Underneath my yellow skin

Category Archives: Self Esteem

Turn that frown upside down

One of the persistent issues in my life has been a low self-esteem. It stems from being told implicitly and explicitly that my opinions don’t matter. More than that, I was made to feel like I had to keep everything to myself. The only person allowed to be angry in my family was my father. And, since my mother made me her confidant when I was eleven (or earlier, but that’s when I first remember it happening), I learned that my feelings were secondary to hers. It got better when I was in my thirties, but it’s reverted now that my parents are elderly and my father isn’t in the best of health. And is still the same narcissistic, yet insecure person he’s always been. Some of the things she complains about are things he’s done their entire marriage, which is nearly fifty-one years in length. It’s frustrating as hell because I can remember her complaining about the same things thirty-five years ago, and I don’t have a better answer now than I did then. Or rather, my answer is the same. Divorce him. I know she won’t do that, however, so all I can do is–nothing.

I hate that she only calls me to complain about him. She might ask me about myself (or not), and she might even listen for a few minutes, but then it’s time to talk ad nauseam about him. I wouldn’t want to hear that much about him if he was a good person and they had a great relationship. The fact that he’s not and they don’t just makes it even more painful. I know that on my end, I should just give a couple nondescript answers and end the call as soon as I can. I don’t, however, because I feel guilty that she doesn’t have anyone else to talk to. I shouldn’t, I know, but it’s my programming. I’m only here to manage the feelings of others. I thought I had it under control, but the fact that my parents are in the last stage of their lives has made me soft. It’s ironic that I’m better able to deal with my father because I just accept he is who he is. I know that he’ll never change, so it’s easier to gray rock him into oblivion. I just nod and agree with whatever he says or state my case once and then move on. I can do that because I don’t expect anything better from him. From my mom, it’s another story. I know she’s better than what she’s displaying right now. She’s a badass woman who single-handedly brought sandplay therapy to Taiwan. She has a waiting list for clients that is over a year long. She’s the foremost expert on the subject in Taiwan. She’s highly respected in her field. And, yet, in her personal life, she’s reduced to being the helpmeet of my father.

I’ve said before that one of the reasons I don’t want to be in a romantic relationship is because I can see myself in her. I could easily be that person, and it scares the fuck out of me. She couldn’t call him at work because it would make him lose face (yeah, I don’t get it, either); he would get angry if she asked him to let her know when he wasn’t coming home for dinner (because he was fucking around); and his way of punishing her would be to angrily yell at her until she backed down or give her the icy silent treatment.

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The magic of pants that fit

the room of doom.
Striking fear in my heart.

Today was errand day. My new progressive glasses were ready, and I had to pick up my meds, too. On my way to Target, I heard the beginning of a discussion on sleep on MPR. I sighed because every other time MPR did something on sleep, it was how important it was to get seven to nine hours.


Apparently, this show was going to include that pertinent information, but I missed it because I was in Target. I’ll have to look it up later and listen to it to get the pearls of wisdom. I did catch the tail end, and the advice was to put an ice pack on your eyes. It does something to slow the heartbeat (probably ‘coz you think you’re about to die and everything shuts down) that makes it easier to sleep. I did wonder if you’re just supposed to leave the ice pack on your eyes as you fall asleep, and I wear a sleep mask, so what about that? But the doctor said you could use a frozen pack of veggies, which I have. I may have to try it. I’ve tried everything else, so why not?

Anyway, I got my new progressives, which the doc warned me would take time to get used to. He was a month into his first pair, and he was still adjusting. He said the trick was to really focus on whatever it is you’re doing, which is not easy for me to do. I have a tendency to multitask and scan things rapidly, so this will be an exercise in getting me to slow the fuck down.

It’s strange because if I move my head too quickly, the object I’m looking at sort of bends in the middle. I imagine it’s similar to what being on hallucinogenics is like. In general, though, everything is crisp and clear. It’s actually strange because it’s been ten years since I’ve had my eyes checked, and my left one has gotten really bad, apparently.

I also love that there is no line on my glasses. I remember the days when if you needed bifocals, you got that nice line on the glasses. Yes, I’m that old. I chose lenses that were a bit bigger this time with a black half-frame. I like them, but it’ll take getting used to as well.

