Underneath my yellow skin

Tag Archives: single

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.


Continue Reading

Romance is dead

or, until i get sick of you.
Until death do we part.

I read a lot of trashy teenage romances when I was a teenager–and several Harlequin Romances as well. I had my first crush on a boy when I was in first grade, and it lasted until I was in seventh grade. It only died out because we went to junior high school, which meant I didn’t see him nearly as often as I did in elementary school. I can still remember his name and how he looked, which is indicative of my passions in general.

My parents did not have a good marriage (and that’s an understatement if I’ve ever written one), but I completely bought into the idea that you had to be married in order to be a complete person. To be fair to me, it was pushed on me by my mother since I was rather young. She might not have explicitly said it, but it showed in everything she did. She had a full-time job, but she did all the housework and parenting as well. She arranged everything around my father, and I can remember the countless arguments when he would come home late at night without a single word of explanation other than he was ‘working late’.

I saw my mother frantically turning herself inside out to try to please him, and when I was a preteen, I became her unwilling confidante, and she poured out her woes to me on a regular basis. She was deeply depressed, and I begged her to divorce my father. It didn’t happen, unfortunately, and I continued to learn warped ideas of what a relationship should be. I had two cultures telling me that it was my job and duty to please my man and to keep him happy at any cost. It was better to be in a miserable relationship than to be alone, and as much as I didn’t want to believe it, it seeped into my soul.

To make matters worse, I was a fat*, ugly**, awkward Asian girl in a lily-white suburb. It was before Asian girls were exotic and hot–back then, we were just not considerable dating material. That’s actually not completely true as I knew a very popular Asian girl who probably had many dates, but it’s true in the sense that we were not the norm, so it would take someone thinking outside the box to ask us out. I had my first date when I was sixteen, and because I had internalized a lifetime of ‘you’re a loser if you don’t have a boyfriend’, I clung to him as hard as I could. The first kiss was disappointing, but it got better. He was a good-looking, smart (fucking smart), kindhearted boy, and I had a hard time believing he wanted to date me. I met him at summer school, and he went to a school thirty minutes away from me. Little did I know that long-distance relationships were to be a staple of my dating life.

Continue Reading

Unconventional Love

stop. crying. baby.
My darkest nightmare.

I never played with baby dolls when I was a little girl. They never appealed to me, nor did actual babies. They were screaming, squalling, dribbling balls of snot, and I didn’t like them at all. I also never pretend-played having a wedding with my Barbies. I know many little girls dream of their perfect wedding, but I didn’t care about it at all. The only thing I did with my Barbies was cut their hair after coloring it black, and I made them have sex with each other. All that girly shit didn’t matter to me, and it wasn’t until a decade and a half later that I realized I was supposed to care deeply about these issues. When I was twenty, I realized that I didn’t want children. At all. It was a weird revelation because I just assumed I had to have them, given the societal pressure as well as the maternal pressure. When it ht me that I didn’t have to have them, a feeling of relief overwhelmed me. I didn’t have to have kids! It was as if a life sentence I didn’t know I was under had been lifted. I didn’t think it was a big deal until I started telling other people, and I was met with a range of reactions from disbelief to condescension to anger. That’s when I realized that what I did with my body was deemed to be communal property, and I heartily rebelled against that. I also bristled at the idea that I didn’t know my own mind, that my biological clock would one day overwhelm me, and that all I would be able to think about was squeezing out babies Duggar-style. It made me indignant that other people thought they knew me better than I knew myself, and even if it was true that I would change my mind at some point, why couldn’t they accept that at the time, I didn’t want to have kids?

As it was, I never changed my mind. I’m forty-five years old, and the only time I had even an inkling to have a kid was when my mother wouldn’t stop pushing me to procreate. It got so bad, I thought of having a kid just to shut her up. Fortunately, I realized that was a phenomenally stupid reason to have children, and I never thought about it again. It’s hard not to say this without sounding defensive, but the only time I think about not having kids is when someone else brings it up. I love not having kids with a glee that is unbecoming. It’s not because I hate kids; I don’t. I just never wanted them. Plus, I knew I’d be a bad mother, though I’m a pretty great ‘crazy aunt’. Once I hit forty, the question of my fertility became a moot point, much to my relief. I did have an impulse to send out cards to people who were sure I’d have kids gloating over my child-free state. It passed, thankfully, and I went on my merry way.

Continue Reading