A rant about living under Chinese parents and the mental scars it's left

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#1 Posted by Orexis97 (102 posts) -

I'd like to start off by apologizing to everyone if this post seems barely coherent. My emotions are kind of a mess right now, but I have to get this off my chest even if it means just tossing it our into the void that is the internet.

I'm a 33 year old man who has a Master's degree in electrical engineering. I've had a steady job for over 10 years at a major aerospace company. Money is not an issue for me and I am physically well. I should be considered a "success" and enjoying the prime of my life. Instead, I'm an emotional and mental wreck of a human being.

I grew up under Chinese parents who immigrated to the US in the 80s. While I can't say they were physically abusive, the authoritarian nature of their parenting has left some pretty deep seated scars. It's the sort of parenting that demands perfection and being "right" and if you deviate, you get yelled at. It's the sort of parenting that's cold, clinical, and ruled by fear; I have only ever heard my dad tell me he loves me twice in my entire life. Hell, almost every time I've had a serious conversation with my parents, it has ended with me in tears, and yes, this still happens today. Needless to say, I was emotionally withdrawn and never was able to make many friends or lasting connections while I was a kid (the shitty public school system in this country didn't help), and this trend has gotten worse as I've grown order. Even now, I can barely hold a conversation with another human being and if I do manage that, I usually wind up repeating myself or fumbling over my words. I have few friends and sure as shit don't have a girlfriend. I tried bringing up mental illness with my dad about a year ago and got shrugged off.

I made the very stupid choice of moving back with my parents after college since the job I got was near where I went to high school(so of course moving in with them would save me money!). All that did was make me more dependent on them and more withdrawn from people. My motivation has been shot to shit and I can barely get my ass to do anything remotely productive anymore. The news and internet are both hellscapes and I spent way too much time looking at both. I work at a job that I quite frankly hate, and that I continue to keep because I know I'll get shit from my parents if I dare to quit it without having something else lined up, and this is despite having a major nest egg from barely spending any of my fucking money. Video games are the one thing that has helped me escape from all this garbage, and are one of my only passions in life, but they take up pretty much all the time I should be using to getting the hell out of here.

Anyway, I'm not sure what my point was in making this topic, and if you made it this far, thank you for reading this hot mess of a post that I spent an hour (!!) writing. Things have been getting more and more tense in my family over the past year and it kinda boiled over a bit this morning. I'll admit that I haven't been a very good son, but it's just so damn hard with these people. I guess I just had to unload this baggage somewhere. At least Doom Eternal looks amazing?

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#2 Posted by Humanity (19044 posts) -

Only thing I can recommend is that if you can afford it, and you said money is not an issue, you should move out and separate yourself from your parents. This might help you gain a bit more confidence as there won't be people second guessing your decisions every day. I'm not a mental health specialist so I can't really tell you how to deal with that side of things, but it does seem like most of your issues stem from being in close proximity to your family.

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#3 Posted by deactivated-5d6f0f4262550 (29 posts) -

Rooms are fairly cheap. Move out, see how you like it and don't talk to them for a month or so. If you quit your job have a very good reason to tell your next employer if you don't directly go to another job. If you can't get yourself to do something constructive get a small part time job tending bar, cooking, grocer, something. Gets you out of the house on the weekends.

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#4 Edited by SethMode (2100 posts) -

@orexis97: @humanity: I don't want to speak for the OP, but in my experience, just move out isn't always an option. There are often things like years of societal pressures that play a role in not just behavior, but an overall personal feeling of what is right or wrong.

OP, I'm so sorry. I want you to know that even though I don't know you, you are valued and don't deserve to be treated this way. It's going to be a cliche response but...talk to someone. Even if it is a friend and not a therapist. The internet is a good sounding board but sometimes I think people need real human interaction with situations like this. Just from my experience. Best of luck.

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#5 Posted by wollywoo (324 posts) -

Wow, that's tough. It sounds like you really need to move out, and maybe stop caring so much how your parents evaluate you. With your strong technical background you shouldn't be at a job you hate - think about other options. If it makes financial sense, you could even quit - even if you don't have another job lined up, it's not that weird to be unemployed for a short while, although the timing is bad if you want to move out at the same time since you may need proof of income with an application for an apartment. I think I disagree with @oldmankenobi - I wouldn't even worry about explaining it to a future employer if it's less than six months or so as your resume is presumably pretty strong. Travel if you want to. Call it an unpaid sabbatical.

You probably shouldn't take my advice, since I don't know your situation or the cultural context. But if it were me I'd avoid having a Big Talk with your parents since that seems to go nowhere. Just make a decision and inform them of it without blaming them for anything. You don't need to provide any reason other than that you'd like some independence. I think they'd be more likely to respect your decisions if you are confident and unemotional. And if you are in the Seattle area and want somebody to talk to or play video games with hit me up.

