Underneath my yellow skin

Tag Archives: flaws

The sins of the parent

One thing I hate when my parents are around is how I’m relegated to being baby once again. My brother is three years older, and he gets treated as if he were the font of wisdom whereas I’m…well, it’s complicated, and I’ll get to it in a second. One thing that everyone in my family has in common is that we all have Strong Opinions on things and will not let it go. It manifests in different ways with each of us. My father simply refuses to acknowledge points other than his own and hammers his own opinion over and over again. Over the decades, he has perfected the art of the blank look followed by simply repeating what he already said. He does not argue in good faith, and he’s not really looking for other opinions. My mother will acknowledge the other position, but then immediately want to drop the subject if it gets at all uncomfortable. In a way, it’s more frustrating because she’s vent for a half hour; I’ll give my opinion for five minutes; then she wants to change the topic if I don’t simply agree with her.

My brother states his opinions confidently, and while he’s willing to hear other opinions, it’s often hard to face his confidence with equanimity. Even when I know I’m right, I hesitate in the face of his certainty. One example that always stands out in my mind is Daylight Savings Time. For whatever reason, I had looked up whether the farmers were for or against it (I think we talked about it in taiji or something), and then it came up in a conversation with my brother and parents. This was a few summers ago, and I don’t remember the details. I do remember my brother stating the urban myth reason of farmers pushing for DST, which was what I believed before looking it up. Even though I knew he was wrong because I had just looked it up, he said it with no doubt in his voice, and I started thinking I had misremembered what I Googled. I looked it up again on, and I was right. Also, he does not get emotional reasoning at all (or thinks he doesn’t. He does it himself, but rationalizes it as logical), so he can’t understand why someone doesn’t just listen to all the facts he’s presenting and see the reasonableness of his position.

Me, I do one of two things. Either I say nothing at all or I forcefully state my opinion. There is no in-between for me, and I feel bad regardless of which route I choose. Nobody in my family can argue/debate without pushing it to the limits, and it gets really annoying when we’re all together. I’m working on my own issues around this, but it’s slow-going. I have a bad temper, which I try to keep under control. For the most part it works, but when my buttons are pushed, I blurt shit out without thinking about it because I’m pissed. Or at least deeply irritated. I get this from my father, and it’s not pretty. For many years, I just stuffed it down deep inside because I wasn’t allowed to show anger. Only my father was, and, oh, did he show it. Then, I was angry all the time and popping off about everything. I’ve managed to temper the rage somewhat with the help of therapy and taiji, but it’s still something I struggle with on a daily basis.


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The me I wish I could be

One thing that is amusing to me because I’m a weirdo is how people view themselves versus how they actually are. One truism I have learned over the years is that if someone insists they are, say, “Not really into drama”, then they are really into drama. Or rather, they cause a lot of drama. People are not really good at self-assessment in general, and I’m sure I can be included in that bunch. I can give you a rundown of my flaws–of which there are many–but I’m sure I’m overlooking/minimizing a few. And, to be fair to me, exaggerating others.

That said, there are many things I wished I were/liked, but I simply am not/don’t. I was thinking about this last night in terms of pop culture. I would like to be an erudite, literary person who was into highbrow culture. I am not. My preferred genre of reading: mysteries and thrillers. Preferably psychological thrillers. Music: pop/indie folk. Also hair metal bands of the ’80s, specifically power ballads. I like musicals. Movie-wise, I like smaller indie films such as Once.

I wish I could write elegant and beautiful prose, but I don’t. My writing is common, earthy, and is full of vernacular. I don’t spent ten hours on one phrase, and if I did, it would probably be worse than when I first wrote it. I don’t do descriptions, either, for the most part. When I’m reading, if a description goes for more than a few sentences, my eyes just glaze over. I’d rather picture it in my mind than read about it.

Veering wildly, I was listening to This American Life while I was in the car, and it was a repeat from the time Ira Glass toured Paris with David Sedaris (2000). I didn’t know it was a repeat at the time or that it was so long ago, but that’s neither here nor there.

Full disclosure: I do not like David Sedaris. I do not find him funny at all, and I find his writing to be arch, smug, and overly-precious. An ex-friend made me read his book once, I think it was Me Talk Pretty, and she promised she’d ‘refund’ the money for the book if I didn’t laugh. After I was done, I went back to her and demanded my refund. I didn’t get it, but my point is that I didn’t laugh once while reading the book. In fact, I cringed the whole time I was reading.

As I listened to him explain to Ira how he was motivated by fear and avoidance while living in Paris, I found myself getting irritated. The first story I heard was how his lighter had run out of fluid, and he dreaded having to ask for fire from random people on the streets. For that very reason, he carried spare lighters with him.


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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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Looking for the Cracks in the Perfection

all glass can be broken.
The colors of love.

Today, I read a piece in the NYT by a dying woman, Amy Krouse, Rosenthal, called You May Want to Marry My Husband, and it’s a personal/love letter for/to her husband. It’s a lovely piece, and I think most people will be stirred by it. Those of you who know me well can probably tell that I’m speaking in a very measured tone, which should alert you to the fact that I’m about to add a ‘but’ to that statement. Really, it should be expected because it’s not much of a post if I’m just going to gush how great this piece is. So, those of you who don’t want a somewhat grumpy post about love and relationships, you probably want to turn away now. Consider yourself forewarned.

But.

As I was reading, I found myself wondering about his flaws. He didn’t seem like a real person to me from the post, and no, I did not want to marry her husband. One, because I’m not the marrying type, but two, because I never believe the advertisement for a product. That sounds incredibly harsh, and I don’t really mean it that way. It’s just that when you read personals, you know that the person is putting their best foot forward. When I tried the personals, I would emphasize my love of literature, my tats, my nontraditional outlook on life. And sex. How much I love sex. Which is a lot. I was witty and funny and my words sparkled.

What I didn’t mention was that I was severely depressed and barely moved from the couch for days on end. I’m alternately clingy and cold, and I can hold a grudge like nobody’s business. While I endeavor to be understanding and empathetic, I can be judgmental as hell on the inside. I don’t like people in general, and I can only take people in very little doses. In addition, I’m a slob with a tendency towards inertia, and sometimes, I have to be dragged, kicking and screaming, from my house. I’m generous, but I keep tabs in my head of the favors I do. I bottle up my emotions until I explode, and then I scorch the earth with my fury. I’m passive-aggressive, and I’m conflict-avoidant to an unhealthy degree, though I’m getting better at being more direct. I’m moody, and overly-sensitive in taking offense, and I sulk way more than is seemly for a woman my age. All of these things are important for someone interested in dating me to know.

Back to the piece. As I was reading it, I couldn’t help but wonder, “What would he do if I refused to talk to him for hours?” “What happens when I want sex for the third day in a row, and he’s just too tired*?” “How will he react if I push him to do a chore he doesn’t want to do?” In other words, tell me about his flaws. Tell me what I’ll see when I peel back the layers and get past the superficial. Tell me what he’s like when he’s sick or cranky or just not feeling tiptop. Does he leave two squares on the toilet roll and not replace it? Is he short with the kids when he’s feeling tense?

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