Saving Myself From my Dysfunctional Family

Updated: Sep 7, 2020

One of the strongest memories from my childhood is that of my parents fighting. The fights were often aggressive and violent; at times their families had to be involved to calm them down.

Each of them wanted to dominate the other and it only made the fights worse. However, they’d rather spend time covering up the fights than sort out the underlying issues. 

If I didn’t give in to their wishes or agree to what they said, they would blame and shout at me. I wanted to avoid confrontation from my end so I would take all the blame, believing that as a son it was my duty to help them. As a result, I matured quite early and became a people-pleaser.

I had no one at home who would praise my achievements or support if I failed. Gradually, I got used to suppressing my emotions - I never laughed too loud or cried with tears when I was supposed to. 

Things improved in college as I lived in a hostel, so the physical distance gave some relief and friends became more than a family with whom I could share my problems.

I felt the full blow of my parents’ fights only when I got into a relationship myself. Although I was physically away, the damage was more engrained in my sub-conscious - I had severe trust issues which made me break up with my girlfriend. 

After the breakup, I started leading a dual life. I’d be depressed for days, cry behind closed doors yet show up fine at work.

The depression got worse and I had to resort to therapy secretly. When my parents found out, they were furious. I tried to reason how past experiences were contributing to my present condition but they never accepted their fault.

Years of therapy have partly undone the baggage I’ve been carrying. I’m emotionally stronger now. 

For the first time in years, I have stopped blaming myself and I no longer let my parents control my life. I have come to terms with the fact that it is now time to remove my parents from the pedestal of providers and look at them as mere people.

Through this story, I want to highlight that there are dysfunctional family relationships and help from outside may be needed to counter them. I needed to share my problems with someone who can understand. Therapy did me good by providing that channel. Now, I take responsibility for my own well-being, no matter how things at home are, and put in efforts for a healthy mind.

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