Underneath my yellow skin

Category Archives: Family

Bagua is my bag–bait and switch!

Bagua is my new everything.

That’s it. That’s the post. Ha! Not really.

I have fallen in love with Bagua as is my wont. When I am attracted to something (or someone), I am ALL IN. maybe not on the theory, but definitely in practice.

My teacher is dedicated to Taiji and Bagua. It’s what she does with most of her time, which I admire and aprreciate. I don’t know if I want to go that far, however, as it’s a part of my life (internal martial arts), but not the whole thing. I wrote about how she’s a gerat teacher in my last post. She puts up with my bullshit and questioning. I was the most recalcitrant student when I first started. I mean, that’s how I am in the rest of my life as well. I question everything after a lifetime of being gaslit by myy mother. And I mean that in the actual sense of the word. My mother will lie at the drop of a hat about what she has said and done.

Here’s the worst part, though. She is not aware she’s doing it. That’s not an excuse, by the way. It’s the literal truth. When my parents were last here, my mother and father had a screaming fight. My mother ran into the room where I was (living room), and my father followed. They were yelling in Taiwanese and I said loudly to my father that he needed to stop (which was probably not the best way to handle it, but it was really upsetting me as well.

My mother was crying and my father was shouting. He has dementia, which was markedly worse than it had been the last time I saw him. That was the summer before the pandemic so 2019. My medical crisis was autumn, 2021. So two-plus years later. The amount of decline was shocking to me, though it shouldn’t have been. He was getting worse and worse every year, so that much of a gap made it even more noticeable. But, as people who have loved ones with dementia know, it goes in and out without warning. One minute, he’s talking normally, and the next minute, he’s talking about something that doesn’t exist. I learned to go with it, but my mother could not. She claimed it was beacuse she could not lie to him, which was part of the abusive marriage.

I’m not going to get into that. Just suffice to say that after more than fifty-five years of marriage, she was completely worn down to a nub. Whatever fight she had in her was gone except for in very brief spurts that probably didn’t do any good in the long run.

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You are not MY doctor

When I had my medical crisis, I had some arguments with my mother about–well, many things. In this post, however, I want to focus on one thing. She has a brother who is a doctor. Maybe. even a heart doctor. He is the oldest of eight children in an Asian family. A very traditional family in which the boys are treated like rock stars and the girls are treated like shit–even by the mother (my grandmother). She had some strong internalized misogyny, which I have talked about at length before.

Anyway, my oldest uncle is self-centered, self-aggrandizing, and thinks he should get more than anyone else because he is the oldest son. When his father died, he insisted that his oldest son get a bigger portion of the pie because he was the first grandson. The daughters and granddaughters got nothing.

Same uncle, at his second son’s engagement party (which was a whole nothing thing), we all gave them money. I jokingly said I expected the same when I got engaged and this uncle said very seriously that I would no longer be part of the family, so I would not be getting anything from them. I looked at him and said that he would not be invited to the wedding, then, if we were no longer family. He had nothing to say to that.

Anyway. When I was out of the hospital, my mother told me that she had shared what happened to me with her brother. And he told her what he would have done if he were my doctor. Without seeing x-rays, or me, even. I told her I didn’t really care what ho had to say because of these reasons. She tried to say in Taiwanese culture, this was normal. Fine. Dandy, even. But I was not in Taiwanese culture and in my very American culture, someone who has not even seen me does not get to tell me what meds to take.

Then again, my mother lets her pharmacist prescribe things for her and my father without actually doing a check-up, so there’s that.

She got mad and defensive, but I didn’t care. I am not letting someone who hasn’t even examine me prescribe me anything. Oh, and he’s retired. He’s been so for a few years. So he’s not even up to date on the newest medical discoveries, but, sure. I’m going to listen to what he has to say about my heart–and not the doctors who kept me alive.

My parents have a friend who is also a doctor (and a major asshole). Apparently, he got my brother to allow him (let’s call him Bob) to see me. Bob told my brother that I was not going to recover. WHO LOOKS SILLY NOW, BOB?? I am not happy that he was allowed in, but there’s not much I can do about that. Obviously. Anyway, afterwards, when I was home, he made a ‘joke’ about people in my situation useally leaving the hospital by the back door (meaning dead), which I did not appreciate at all.

