Underneath my yellow skin

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Mental health and boundaries

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In American psychology, they talk about healthy boundaries and how to delineate them. In theory, it all sounds good. In reality, it’s not as clear cut as it appears. Maybe it’s because I have immigrant parents (Taiwanese), but it’s not as easy as it’s portrayed. I mentioned  in the last post how Asian boundaries are much softer than American ones are. It’s difficult for me because I’m at least 90% American, but the 10% that is Taiwanese is really, really, really persistent. In addition, my family is…dysfunctional at best when it comes to boundary. A small example.

I am not a morning person. At all. I used to go to bed at 6 a.m. or 7 a.m. and get up at noon or 1 p.m. I’ve been trying to push it back to a more normal type because, well, I’m not exactly sure why. I think maybe because I’m a such a freak, and it’s a way of being more ‘normal’. In addition, I was sick a few months ago, and I could not stay up past midnight. I vowed to stick to it, but I have not. I haven’t gone all the way back to six in the morning, but it’s definitely not on the bright side of midnight. It’s been one or two before my parents came for their yearly visit–and now it’s creeping back again. Two, three, and sometimes four.

The worst part is that my father’s sleep schedule is all over the place, and I am not happy about it. He goes to bed around nine or ten, then he wakes up at three or four in the morning, which means he’s awake when I’m awake. I know that part of the reason I’m going to bed later is because I need my personal time. I need time when I don’t have to brace myself for someone talking to me at any moment of the day. It’s Skinner all over again. Briefly, if something happens consistently, then you expect it. So, if they were to talk to me, say, at the top of every hour, I would know when it was going to happen. Of course, on the converse side, if they never talked to me (my dream), then I wouldn’t have to be tense at all. But, the worst is that I never know when it’s going to come. It could be ten times an hour, or it might be at the end of the third hour.

I had to tell my mom yesterday that I needed a half hour in the morning to do my routine before she and my father dove straight into pelting me with questions or telling me irrelevant information that was of no interest to me. I’ve told her before, but she has selective memory. To be fair, she has a bad memory. To be unfair, it’s worse when she doesn’t care to remember something. I mean, we all have that problem, really.

Side note: She was complaining the other night about how she was saying something to my father about a a headache* she was having, and he jumped into say something about his headache, and she told him to keep the attention on her. he got mad (of course) and said he was going to say what worked for him. She then said with a straight face that he always turned everything back to himself. I pointed out that she did that as well. She’d ask how I was, and I’d say I had, say, a cold. She would then veered off that she had had a bad cold for weeks and in detail for fifteen minutes. She argued, but then carefully thanked me for pointing it out. And I’m sure she promptly forgot it.

Where was I? Oh, yes, boundaries. I was in the bathroom yesterday morning going to the bathroom, brushing my teeth, and doing my leg lifts. My mom knocked to ask me…I can’t even remember because it was so unimportant. Oh, right. She wanted to know where my cousin whom we met up with a few days ago taught. Which college. Seriously? That couldn’t wait fifteen minutes? Of course it couldn’t because it was my father who wanted to know, and when he wanted something, she hurries to do his bidding. I know why she does it. It’s because he’s extremely unpleasant when he doesn’t get his way. As in shouting at her or giving her the silent treatment for hours, and I clearly remember him doing that in my childhood. We could not tell my father this, that, or the other thing because it might upset him.

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