Underneath my yellow skin

Category Archives: Self Esteem

Losing the Veneer

I was at a wonderful Mediterranean buffet with Ian a few days ago for lunch, and I was trying to pick something out from between my teeth. TMI and kinda gross, I know, but it’s pertinent to the rest of the post. I felt something give in my mouth, and it was the top of a tooth! It didn’t hurt at all, though, so I knew I hadn’t broken a tooth. Believe me. I’ve had that happen, and the pain is agonizing and intense. This time–nothing. I cautiously touched my tongue to the space it came from, and it felt smooth. When I saw it, it had a metal plate in place, and I figured out with the help of Google (which may or may not be correct, naturally) that I had broken off the cap to the crown and not the crown itself. It’s just the top of the tooth to make it look like an actual tooth, but it’s not the crown itself. I have it wrapped in a napkin, and my dental office was closed on Friday when it happened, so I’m hoping after I mea culpa my dental office for not being in for years, they’ll be able to easily replace it. I read articles about how you should temporarily glue on the crown, but it was mostly to prevent from infection and if you’re feeling pain. As I have a metal plate covering the actual tooth and don’t feel pain at all, I decided just to wait until I see the dentist. Why mess with it if it’s not giving me any trouble or pain? In the meantime, I’m careful to clean it and I’m trying not to eat on that side of my mouth, but it’s not been a problem thus far. It’s weird to pass my tongue over it and there’s no top to the tooth, but it’s nothing more than an anomaly.

The reason I mention this is because I feel this way about my life right now. Putting aside with difficulty all the shit that is going on in this country right now (not to mention the world), my own personal life is going OK. I’m in a better place emotionally and mentally than I have been in a long time if ever, and despite the bouts of depression I get from time to time, it’s nothing like I used to feel on a regular basis. It disappears in a relatively short amount of time, but I still gingerly probe my emotions regularly to see if I’m feeling the pain. Most of the time the answer is no, but once in a while, it’s yes. This is where the analogy breaks down, so I’m going to abandon it for the rest of this post.


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Sorry (Not Sorry)

OT: (And, yes, I’m starting a post going off topic) I forget that yesterday was one of my two days I take off from social media and just started tweeting about the restaurant I made for Ian in Cook, Serve, Delicious 2. It’s Boudreau’s Bed & Breakfast, and it only serves foods that begin with the letter ‘B’ (I cheated by including the burger, even though it’s official name is ‘Hamburger’). Biscuits & Gravy, Brisket Slices, Brussels Sprouts (side), and two kinds of Beer. After I went to may taiji class, I realized it was Saturday, and I stopped looking at social media for the rest of the day. I felt bad, but it reminded me how easy it is for me to slip back into my old habits when I’m not paying attention. The restaurant looks really sweet, though:

Boudreau's Bed & Breakfast
Come for the biscuits & gravy, stay for the beer!

Here is the menu from the restaurant:

cooked and served, too.
Deeeelicious!

Anyway, I just wanted to note that, but that’s not what the actual post is about

I’ve realized lately that while I’m used to having nontraditional opinions about subjects, I’ve taken to couching them in apologetic terms. I’m not sorry in the least for having these opinions, but I don’t necessarily want to argue about them all the time, either. The problem is, if something is steeped in Americana tradition, any notion to the contrary can seem radical, no matter how softly couched. I read an article by a woman who was child-free about her decision to make her home a no-kids zone, and I read the comments out of curiosity. I thought the article was snarky and a tad rude, but she said straight out that she was having a hard time writing it in a way that would be acceptable to parents. The comments were brutal, and I had to laugh, albeit ruefully, how entitled they all sounded.

Look, I’m not saying you have to be friends with people who don’t want your children in their houses, but realize that your kids aren’t the center of other people’s lives the way they are the center of yours. But, as Bill Hicks said so famously, “They [your children] are not special….Oh, I know *you* think they’re special….I’m just trying to tell you, they’re not.”