I like them, though, and I take it as a sign that I’ve done something to take care of myself. It’s a big deal for me because I tend to put these things off for forever. See not getting my eyes checked in ten years. I probably would have left it off even more but one of the nose pieces fell off and one of the handles was broken. I had taped it together, but come on. I’m a grown woman. I should not be jury-rigging my glasses, damn it. I also had toothpaste around my mouth when I went to pick up my glasses. Mortifying! It’s from not looking in the mirror, and I need to start doing it because it was the second time it happened this week.

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Depression is a tricky bastard it is

I’ve been experiencing a medium-grade depression for roughly six months, and it’s time to admit it isn’t going away on its own. I gutted it out the first few months because I thought it was temporary, but now, I fear it’s not true. I want to mention that I always have a low-grade depression. Always. Some days, it’s very minimal. Some days, it pushes the line between low and medium, but it never goes completely away. There is an argument to be had whether it’s depression or anxiety or a combination of both, but whatever it is, I’ve come to accept it in my life.

I do not want to accept the medium-grade depression, though, because it’s actively hindering me. When I have a low-grade depression, I can still go about my life and do what needs to be done with little problem. With medium-grade depression, the intrusive thoughts are more intrusive, and it’s harder to ignore them or brush them away. In addition, the depression knows me and my weaknesses very well, and it uses the knowledge against me. Once I catch on to its manipulations and become immune to them, it changes its tactics.

For example. When I used to be severely depressed, an entity I called The Dictator would tell me that I was toxic, worthless, and no one would care if I died. It told me that the people I thought were my friends weren’t really, that they were just being nice. Why would anyone want to be my friend? I didn’t have any redeeming qualities. I was fat, loutish, uninteresting, and unattractive. I firmly believed this, and no one could tell me anything to the contrary.

Now, I don’t believe any of that. Well, I am fat, but that’s just a descriptor and not a pejorative. I also think I’m boring, but I’m willing to believe that’s just me being hard on myself. I no longer think The Dictator is a part of me, but I haven’t gotten rid of the depression. It’s changed its attack, however, because it’s a sly and sneaky bastard. Now, instead of telling me the above, it tells me that I’m worthless because I’m not doing anything with my life. I don’t have an office job. I’m not moving up in the world. I don’t have many friends. I’m not putting out content in a way that is meaningful, and no one gives a shit about my writing. I’m never going to be published unless it’s self-published. Maybe ten people will actually give a shit if i die, and I’m not counting online people in that number. Not because they’re not real and not because I don’t care about some of them (and they probably care about me in return), but because it’s simply not the same.

All of this is true. Well, most of it is true. Some of it is more a feeling thing than an actual thing, but it leans on the side of being true. It’s hard to argue with any of it, except for the content part. That’s on me. I haven’t done what needs to be done to even have a chance of being a known content producer.

Side Note: I hate that phrase, ‘content producer’, because it’s simultaneously pretentious and antiseptic. But, it’s become an accepted phrase, especially for YouTube/Twitch.

I don’t like the term ‘creative’, either, for someone who produces artistic content, but it’s better than content producer. I like artist, but I understand that it’s not very inclusive. In general, I just like to say I’m a writer.

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An alien in isolation

the glasses are what makes it work.
However you do it, just write.

I read about how to write from time to time, and I recently learned about the Snowflake Method. I’m not going to link to it, so you can Google it if you want. I was not impressed with the website because the guy was hawking it HARD. I can get past that, though, because I know that’s part of writing these days. I skimmed through all the self-aggrandizement and hard sell bullshit to see what his actual advice was, and it would be fair to say I was skeptical from the start. I have a bias against named systems for most things, especially creative endeavors,

Putting that aside, I reached the part about him saying something like, “If you’re like most people, you dream about your novel long before you write it. You research it and–”

That’s where I tapped out because it just underscored how weird I am. I’ve seen a version of this given as advice or how that particular writer works many, many times. “I have an outline”, “I write down the names and how everyone is related to each other in beforehand”, etc. People talking about how they do all this research when they build a world is common as well.

I’m not disputing that this works for other people, obviously. In fact, it seems most writers have some sort of outline/plan/research thing they adhere to. I don’t. At all. I don’t think about a novel before I write about it. I have  ideas come into my mind, and they are usually fairly fully hatched when they arrive. I write mysteries for the most part, so let me give you an example of my creative process. Note, I tend to write trilogy, so this is what happens when I’m starting a new one.