I can joke about me dying because it happened to me, but he cannot. It really is a ‘know your audience’ thing. And a ‘you are not a friend of mine’ thing. I really dislike this person. A great deal. He is insufferable. He is like the Platonic Ideal of smug cishet white man, and I have intensely disliked him since I was a kid. Funnily, I used to like his wife (Taiwanese), but during this last visit (after my medical crisis), she said several offensive things. I don’t know if she moved more towards the right or if she had always been this way, but I hadn’t realized it when I was a kid.

My brother’s new girlfriend was making comments about how the stroke I had didn’t affect the areas of the brain that control memory and spatial differentiation. Again. You are not my doctor. Granted, she was right about it in general. I had my stroke in the area of my brain that deals with motor skills. Gross I think? Maybe fine? Anyway. Not memory. But, she is not my doctor. She did not see my x-rays. She did not see my brain itself. So, while she knows in general how this works (she’s not a doctor at all, but does work with the brain), she is not my doctor.

I know this is a thing for people who deal with any kind of injury, disability, medical thing. Tons of people who want to offer advice or comments without actually knowing anything about the individual case. It’s worse when it’s people who are doctors or in those fields because they have general knowledge, which makes them think they know more than they do about your specific case.

You don’t know me. More to the point, you are not my doctor. If I have issues with what my actual doctors are doing, I will get a second opinion. Igf I had a good friend who was a heart doctor, I would be more apt to listen to them if they couched it in terms of what is to be expected in general. In fact, Ian’s dad is a doctor, and that’s what he did. His father, I mean. He told Ian that the signs weren’t good, but he wasn’t trying to tell Ian what my doctors should do about it.

To me, that’s the difference. It’s one thing to offer general advice or counsel based on what you generally know. But to state with confidence that this, that, or the other thing should be done to a specific patient whom you have never examined in a clinical setting? Nope. So not here for that. It’s such a recurring thing that there’s a meme about being told to try kale and/or yoga no matter what your problem is.

It’s actually similar to when I was in a minor car accident and my mother kept telling me about all the people she knew who got whiplash from being in a car accident. I would tell her I didn’t want to hear it, but she could not help herself, apparently. By the way, I did not get whiplash.

Hm. Come to think of it, it might just be a ‘my mother’ thing. She does not trust herself on anything and will listen to anyone who states something with authority. Throw on ‘MD’ at the end of their name, and, surely, they must be the authority on all things medical! There’.s a complicated reason for that, but I don’t want to talk about it in this post.

The bottom line is that my medical crisis was handled brilliantly by my medical test. I got my heart and brain loked at three months after my medical crisis. I walked out of the hospital a week after I woke up and needed no rehab or physical therapy. None. Zero. I. Walked. Out. On my own two feet. Well, I was wheeled to the entrance, but I got into my brother’s car on my own and into my house in the same way.

In other words, my medical team knew what they were doing. They did not need any input from anyone else, thank you very much. Nor do I. Honestly. People can keep their opinions to themselves and just let me happily live my life.



Feel jolly, but not holly

More on Christmas. Here was yesterday’s post, and I’m going to continue my musing. I have hated Christmas and I have been studiedly indifferent to Christmas, but now, I’m feeling warmly about the holiday time. Not Christmas itself, but community. Atnd being alive.

As I said in the last post, it’s been a long road to get where I am now. This year, I’m feeling warm and cozy about, not Christmas, but about the holiday season and how much I love the people who are meaninngful to me. My two besties, my Taiji teacher, my brother, my nibling and their brothers, my cat–of course!!–and people on the periphery.

I love the forums to which I belong. Well, one forum. The RKG Discord. However, I am starting to feel a bit…

Here’s the thing. I get to the end of things and then I am done. With websites, if they don’t evolve, then I get bored. The same thing with the same comments by the same people…what’s the point in that? I used to follow politics back when Obama was president. And I would get tired of people being so limited in their points of view. I am sure they would say the same things about me, by the way. That’s the nature of people. They don’t hugely change on the daily. It would be a wild and woolly time if they did. But it’s frustrating when I constantly butt up against the limits of each person.

