A pawn

Here’s a question I asked 9 years ago on Yahoo! Answers:

How to deal with control-freak parents? Please help!?

OK, so I’ve been looking around for some other similar questions and I’ve figured out that whoever asked those, doesn’t know what a control-freak really means. Let’s just say that for the past several months I’ve been feeling like my life is a game of chess and my parents solved the game for checkmate since the day of my birth. 

The “fate” I’m trying to escape here was formulated by the words uttered by none other than my mother, who said at one point that her dream is for me to take care of her when she grows old. She was quite detailed, mentioning how she would want me to even help her to the toilet when she was unable. The image she generated has haunted me in my worst nightmares. 

When I look at the present situation, I see that the road is widest and best paved in exactly that direction. It’s not just that I don’t want that kind of future – I’m terrified of it! I have a free spirit and I want to see the world, move to another continent and explore things that few people even know exist. The last thing I want with my life is to spend my days taking care of an old lady and an old man who are unable to use the toilet by themselves, even if (or better said, especially when) these people are my parents. 

I’ve tried to break off from their firm grasp, but every little victory I’ve celebrated has been followed by an even more devastating defeat. For example, I’ve wanted to move to the US ever since I’ve known of myself. So one of the ways was to study there, by going to high-school there. There was an option of attending high-school in the US, but only if I had straight A’s in primary school. My mother promised that I would go to high school in the US if I met the conditions. I did. She broke her promise. She had me fooled once more on the same matter, only a couple of years into high school. 

I’ve stopped trusting my parents altogether after they had me for a fool again a couple of years later. I’d saved up some $2000 of my own money. I told them of the money and while I was away, told them to use some of it to buy air-conditioning for my study. Some 6 months later I asked whatever happened to that money and my mother replied that they had spent it all on the air-conditioning. It was a blatant lie because I’d discovered that the model they bought cost only about $400 back then. I haven’t seen any of the remaining money since. 

Suddenly I realized that even though I had withdrawn my trust from them, it was all too late. I had already done some serious work in our family business (programming) and none of it can be written on my resume because I was never formally employed. I get paid for it (voids taxes), but for this reason I cannot list that as working experience. The idea is to keep working in my father’s company after I finish college. 

This is not the worst of it. I can easily use the money I earn there to get as far away from them as possible sometime later. Seeing how I formally have no work experience at all, I doubt I’ll get a work visa in the US anytime soon, though. Furthermore, believe it or not, my parents have actually built me a house – right next to theirs. They say they’ll give it as a gift to me for my wedding (hence my apprehension of ever getting married at all). 

When I tell any of this to my friends, they just stare dumbly at me – I have a job after college, I have a house for when I get married, what more do I want, right? When I think of that I ask myself the same question in that instance, but then I picture myself dragging a helpless lady’s *** to the toilet and I can feel my face going ashen. When I look at the prospects of that happening, they’re converging ever closer to 100% and day after day I can only keep my fingers crossed that after I finish college I’ll be able to find work in the US and have the employer fix my papers so that I can move there, and like I said, the chances of that are slim. 

I’m seeing no other way out, so I’m asking someone on the outside, maybe you see the solution. Please help, I really am desperate.

Jordan Peterson’s future authoring program makes people write about their personal little hell that they will inhabit if they let their vices get the better of them for the next 5 years or so. When I read this text from 9 years ago (!) I fail to understand what happened that I am unable to see the obvious now when I could see it so clearly back then.

Even worse, I outlined a perfect future for me in that very question in words better than any I could come up with now. What on Earth came about that obscured my vision of my own self so badly that I could no longer see, or remember, what I had already seen? I’m a fool. Nay! I’m THE fool.

I’m back at this question from 9 years ago because the topic of escaping my parents’ grasp has become relevant again. But when I read the above I am dismayed, for I have played into exactly the hand that I had foreseen in it: I got married and I now live in a house – with my family – that my mother had built and given to us as a wedding gift.