I’m finishing up a novel, and I have an idea rattling around in my mind. For example, at one point, I wanted to write about abortion. Or rather, have abortion as a main driver in the story. I let that marinate in my brain for days as I finished whatever I was working on. Then, suddenly, I knew how abortion was going to be featured, how it would affect the arc of the story, and who was going to be murdered (the doctor who performed the abortion). I also knew that the anti-choice movement was going to be featured because of course they would be given the topic. I also knew the reason for the murder, although I wasn’t quite sure who the murderer would be. With that knowledge, I started writing.

Another example is a short story I wrote, which is still one of my favorite stories that I’ve written. I wanted to write about depression and the color red. I am inordinately proud of this story because it’s actually beautiful prose, which is not my style at all. I am not one for elaborate descriptions and an exquisite turn of phrase. I’m good at dialogue and building characters. The rest of it, eh, not so much. This short story, however, I paid more attention to my phrasing, and it was almost lyrical.

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I’ll tell you what I want (what I really really want)

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what I want to do with the rest of my life. My birthday is coming up, and that usually causes me to think of what a waste my life is. This year, there is also a strong sense of ‘what do I really want to do?’ alongside the usual ‘my life is worthless’. I’m putting them in order of most important to least important, but I haven’t sorted them out completely in my mind. I may do some moving around as I write.

1. Finish Sekiro. Sorry. I know that’s not a huge life goal, but it released on Friday, and I’ve been playing it almost compulsively ever since. I had to mention it because, duh, FromSoft game. I’d been nervously anticipating it because there was so much hype, and it had so much to live up to. There was no way it could be everything rabid FromSoft fans wanted it to be, right?


It’s fucking amazing and blew my mind from the very beginning. Again, I’ve only put in a dozen or so hours, so I’m not ready to declare it the best FromSoft game ever, but it’s definitely as good as Soulsborne games. I plan on finishing it this week, but we’ll see how it goes. It’s very difficult, more so than Soulsborne games because of the technical combat, and it’s already kicking my ass. I will definitely have more to say about it later on.

2. Get back on the stage.  I miss performing. A lot. I remember my days with Theater Mu back in the mid-nineties, and it was such a fun time. It was one group I actually felt a  part of, or at least as much as I can feel a part of anything. Those were my peeps, and while I had reasons for not trying out any longer, I do miss it intensely. Not just performing with others, however, but also writing, staging, and performing my own pieces. I was quite good at it, but it took a lot out of me. Basically, it was two to three months of intense prep plus an hour or two of sick anxiety for ten minutes of actual performance and two minutes of an incredible high–only to be followed by a crash and a lethargy for hours if not days afterwards.

I have never felt the high such as immediately following a performance. It’s intense, and it made me feel as if I could do fucking anything. I have never done anything stronger than marijuana, but I imagine it’s like being high on drugs. If I’m honest, I also miss the planning and writing almost as much as the actual performance, but I feel as if I’ve missed my window to do the kind of performing I used to do. It’s hard to explain, but it usually read like a funny stream of consciousness, but every word is carefully planned and mesmerized.

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I wish I were Frankenstein

who dat?
Take a good hard look.

When I think of past mes, I feel detached from them. I examine them as if I’m an anthropologist or sociologist or, quite frankly, psychologist rather than me looking at me. I don’t recognize any of them, and they certainly don’t feel as if they are a part of me. I feel a lot of compassion for them, but I don’t feel connected to them in any way. Yeah, I know how that sounds, but it’s the truth.

I don’t like myself. I never have, and I don’t know if I ever will. However, there are parts of each of the past mes that I actually admire. Let’s go over them quickly.

Minna 1.0 (0-5) was fearless and brave by all accounts. My mom used to love to tell the story of how my brother was being bullied by some kids, and I chased them away from him. I was two and he was five. Another story my mom would tell (and confirmed by other relatives) was how I would jump off the coffee table in the living room and yell, “Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches!”, displaying my early love for performing. I don’t remember this me at all except we were at Disneyland (that’s the one in CA, right?) watching some ice-skating Animatronics-like figures, and all I could see was the grooves in the ‘ice’ and the mechanical spikes moving the figures around. I was disappointed it wasn’t the real thing.

I wish I remember Minna 1.0 because she sounds like one badass girl.