That’s what I’m starting to feel about the RKG Discord. I like the people very much. Most of them are really kind and caring. But. (You knew there was going to be a but, right?) The limits to the understanding of life outside their own experiences are very restrictive.  Here’s the thing. RKG are three cis het white Western dudes. They’re great guys, yes, but they’re still very much in the mainstream themselves.

To that point, their commenters are much like them. The vast majority are cis het white dudes–which is othering at times. Not on purpsoe, obviously, but just because that’s what they know. There is a channel for the grot, and it’s interesting when certain topics come up. Someone brought up polyamory and asked where all his poly people were at. The three of us who responded were all queer people (of varying alternate gender identities). The white straight dudes (which the guy asking was) were all quick to say NO WAY NUH UH HELL NO! Well, one was not, but that was a more complicated response. He wasn’t pro-poly, per se.

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CPTSD and the roots thereof

When my nibbling was six or sever, let’s call them X, I and my bestie took X and my bestie’s baby, we’ll call them Y, to the park for a picnic and later, a swim. My nibling’s mother is pretty exacting and very much a germophobe. I am….not either of those things*.

Here’s another thing you need to know about me. I don’t like shoes. At all. So I wear them as little as possible. Including outside when I can get away with it. I promise this matters for this post.

We’re eating our picnic, which I have to imagine was something like sandwiches and chips. I remember dropping a chip on the ground and folling the five-second rule, brushed it off and ate it. My nibling was gobsmacked because their mother would never allow that in a million years. I explained the five-second rule (and, yes, I know it doesn’t work that way), and they were fascinated by it. Later, they accidentally dropped a chip on the ground, picked it up, brushed it off, and then with a weird look on their face, put it in their mouth.

Here’s the thing. I was the one who often presented them with a differest point of view. I am radically different than my brother in many ways. One of the biggest ways is that I’m not a Christian and my brother is, as is my nibling’s mother. I never pushed my opinions onto my niblings, but if they said something to me about it or asked me a question, I would be honest. My last therapist scolded me because when my nibling said to me that their god was the oldest and best god, I corrected them factually. Not about the best part because that’s subjective, but the ‘oldest’ part because that’s just incorrect. the Christian god is relatively new. Of the seven most well-known religions (in order of oldest to youngest, Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Daoism (Taoism), Christianity, and Islam), Christianity is the second newest/youngest.

My therapist angrily said that since I was not my nibling’s parent, I should not have said that. Full disclosure, my last therapist’s specialty was motherhoodh. Just noting that because it’s possibly related. I disagree with that strenuously. I don’t think I should let my nibling believe a lie just because it’s been indoctrinated into them by their parent(s).

Side note: That might be because of my neurospiciness. I have never been formally diagnosed with either autism or ADHD, but I have several traits of each. And my inability to tell when to lie and when not to lie is one of them.

I am not being snarky when I say that I don’t get when a lie is polite and acceptable and when it’s neither. I mean, that’s not completel ytrue. I know not to tell someone that their ass looks fat in a dress, even if they ask. I don’t understand why this is true because I would not ask that question if I didn’t want an honest response, but I accept that this is true.

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Dementia, dysfunction, and depression

Dementia is brutal. I knew this, of course, but I didn’t know this until my father got it. I wrote yesterday about not knowing when it was dementia and when it was dysfunction, and let me throw depression into the mix. Depression for my father because of course the dementia is making him depressed. I’m saying that sincerely, by the way. I’m not being snarky, though it’s hard to know the difference with me sometimes. Ofcourse it would be depressing not to know who you were or what was happening or who was around you on a regular basis. It has to feel so unstable when things are constantly shifting as to what you think you know.

So, yaeh. Of course my father is depressed! And my mother isn’t helping when she tries to insist on reality. I know it has to hurt her that my father doesn’t recognize her (or thinks she’s Ecco, his wife, but not Grace, my mother. Both are her names, by the way. The former is what he calls her in Taiwanese while the latter is her American name), but her trying to correct him over and over again is just making things worse.

This is something that frustrates the hell out of me. She is a psychologist. This is Dementia 101. Don’t argue with someone with dementia. It’s not being kind–in fact, it’s actively cruel. I couldn’t believe I had to tell her this. THat is something even people without psych degrees should know. But, no. She said she could not lie to him, and I got so impatient telling her it wasn’t lying. He wasn’t going to remember it in five seconds, anyway.

