I’m now about 19 years old and had been living on my own since returning from my stay in Japan for a year and a half. I have my own run down apartment, full time job at the Japanese tour company and I have a boyfriend that I met through work. (BK). I didn’t like staying at my apartment by myself so I’d either spend the night at my boyfriend’s place or he would stay with me. I had very little in my apartment my Mom allowed me to take their old black and white T.V. and an old and very heavy fan.
At this time, my parents had sort of disowned me. They didn’t like the idea that I had a boyfriend and maybe they felt like they were losing control even though to me, it felt like they still had their “hooks” in me.
I had bought my first brand new car; a baby blue dodge colt hatchback. It only had A.M. radio and no a.c. I loved my first car. I had used my little savings to purchase this car and reluctantly, my parents had co-signed the auto loan. One of the ways that they tried to continue to control me was to have access to my bank account. They were unhappy with me spending my time with BK and threatened to take my car away. One day when I was at BK’s house, they drove down and took my car. My Dad had an extra key. For awhile after that crazy incident, BK would drive me to and from work but this got to be sort of a hassle as I had very long hours. I decided that I had to call my folks and get my car back. I called them and they said I could come over and we would have a “talk”. The title of the car was in my name so technically they should not have been able to take the car but I had little understanding of this at the time. My parents instructed me to give them back the t.v. and fan. BK drove me to my parents house to return those items and I did not want to stay and have that talk with my folks. As I was turning to leave the house, my Dad snatched my purse off my shoulder and threw it in the house. There was a little bit of a scuffle between him and I. BK had stayed in the car this whole time but now came out as he witnessed this. He approached my Dad to try and help me and angry words were exchanged. This was the first time they had met. My Dad asked BK, “who the hell are you?!” Dad basically told BK that this was none of his business and to stay out of it. I sat in the car shaking, wondering what I should do. At the advise of BK, I called the police to report this as a robbery. I couldn’t understand why my Dad took my purse. It was all so crazy. The police arrived and I explained to them the scuffle with the purse and they rang the doorbell to talk to my Dad. I heard my Dad being extremely polite to the police and kept referring him to “sir”. I’m sure cops hate getting involved in domestic squabbles because it’s always “he said, she said”. The police officer handed me my purse and left. My Dad was still standing there and came outside to yell at me telling me that obviously I was not the one who decided to call the police because I didn’t really have any brains to come up with that idea myself. He called me stupid and dumb and worthless. Up until that moment, I had never heard those words coming out of his mouth. Mom stayed in the house the whole time.
All those years of being called horrible things by Mom was one thing but hearing it come from Dad really stung. This was the ugliest side of him that I had ever witnessed. Was he upset because I had a boyfriend? Did he feel like he was losing me? I couldn’t understand his thinking and now as far as I could tell, they both hated me.
During this period of being disowned, I was going through some sort of mental and emotional stress. The job at the tour company was adding to my stress because at such a young age, I was responsible for entire tour groups that I would take around the island on their different tour package and I would often go with them to the outer islands as well. I realized that I hated this job but I felt obligated to continue to work there because my Mom knew my boss very well.
The fear in me began to grow. I would be briefing my group and feel such an intense presence about me. I felt nervous and scared and felt as if I would lose control of myself. One evening after taking my group to a dinner show, I was done for the day and time to go home. As I was crossing the street to go to my car, I could not move. The fear had gripped me in my tracks. I called the office and asked to speak to Jake who was the only person there that I felt like I could talk to about this. He immediately came and got me and took me to the office. He and the president of this small company both sat with me and we talked about religion. I had such a strong sense that this was a spiritual attack of some sort because of the fear. I remember having to use the bathroom so bad that I thought my bladder would explode but I just could not get myself to go until it became too unbearable to hold. Of course nothing happened.