Minna 2.0 (5-10) had a troubled childhood. I realized I was going to die when I was seven, and it’s all been downhill since then. Not coincidentally, my depression started at the same time (not for that reason), but, on the positive side, so did my creativity and love for the written word. I apparently taught myself to read at age four (another part of the badassery of Minna 1.0), and it was my escape ever since. I was first bullied when I was in first grade, and it didn’t end for the next twelve years. I escaped by reading every book I could get my hands on (in the days before Kindle and the internet because I’m an Old), and I started writing poetry. That was how I coped with hating life, and while it wasn’t the best coping method, it did keep me alive.

Minna 3.0 (11-20) is the one who brings out the most compassion in me. Oh dear. What can I say about her that is positive? Honestly, not much. Those years were by far the worst of my life, and I can’t remember many having many happy times or victories in life. I will say I got my first boyfriend during this time and we dated for two years. That relationship set me up for many of the dysfunctional romances in my life because I was not mature enough to relationship well. It was also the beginning of my eating disorders, which I still struggle with now. I can’t help thinking how if I had gotten a good therapist when I was in this period, my life might look seriously different now.

Minna 4.0 (21-40) is probably the most interesting of the bunch and the one who accomplished the most. She’s also the one who experienced a really traumatic experience in a relationship in a foreign country, and that’s another thing that shaped my romantic/sexual history. I didn’t deal with that well at all, and I’m still handling the ramifications of that ‘relationship’. Not coincidentally, I did a lot of sexual experimentation during this time, which is not an uncommon reaction to sexual trauma.

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Live like you’re going to die tomorrow


fork in the road.
It could go either way.

Many moons ago when I was mired in a deep and chronic depression, I was contemplating suicide. I didn’t talk about it much, but I did mention it to my BFF. I’ll never forget what she said, though I haven’t quite followed her advice in the meantime. She said, “Don’t kill yourself yet. Give yourself a year to do whatever the hell you want and then see how you feel about it.”

Of course, she wasn’t advocating that I kill myself–far from it. She was trying to reframe the depression that had me feeling like complete and utter crap on a daily basis. Her point was that if I was going to kill myself (and, again, emphasizing that she was not advocating for it in any way), I should go out with no regrets. Her suggestion was that I make a list of all the things I wanted to do, do them for a year, and then see how I felt then.

Unfortunately, I was too far into my depression at the time to actually follow her advice, but I find it on my mind now that I’m in the midst of another depression. It isn’t as severe as the last one, and I’m very aware that it’s external rather than internal, but it’s still rather debilitating. There are several small things I need to do (new glasses, tire change, get a new insurance card), and I keep saying I’ll do it tomorrow, next Monday, etc. Rationally, I know that each one is no big deal, but they seem almost insurmountable in my mind.

I’ve written before how much energy it takes to do anything, let alone anything outside of my comfort zone. It’s easy to think someone with depression is lazy, but that’s because it’s hard to gauge the energy depleted from the outside. When I go to taiji, for example, I start thinking about it the night before. I remind myself when I’m leaving after running through my agenda for the day in my mind. Then, the next day, I have it in the back of my mind the entire time I’m doing whatever else leads up to the actual departure. Then, I get up at the assigned time, go out for a quick smoke, get dressed/shower/brush my teeth/go to the bathroom/do what needs to be done before leaving. I grab my weapons bag, my water container, my canvas bag (for the co-op), and my purse. Then, I place everything in the car just so, pull on my sunglasses, put on some lip goo, before finally opening the garage door.

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Forgiveness without repentance and atonement is bullshit

“You have to forgive them for your sake.”

There are few phrases that send me over the edge as quickly as this one and any of its variants. I’ve covered this before, but it’s still something that bugs the shit out of me, especially during this time of #MeToo. I keep thinking about how much of the focus from some people* is on how hard we’re being on the perps. Or to be more precise, how hard we’re being on them by extension of being hard on the perps.

“This is gonna make it harder to meet women,” they whine. “I’ll be too afraid to even come up to a woman and flirt because she’ll scream sexual harassment!”

First of all, if you consistently have women saying you’re sexually harassing them, well, you’re doing flirting wrong. If you have to worry about your technique coming across as sexual harassment, then you’re also doing it wrong. If the general response from women you’re flirting with is, “Get the fuck away from me!”, you’re definitely doing it wrong.