When I talk to him, I agree with whatever he says. Even if I don’t like it. This is where it gets tricky for me. He has been nasty all my life about women in general and me in particular. He’s said things like ‘the common housewife can’t figure out CostCo’ and boy did I have several things to say to this. This was the last time he was here. He was not in dementia when he said it so I felt no restraint in arguing with him. I still shouldn’t have because it was pointless, but I couldn’t help it. He’s so good at pushing my buttons, mainly because he (along with my mother) installed them.

Another thing he said that was more pointed at me demonstrated the layers and levels to his manipulation. At the dinner table, he started talking about how he was not a doctor while having that look on his face. It’s hard to describe, but I know he’s going to say something spectacularly out there when he has it on his face. Something that is going to annoy/irritate/anger me because of how baseless/uninformed/mean-spirited it is. This time, it was him rambling about how germs worked. In his opinion, the pores on your skin opens up more when it’s cold.

That in itself is factually untrue. This is not something you need to be a doctor to understand. Steam opens up the pores. Steam is hot. Therefore, the converse is true as well. Cold makes your pores smaller. I said this to my father, and he just sat there with a blank look on his face. I knew the folly of what I was doing, and yet, I could not stop. This was one of my big flaws–I got sucked into arguing with my parents when I knew it didn’t make a whiff of difference. In this case, I didn’t know why he was bringing it up, anyway. The pores being bigger or smaller when you’re cold/hot, I mean. It had nothing to do with what we were talking about, and he had brought it up apropos of nothing.

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When dementia meets dysfunction

Dementia is brutal. I’m not making an inflammatory statement by saying that, I think. It takes no prisoner and leaves everyone it comes in contact with hurt, battered, and bruised. Emotionally, if not physically. There is no reasoning with it nor is there any way to get around it.

In the last post about this subject, I talked about how my mother made me her emotional support person when I was eleven, and it’s only gotten worse since then. Well, to be more specific, that it’s only gotten worse in the last few years. Not coincidentally, it’s when my father’s dementia took a turn for the worse. I remember before the pandemic, they came here in 2019. Yes, my father was forgetful back then. Yes, it was clear (to me) that he had dementia. Yes, he slipped now and again when it came to who I was. But he was still mostly there.

I do remember, though, the one example that drove home the point that he had dementia.  We had gone to the C-PAP provider because he nedeed a new mask. I drove them there and was waiting in the waiting room. I was called in because my father wasn’t understanding what the rep was telling him. So I had to explain to him–in English–what the rep had said to him–also in English. It was really bizarre.

Later that night, my father came into the living room where I was. He had the mask in his hand and a puzzled look on his face. He asked me to explain it to him. I did, and he went away satisfied. Until the next night. Then, he came back with the mask again, the same look of puzzlement on his face, and he asked me to explain to him how the mask worked. He did this every night he was there, and there was no indication on his face that he had any idea he had asked the exact same thing several nights in a row.

That’s when it hit home that he actually had dementia.

The difficult thing is that my father has been a raging narcissist all his life. He doesn’t care about anything that doesn’t affect him. If he’s not interested, he simply won’t listen. You cannot MAKE him listen. So, there was part of me that thought he was just not listening. Until the third or fourth night when he asked me yet again. That’s when I realized that he actually couldn’t retain what I was saying, and it wasn’t him being a jerk.

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I’m so tired

I’m so tired. Not physically, though that as well, but of being my mother’s emotional dumping vessel–which has been my role in her life since I was eleven. You know that saying, “Not my monkey, not my circus”? My mother would trounce all over that statement and throw it in the trash. She once complained about my last therapist because she (my therapist) was turning me against my mother (in my mother’s point of view).

“We were so close,” she lamented, with thet unspoken addition of ‘until SHE came along’. Which was completely untrue. We were never close. She meant that I was more docile before I saw my last therapist–but that wasn’t true, either.

The reality is that my mother and I have never been close in the sense of knowing, trusting, and respecting each other. We are close only in that she has made it a lifetime habit of dumping all her shit on me and acting all hurt and victomized if I dare say that she should not do that.