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#6 Posted by Onemanarmyy (4586 posts) -

Given that you yourself call it a very stupid move to move back in with your parents & you have the funds to be theoretically able to move away from them, that just seems like the move that you will make at some point. That might alleviate a bunch of pressure on you already on it's own i feel.

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#7 Posted by frytup (1366 posts) -

33 is still young. I would suggest you don't want to be in the same mental place when you're pushing 50, and if your parents can't see that that's the way you're headed, then fuck them.

Take your nest egg, move out, and change careers if that's what it takes to find some measure of happiness. Never forget you run your own life and you have options.

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#8 Posted by ichthy (1372 posts) -

Damn, I fully sympathize with your situation since I come from pretty much the same background, Chinese parents who immigrated in the 80s and were super authoritarian when I was growing up (especially my dad who I feared constantly and would dole out physical punishment). My parent's mellowed out a lot more and gave me much more space when I was in my mid 20s once I was able to support myself, but it doesn't sound like yours have or will. I'd echo the advice here and suggest you get out from under their roof. Sometimes just putting some space between you and your parents helps the relationship, and it will definitely improve your confidence and feeling of independence.

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#9 Edited by TreeTrunk (619 posts) -

I think it was 34% of adults under 35 still live with their parents, which means you still get abused by your parents and treated like a little kid even though you know you're not.

Most people in your situation get it out by being a vile person on the internet, be it youtube, reddit, and that's probably why certain places on the internet are so popular.

But you've decided to do this so you already have a better character than others in your situation.

Hang in there, perhaps take a break from video games for like a week to try and find a way out.

Once you do get out though, make sure you don't continue your parents behaviour!

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#10 Posted by Jesus_Phish (3915 posts) -

Like the rest of the people who suggested moving out, I'd also suggest it, particularly if money isn't a problem for you. My relationship with my family improved dramatically once I moved out.

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#11 Posted by someoneproud (668 posts) -

We only live once. If you're not happy in your job, change it. If you're not happy living with your parents, move out. I know it's not easy and it sounds like your folks'll give you shit for it but I say fuck it, let them. At the end of the day how you live your life is entirely up to you, you don't owe anyone an explanation for it and you don't need people who are gonna try and get in the way of that.

Don't play their stupid games with the only life you've got and don't let anyone or anything make you feel like a failure, mistakes will happen but as long as we learn from them they're really nothing to worry about. A lot of my closest friends can struggle to talk with people, try not to worry about it, there's plenty of people out there that'll see past that to the obviously thoughtful and friendly person you are and value you for it. I value you for it.

Hang in there duder, like anything confidence takes practice. Maybe start small, try talking to the mailman or someone on a commute or something and if it falls flat don't worry about it. I find a lot of people are happy to make a little small talk when the opportunity's present. When you're settled down with kids of your own don't make the same mistakes your parents did, make something good out of the bad shit you've been through and don't hold on to anger over it.

I honestly don't know if any of that is good advice for you and maybe I'm just projecting so maybe take it with a pinch of salt but it's how I've worked through my own issues and anxieties. Really it's most important that you talk about it when you feel it getting to you, there's people here who'll always listen.

Also, Doom Eternal looks fucking great!

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#12 Posted by Rahf (544 posts) -

Start looking for jobs in a completely different city or country. Then move away from your parents. This is crucial.

Also: go to therapy. It is a wonderful tool to explore your own thoughts with another person.

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#13 Posted by millionthlayla (194 posts) -

I'm sorry for what you're going through. You're gonna get through this.

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#14 Posted by MonkeyKing1969 (7691 posts) -

Step Zero: Start seeing your primary care physician regularly and get a a referral for a therapist. If you have a tech job you probably have some insurance, that would at THE VERY LEAST provide a few therapy sessions. That if nothing else THERAPY can be some of your support for positive change. This is the first step because nothing will be simple or change over night, but talking to someone helps. Self care is where you start.


Other Steps

  • Start looking for your own place - A room, a small apartment.
  • Get a P.O. Box to start having your mail sent there at least until you have another place to live
  • Divest yourself from any bank accounts or any financials accounts that are connected with your parents.
  • Get a new phone number and email, you can keep the old contact and number; but get a NEW ones that can be used just for your new life.
  • Look for a new job if that will make you happy and you can swing it.

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#15 Edited by splodge (2805 posts) -

This really, really sucks for you man, I am really sorry you are going through this. I will just echo what folks have said above and while it might seem impossible at times, you are capable of taking back control of your life. Your parents brought you into this world and that will never change but they do not own you. You are entitled to your own feelings and your own privacy and space. Once you make some steps and take control back, you will be exhilarated by the freedom of a life without overbearance. You never know, it might even be the kind of move your parents will ultimately respect. While you should not spend you life trying to please them, it is hard to argue with a person taking control of their own existence and making their mark. You do you. They will come around and if they don't, that sucks, but you have a good head on your shoulders and are definitely strong enough.

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#16 Posted by North6 (1205 posts) -

I'll echo what others have said, move out. You'll at least get to figure yourself out more.