For a young person like me, the family experience is frequently the most definitive one. My family life has been full of ups and downs that both served to make me a stronger, more mature person and foster resistance to life’s sharp turns. My professional interest in psychology has also developed under the influence of family relations.
To start with, my parents got divorced when I was only 8 months old, with my father leaving for Canada never to appear again in our lives. Financial struggles, pressures from the full-time job and cultural rejection of a single mother in her environment proved too big a challenge for my mother. She developed serious emotional problems and, unable to handle the baby, sent me to live with my grandmother who since then became the main source of love, affection and support in my life.
Although she died when I was 9, she gave me an idea of a comfortable, reassuring family environment that contrasted sharply with the abusive atmosphere that surrounded me when I moved to my mother’s. Seeing me as someone who had ruined her life, she abused me both physically and emotionally, aggravating the emotional devastation I suffered from my grandmother’s death.
At this point, I began reading books psychology to get insights into my mother’s mentality and sort out her problems. It was hard not to hate her, but with the help of books and common sense, I realized that she was essentially a sick person in need of counselling. Reading also helped me to realize the bright side of my negative family experience thanks to which I have a high pain threshold and enormous determination to succeed in spite of obstacles.
Another important family influence was my aunt who, coming to visit us and seeing the intolerable situation I was in, helped me to get to the US. This reshaped my life dramatically. Back at home, I was in a deep depression, often took anti-depression pills, and had suicidal thoughts. The move was like a breath of fresh air, opening to me how much world has to offer. Struggling to make both ends meet at first, after two years of full-time work, I could start school, and for the first time in the past 11 years, began to feel happy, liberated from the negativity associated with the family experience. My passionate, hard-working character, developed with the help of my grandmother and later trials, helped me put all the pieces in my life in the right place. I take pride in thinking of how proud my grandmother would be if she could see me now, secure, independent, with a definite plan of how to make my life even better.
In the end, the negative weight of my mother’s emotional problems, father’s irresponsibility and grandmother’s early death transformed into a positive external influence. This influence inspired me to abandon the dark shell of my closed, wretched existence with my mother and to move on to a new, brighter life with exciting possibilities. Finally, this family experience motivated my enthusiasm for the study of psychology that I hope to use to help people who also have a difficult past to look back upon.
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