Question:

Hi,

I found this web site by accident. I read some stories and would like to have some guidance and advice.

I'm the youngest out of four siblings. My parents both work. Both make enough that we can manage.

When I was five, my next oldest sister passed away when there was a big earthquake in my town. Our house's wall fell down on my sister and aunt. At the time I was traveling with my mother and father. My sister begged my parents several times to my parents to take her along but since she had a final exam, my parents did not take her with us.

I remembered that day I fought with her. I don't remember what exactly it is, but it was a petty thing. When my mother refused to take her, I felt smug like the brat that I am. When news of the earthquake came on the television, my parents quickly called my aunt, who also live with us to ask if they are safe, but my aunt didn't answer. My parents called other people and they told them that my sister was gone.

My sister was like a very kind and good natured kid. She was incredibly mature and people had nothing but great things to tell about her. I just knew that she was gone and was not coming back.

My father was not a Christian at this time. He followed another religion. After being taken to church by my mother, he started to believe, but after my sister passed away, my father didn't go to the church. My father was angry at God. He refused to go to church for months until a priest talked to him. After frequent visits from the priest, my father learned to accept that my sister was really gone and not to blame God anymore. He later became an enthusiastic believer. He even memorized many passages and can cite them like he is a priest.

I was moved to another city to live with my grandmother. My parents doesn't want me to stay, risking another incident. I needed to learn many things, like the local language. I was totally confused and stressed out. I hated moving to a new place. I didn't adapt well. I hated it at first, though now I can say I like it. Everything was so new and confusing. I wasn't even ready to have a grandmother. My parents only called a few times over the months. It was awful for me.

My grandmother disapproved of everything I did, be it studying, eating etiquette, etc., because I was a girl. My grandmother loved her grandsons but not her granddaughters. She always bragged about her oldest grandson who was said to be a genius. If not him, then it would be my brothers. At first I tried to get her approval by doing as she said, but it got to the point that I didn't even want to acknowledge her as my grandmother. My female cousins felt the same way. We suffered our grandmother's harsh judgment. She always discriminate against us, whether it was test score, food, or hobbies. Everything seemed wrong to her.

I didn't get to let my hair grow long. Every month my grandmother would take me to the barbershop and had the barber to cut my hair short -- boy style short. One time I objected and she told the barber to cut my hair as short as she could. The next day my teacher commented that my hair was incredibly short. I was so embarrassed and humiliated.

For years she praised my brother, but she said I was an embarrassment to my family. My test scores were all perfect, except in math. She berated me on how I was such a failure, that I was so lazy and keep reading useless junk like the comics. She started to say I am such a nuisance to raise and why I couldn't be like my brother. He was cheating on exams, was late to school, and sleeping in class. My teacher, who had been his teacher in the past, even said how different I was from my brother. Yet my grandmother dared to say that I should act like my brother. Seriously?

She kept me poor by giving me no money to buy things. She makes me hate males so much that my blood boils if I ever lose myself to a male. Every day she tormented me. I grew hateful and I hated her with every fiber of my being. When she died, I felt empty. I was never able to forgive myself when I let out a tear for her when she didn't deserve it.

Now I am attending a university I don't like. I try to be grateful that I can still go to school, but I can't help but be envious of people who are poorer but who can do what they want. If I try to do something I want, my mother would reprimand me, telling me that I should understand her and not be such an ungrateful child.

I'm losing myself. I don't go to church or anything, I don't find relief and peace through hearing corrupt priests. They are just not touching my heart. I'm not involved in drugs, sex or alcohol, but I might as well be, seeing as my everyday life is empty. My emotional state is hidden so people don't know how I am hurting because showing weakness is a disadvantage in my environment. I don't have real friends. My friends are all fake. They just come to me if they needed me.

My mother disagrees with me going abroad to study. She is immensely stubborn and her words are absolute. I can't say I love her, to be honest. She was never there in my life and it's like she is just providing material things and not the affection and understanding I actually need. She broke several promises to me. I distrust her now.

