Years ago I was down on my knees. If an earthquake or hurricane hit, I would have sacrificed myself. Not because I was being noble, I was done living The feelings of loneliness, emptiness, and sadness consumed me. I had no purpose, other than work. I was able to show up at work FINE (Fucked Up, Insecure, Neurotic, Emotional). Meanwhile battling severe anxiety, $60,000 debts in collection, and marriage annulled 6 months after the wedding. What went wrong? How did I get here?
Backtrack to 12 months before the meltdown, I was on top of the world, financially independent from the parents, got an MBA, a new career as a Corporate Commercial Real Estate Banker, planning a lavish wedding in Long Island to a lawyer from a well-off family, surrounded by loving friends and family. My parents seemed very proud of me. I got everything I thought I wanted, but something wasn’t right with me. I wasn’t happy. I didn’t feel fulfilled. I felt empty, confused, and angry.
I got here because I’ve been on autopilot most of my life. I was following the path my parents laid out for me. Get a high paying degree, marry an educated man from a good family, buy a house, and raise a family. And once I achieved the plan, my mind went, “Oh shit, what do I do with the rest of my life now?! The future I saw in front of me was boring and plain. I felt suffocated and this was the first time I noticed my anxiety, panic attacks, and depression.
I never asked the question, “What do I want?”. It was always what would make my parents happy. Pleasing my parents up until then meant I was loved, accepted, and worthy. The more perfect I did things the more praise I received, which meant love to me at the time. Since I was living my life on their plans, I didn’t know what I wanted. I didn’t have a sense of purpose.
Role Models in My Early Years
My childhood was typical of a first generation immigrant family. My parents worked 12-hours a day to put food on the table, clothes on our backs, and a roof over our heads. My siblings and I were left to fend for ourselves most of the time.
My parent’s parenting style was very domineering. That was what they knew at the time. They kept us safe and out of trouble by controlling our every move from a distance. We never ate out at a restaurant or went on a vacation. KFC was a treat. I transitioned into my role of sister-mom in the 6th grade (10/11 years old). I was responsible for cleaning, cooking, and the well-being of my 3 younger siblings (5,4, and 2 years old at the time). I was allowed to have only Asian friends (in an all white red neck community), I was not allowed to participate in any afterschool activities, and expected to come straight home after school. I didn’t have a childhood, so once I was of age to drink I partied so hard I would show up at work hungover at least 3-4 times a week. All I wanted to do was work and get ripped in the evenings.
My mom has a huge heart, so she took in lots of houseguests. We constantly had random strangers, introduced as family friends or relatives live with us. Her kind deed was a life lesson to me. Some of the male houseguests showed me lots of kindness when my parents weren’t around. They gave me the attention I craved for from my parents, which led to them fondling me. It didn’t feel right, but I lacked the mental capacity to know what to make of it. As I grew older, I realized I was sexually abused by these strangers my parents took in.
Needless to say, out of no fault of my own, my childhood SUCKED and was traumatic right from the start.
I didn’t have any good roles models, but yet, those were the role models I was blessed with. They were doing the best they can with what they knew then. Luckily for me, later in life I woke up and discovered that I can be Be, Do, and Have whatever I want. It’s not just a saying anymore, it’s a universal truth. It requires a high level of consciousness and self-awareness to see it. I wholeheartedly believe this and live my life based on this Universal Truth. It’s one of those simple concepts, but hard to put into action, but with practice, it gets easier and easier over time. I’m still working on dreaming a bigger dream each day.