Dear Asad,

 

I had a very disturbing childhood and adolescence. I am the youngest amongst my siblings and the only son of my parents. While growing up my father was quite strict with me but very affectionate towards my sisters. On the other hand, my mother loved me a lot. I was not a bright student and our family problems made me lose interest in my studies.

My eldest sister got married when I was quite young. She had three kids with her husband and then we got to know that her husband wanted a divorce as he was interested in some other woman. I was 13 at the time. After the divorce of my sister, the court proceedings initiated for the custody of her children. Our being a conservative family, my father didn’t allow my sister to go for regular court hearing unless absolutely necessary. He himself didn’t go too. This left me – a teenager – to appear in courts on a regular basis on behalf of my sister. The custody battle was finally resolved after many years through the efforts of the elders of both families. By that time I was old enough to start university.

In university, I fell in love with a girl. She also had the same feelings for me. Finally, it seemed there was some normalcy in my life. Then one day, very unexpectedly, my father passed away because of brain haemorrhage. It was a huge blow to us and the financial responsibility of my mother, divorced sister and unmarried sisters fell on me. My girlfriend left me, which was another huge blow that I suffered at the time. I started working along with studying at university. In the meantime, one of my sister’s got married. Then we discovered that my mother has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Her health deteriorated and she lost nearly all her memory. I was the only person in the whole world whom she remembered and recognised. Everybody else became a stranger for her.

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I had to leave my university because of financial constraints. I started looking after my mother full-time. She developed bedsores and passed away after some time. With her death, my whole world came crashing down. During the time span of two years, I lost both my parents. I was completely shattered and lost all faith in myself.

I was left all alone after the death of my parents. My sisters and other elders started pressurising me to get married to alleviate my loneliness. I kept resisting for six months and then gave in to their wishes. I am now married with two children.

The problem that I am now suffering from is that I have this constant fear that I will lose another loved one, i.e. my wife or children. I get nightmares in which I see that my wife or my children have left me. Instead of enjoying my time with my wife and children I constantly live in fear of losing them.

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I haven’t shared this fear of mine with anyone. It’s driving me crazy. Please tell me what I should do to lose this fear and live a normal happy life with my family.

 

Fear of Losing Loved Ones,

 

Dear Fear of Losing Loved Ones,

I am truly sorry to hear about your troubles from your past. From quite a young age you had to experience many problems. At an age when people go to school and spend time with their friends and form some of the most beautiful memories of life and develop close relationships, you had to visit courts and spend time in helping to sort out the issues of your sister’s unfortunate divorce. That must have been really tough, especially at that age.

More tragic is the sudden death of your father and then living through the pain of seeing your mother go through the deterioration of her health and ultimately passing away. You definitely have been through a lot. I hope and pray that your life now goes smoothly and you live in happiness with your loved ones. Ameen!

The fear that you are going through – of losing a loved one – is quite normal for a person like you who has gone through a lot of emotional turmoil and has consistently seen loved ones leaving him one way or the other, be it your girlfriend, father or mother. You loved all of them but sadly they all went away from your life. You constantly kept on losing loved ones. This had led you to start fearing that every few years you will lose a loved one.

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As you mentioned, this fear of yours is preventing you from enjoying a happy, carefree and emotionally fulfilling life with your loved ones.

I would suggest therapy with a counsellor who specialises in trauma and grief counselling. Working with such a professional will greatly help you in overcoming your fear of losing loved ones. He/She will hopefully be able to guide you how to control your fear and not let it rule your life.

Religion can also play a big role in stemming your fear. It can help you develop spiritually, bring you peace and help you understand and accept that just because you lost loved ones in the past, it doesn’t mean that you have to keep on losing them in the future too. It can help bring acceptance and closure to your life.

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You mentioned that you haven’t shared your fear with anyone and are going through it alone. I would suggest that you share it with your wife. If you both are emotionally close to each other and she is a sincere and loving life partner then sharing your fear with her would be greatly beneficial. Getting her emotional support and her unconditional love will help you to overcome your fear. Don’t be shy and don’t be embarrassed. If she is a good life partner she won’t judge you. You will have someone close to you who will listen to you, understand you and work with you to get rid of your fears and live a life of joy and happiness with your loved ones.

All the best!

Asad

 

Asad is a counsellor, life coach, inspirational speaker and a personal-development expert. He advises on social, personal and emotional issues. You can send him your questions for this weekly column at advice@tribune.com.pk with “Ask Asad” mentioned in the subject line and provide as many details as possible.

 

Note: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Express Tribune.