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Memories Are Sometimes Best Left Remembered

I’m on a mission to winnow out my mounds of books, and I started weeding through them today. It can be a strange thing to look at a bunch of books that I labeled my favorites and realize that I’ve moved past many of them. There are others that I still think of fondly, but many of them I put in the give away pile. The unofficial ratio seems to be one book kept for every eight or nine I’m giving away. One bad thing about books is that they were made with cheap material back in the day, so they can get moldy or grimy and feel tacky.

Anyway, I was going through a box of books, and I came across a few cards from an ex. I scanned them, and they were filled with billing and cooing, and I felt…nothing. That’s not exactly true. I felt a bit of regret, disgust, and shame. The regret wasn’t that we had broken up, though, but that we had hooked up in the first place. We were both messed up, and we were friends first. We shouldn’t have gotten together, but there’s nothing I can do about that now. In addition, because I was with him, there was a path not taken that I deeply regret. I was musing about it on Twitter last night because, well, sit back and grab a cold beverage. This is going to be unwieldy because that’s the way my brain works.

I was waxing poetic about how Mike Ness from Social Distortion would have terrified the 22-year old me, but that’s he’s insanely hot. It reminded me of a bartender I had met while I lived in the East Bay who looked a lot like Mike Ness with tats and nipple piercings to match. He was one of the hottest guys I’d ever met in my life. We hit it off, and he asked me out. Unfortunately, I was dating the aforementioned ex, and while we were technically open*, we had to talk about it before doing it. I turned the Mike Ness lookalike down with deep regrets, and I was tweeting about how one of my biggest regrets was that I never fucked him. The bartender, I mean. Mike Ness, too, but that was never an option. We probably wouldn’t have lasted, but my god, he was so fucking hot.


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The More Things Change

In cleaning up the house, I saw a picture of me from twenty-five years ago. I picked it up and stared at it as if it were an artifact from a different lifetime. I was in the middle of my first anorexic stage, and I had a perm and was wearing makeup. I searched my face for anything recognizable, and there it was in my trademark smirk. I don’t smile easily, and I always feel fakey when I do, but when I looked at the picture, it wasn’t terrible. Only I could see the pain behind the smile because I was pretty good at masking it while I was out and about.

I can’t see much of the current me in the earlier incantation, but it’s more the mental and emotional changes. Even though it wasn’t readily apparent in the photo, I was at the depth of my depression, and I struggled to get out of bed every day. Those were the days when I exercised seven hours a day in order to support my ED, but then I didn’t do anything else. Once I stopped exercising so much, I spent a lot of time on the couch, wallowing in my depression.

It’s hard to overstate how much I loathed myself at the time. My head was constantly filled with negative voices, the main one whom I dubbed The Dictator because he was always telling me what to do, and calling me horrible names in the meantime. I would never call other people the things I’ve called myself. It’s not even just the epithets. I was so cruel to myself. Telling myself I was worthless and not fit to live. I really thought I was toxic and the world would be better off without me. I called myself ugly and fat and lazy, and it was a constant narrative in my brain.

I believed that every day I was adding more poison to the world, and any good deed I did just moved me one step closer to neutral. But, because the negatives were more numerous than the positives, I was losing ground every day I lived. I have no idea why that belief solidified in my brain, but it was firmly intact by the time I was twelve or thirteen.


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Not in This Lifetime

I saw my last therapist for close to fifteen years. Around the ten-year mark, I said something about regretting that I was still working on some of the same issues that I had been when I first started seeing her. She said something to the effect that if I didn’t work on them then, I would be saying the the same thing in ten more years, except it’d be, “I can’t believe I’ve been working twenty years on this,” instead of ten.

