I’m sorry I hate you and I love you

So my brother recently told my mom about the pressure he felt for getting into medicine and studying for the MCAT. It’s almost funny how I feel as though that was the first time she really cracked down on him. It was also the first time when he said that he understands what I might’ve felt. My whole life of more than 2 decades of being the firstborn and feeling all the pressure and NOW he says he thinks he understands it?! It didn’t feel comforting at all, but it did remind me the responsibility I have as a firstborn.

Someone once said this to his firstborn daughter that life will be harder on her as she bears more responsibility for her actions due to being a firstborn. That it won’t be fair, but that’s because she’s firstborn. At first, I was taken aback and felt bad for the little girl who was only 6 years old. Then I realized that even without being told that when I was young, the same thing happened to me. I guess it happens to all firstborns. Parents will be more protective and have higher expectations. They’re also the leader who’s supposed to show a good example to the younger ones. And with my brother who had a lot of health issues while growing up, it felt as though it was right for them to do that. I became protective of him too. From the teasing he would get from others because of his bandage on his ear and his hospitalizations. I’m not saying that I hated that, but I admit that there have been times when I hated him because it felt so unfair. At the same time, I would pour as much love as I can onto him because it felt like he needed it more.

When I think back to my studying and pressure that I received from my parents, I’ve always remembered them telling me that I should’ve studied harder to get even better grades. Them telling me how I should’ve done this instead and how I should sleep earlier. Them not knowing that I’d spend nights unable to sleep worrying because of the stress. How I would try my best to study everything as much as I can, sleeping at 2:30am and waking up at 6:30am to keep studying. With my brother, he sleeps late and my mom would defend him saying she already talked to him about it. When he sleeps in after a night of studying, my parents would say that he tried his best because he studied during the night. If he doesn’t do as well on an exam and says that he already tried his best, my parents would leave him alone. If it was me, I’d hear it a thousand times if I didn’t change my behaviour. I wouldn’t talk back to my parents, I’d just take it to heart and try my best to appease them. My brother, on the other hand, seems to feel wronged when he gets berated and would justify his actions. I guess it’s become a habit for me. I remember when I used to argue with my parents because of their seemingly unjust scoldings. It doesn’t help that when my mom scolds him, she’s learned to scold him when they’re alone so as to not have him “lose face” in front of us. When it was me, I’d get scolded in front of everyone and my brother would join in the scolding. I still hate that. But what can I say, I was the first baby they had, and parents learn along with their children. It wasn’t something that they knew to change before. I’m willing to be their guinea pig for the rest of my life. It’s something that I’m willing to do for my brother as I want him to become the best second-born, an improved newer person.

The shadow behind

It’s so hard to get rid of traumatic memories. Like how I see the dog with its bite-hold on my arm whenever I hear dogs bark, I see the and hear the conversations I had with that preceptor in my current practicum. It doesn’t matter that the situation is totally different, that my current preceptor and the staff are super encouraging and supportive, and that I did pretty well so far considering my mid-evaluation. I would still see similar situations and find myself go back to that memory. I would hear his words, hear the threats, and the rush of feelings would mess up my mind. The memory pounces on me and I’d have to sleep with a sleeping pill yet again. Day after day. Even if I’m able to brush it off and continue my day of work, it always finds an opportunity to come back. I try so hard to seem alright and it makes me wonder if people will see it. Or what they see.

Do they see a frightened young girl who is at a loss? Do they see a dumbfounded girl who can’t answer anything? Do they see a stoic mask? Do they see a friendly girl smiling despite her mistakes? At those times I can barely control my feelings and expressions. Like a ghost following me around, that trauma is something I can’t seem to get rid off. Working in the same setting, with a male preceptor; it’s so similar while it’s so different.

I really hope that I’ll be able to get over that trauma soon. I only have a week left at my practicum and I hope I can end it well. I really do enjoy working there with everyone and have learned a lot. I find my confidence took a hit since the memories, but I’m getting up again with the encouragements and kindness. I want to work even harder so that I can show that even someone with a trauma can do this. And that I am not someone who would’ve failed like they said I would. I need to prove to myself that I can do this. That I can indeed become a pharmacist. Believe. It’s been my source of strength when I have nothing to hold on. I’d hold on my wrist tattoo and tell myself that I can do this. That I believe I can. That I believe I’m stronger than the trauma.