Because sometimes people do feel that way. Sometimes your life feels like it’s caving in on you. Sometimes people really do feel like they don’t want to exist, like they just want to curl up into a ball, and go into that place between life and death. Saying “I don’t want to exist” isn’t saying “I want to go die”. It’s saying “I wish that for the time being, I could go somewhere and not have to feel”. If you don’t know how it feels to feel that way, then you have no place to judge anyone who does. – unknown
Growing up, people around told me I was “mature for my age” and “wise beyond years”. There I was, in my growing body, I watched the world taking part in human interactions as if I was just watching a movie on my screen, never taking part in any of it. I always felt invisible, like I never existed. I never wanted to be mature, I just wanted to be a child.
My first memory of self cutting was when I was 14, or maybe 15. I never felt heard. No one noticed me. No one bothered. Once I ran into a tree while playing catch with my neighbour, and half my face swelled. No one noticed anything strange, everyone continued with their dinner as usual. The next day, my maths teacher gasped in horror at seeing me, with a badly bruised face, turning up for class. I was then ordered to be sent to the doctor’s after school, where the doctor promptly sent me to the nearest hospital.
Then it hit me. Was I really alive? Or was I dead and didn’t have a clue I had passed on? I just wanted to shut out the pain of rejection, the pain of being ignored, the pain of non-existence. I had to know who I was. Cutting my arm served two purposes: first, proof that I am still alive; second, that I can still feel pain. I didn’t know which is worse; the pain inside or the pain outside?
In addition, I was haunted by the same dream every night: a shadowy man chasing me down the stairs. And it always ended the same way; he always caught me and I woke up, heart thumping so hard I was convinced I could have died of heart attack. Night after night after night. I simply couldn’t take that dream any longer and I was so sure I would not live beyond 16.
But 16 came and went. So I decided to give fate a helping hand before I reached 17, by attempting to swallow pills. By then I had researched the ways to die and decided on the spur of moment that pills were the way to go. For some reasons unknown to me, I stopped after taking two pills and just lied in bed. I couldn’t remember after that, only that I had caused panic among my relatives when I had stupidly confessed to my cousin. And of course, it incurred the wrath of my mother whom felt I had personally brought her shame. And the next 12 years had been a stroll in hell. Until the day I decided to put some distance between us and moved to the other side of planet Earth. That’s when my nightmares stopped.
22 years have passed and I stopped seeing that shadow chasing me in my dreams. But in my worst moments, I could still hear the condescending voice of my mother berating down at me in my head. And I am no pretty picture of success: I have a son from a failed marriage; unable/unwilling to move back home to my mother, which I couldn’t figure out if it is due to shame or I am just plain stubborn and unwilling to give her that smug feeling that she was right-I am a failure; I am still single and dateless, fear kept me back from dating; I am still broke and no matter what I do, business just simply couldn’t take off. I couldn’t figure out why some people still think I am brave/strong/successful/an inspiration. Just ask Quora, I had shared a short snippet of my past and had gathered so many likes I had lost count; one reader even encouraged me to write a book.
Naively, I thought time and distance might give my mother and I enough space to heal the wounds between us, or rather inside me. For a while, it seemed to work. My mother is more pleasant but still time and distance couldn’t scrub away the scars she left within me and no matter what she did , it didn’t convinced me enough to move back home as she had wanted. And she was getting desperate in wanting me out of Turkey. The more she cajoled me in leaving Turkey, the more stubborn I would get, so we are locked in some pretty nasty passive-aggressive behaviours, which typically would ended with her sighing so loudly, I swear she could win an oscar for playing the martyr. And memories of her swearing and cursing me with pathetic life and difficult children fluttered through the internet, into my phone and rolled down my memory lane.
The last phonecall with my mother turned dark and made me snapped completely. She finally confessed, in her own words, that she has no plans to give me my much-needed rightful inheritance from my father who passed on three years ago, and that she considered me a non-priority since I don’t inhabit the same soil as she did. Me, a single mother, looking forward to inherit some cash that would change both my son and my life completely, only to have hopes dashed by my mother’s confession. What made the whole conversation worse was not to have hopes puffed up in smoke, but to hear that I was a non-priority. A nobody. Growing up under her roof, I was always a non-priority. But to actually hear those words felt like cold water got pumped into my blood vessels. It was the last insult I would ever allow her to force upon me. Excruciating as it was to decide she could never be the mother I deserved and convincing myself that lightning will not strike me down for being nasty to my mother, I had to burn the bridge. I ended that phonecall and with it, my relationship with her. I have decided to turn to the lawyer to sort out my warped family and their money issues.
All my life, I had been going to my friends’ houses, my eyes staringly longingly at their happy interactions, secretly wishing and begging that they would somehow notice this strange little girl in search of a “real” mom, hoping to be adopted into their families. Just for one day. Any family. Just to feel and understand the meaning of home, the meaning of love. But at the end of the day, I am just a non-priority.
My doodles always ended the same: a house with a garden. Over and over. And life has a strange way of making it up to me: I was blessed with my son, despite doctor’s predication that I could never conceive due to some medical problems. Within my limited means, I try to make my house a home to come to. After relating my story to a couple of friends, the best compliment I ever had was: I am unlike my mother, I am a way better mother than most mothers.
Because I know precisely how it felt like to return to a house where it is not home. Where would you go when your house isn’t home? Make one. That’s why my son and I have a place we call home. And I am now finally home.