Underneath my yellow skin

Tag Archives: love

If only I could see what others saw

a soup of negative emotions.
A peek into my brain.

Recently, I received two compliments from two women I admire and respect (my BFF and my taiji teacher), and I was really taken aback. For some background, I grew up believing that I was a toxic presence who had to earn my right to live on a daily basis. I believed that every day, I started with a negative number (never could ascertain what that number meant, exactly, but it wasn’t good), and I had to do good enough to get to zero and have no effect on the world around me. Then, I would go to sleep, and the counter would reset. Why? Well, that’s a story in and of itself.

Part of it was childhood trauma. Part of it was being Asian in a very white world. Part of it was family dysfunction, and part of it was culture expectations taken to the extreme. In Taiwanese culture, it was heavily frowned upon to say anything even remotely positive about yourself lest you look as if you were bragging. In the white cultural, I was ugly, weird, and a freak. I’m still a freak, but that’s beside the point. In my family, I was taught that my only worth was what I could do for others, and I had no intrinsic value in and of myself. Add to that a deep depression and an impressionable brain that twists everything into a negative, and it’s not surprising that I ended up firmly believing I had to earn my right to live.

In addition, I had all these elaborate rules as to what counted as a positive, and it was extremely hard for me to make it to neutral. I don’t think I ever did, actually, because I rigged the game in such a way that I was bound to fail. When I talk about it in the past tense, it’s clear to see how ridiculous it is, but at the time, it felt as real as the sun on my face. I was miserable because I was constantly failing, and I just wanted to die. I spent much of my childhood well into my thirties wishing I had the courage to kill myself.

I hated myself. I couldn’t find anything about myself that I liked except my hair and my intellect (though I saw the latter as a curse oftentimes). I couldn’t believe that anyone would like me for any reason when it was obvious that I was pure toxicity. I’m not saying it was reasonable or rational, but it governed my thinking for longer than I care to admit. I truly thought I was a worthless human being (while at the same time having an exaggerated sense of the impact I had on others around me, which is common with people who have low self-esteem), and I was miserable every day of my life.

Then, sometime in my thirties, I slowly started shedding this idea. I’m not sure how or why (probably because of taiji and therapy. I attribute most of the positives in my life to taiji with a shout-out to therapy), but a few years ago, I realized that I no longer had that mindset. I didn’t think I had to earn the right to live, but I wouldn’t say I had a healthy self-esteem, either. I still didn’t like myself, and I still didn’t like what I saw in the mirror (literally and figuratively), but at least I wasn’t actively thinking of ways I could passively allow myself to die.

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An Ode/Eulogy to Valentine’s Day

Ed. Note: I wrote this on Valentine’s Day, even though it won’t be posted until the day after. Just so there’s no confusion.

I have a complicated relationship with Valentine’s Day. I have always professed to hate it, and I do, mostly, but it’s for more complex reasons than I normally admit. I would tell people when asked (and sometimes unprompted) that I deplored the commercial aspects and being told that I have to buy lavish gifts to demonstrate my love. I firmly believed that you could show your love in many different ways at any time of the year, and I didn’t need Hallmark to dictate when I should display my love, damn it. That was all true and sincerely felt, but there was a deeper, darker reason I hated it so much–it’s because it consistently let me down. Yes, even I, as jaded and bitter as I was, I had bought into the promises and dreams Valentine’s day had fed to me, lies, really, during my teenage years and into my twenties. I wanted the romance, to be wined and dined, and to be made to feel like a queen. I wanted happily-ever-after that was the bailiwick of fairy tales and Harlequin Romance novels. When I was in a relationship during those years, even though I would pooh-pooh Valentine’s Day, I would secretly hope that my partner would surprise me with a magical night. It never happened, and each time it didn’t, I became increasingly bitter. Even though I tried to pretend I was fine with having a low-key Valentine’s Day, I wasn’t. In other words, I was a lover scorned being spiteful towards my ex-lover.

During my thirties, I tried to make my peace with Valentine’s Day, even though I dreaded its arrival every year. I was not in a relationship more often than I was, and each Valentine’s Day was a stark reminder that I was single. Our society is very couple-centric, and it’s not like I need another day to shove my alone-ness in my face. I get enough of that wherever I go–you really can’t escape it anywhere. Back in my thirties, I desperately wanted to be in a relationship, although I would have vigorously denied it. I was an independent, strong woman, damn it, and I didn’t need no man or woman to make me complete. Yet, there was something inside me that longed to be one half of a couple. I couldn’t squash the feeling, no matter how hard I tried. So, much of my bluster about Valentine’s Day was because it made me feel my lack of a romantic relationship keenly, and I hated feeling that way.

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RIP, Raven–You Are Loved

bestest friends and blood brothers
My favorite picture of my boys. Raven (R) & Shadow (L).

Ed. Note: It’s been a week sine my baby has died, and it still hasn’t completely sunk in yet. I wrote this post several days ago, but I haven’t been able to publish it yet. I don’t know why. I thought now was the right time.

My Raven died Saturday night. I think it was a heart attack, but I’m not sure. Ian tried to revive him, and we rushed him to the Emergency Vet, but it was too late.

That’s how I’ve started the messages to my friends about what happened to Raven. Writing it again doesn’t make it any more real, nor does thinking about it.

The first time I saw Raven, nine years ago, he was named Midnight, and in his picture, he looked like a scared, scrawny black cat. I noticed that he had a brother, also black, named Shadow. They were nine months old at the time. Shadow’s bio said he was psychic and knew that I was looking for two cats. I fell in love immediately because I WAS looking for two cats, and these two looked exactly like what I wanted. In addition, they were going to be at an adoption fair at the PetSmart/PetCo in a city near me the very next day. I felt it was fate, and I hurried to see them at the adoption fair.
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