To make it even worse, a few decades ago, she apologized for it and said that she should not have done that to me when I was a kid. Which, fine, but it didn’t stop her from doing it. In other words, it was horseshit. It’s the same as when she was last here. She would complain about my father and then say that she shouldn’t do it. Then she said she wouldn’t do it again. I finally had to tell her to stop saying that because we both knew it iwasn’t true. And it was just making me angrier for her to keep apologizing with no intent of stopping.

It was the only thing she knew how to do, and it had served her…not well, but she deluded herself into thinking it did. Here is my post from yesterday wihch is tangentially related. The thing is that she has learned she can often get what she wanted by simply persisting. Basically, nagging me into submission. I had to learn that it was better for me to stand up on the big things and give in on the small ones.

Yes, it reinforced her belief that it was the way to get what she wanted, but it also gave me peace about the big things. So going on the cruise for my parents fiftieth anniversary? That was a hard no. Going back to Taiwan with my brother’s family? Hell to the no. I nearly killed myself the last time I went to Taiwan (and that is not an exaggeration), and I was not going through that again.

The story I always give about the last time I went to Taiwan to show how little I mean to my mother is that I asked to do exactly one thing on that trip. I wanted to go to the National Palace Museum because I love museums. I had been there once before, but of course once was not enough. It was the only thing I asked to do in the ten days we were there.

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Going low or no-contact with faaaaaamily

One of the problems with a society that gives lip service to family is that it will often be resistent to any negativinty surrounding faaaaamily. Any time you need to defend something that heavily, it means that fundamental thing is broken.

An example that I ofen use. When I was twenty, I realized that I did not want kids. And, more to the point, that I did not have to have them! It was the best realization of my life (at some point, I will do a comprehensive post about how the best realizations of my life were negative ones–meaning, that I realized I was NOT something or did NOT want something, rather than positive ones), and I felt a lightness that I had not felt beforehand.

And, at the time, I naively thought that it was a one-and-done decision. I wasn’t going to have kids. Boom! That’s it. I was a sweet, summer child, but in my defense, I was raised by wolves. I did not know much about societal expectations because my parents did not have any interest in being a part of American society so did not impart any of those norms to me. Yes, in my ancestral culture (Taiwanese), there is the expectation that a female-shaped person will have kids, but I didn’t think it was as strong in American culture.

Like I said, I was a sweet summer child. So yioung. So naive.

Women started asking me about it when I was mid-twenties. I will note it was only women. Men just wanted to get in my pants and probably didn’t care want me to get pregnant from it. But women would ask, and I would honestly answer. I never brought it up myself, but it was a common topic of conversation. I want to emphasize that I never, ever, got into a rant about my thoughts of having children. I simply said that I didn’t have them/wasn’t going to have them. They would press and ask why. I wouuld say that I did not want them.

That was it. I never elaborated more than that. And you would think that would be the end of that, but it never was. For some reason, the women felt the need/urge/compulsion to arguue with me. And the one that got to me the most were the women who were angry at me because “You must think I’m a loser to have children/want them.” Uh, no? I don’t think about you and your progeny at all? It literally is not on my mind–at all. I don’t care if someone else has children or not.

This was so confusing. Why were they angry at me for making a decision (that they dragged out of me) that had no effect on them at all? It took me a decade or so to truly grasp what was going on. It’s beacuse they were invested in the status quo and societal norms. Or that they had never questioned them all their lives. They grew up assuming they would get married and have children, and that would be that. Then, they were vaguely dissatisfied with their lives (or not so vaguely) and could not figure out why.

I walzed along and blithely say that I’m not having children. I wasn’t questioning the status quo; I was just blowing past it. I didn’t care about having children. I didn’t care if other people wanted them or not. I didn’t understand agonizing over not having them or falling over yourself (as a woman. Let’s face it. Most dudes were not pushed to defend their decision to this degree to not have children. By other men, at least) to apologize for not having them. I didn’t want them, wasn’t having them, and it was glorious! It made me feel so good, I wanted to hire a skywrite plane and have it emblazoned in the clouds.

