Personal Column: Philophobia – an overwhelming and unreasonable fear of falling in love


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Distorted photo of a women. In one side they show to the word that they are fine but in reality they a breaking inside.

At the age of 9, I received my very first award. A shiny gold medal. I was so proud. But yet, I still craved validation from my parents. My naïve young self went home flashing my shiny gold medal and a big smile.

When I showed my medal to my mom, instead of congratulating me and showering me with her praises, she scolded me for being a “know-it-all” and yelled profanities at me in Spanish. I cried the entire afternoon. I promised to never again tell them about my achievements, whether it was the A on my test or an acceptance into a competitive summer program. But, the unlearning fool I was, never kept that promise, and every time their responses would hurt me more.

It was always the same. The screaming. The yelling. But the cherry on top was always the apology. Or their apology turned criticism. The apology turned into long lectures of how my parents had it harder than us growing up. They would conclude their speech with the signature line of “We love you, and we tell you this for your own good.” Professions of love were always undercut by more yelling.

I stopped believing in love. I didn’t believe it was real. Should love hurt you? This love is slowly pushing me towards insanity. This love gave rise to my pain, fear, anxiety, and insecurity.

This love has become the source of my nightmares, the sleepless nights, the echo in my head telling me to disappear.

Every nightmare ended in my death. They all started in different places, always running away from a distorted version of my mom and dad- monsters. Seeking help, I would yell at top of my lungs, but no one ever listened, no one dared to turn their head in my direction. They all let me die.

If this is love, then I don’t want it.

I had a best friend when I was 10. We met the first day when she sat next to me in our homeroom class. She was an extrovert, and I, an introvert. During lunch, she would ask me to sit with her and her group of friends. She always made me feel like I was welcomed. She was the first person in my life that I felt like I could trust.

But I was wrong. I was always there for her, but she was never there for me. Whether it was crying over a boy that paid her no attention or not making the cheer team, I always stood by her side. When my dad got diagnosed with cancer, when I needed her most, she left me.

Another girl had transferred into our school after being kicked out of her previous school. My best friend and her became friends, and soon, I was cut out of the friend group. She refused to talk to me at school or sit with me at lunch. I wanted to cry, but I held my head high and refused to shed a tear for her. My parents had already taught me this lesson, and I vowed to never again become a victim of love.

Love isn’t like what you see in Romeo and Juliet. It’s not a Korean drama or a fan-fiction in which the world will be turned around by penciling the next line of the script. It is painful. Devoid of affection.

This love kills you slowly like smoke from a cigarettes. Like a slowly metastasizing tumor. I want to scream at the top of my lungs until they burst. I want to cry until I have no more tears left. I don’t want to ever love again.

All I’m left to do is count down every day and month until I can get on a plane and put an ocean between myself and my family. It is my one-way ticket to freedom. Only then, can I be at peace with myself. Only then, can I breathe again.