My relationship with my older brothers is a farce. They don't really care about me. My second brother really dislikes me -- frowning and always acting like I am a nuisance to him. Exactly what I should do? I used to have a deep conversations with my cousin, but recently her mother passed away, and now she needs to provide money for her little sister. I'm afraid to burden her with my problems since she already had enough on her plate.


Answer:

It is true that your upbringing was not good; yet, these were circumstances outside of your control. You let your life turn you into a bitter person. Repeatedly you have tried to force people to respect you. You act like you are in competition with everyone connected to your life. While you think you keep your bitterness hidden, it leaks out. Your mother sees it as a refusal to appreciate what she has given you. Your classmates see it and don't want to get close to you. Even your brothers see it and reflect your hatred of them back at you.

"Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets" (Matthew 7:12).

If you want friends, then you have to make an effort at being friendly with people -- despite your current feelings. See: Making Friends.

What is missing from your life is affection. You can't change the past. You can't make bad people be good. But you do have control over how you treat other people and you can change the future for yourself and other people by learning to give and receive affection. Perhaps you can work in an orphanage for a while as a volunteer. Overcome your past; don't be overwhelmed by it.

"Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you" (Ephesians 4:31-32).

While I can agree to all the things you pointed out, I'm sorry I had to say "no" to two points of yours.

It is true that I am bitter, and even true I'm becoming even more bitter with time. But not even while I was in my grandmother's home did I abandon trying to make friends and be sociable. In fact I tried to be kind and helpful, even though I'm just unresponsive to men. I tolerate them but no more. Ever since elementary until my university freshman year, I always tried my best to be friendly and open. While it works for while, it doesn't work in the long run.

I apologize if it sounds rude, but I don't know, you kind of sound imposing and like all faults are on me. You said my hatred to my brother are reflected back to me, but it hasn't always been the case. There was a period time when I tried to make them love me, but they ignored my attempts and tossed it back into my face. It's been going on for a time and I gave up. Why bother, if they don't even bother. I'm not a person who can love one-sided. I do need love to be returned. I'm not saint. I am not that kind of person. How can I not grow bitter, if every single day since I was six, everything I did or said was wrong.

I'll be honest with you, anyone who can take that kind of mental pounding every single day and night without having a tiny bit of hatred seeded in his heart is not really there. Maybe you can only find, about 1-2% in all the world who are people like this. I'm a really emotional person, I can cry at the slightest and even sometime silly as a movie, but I always tried my hardest in everything I do.

Every child should give happiness to his parents but what is happiness if you yourself are not happy? That kind of happiness is just a total lie. If it is a lack of effort on my part, then I will gladly say I am at fault for not doing anything to change how I am. But I did try until I grew tired of how fruitless it is.

I'm sorry, but not everything is as simple as it seems. You might be able to say it because you are already in tune with religion, but I'm not and all these things you told me just make me feel even sadder than I was supposed to. I'm trying, but if even one person was not giving my affection back, for more than I can count, I have already felt I'm worthless. I'm not greedy to wish to have many friends, just one would be enough for me. Just one who wouldn't leave me for new friends and forget all about me. One. Is that too much to ask? All these years one would be blessing enough to last me. But it never happened, even though I wish for it.

You agreed that the problem was pinpointed, but you don't like the solution. I don't tell people how to fix the rest of the world. I tell them how they can fix themselves because each person can only control themselves. A person's environment does not ultimately matter. "Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:11-13).

You are no longer in those situations that caused you so much grief, but you continue to carry your bitterness against them with you instead of leaving them in the past.

I know you think your situation is unique, but it isn't. "No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it" (I Corinthians 10:13). You've always had a choice in how you decided to respond to these stresses. As you admit, there are some people how overcome. There is no reason why you cannot also overcome.

My duty is not to make you feel better in your hatred of the people around you. My job is to point you to the way you can be a better person. I'm sorry you don't like the answer, but that is your choice not mine.

One more point to consider: If everyone you meet eventually gives you the same response, despite the fact that they are all unique individuals with unique personalities, how is it that you conclude it is everyone else who has the problem? People don't like to associate with gloom and bitterness. They don't like having their days ruined with endless complaints. The change has to start with you -- not a surface attempt, but a deep soul cleansing change within yourself. And, yes, such is possible; that is what Christianity is all about.