The funny thing is, my wife didn’t see any of it coming. I did tell her, but she wouldn’t believe me until some time after our wedding, when she became more privy to my mother’s machinations. Still, because of some issues we both had with ourselves and with each other, of which I have previously written, we made lousy choices which brought us into the situation in which we are today: financially dependent on my parents.

Don’t get me wrong: I do work and I get my paycheck and we are able to pay all our bills and our food and other needs. But, like I said in my previous posts, I work at my father’s company which in turn means I am still financially dependent on my parents until I am able to find an alternative employer, or successfully start my own business.

Call me stupid or naive (or a fool, or maybe a coward), but I didn’t want to obliterate the relationship with my parents completely. So, I was looking to start my own business. I’ve noticed that much of the work I do is for nothing. I bust my ass to meet our clients’ needs, but in the end all the work I do amounts to zero because nothing is actually billed to our clients. I’ve been building enterprise-level software from scratch for years and very little of it (if anything) has actually been paid for.

When I called my father and told him what our clients were asking me to do (feeling that it’s all way above my pay grade) he just kept saying that I just keep doing what they told me. So I did. And then I finished a project and brought it to him for demonstration. And then he told me nobody ordered that project. I wanted to strangle him!

The idea with my own business was to keep working for my father’s company, but in a manner such that I am able to dictate how we communicate. It was basically a solution to the problem of communication between us, because I felt nothing I did or said made him budge from his position that keeping everything to himself is the best course of action. Apart from that it was a way for me to begin generating additional income on the side by fixing issues people had with their computers, helping them figure out how to navigate the Internet, and offering other services.

As per my calculation, doing business this way would be beneficial to us both – not only would I have additional streams of income, but he could also save money on my paycheck because – as ludicrous as that sounds – it is cheaper in my country to outsource a programmer for a whole month than employ one in your own company (in fact many businesses are now moving to this model where they have their employees open their own companies and have their employer as their singular client). My father was of the opinion that it would not pay off so he refused to do business that way.

The truth is that it would pay off. To keep my “paycheck” the same as it is now, he would need to pay $300 less each month because of the difference in how the two work relationships are taxed. But that’s not what he was looking at. He was looking at *my* side of the coin. And it’s not even about the amount of money I would earn, but rather my ability to have loans approved at the bank or such things. In fact, his first reaction when I told him about the idea was that this way there would not be enough money paid towards my social security, which is utterly ridiculous because the social security system is in the process of collapsing at this very moment!

And it is infuriating!

It’s infuriating in the same manner and for the same reasons as I’ve written about in this post. I am absolutely disgusted that he would have exactly zero amount of trust in my own decisions for myself and my own family. This infuriates me even more when I remember that it was precisely his actions that made the choices I made even more difficult to bear in the past! But I’ve come through nonetheless, without ever asking for something I did not earn, something we hadn’t previously agreed upon.

The truly horrific thing is that he has reason to feel that I’m incompetent. I remember back in my youth I would often downplay my own intellectual abilities. I don’t yet know why I did that exactly. I just felt safer if on occasion I would look like a complete idiot. I have thus never displayed the full breadth of my knowledge or my capacity to handle unpredictable situations to anyone. I suppose quite a few people who know me well think of me as an incompetent fool because of this reason.

I catch myself occasionally pretending I don’t know or remember something when in fact I do, or pretending I didn’t hear something when I did. I know it’s usually because I just don’t feel like speaking, or I feel that I would have to explain how I know something because knowing about it might mean I was involved in something nasty. A common theme from my childhood comes to mind where my mother would scold me for “talking back” to her, but that’s only part of the explanation, I think. I have tried to avoid pretending I don’t know, remember, or hear things, but I always just slide slowly back into the habit of pretending. It seems easier at the moment.

So it seems I have made myself into a pawn in the chess game I was talking about in that question on Yahoo! Answers. My parents didn’t solve the game for checkmate, it’s just that I’m downplaying my abilities!


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