I balked at what she was saying at the time (that’s just how I roll. My first instinct is always to counter what’s being said to me. I’m working on it), and I thought it was trite (which it was, but many tropes have at least a grain of truth), but she’s right. It’s fine to be sad that I haven’t fixed x, y, or z, but unless I work on it, it still won’t get fixed, and I’ll just have wasted more years. Take for example learning a new language. Chinese would be really useful for me to learn, but I would feel weird if I learned it before I learn Taiwanese which is my family’s native language. It would be harder for me to learn it, and I haven’t. I also haven’t learned Chinese. If I had started with that, I would know it by now.

Sigh.

In the past week, I’ve been thinking of my mortality. I’m probably past the half point of my life, and it’s all downhill from here. I jest, but not really. I have a thing that I hate the second half of things because it means the end is nearer than the beginning, and I’m feeling that way about my life right now. There are many things that are probably not going to happen in this lifetime, some for better and some for worse. Let’s start with some of the better ones.

  1. Have kids. WHEW!!! Enough said. Ha! Just kidding. About enough said, not about putting kids on this list. I can’t help but be smug when I remember an argument with a friend twenty years ago about having kids. There were three of us, all in our mid-to-late twenties, and one friend was insisting that I’d be the first of us to have kids. I don’t know why she thought that, but it really pissed the fuck out of me. I’ve known since I was twenty that I didn’t want kids. It’s the only constant in my life. To have someone who didn’t even know me that well tell me that I was going to have kids, aw, hell no. At the time, I thought to myself that I would send her postcard after she had a kid to gloat about it. She has a kid now and so does my other friend (my BFF), and me? Gloriously child-free.
  2. Get married. This is another that I assumed would just happen because isn’t it what every girl dreams of? Not me. I never made my Barbies get married–just have sex. I didn’t dream of my wedding because it seemed more like a nightmare to me. When I got older, I had political problems with it as well. The sexist origins of marriage, the taking of the dude’s last name, etc. Add to that the fact that marriage equality was but a dream when I was a young bi lady, and it was a big fat nope for me. Still, there was a tiny corner of my mind that wanted it for…reasons! I couldn’t articulate why, but I began to see it was to normalize my freak-ass self. I was such a weirdo and had no place in polite society. I had shed vestiges of an acceptable persona all throughout my twenties. I gave up religion, the idea of being a mother, and I had a hard time letting go of walking down the aisle in wedded bliss. What changed my mind? Over time, I realized I didn’t want to be with someone 24/7. I like living alone. I don’t like compromise. I like sleeping by myself. Well, maybe with my cat, but dassit. Any time I thought of marriage, it just seemed like a millstone around the neck. By the time I was thirty, I was done with the idea of marriage.
  3. A romantic relationship. This is in a gray area, but I’m leaning towards the idea that I’d prefer not to have a monogamous, primary romantic relationship. I’ve written about this before, but I’m not good girlfriend material. In addition, I don’t want to commit so deeply to one person. I have great friends that fulfill many of my emotional needs, and all I really am missing is sex. I’ve said it many times, but my ideal sex buddy would be someone with whom I could laugh, talk, eat, watch a sportsball game, then fuck for hours. Then, I’d kick them out and sleep the way I sleep best–alone. I wouldn’t mind having a few of these relationships. The idea makes me smile. When I think of a romantic relationship, there’s a constriction in my chest, and I have a hard time breathing. It feels smothering, which is what I tend to do in relationships.

Those are the ones I’m comfortable with. There are others that I’m less happy about. Let’s start that list now.


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Fake It Until You Make It, Part II

Hi. I wrote the first part of this post here. I have more things to say about it, so this is part two.

Another part of my problem is that my father has the inability to look at things from a viewpoint other than his own. He brought up an example that has been a sore point between us for many years. Rather, it was a sore point, but then it kind of got glossed over, and I eventually shrugged it off. He’s brought it up the last two times he’s visited, so obviously, it stuck with him. When I was a kid, he had a firm belief that having wet hair meant you’d catch cold. In addition, he has a lower set point for coldness than do I. And, in case I haven’t mentioned it a time or a million, he’s a narcissist. When I was a kid, I used to go outside after taking a shower. Or I would go outside without a coat on in the winter. He would say, “Put on a coat; I’m cold.” To hear him tell it, I rebelled because he didn’t ask me nicely such as, “Please put on a coat; it’s cold outside.” He’s framing it as a question of etiquette and culture. (Taiwanese culture it’s more acceptable to order your child around.) My issue isn’t because of the politeness, however. I still would have resisted because I wasn’t cold. I don’t care if he’s cold–that won’t change by me putting on a coat.