Side rant: Women do not have to be gamed into fucking/dating you. Well, you in particular, maybe, because you (from two paragraphs up) have a poisonous attitude that women can smell a mile away, but in general, women are on the same sexual spectrum as men, which means ranging from asexual to ‘can fuck three times a day and still be horny enough to masturbate afterwards’.

That is another post for another day, so I’ll hew back to the main topic with difficulty.

I was raised evangelical Christian. There was the usual hell and brimstone bullshit, and the ‘forgive your transgressors’ bullshit that accompanies many religion. I was pissed as hell at Christianity for many years after I left, and then it faded away with difficulty in time. I got to the point where I didn’t care about it, and if someone wanted to believe, it was fine as long as it didn’t infringe on my rights and personhood.

I’ve never cared for the word forgiveness, but when it was accompanied by true contrition on the part of the perp, it was acceptable. But, to me, the underlying idea of pressuring someone into forgiving makes me supremely uncomfortable. It’s for the forgiven and for the audience, not for the forgiver. Or, to put it more plainly, it’s for the perpetrator, not the victim. It’s to make his (and it’s usually a him, but not always, of course) life easier because America loves a good redemption story.

And patriarchy, of course.

Here’s one of the insidious side effects of any ism–the narrative is centered around the majority and not the minority. That’s why it’s worse to be called a racist than actually be one, for example. That’s why anyone who is a minority has to be excruciatingly conscious about how they voice their objections. They know that they are going to get pushback that is outsized compared to what they actually said.

Taking this back to the concept of forgiveness. I don’t know if this is a specifically Christian attitude, but pervasive in this country is that someone who doesn’t forgive a perp in X amount of time is actually worse than the perp. I think it’s a Christian attitude crossed with the love for redemption PLUS the need to keep the status quo as is. It’s similar to families in which there’s one relative, let’s say Uncle Joe, who is an absolute asshole in behavior and words. He’s sexist, racist, homophobic, classist, and everything else, and everyone knows he’s going to say/do something awful at every family get-together. Yet, when Cousin Susie speaks up and says something to him, she is the one who is scolded and pressured into smoothing things over for the good of the family.

It’s the missing stair theory, which I first saw at the Captain Awkward website but originated at Pervocracy. Everyone works around the asshole and everybody knows they’re working around the asshole, but they don’t ever think, “Hey, maybe we should fix the asshole instead of working around him.” They try to warn new people about him, and they make sure to keep an eye on him, but god forbid they ever mention it. And, if someone else does, that person is often ostracized instead. The status quo is a powerful drug, yo.

Also, no one wants to feel complicit in upholding a sick system, and that’s what we have when it comes to sexual harassment/rape culture in America. There are a million different ways we tell women that they are there for the gratification of men, and we punish them for daring to speak up when all this goes terribly wrong.

To loop back to dudes who whine about not being able to flirt with women now–my dudes. #MeToo may be a relatively new movement, but the sentiments behind it aren’t new by any stretch of the imagination. Most women have been groped, cat-called, sexually molested, harassed, or raped at least once in their lives. The sheer volume of stories coming out during #MeToo isn’t because it’s a new thing that just started to happen in the past few years; it’s because women are finally feeling comfortable speaking–and still getting a hell of a lot of pushback for it.

I can’t stop thinking about Louis CK. I’ve written about him before, but he’s the one who’s stuck with me because I really liked his comedy. I’ve quoted him ad nauseam, and he was one of my favorite comedians before the revelation. Once I heard it, though, I dropped him from my lexicon like he never even existed. I felt conflicted about it for some time, but I knew I couldn’t in good conscience continue to reference him like nothing happened. In addition, the revelation made me feel sickened in retrospect by some of the stories he told in past stand up specials that made me laugh. He made me feel complicit after the fact for condoning what I would have considered questionable behavior in real life, but that was fucking hilarious in the context in which he presented it.

When he was confronted, he admitted he’d done it and said he would step away and spend a lot of time listening to other people. It was the one thing I actually respected him for (among a lot of disgust for his behavior and how he wielded his clout and power), and I hoped he would get his shit together at some point and become a better person in his absence. I wasn’t going to go back to supporting him, but I wished him well. Fun fact, I just realized I was still subscribed to his newsletter and instantly unsubscribed.

