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.

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Suffocating.

I give up. Why can I never do what I want to do. Why are my thoughts always wrong and totally opposite of theirs? Why do they not understand me.

If they don’t want me to go on the internship abroad. Fine. I can live without that. But I do want to spend my last 2 free months I have before I graduate more meaningfully. I want to go on a long trip with my mom as promised to see all the places that I gave her in pictures on magnets. I want it to be just me and my mom. Why? Because I feel guilty. I haven’t been very nice to her and she’s done everything for me. She’s suffered so much in her own family and at her in-law’s. I just want to give her what she deserves. She’s also a lot more understanding and willing to hear me out than I had thought. She was very supportive after hearing about my depression and anxiety and would help me to avoid conflict with my brother over things that touched on that. I also don’t know how much more time I will get with my parents. Maybe next time we enter the emergency we may walk out with one less person. Maybe it won’t be just angina but a heart attack. Maybe the cancer that my uncle had is hereditary.

It does hurt that they don’t think I’m good enough or mature enough to go on the internship abroad and alone. It hurts that I’ve tried so hard my whole life for them and I can’t do what I want for a month. It hurts that I am always the one at fault, 1 vs 3. It hurts that they don’t accept my thoughts. It hurts that I’m crying in my room all night and they don’t come to ask if I’m alright or comfort me. It hurts that I have to give up my dreams over and over again because of them. It hurts that they say they support me in whatever I want to do and act otherwise.

I hear them talking outside my room. It doesn’t matter if they misunderstand me. In the bigger picture, that doesn’t matter. What matters is what I do with my life. I thought that the internship or travelling is a worthwhile meaningful contribution to and with my life. I still think so. But it seems as though it’s not going to happen. So I will just keep thinking of ways in which I can contribute to the lives of others near or far, friend or stranger. As for their ways of thinking, I can’t change that (believe me, I’ve tried). I can’t run away from home as much as I want to. And I won’t go ahead and do it out of love and respect for that. I hope that one day they can understand me. But that’s all I can hope and look forward to in the future.

AFTER: May 6th, Tornado

So finals are finally over, I’m half a pharmacist now, and I have time for myself again. With 2 month of not having to go to school, I would be free and happy, right? Instead, I basically slept my days away and was exhausted as I struggled with insomnia and sleeping too much during the day.

Update:May 28th

So my birthday a few days ago was the most eventful in the 21 years of my life. Instead of being a coming of age day, it was more of a “you are now an adult and the fast moving freight train of being an adult is going to hit you in full force just because” kind of day. On my birthday, which was also my mom’s birthday, I decided to cook dinner. If I haven’t mentioned this before, I don’t cook, much less for more than one person. Cooking for myself is very simple. I throw a bit of veggies, some meat, a pack of instant noodles, and voila! Got my carbs, protein, and vitamins. On days where there are leftovers in the fridge, instant food! No need to heat it up. I am THAT simple you could say. (or lazy, if you look at it in another way) So cooking a meal for my family was a big upgrade. Funny side story: I was going to keep it a secret from my mom to surprise her for her birthday and not having her to do anything in the kitchen, but when I was about to leave the house to go grocery shopping, she comes back a few hours earlier than expected and is parking right before I step out the front door. I ran back into the house and pretended to still be asleep but I got caught because I texted her just minutes ago asking where she put the rice. So, it became a birthday girl shared task and she came along to shop for groceries and helped me prepare my ingredients. Kimbap and mushroom spinach risotto was the menu that night. I totally got my brother sick of rice, but there were no complaints nor bathroom emergencies so it was a success! That night, I was dead tired. Cooking sure needs a lot of muscle. My arm is still sore today but that’s probably because I have no muscle at all in my arms and don’t work out.

After dinner, I took a nap and then when I woke up my birthday was over. And that was when the drama began to start. My dad decided to go to the ER because he was experiencing chest pains. When I checked his blood pressure, it was 165/95. Something was wrong. So we drove to the nearest hospital and upon admission, his blood pressure was even higher at 183/129. Something was definitely wrong. So we spent the night there to get his blood tested and have his blood pressure and ECG monitored. His blood pressure slowly dropped and we were able to leave at 7:30 that morning. It was so uncomfortable falling asleep in a chair with armrests. My already sore muscles were even more sore the next day. Thankfully, all the tests were fine but it was an experience that gave me a shock. My dad was always the one everyone depended on, the cornerstone of the family. It took 2 days before the tears and worries hit me. By then, he had gone to the doctor to get it checked out and was back at work even the morning he was discharged so everything seemed fine. But after reality sat in, I wasn’t able to think clearly.

Like I was living in some sort of drama, my brain decided to call my dad’s coworker the day after he went back to work from the hospital. Why? Well thinking about it now, I would still have done the same, even if it seems like a rash insensible decision. And I didn’t even get to ask the main questions. I only got to ask how many tickets they had in total yesterday and he didn’t even answer my question. Like, don’t even pretend not to understand English. My dad told me the day he went to work after discharge, he had received 10 tickets to do. He jokingly asked his coworker if he had given him all the tickets that day (seems like they average 20 something tickets between 5 people to do per day) and his coworker said there was 20 something tickets (thus I asked him how many they had yesterday to confirm). So out of 5 people, my dad got half the tickets. AND 3 of which were VIP tickets. It does not make any sense in whatever way I try to think about it. When my dad asked him how many he gave himself, he said he did 2. *Insert chain of swearing* So my dad gave him 3 tickets back. He’s still doing more than that coworker is. Ok, not even thinking about my dad being discharged that same morning, it’s not even fair to do that to any coworker. Ok, let’s ignore the fact that my dad is double his age, works slow, and has English as his second language. Sure, he graduated from UBC in computer science. Sure, he has a good 25 years of experience under his belt. Sure, he seems to have less tickets than others. But that’s because he’s hardworking and is working on his tickets in and out of the office. Some of the tickets were in French and what does he do? Google translate to find his way. He works til late in the night and on weekends to try to do as much as he can to make up for being older and slower than others. Do those who do more work deserve to get more work? It’s not fair. This was what opened the faucet of tears that I guess was locked in that day.

But all in all,  I guess I can find goodness in all that happened. Because of the night in the ER, my dad’s been more conscious of his health and stress levels. I also got my mom to get a check up as she’s normally had high blood pressure but never got it checked out. She still tried to refuse, but hey, I think I’ve got good reason for her to get it checked out before she’s the one lying on the hospital bed. It’s a rude wake up call, but a good reminder nonetheless of how fragile life can be. And how things you hear about but never think can happen to you can easily happen to your loved ones or even yourself. And about his coworker, I’m so thankful that my dad has a good manager who appreciated my dad telling her what happened and being so understanding. As far as I know, it’s not the first time that coworker has done something tricky (not to mention him watching non-work-related videos at work and taking many breaks), but I believe that karma will get him someday. I don’t care about whatever he decides to do, as long as he doesn’t harm my dad in the process. Because my dad’s used his whole life to protect me and ensure that I am able to live well, I’m going to protect him in whatever way I can now that I am able to protect myself. Hopefully the majority of the storm has passed, and we can only get stronger as a family as we rebuild our emotions. “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”