When Abuse Isn’t Technically Abuse Pt. I

7-year-old me would always look at my nose wondering why everyone wanted to pinch it when I asked my mom, she told me I should pinch it more to make it pointier since it was one of the flaws I had to fix. Upset by this comment, I would pinch my every single day until it became red, and would start to cry when my nose wouldn’t come out pointed the way my mom wanted it to be. She told me “it was a joke” that I couldn’t change my nose and that I’ll always have this nose forever, which would upset me more. 7-year-old me would constantly ponder why I had so many flaws, each single-handedly pointed out by my relatives, stating numerous things I had to change since I wasn’t a good representation of being my mom’s child.

When I was 10, these comments suddenly became more assertive, with my mom buying me skirts and sleeveless tops because “I only wore pants and I would look prettier if I just tried it”, and them struggling for an hour because I wouldn’t wear what they bought me, saying that I was hard-headed and I didn’t appreciate what they’ve already bought for me. They tried persuading me that “people would say compliments to me, and guys would look at me attractively”. Yet, again, this was a joke, since I was only 10 and guys preferred sexier girls.

When I was 15, my relatives have compared me to my cousins, who grew up to be “pretty” teenagers, and I grew up to be, with a lack of words, a potato. My mom told me that “it was my fault” for growing up like this, with a pudgy body and unappealing looks, that no one would like me because I’m not thin and pretty enough like my cousins. They told me that if I just stopped eating and lose all the weight, I would get a lot of praises from my relatives, and I wouldn’t get remarks like:

“Hmm, your nose will always be flat…”

“You’re the ugliest amongst your sisters”

“You still dress like a guy, no one will find you attractive”

“Why are you wearing a skirt today, it doesn’t look good on fat people…”

“You know you’ll be prettier if you lose weight”

“Why don’t you listen to what we say? When will you stop being hard headed?”

 

Yet, my mom told me, even though these remarks would flow unendingly like a river, that those were just jokes.

My face would always end up in a distorted half grinning, half pouting smile, while these remarks they made would hit a wall I’ve already put up to protect myself from something unbeknown, something I wasn't willing to play with. Yet, all of a sudden, on a nice sunny evening, these remarks all bottled inside my head, after all these years, made my wall suddenly collapse, and the "something unbeknown" was all the pain I instantly felt suddenly seeping out of my skin making its way out my eyes and through my tears. 

Is this really a joke?

Why am I not laughing?

Why am I crying instead?

When is it considered psychological abuse anymore?

Where is the line of something being a joke to something being psychologically abusive?

- E. S.