Journal Entry No. 09
By Maly Mann
December 28, 2018
I’ll start this off by introducing myself. My name is Maly Mann and I am a 22 year old from Long Beach, CA. Currently, I’ve found myself with Los Angeles as my stomping grounds, which is lovely to say the least. As of late, I have found positivity and self-care easy to come by because, well, I allow it in my life and am not as fearful of believing in the good like I was as a pre-teen, teen, and even young adult. It has been a wild time in my life with extreme ups and the lowest of lows (which I’ll explain in small detail). But for now I have this to say: nothing is impossible.
I was born in Long Beach, CA in St. Mary’s Hospital on April 28th, 1996; the youngest of six children under the care of my parents. My father, Mith, and my mother, Ngorl, emigrated from Cambodia to the U.S. after the Khmer Rouge in the ‘70s. With them, they brought three beautiful children and popped out a few more (haha, me) when they made home in the states. My parents came to the U.S. with absolutely nothing: a lack of education, money, security and a home. But they did come with feelings of anger and stress, the making of a poisonous potion.
With that said, I grew up in an environment not so suited for the young. Plenty of screaming, fighting, crying and cold air. I am not saying my parents were not loving, they were, and I am so thankful that they made a life here for my siblings and I. I owe them the world but the stresses of their past still haunted them and the anger that they felt from not being able to guide a successful life grew stronger. It created a bomb that, in time, exploded, leaving my siblings and I to be hit with the shrapnel.
Here is a quick lowdown on the years I can remember. Years that left me with so much feeling that I can’t entirely express into written words.
At eleven, my oldest sister moved out. She was our saving grace. Her leaving the home made us fearful because we had to learn how to fend for ourselves, feed ourselves and treat ourselves with the love she would give us when my parents were at work. (Which was every single day, Monday through Sunday from 7am to 11pm. And when they weren’t working, they still weren’t home.)
At fourteen, my pup passed away. He was my best friend and I had him for eight years. Our neighbor’s pitbulls got out of their backyard and attacked him in front of me. I screamed, I cried, I yelled, and when someone heard me it was too late. He was put down hours after and I refused to say any goodbyes. I still regret that to this day. In that same year, the worst of the absolute worst occured. My father was sentenced to two years in the county jail for domestic abuse influenced by alcohol (again). My mother was bedridden for weeks in recovery. He got out early for good behavior and he hasn’t touched a drink since. He’s a better man now and I’m proud of him.
At fifteen, my grandfather passed from lung cancer. He was an incredible man who always smiled, danced and gave me hope. He was a father figure to me. I was broken. He was the only grandparent that I had met and I loved him more than I can express into words.
There is that – a mixture of death, an alcoholic father and a passive aggressive mother sprinkled with a bad living situation (neighborhood), lack of food and lack of tangible tender loving care. There’s a lot more that has affected me but those are the main things that shook me to the core right before the hell on earth that was high school.
I was going into high school with so much confusion and despair. How do I make friends? How do I act towards people? What do I do or say? I had absolutely no idea. All of my siblings were getting older and moving forward to get their own lives on track so they could get out of the house. And I? I just dove into whatever required me to be away from home. Clubs, groups, after school programs, etc. I was surprised that I did well in the first two years of high school. I was torn up inside but I realize that school kept my mind occupied outside of my own world. The last two years were… not as good.
I was a frequent girlfriend, I kept occupied with boys well. I ended up in a pretty serious high school sweetheart relationship from junior to senior year. He was an amazing friend and boyfriend but we had issues that were separate from each other. I hadn’t realized then that I was still a broken person. From my head to my toes I was beveled and bruised but no one noticed because I was good at the whole facade thing.
I developed a pretty bad drug and drinking problem during the last two years of high school. Sneaking out of school to smoke cigarettes, drinking every weekend and taking my friends adderall on the daily induced an interest in more and more and more and more. Whatever could take the pain away, I did it. The mixture of substances and high school angst lead to another issue. I developed a bad problem with barely eating. Well, not eating. I was so wrapped up in looking a certain way, healthy and pretty, because I needed to hide the fact that I was breaking inside. I also wanted to be liked, to be seen as appealing. Not to mention, my boyfriend at the time jokingly called me fat and that was the straw that broke the camel's back. I became a vegan for ‘personal reasons’. It was just an excuse to…y’know.
I became frail and lifeless looking. I fainted multiple times at school and at home. I told my sisters that I was too tired from school or that I was ‘sleepwalking’ and they usually believed it. Everyone thought I was just losing weight from being vegan, it was a damn lie. I eventually lost it. I was so angry all the time from my lack of vitamins and healthiness. My depression grew and I knew I needed help. So one fateful night, I came home and broke down in front of my sister, Tina. From there I seeked help and I got it. It was hard but it isn’t impossible to get better. You just have to speak up, not be fearful of judgements and not to be fearful of others’ love.
At the end of senior year, my boyfriend became my ex-boyfriend because I was in too much of a depressive state and needed to be alone. I got worse, moved out of my family’s home immediately and moved in with my friend, Susie. We practically lived at the bar. I ended up moving in with a new found boyfriend a few months later, right before I started college, and that was when I learned more about myself than ever. I watched my family slip away and my friends leave my side because I was becoming someone else. I didn’t see it until every single person I loved walked out of my life.
I left the situations that induced the loss and became better. I quit drinking and spent more time with my family and friends. I learned how to be okay with being alone, constantly reminding myself that you can not find comfort in the arms of another all the time. You can not look for yourself through the eyes of the people you surround yourself with. You have to look deep within yourself, dig into your darkness and show yourself the dim light that’s deep within the pockets of your lungs. Get in there, and when you see it, take the deepest breath to turn that dim light to bright.
I did this and tried to do it often. It hurt to move forward and allow change into the spaces that I was most comfortable in, but I learned that comfort does not necessarily mean happiness. You can not erase bad memories in comfort and you sure as hell can not erase pain in the silk lined bed of comfort. It is not that easy. To allow yourself to understand happiness, to feel it to the point where it is almost physically tangible, requires speaking up and opening up to yourself and to others. Scream out what made you hurt, write letters to the ones that hurt you and burn them and hug the people that taught you love.
Pain is okay.
Pain is nothing to be embarrassed of.
Talk about it. Please. Talk about it.
Speaking up is the first step to overcoming trauma, stress and depression. Allow yourself to move with current, spew out the words and just release.
The release took years for me and I still see myself as a work in progress but that’s okay. Move fluidly and remind yourself that you are responsible for giving yourself the love that you need. We have the ability to take care of ourselves more than anyone else does. Take your time. Don’t rush the change and allow yourself to let the good in. Take all the bad and clean it. Then pick out the little strings of the lessons it has left you with. Hold those lessons tight near your heart.
I want to end by saying thank you for reading. I am sure it was far too much to even grasp fully being I write with so much vehemence.
1. Try to dance until you don’t realize which direction your feet are moving.
2. Today is a new day. Yesterday you were worried about something but was it worth all the worrying?
3. Remind yourself you’re the change you want to see.
4. Don’t forget to take a deep breath.
5. Move with the current, feel it, and let go.
6. You are loved. You are cared for. You may not see it and you may not be able to hold the feeling, but you are.
7. Words can be our enemy if we don’t use them.
Warmest hugs and endless love,