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Unconditional love vs. reasonable boundaries

While I was doing my Taiji routine this morning, I had music on as I was doing the forms as was my wont these days. It’s funny how the playlists that YouTube makes for me just includes all the songs I like with no context. So Rihanna is followed by Vienna Teng, who is then followed by a showtune. I’m fine with that because it shakes things up, but still keeps it in my comfort zone.

The song, Locked Away by R. City, ft. Adam Levine, came on. I want to stress that I like the song and think it’s a banger. However, I reject the entire premise of the song as being ridiculous, and it irritates me every time I hear the song. The song starts out:

If I got locked away
And we lost it all today
Tell me honestly
Would you still love me the same?

To which I always say, “No! No I would not!” In the context of the song, it’s easy to realize that the singer is basically asking for unconditional love and framing it as if his partner was unreasonable. In the video, she’s streessing about bills and he’s like, “You gotta trust me.” It’s clear that we’re supposed to think she unreasonable for nagging him about those pesky bills and should just assume they will get taken care of by magic.

Or by him robbing someone–which is how he ends up in jail. Look. It’s a song/video. It’s allowed to take whatever creative licenses it wants. But the bottom line is that she was reasonable to question him because bills need to be paid, and some vague dream isn’t going to do it. There are other examples in the video, but this is the one tha really irritated me.

It’s because I was raised by narcissistic parents who believed that unconditional love came with strings heavily attached. Or rather, their kids should have unconditional love for them, but not vice-versa. They added culture to it as in, “In Taiwanese culture, you’re supposed to respect your elders.” Which I don’t have a problem with, but there should be at least a baseline of respect for your children as welll, I would think. And if that’s too American, well, I am an American. I was born and raised in this country and do believe that every human being is worthy of a baseline level of respect just for benig a human being.

My last therapist worked with me on setting boundaries within my family. My mom didn’t like that therapist because as my mother said, “She doesn’t understand that in Taiwanese culture, family is everything.” My mother also said, “You and I used to be so close, but now that has changed” with the implication that it was my therapist’s fault.

This is incorrect. We have never been close. She doesn’t know the first thing about me. What she means by close is that she can dump all her emotions on me, and I will jsut take it. That is her definition of unconditional love, even if she wouldn’t admit it. She may not even realize it herself, but it’s true.

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A matter of perspective

Eminem, the rapper, has a notoricously difficult relationship with his mother. He’s written several songs about her, including one that he now doesn’t sing any longer, Cleaning Out My Closet. Which is a banger, by the way. The song that really struck me, though, was Headlights, ft. Nate Ruess, which I have included below.

Dang. I just Googled it. It’s ten years old. I still think of it as his ‘new’ song, even though that is most undoubtedly not ture. It really struck me for several reasons. One, it’s a really good song. Two, people took it as an apology song to his mother, which was not my take on it. Three, it got me thinking about my own troubled relationship with my mother, which is not good for my head space over time.

It got me thinking how we bring our own point of view into art. It’s part of what makes it such an evocative experience. If you have no inner tapestry, a painting is just a painting and a song is just a song.

I could not understand how people thought it was simply an apology/I forgive you song. I mean, it’s partly that. He said that he undrestood that she was mentally ill and did the best she could. He told her that he was ashamed of his earlier song and no longer played it in concerts. He told her that he still loved her because she was his mother.

But. He also said the following lines:

“And that’s when I realized you were sick and it wasn’t fixable or changeable,

And to this day, we remain estranged and I hate it though.”

“‘Cause you ain’t even get to witness your grandbabies grow”

“Now the medication’s taking over and your mental state’s deteriorating slow

And I’m way too old to cry; that shit’s painful, though”

“And although one has only met their grandma once”

“I hope you get this message that I will always love you from afar”

All these to me says that he has gone no contact with her. The fact that she showed up suddenly one day and the security questioned her (in the video) while checking a clipboard before shaking their head and watching as she drove off made it clear to me that she was not allowed into his house. Yes, that is conjecture on my side, but it’s pretty obvious to me.

I heard so often that it was a heartwarming song that I wondered if I was that off-base about the song. Yes, he said that he forgave her, but that was because he had given up hope that she would change. I know how that feels because at some point, you have to lay your burden down and stop hoping that your parent will change.

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