As a little child I loved Harry Potter. There was something about Hogwarts and the wizarding world that drew me to it. I spent a lot of time daydreaming how my life would be if I were a witch. I pictured myself being good friends with Luna Lovegood. I imagined us spending a lot of time together, discussing abstract topics. Together, we would proudly uphold the Ravenclaw pride. Blue had always been my favorite color.
It was not until very recently that I realized why I was so drawn to Luna and Ravenclaw. Like her, I am a misfit. As a teenager, I’d repeatedly attempted to hurt myself in a suicidal way. The bruises I had on my body matched the pride I had for my Hogwarts house, as both of them were tinted in a shade of blue.
Growing up, I could never grasp the concept of “family”, as the one I grew up in was messed up. My dad is an ethnic Chinese, while my mom is a Javanese. My dad’s family held a very strong racial prejudice against my mom. That deeply rooted belief resulted in my mom’s disconnection from her family. Neither I nor my brother got the chance to know and much less grow up with my maternal grandparents. I was subtly forbidden to practice our religion by my dad. So, I had to learn it on my own.
My dad was, is, and will never be the model father for our family. He mistreated us for as long as I can remember. He remained unfaithful to my mom, having had at least four other women in his life. He constantly fought with my mother, and had the harshest words to say to me. He wouldn’t hesitate to raise his hand to me. Once he threatened to hit me with a remote control when I refused to do what he wanted. If memory serves me correctly, he also spat at me and my brother once. Eventually, my parents’ arguments were too much for me to handle. I was nearly losing it and I desperately sought an escape. I tried to run away from home.
During high school, I finally moved out of that wretched place I was forced to call home. I moved in with my grandparents since their house is closer to my school. That was the start of my addiction to pain. Every time I heard my parents arguing, I would either hit or cut myself. Feeling actual pain made me feel grounded again. At the very least this pain I could end.
My dad forbade me to continue my undergraduate studies unless it was on a scholarship. I received four and was ready to embark on a new journey in the Netherlands. But just two months before my departure, karma hit my dad like a charm. He had a stroke, and to this day and he is still unable to sit, let alone work. At first I was tempted to let him be and continue a new life with my mom and brother, but pity took the best in me.
Right now, I am struggling to graduate from college while working part-time to help with my family’s financial state. I suffer from depression at least twice a month, whenever I remember that my brother is still in junior high, that my dad has needs his medical treatment, and that my mom is getting older. As the eldest child and a young woman the pressure keeps rising.
Recently, I opened up to my mom about my feelings, experiences and current struggles. She was surprised to know that I did at least three serious suicide attempts, that I have a regular cycle of depression, and that I struggle to make friends in college. Her ignorance of my pain disappointed me, as she felt that she was the one struggling. Having to defend her kids from her own husband, she must have felt that the burden was all hers. What she hadn’t anticipated was that the lack of love, attention, and understanding when I was growing up nearly took its toll on me.
To all the parents who are struggling emotionally, please understand that although you are the one fighting, your child is listening. Don’t think that you are fighting it all alone, because you never know what your child may be feeling. Pay attention to your child’s emotional wellbeing. And please, if divorce is the best thing to do, please do it for the sake of your child. Maintaining a marriage for the sake of the child is selfish in many ways, as the child is forced to grow up in a loveless, abusive, and toxic prison. And, a prison is no place for a child.
I managed to beat my pain addiction and suicidal tendency alone, but I dare not say that others will be the same. I nearly lost my life, growing up in an abusive household. To all parents out there, and to those who are thinking of having children later on, I beg you, please, let no other child ever grow up like I did.
Chiara Anindya is a Communications student at Universitas Gadjah Mada. She runs the #MelawanAnggapan project and is outspoken in child mental health issues. She is passionate in new media and society research. You can reach her at [email protected].