Piecing himself together

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For sophomore James Ko*, life with his parents was never ideal. One night, he was taken to his cousin’s house, and his parents decided that it was best to leave him there due to difficult living circumstances.

“My parents decided to say their last words to me before [they left me], ‘You’re not coming back and remember you’re a mistake’,” Ko said.

Ko’s family started to fall apart due to the lack of connection with his parents. Despite everything, there has always been an admiration for both his mom and dad. Ko always felt the need to do more in order for his parents to notice his presence.

“As a little kid, I looked up to them; it took me a long time to realize it was too late,” Ko said. “Ever since I was a little kid, I thought, maybe if I did something, my parents will acknowledge me. I would get some credit for whatever I did, but it didn’t work so well.”

Ko is currently living with his cousin, meanwhile his little brother still lives with his parents. He knew that his little brother would have had a much greater meaning to his parents.

“Them [his parents] being who they were, they did not care; my brother was more important,” Ko said. “I needed to be a role model and I was only there for their help. So I felt used, angry, sad, and unwanted.”

Even though Ko is not dependent on his parents, he still has other responsibilities, such as to pay monthly rent and utility bills.

“I work my butt off and believe me, everyday, I’m working towards getting my parents to be happy,” Ko said.

When Ko transferred to San Gabriel High School, he realized that he did not need his parents’ support. Later on, he started to find himself throughout his high school years.

“As I grew older, nearing high school, I started to develop feelings where I was like, ‘You know what, I’m old enough now to understand if they don’t care. I have to do what I need to do to survive’,” Ko said.

*Name changed upon request


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