Anyway, about a month ago, roughly ten months after his revelation, he crashed a comedy club and did a set without warning that included a rape joke.


There is so much wrong with this that. First, that he was allowed to do the set in the first place. Yes, I know he’s Louis CK and that even now, having him perform will probably boost a small comedy club. However, there were women in the audience who were uncomfortable and even afraid while he was doing his set because there were many men who were applauding him and shouting encouragement. I can see myself in that situation being frozen and wondering what the fuck I should do. Hell, I have been in a similar situation. I was at a Dana Gould show (comped ticket), and he told an incredibly gross rape joke that had me frozen in my seat. I wanted to leave, but I knew that would be making a scene. I stayed for the rest of the (unfunny) set, and it was not a pleasant experience.

With Louis CK, I would like to think I would have gotten up and walked out, but I can’t say for sure. I know I would have felt violated and triggered by seeing him, though. And as a paying customer, I would have been enraged and never gone back to the club. Not only that, I would have spread the word on social media to inform everyone where it had happened so they could avoid it as well. That tipped my ambivalence about Louis CK into disgust. It was incredibly slimy of him to do that, and it was clear that he had learned jack and shit. There was some comedian on Twitter, Michael Ian Black, I think who said even though it was unpopular, he thought that Louis CK had done his time, so he should be allowed to perform again.

Yeaaaaaaah. There was plenty of backlash, and he finally ended up seeing the light, but it took a lot of work on the part of beleaguered women who patiently and not so patiently took away every one of his reasons for saying what he did. They rightly pointed out that Louis CK spent no time, still had tons of money, and made no amends. He did not express remorse and went so far as to make a rape joke during his set. In addition, he did not have the balls to set up his own show and perform–no he stealth-bombed a club, knowing he would be accepted because he’s fucking Louis CK, man. The fact that Michael Ian Black was so concerned about another man’s redemption story, with heavy emphasis on man, is wearying, but also not surprising.

It’s what’s behind all the ‘we can’t even flirt’ bullshit that’s happening now. It’s funny, though, because my reaction to these men saying they won’t flirt at all any longer is, “GOOD!” It’s a hollow threat, of course. They’re going to keep being assholes because they’re unwilling to look at their own behavior, and that’s what I hate about the current bullshit over forgiveness. Demanding a victim forgive their perp without demanding anything from the perp (as in the case with Louis CK) is putting the onus on the wrong person entirely. It’s saying the initial transgression doesn’t count nearly as much as the lack of forgiveness, which I find to be rampant in evangelical Christianity. I found this article by a woman who was sexually abused by her father in a very fundamental Christian household, and I can relate to everything she’s said. I admire her for having the strength to take him to court and the strength to resist after he was released from jail all his attempts to manipulate her into having a relationship with him again. The last two paragraphs in particular stick with me:

There are things about my abuse that I can forgive, but the list is short and circumstantial. I can forgive my dad’s untreated mental illness; I can forgive my dad’s alcoholism and drug abuse; I can forgive my mother for feeling too stuck in an emotionally abusive relationship to risk standing up for me. But I cannot forgive the act and I will not forgive him.

I don’t feel guilty about this. And that’s the best healing I’ve experienced so far.

I feel the same way about forgiving certain people. I don’t think I need to forgive them, and, indeed, I find it offensive when told I do ‘for my own good’. I included the Kelly Clarkson song above because it’s similar to my own feelings about forgiveness–you don’t have to do it to move on. It’s clear that Kelly hasn’t forgiven, but she’s built a better life without her father in it–which is better than empty forgiveness.

I hate the word forgiveness because of how loaded it is these days and how forgiveness is often touted as the only way to ‘heal’, whatever that means. For me, there are some people I will never forgive. What I have done is let go of much of the anger and moved past it. I’ve made those people less important to me than they used to be, and that’s really all I care about. I don’t care why they did what they did or if they’re better people now or whatever. All I care about is that it doesn’t affect me the way it used to, and in some cases, it doesn’t affect me at all. And, like Monica in the article I linked above, I don’t feel guilty about it at all. That’s healing for you!






*Men. Let’s be real. It’s men. Specifically cis het men.

Oh for the confidence of a mediocre white dude

all locks simultaneously slam shut.
My key will open one of these locks, surely!

