Dear Thelma: I'm haunted by my broken past and failed relationships

  • Living
  • Wednesday, 12 Aug 2020

This reader confides in Thelma that he was a neglected, lonely child. Now, as an adult, he grapples with anxiety and depression over his past and his broken relationships. This has greatly affected his personality and work.

I am a single man. When I was young, my parents had a divorce. I ended up with my mother while my father went on to start another family.

My mother then went overseas to work, so I lived with my babysitters. I spent a big part of my childhood living without the love of a parent.

My mother would return to visit me from time to time but every time she left, I would hide and cry silently all on my own.

The absence of a parent’s love left a void in me that was never filled. Every time I see my classmates with their parents, I would envy them. Even though I was young, I felt ashamed of myself. I felt left out because I never had a father and my mother wasn’t really there for me. Whenever my teachers asked about my father, I would lie and say that my father is a businessman or pilot who only returns home once in a blue moon.

Fast-forward to my teenage years. My mother finally returned for good and even though I lived with her, we spent most of our time fighting. I felt that my mother was a totally different person as we disagreed most of the time.

She had high expectations of me and I spent my teenage years living under authoritarian rule. Basically, I returned to a house that wasn’t a home. There were times she treated me well but most of the time, I wish I didn’t have to return home from school.

Things were so bad towards the end that one day my mother decided to disown me.

After graduating from college, I found myself a girlfriend and was working in a well-known tech firm as an executive. It was the best time of my life when I had a good paying job and a loving partner. Even though there were disagreements, we worked things out effectively.

The thought of having a family grew stronger with each passing day. I was so certain that this woman would end up being my wife and I even had dreams having children with this woman.

But one fine day, she told me she was seeing another man and had decided to part ways with me. To me, it didn’t make any sense. I spent most of my time analysing what I’d done, wondering what went wrong.

I couldn’t cope with my work and kept forgetting things. I still loved her and my mind was so occupied with trying to win her back. A few months later, I found out that she was getting married. My heart sank. My anxiety disorder escalated to depression.

Things were so bad that I suddenly felt hopeless and I lost motivation.Because of my depression, I made costly mistakes in my job and got fired. It took me almost two years to get over it but the damage had already been done. The trauma was so great that I developed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

I kept changing jobs, which affected my finances. I turned from an optimistic, energetic, confident extrovert to a pessimistic, lifeless, doubtful introvert.

To escape my troubles, I turned to an RPG mobile game where I exist in an alternate reality. This game offers an alternate reality where good triumphs over evil and where hard work is fairly compensated with in-game currency.

This game gave me something to look forward to and I had a family of friends as well as an in-game partner. I knew very well that I wasn’t supposed to invest my emotions into this partner but I couldn’t help my feelings. I enjoyed her company and stayed on. She gave me a reason to smile and I felt happier with her around.

I would log on to see if she’s online and even though I didn’t know what she looked like, I’d already invested my feelings in her without even knowing it. Because of her, I was in paradise despite the Covid-19 lockdown.

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Relationship problems , PTSD , anxiety , depression


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