This is when I began to reach out to my Uncle J and Aunt S. They were good friends of my parents and growing up, our families would often get together. One evening, I went over to their house to explain to them what had happened between my parents and me. They were my lifesavers at the time. I spent many a nights with them and they always made me feel loved. One evening Uncle J answered his phone and it was my Dad. I think my Dad had gotten wind of my spending a lot of time at their house through my boss who happened to be friends with Uncle and Aunt as well. Uncle and Aunty’s son S also worked at the same tour company as I did. This phone call was ugly. I couldn’t hear exactly what my Dad was yelling on the other end of the phone to my Uncle and Uncle J stayed calm and told my Dad that I was welcome at their house anytime and that I was precious in their eyes. Apparently my Dad had told Uncle J to tell me something because Uncle J told my Dad that he (Uncle) would never repeat those words to another soul…that he would not even repeat it to a dog. This was the last time that my parents and Uncle J and Aunt S would speak. Their friendship ended after almost 30 years. Of course my parents blamed me for this falling out between the two families. (It is traditional in the islands to call other adults Uncle and Aunty if the families had a long friendship between them. We had no blood relation).
Work became unbearable. I was constantly nervous and always seemed to be fighting the fear that I would eventually lose control. I couldn’t eat and lost 15 pounds. I was already on the thin side so the weight loss was significant for me. Much like all the ugliness of the events growing up, I had become an expert at hiding what was really going on both inside and outside of myself. No one could ever tell that there was such turmoil within me just by looking at me.
I knew that the stresses of the job was adding to my already stressful emotional situation. I had been cut off by my parents, believed everything they said about me all those years and I felt so cut off and abandoned.
I answered an add in the newspaper for a position in one of the hotels. It was a big hotel which brought in many tourists and with my Japanese speaking ability, I was hired and gave my 2 week notice to the tour company. I was so relieved to not be working there any longer and thought that once I left that job, the emotional stress would disappear…it didn’t. I would have periods of sheer acute panic and continued to fight these feelings. The acute phase would only last a short while followed by fear that it would come on again. I then began to contemplate suicide but somehow there was a deep “knowing” within me that told me that committing suicide was not the answer. I had the distinct feeling that I had to continue to go through this. There were periods of panic, or fear, or sadness where I would get a “glimpse” of peace. I held on to that peace. This helped me so much. Having those small periods of peace made me believe that my life was not going to be all about the darkness within me all the time.
So now I’m working at this new job and although the job itself was less stressful, my emotional state had not gotten much better. For a long time I could not go into any fitting rooms in the clothing stores because I always imagined that I would come out naked, yelling and ranting and raving like a lunatic. In the car, it took all my concentration to not lose control at the stop lights. I would tell myself that if I could just make it through this stop light to the next, I would be ok.
BK didn’t help much. I tried to tell him of my feelings and I’m sure he just could not relate. He said he thought I was crazy. Ok really…I certainly felt as if I was crazy but I needed to hear from someone that I wasn’t. I shared these feeling with my Uncle one night and he listened intently and seemed to understand that these feelings were a result of everything I had gone through in the past and especially most recently with being cut off from my parents in such a hurtful way. Uncle J was so patient with me and he made me feel normal even though on my insides, I was in turmoil. He would often remind me that everyone has their issues and we are ALL crazy…in one way or another. When he put it to me that way, I didn’t seem to be that bad.
At this point, about a year and a half has gone by and I am still fighting on the inside. I’m still nervous, panicky and I’m certain that I’m crazy and that one day very soon, I would lose total control by some outside and unseen force. It was as if the years of the oppression during my upbringing was turning into a huge monster that was trying to take control. I didn’t know if I needed a priest or a psychiatrist. I had been going to a traditional Christian church and to tell you the truth, the guilt that many of the churches put on me about being born a sinner actually made me feel worse…not to mention I was “living in sin” by shacking up with my boyfriend…but I kept going thinking that Jesus would save me from my fear. Soon however, it was time to seek counseling from a therapist. I found a psychiatrist and made my first appointment for the following week. I was excited and scared at the same time because now an “expert” would tell me what was wrong with me and I would get to feeling better…or so I thought…