A few months ago, my taiji teacher and I arrived at the studio at the same time. The door was already unlocked, which was weird. We went in and there was a guy doing something in the corner. It’s a kettlebell studio, and he presumably was a teacher if he had a key. Or someone who was in a position of trust, anyway. He had KQ blasting (classic rock station), and he didn’t stop when we went in. My teacher informed him in a very icy voice that we had a class, and he said he would be done soon. Which he wasn’t, btw. He did magnanimously inform us that we could change the music to anything we wanted. My teacher told him we didn’t use music in our class and turned off the radio.

As I was watching the exchange, I was thinking, “I wished I had a tenth of his confidence.” I mean, he never even questioned that he had a right to stay there during our class which takes a hell of a lot of chutzpah, but that’s one of the hidden benefits of being a white dude in this country*. What you want, think, do is the norm/acceptable, and you don’t even have to think about it. As a weird example, most medical studies are aimed at white dudes. That’s a gross simplification, but it’s basically true. When I tried sleeping pills, for example, the low end of the standard dosage was still too much for me. One pill knocked me out for fifteen hours, which, as you can guess, was not optimal. I cut it in half, and it didn’t help. A fourth, and it still kept me asleep for more than twelve hours. I finally gave up. I still haven’t found an answer to my sleeping problem except taiji, and that’s a long-term solution.

I was listening to a Dr. Nerdlove podcast about who has the power in a relationship/dating, and one of the points the good doctor brought up was how some men** whine about women having all the power in dating because we get to say yes or no to being asked out. We are the gatekeepers, and we can cruelly break their hearts by saying no for no good reason!*** Why can’t we just give them a chaaaaance? They think they need to figure out the code to unlock the dating lock we’ve wrapped around our pussies, and it’s one reason PUAs have such success when they claim they know how to gamify dating (and by extension, women). If you’ve never gone down the rabbit hole that is the PUA mindset, consider yourself lucky.

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Becoming what I feared

When I was in my twenties, I used to joke that I was attracted to the exact wrong person for me. Gay men, straight women, anyone who was taken, or someone who was simply not interested in me*. If I walked into a room with 100 people and 99 were eligible dating partners, I would inevitably beeline towards the one who wasn’t.

In my late 20s/early 30s, I declared stridently that I didn’t want to be in a relationship. I was an independent woman, damn it! I didn’t need no (wo)man to make me complete. Of course, underneath it was my terrifying hunger to be in a relationship. I was told all my life it was the only thing that mattered, well, along with squirting out children, of course. It was confusing because I was also told I WOULD go to college, but at the end of the day, I better be married and have children.

Side note: When I turned 26, my mother started pushing me to have children. It reached the point where I began dreading talking to her because she would bring it up. Once summer when she visited, she mentioned it every goddamn fucking day. Her comment when I turned 26 was that she had my brother at that age. My immediate (internal) response was, “I’m not you, thank god.” I have been fortunate that I realized fairly early (21 or 22) that I did not want children. It was such a relief when I finally truly realized I did not have to spawn, I nearly cried. My mother did not stop trying to get me knocked up for the next fifteen years. I only relate this to underscore how much pressure I felt to marry (implicit in the preggers convos) and have children. The only time I ever had an impulse to have children was after my mom had been nagging me for days about it, and I thought, “I should have a kid just to shut her up.” Fortunately, I came to my senses and realized that having a child to please my mom would be a recipe for disaster.

I want to be clear. I was not a great girlfriend back in the day. I was too clingy and too eager to merge into one being. Unfortunately, there’s plenty of social support for a woman offering endless emotional support without receiving any in return, especially twenty years ago. In addition, there is the idea that you’re supposed to be the ‘cool girlfriend’ who is ‘chill’ and doesn’t get upset about, well, anything. It’s a neat way of keeping a woman firmly in her place (in a het relationship). Still. I fell into many of the traps of het relationships of that time, and I was not my best self in those relationships.

Many times, I was just desperate to be in a relationship, any relationship, because my self-worth hung on what my partner thought of me. I put up with a lot of shit that I shouldn’t have because I thought I didn’t deserve better. It was a vicious cycle, and I didn’t know how to get out of it. Hell, I wasn’t even aware of the problems for a long time. Once I became aware of my own issues, it was hard not to see it in myself all the damn time. I worked hard on it through a lot of therapy, but some of the issues are so deep.

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