Toxic Parents and Our Last Christmas Light

Last week was the peak of the holiday season here in London and I met a gorgeous lady whom I regarded as a stranger before. We just met out of nowhere and we talked a lot on a day. But that particular day is quite special that I would like to always remember. She invited me over a coffee and then started to talk seriously about her problem, which I could not consider simple. We ended up talking about toxic parent and I let her talk while I just kept listening to her.

“I am desperately tired of finding someone who is able to just listen and not judging,” she opened up the conversation. And I humbly asked what her problem is.

She started to complain about her negative things that came continuously to her, making her to feel out of breath. She complained about her research study and her desperation for always having a negative result while not having enough support or finding someone to really help her.

“In particular,” she said, “I am also exhausted about my family.” She then said about how toxic her parents is since she never really feels that her parents really support her. “It is only about lip service. My mother always says she prays for me while I never think she really does from what she always does to me. Everytime I complained about my life, seeking for a comfort from a family, while I always get back from her is always something negative in return. Until a point yesterday where she just gave me a negative news happened to my family a month ago which she could have been said it to me on that day rather than waiting for me saying to her that I am burnt out with my stuffs. It just supports my assumption that my parents are really toxic, they just never support what I love to do since I was a teenager although they knew there was nothing wrong with it. I even regard them to be over protective. And now while I am pursuing my degree and nothing wrong with it, it still seems to be the same way”

I started to understand her situation. It does seem that she is really tired with her stuffs and she could not rely on her family. She feels the family only brings her confusion. Family is supposed to be the first point where she finds love and comfort. She probably feels it to some extent but when it turns out to be doing what she loves, the family starts to be a real obstacle, and her parents in particular. She said that she expects her family to support her but it always turns the other way around.

We then started to do a bit of research about the feeling of this hatred feeling against parent and we ended up talking about toxic parents. In short, toxic parents are parents who can only think about themselves and expect their kids to not upset them. I think the situation resembles quite well with my friend’s situation. Her parents always expect her to make them happy while not the other way around. She told me that everytime she thought that she made her parents upset, it would end up in a passive aggression way. It usually ended up where she did not talk for days with her parents until a point where everything blew up and went out of control and she even sometimes run out of her home just to run away from it. This passive aggression is also one indication of a toxic parent since a good parenting should involve active communication. Also, one day she told me that she had a boyfriend and although there was nothing wrong with her boyfriend, her mother just asked her to break up with him just because she did not like him. She feels that her parents, in particular her mother, are just so toxic and really want to get an absolute control of her.

I then said to her that I could understand her situation but I could not help much since I do not have any right to talk to her parents. I just said to her, “Sometimes I think that we are here right now because our parents decided at the beginning to get married and to have kids. And then it is their duty to make us happy and not the other way around. Because, we never really ask before that we should be born from them or in this way right?” She just kept silent and smiled, “But you cannot change that fate once you are born.” And I replied, “So just let’s change what we can change.”

And after we finished the coffee, I just took her to Oxford Street, lending her my camera so she could enjoy the lights and took some beautiful picture and also lending my music player while it was playing Coldplays’s Christmas Light.

Those Christmas lights

Light up the street

Down where the sea and city meet

May all your troubles soon be gone

Oh Christmas lights keep shining on

And now the festive season has ended and I do hope she feels better now…

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On Suicidal Phenomenon: a Useless Religious and Weak Person Judgement

Sadly speaking, it seems that suicide is becoming a new trend in Indonesia. Just recently, a video went viral showing two siblings committed a suicide by jumping off from an apartment in Bandung. People then started to argue that the siblings actually had a mental illness after their mother passed away several years ago. Such a grievance then led to depression and it seemed that the burden just became unbearable leading them to commit suicide.

However, what I would like to discuss here is not about whether they had made a right decision by committing suicide. After the incident occurred, I just surfed some online forums in Indonesia. From what I read during the time, quite significant number of people are able to say things such as ‘lacking of religious faith that leads to suicide’ or ‘hell is waiting for them’ and other varieties of religious-based saying. Such judgements actually imply that (1) they did suicide because they were not religious enough or not close enough to God and by doing so (2) there will be no place for them in heaven. The question is:is this something really appropriate to shout out such judgement?

In this discussion, I would not like to discuss whether suicide is actually allowed from religious point of view. I am pretty sure such a question leads to a definitive final answer. My discussion here is more about the appropriateness to handle suicide problem. Although I am not an expert in this area, I am pretty sure that a humanist approach is undoubtedly universal rather than making a bias judgement.

One day I had a chat with my friend talking about suicide. I said that if life is so unbearable, suicidal thinking can easily come across. Then my friend argued that it cannot be if you are religious enough. In addition, he said to me that such a thinking may probably never come to me considering that I am religious enough and keep myself close to God. My experience does not then significantly differ from what I read on online forums after the suicide phenomenon I described above. I also had a similar experience when talking about that. Even anyone can experience it when talking with their parents.

Form my perspective, suicidal thinking is actually a really difficult situation because a person maybe in his/her lowest state. The most important thing when finding someone who has a suicidal thought is just to talk to them and listen. I do not think such people really need any judgements from us, in particular a judgement saying how far they are to God. I won’t say that religious consultation does not work. I would rather say it is just not for everyone. If they think that they might get relieved after going to a church or a mosque, then there we are to help. But if it is not, who we are to say that they are not close enough to God and the hell is waiting for them? What we actually need to do is to find the most appropriate intervention to prevent them from committing suicide.

A weak person (?)

Another point to highlight aside from judging them from religious point of view is how a person who would like to commit a suicide is often regarded as being weak. From my point of view, to some extent a bravery is actually apparent from such a person.

First of all, they have been actually bearing the burdens that they think are no longer bearable. We might not know completely how much is it the burden but bearing a burden and facing it even for a moment in life requires strength and bravery. Another thing, I just never think committing suicide is easy. They really have to think to choose the least painful option. But what are the least painful option? Even the most instant and calmest way to kill yourself requires time to get the result out. And do we really think that during this period, the victim does not feel any pain at all? They must face that crucial moment with bravery since they know they will end up their lives. The last point is to think in the opposite way. If, normally speaking, we want to live and enjoy more from our lives and they think to end up their lives, is it not a bravery? They even choose to do something that we avoid. Therefore, I do not think such people are really weak: they are actually strong enough to have a suicidal thought.

Thus say, neither religious nor weak person judgement really helps at all. What we actually need to do is to help them and find any appropriate intervention so they might get relieved from their burdens. Only by doing so we have made a positive contribution to someone else’s life. If we are to judge, we just have to make a judgement that is useful to contribute to make them better and not worsening their current condition.

Note: Into the Light Indonesia actually opens its hand for anyone who has any suicidal though.