Now, I’ve come to realize that this coat thing is a power struggle between parents and children of different cultures, so it’s not strictly a Taiwanese thing, but the difference is, he told me to put on a coat because HE was cold (looking at me). Or, as he explained it, he would have been cold in that situation, so he just assumed I would be, too. Now, once, OK, I can see that. But, if the person in question tells you repeatedly that she isn’t cold, then wouldn’t you eventually believe her? The fact that I was diagnosed with Graves’ Disease years later (hyperthyroidism) validated my point of view. One of the symptoms is never feeling cold, grossly simplified, and it’s one thing I can point to now when I question whether I’m right to feel a certain way. I shouldn’t *need* outside validation, but when you grow up with two parents denying the way you feel, it can be helpful. I still hate the heat to this day, though I’m now hypothyroid, and I still don’t wear a coat in the winter except on the chilliest days.


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Fake It Until You Make It

I have a hard time believing in myself for many reasons, most of which are boring and way too common. Low self-esteem, perfection, all-or-nothing, blah, blah blah. Part of it is because in my family, every decision is made only after all the possible problems are talked about and dealt with. Endlessly. It’s not bad to think about issues, but it can be bad if it’s ninety percent of the conversation. I was just talking to my bestie, and it reminded me of something we used to talk about back in the day. When she was having problems with her husband, her mom told her that she would be fine either way. that struck me because if I were in the same situation, my mom would tell me why it would be hard to deal with either way. Neither mom is wrong; it’s just a different way to focus on things.

I mention this because I was talking to my parents about going back to school for a grad degree in psychology. We were discussing the pros and cons (mostly the cons as is our wont), and somehow, we got on the topic of the actual coursework itself. I said that would not be a problem, and my father told me not to be so sure. What I heard was that I was overestimating my intelligence and that I would have a nasty shock when I was actually faced with reality. I talked about it with my mother at a later date, and she said it’s probably because he had such a difficult time when he was earning his PhD (in econ) and was just projecting his feelings onto me. Which, duh, because narcissist. Anyway, I said to her, “I have enough worries and anxieties about going back to school. This isn’t one of them, and I don’t need it to become one.” The one thing I’ve counted on my entire life is my intelligence. More to the point, school is easy for me. I’m not saying the work won’t be hard, but will I be able to do it? Of that I have no doubt.

It upset me because it’s a pattern in my family. Don’t you dare show anything remotely resembling pride about anything because then you will be seen as arrogant. It’s part of Taiwanese culture, but it’s also my father’s neurosis. He needs to be validated from the outside and the center of attention, but he also has a horror of appearing arrogant. He was scolding my mom for telling people she went to a sandplay conference in Hawaii because he thought it made her look like a braggart. He said, “I’ve gone all over the world and participated in OPEC conferences, but you don’t see me mentioning that!” I said, “Why not? It’s what you did. There’s nothing wrong with saying it. Also, if I ever made it to the NYT Best Sellers list, I would be bragging about it all over the place.” He went on to say, “Is she the only one who can do this?” in reference to the conference, which made me gleeful because I could say, “Yes, she is. She literally is the only person who could have done this.” I mean, how many times do you get to say that in real life? My mother established the Taiwanese Sandplay Association and is the only person qualified to represent it in certain circumstances, and she should be fucking proud of herself! She wasn’t even saying it to be proud, however, just stating it as a matter of fact. It’s only my father’s neurosis that twisted it into something perverse, plus the fact that he hasn’t handled being forced to retire* with any grace at all.


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