sooner rather than later.
Please leave your thoughts in the comment section. Let’s connect!
Vivi has been writing about the process of self-realization since the age of six. She has dedicated her last years to helping people know themselves and live their best life. She has been teaching since 1990. She also posts/blogs about the role of cooking at the intersection of food and self-mastery.