Underneath my yellow skin

Category Archives: Self Esteem

Life’s ups and downs

Life is not always a box of chocolates–sometimes, it’s rotten milk. Ok. That’s not a good analogy, but hopefully, my meaning is clear. This has been a bad few weeks I listed why in my last post, and I’m just not feeling it at the moment. It’s nothing big, but a series of small, irritating, mostly self-inflicted wounds.

The thing is this. In the first bonus year of my life, I pretty much decided I was just going to enjoy it. Despite my mother pressuring me less than a month out of the hospital as to what I was going to do. Even when I told her I was taking six months just to regroup, she was pushing it. Later, I realized it was because my father was bugging her about it, and she always do whatever my father wants–eventually.

This is the mainstay of their marriage, which has been for fifty-five years. He has her so beaten down at this point, she literally cannot consider doing something that might upset him. Hm. Let me rephrase this. In the big things, she will not go against him. She will jab at him, however, in small ways that are equal parts infuriating and understandable. Such as, she will blab about his health issues to anyone who will listen. She did the same when I was going through my own medical crisis. She has no filter on her mouth when it comes to things like this.

Other things she does that are even less savory. She was complaining to me (because she is all about complaining) that during a wave of COVID cases–let me quickly explain. for the first year of the pandemic, Taiwan was on top of it. They were so strict, they had no cases for nine months. Then, as was human nature, they relaxed a bit and because they are a small, enclosed island that were vulnerable to massive spread.

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Life lessons I’ve learned

I’ve been thinking about what I’ve learned in my 51 years on this earth. First, there were some things that my last therapist told me that have stuck with me.

Before I was tthinking about moving to the East Bay in order to attend grad school, I was obsessing over all the negative things that might happen. My therapist listened to me patiently for roughly five minutes before cutting me off (she had to, otherwise I’d go on forever). “Minna,” she said. “Half of the things you imagine will never happen, and you can’t imagine half of the things that will.” Her point was that I was needlessly worrying. It was also that I was trying to frantically apply control where I had none.

The illusion of control is somethnig I think about often because me dying twice underlined my lack of control. Twice. (Both dying and underlying.) There is no use worrying about shit I cannot change–which is almost everything. Life is short. That’s a trope, but it’s true. And it can be over in a blink of the eye. So, yeah, plan for the future–but don’t forget to experience your present at the same time.

Another thing that really struck me was when my father and I had this huge fight over whether I was grateful or not to him for all he’d done fro me. When I said no (because I felt pushed into being performatively grateful), he asked why he should love me then. Which showed how nakedly transactional he was. I told him it was part of his job as a father. Like, did that need to be explained? To a raging narcissist, yes. My father did not do anything that did not have any apparent value to him, which included ‘loving’ someone. I put ‘loving’ in quotes because he’s not capable of actual love.

This argument was in the car as I drove him to the airport so he could fly back to Taiwan. He called me when he arrived in LA for his layover and hesitantly said he loved me before hanging up. I felt nothing at his announcement because if I had to force it ou of him (which I wasn’t trying to do! I was just answering his question) and because I was beyond caring at that time.

I brought this up to my therapist, and sh esaid, “This is a big thing to him and a small thing to you. Two things can be true at the same time.” That hit me hard because I thought that an experience had to be the same for everyone who experienced it. Which, I admit, was a naive and childish viewpoint, but one that many people had. I wasn’t even astonished that he viewed that moment differently than I did, necessarily, but that they both could be true at the same time.

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Neurospicy is the new neurodiverse

Neurospicy is the new word for neurodivergent. I’m not sure how I  feel about it, and I say this as someone who is pondering whether or not I am–neurodivergent, I mean. In the last few years, I have heard it being called neurodivergent, neuroatypical, and neurodiverse. Neurospicy is a newer one, and I think I like it in a casual setting, but not for something like an office. Just like I wouldn’t use queer in a more formal setting, but I would with my friends.

I only started thinking about this issue seriously in terms of myself a few years ago. Why? In part because I did not present in the typical way, which I learned was more based on male behavior than female behavior (as are most medical diagnoses, sadly). I learned about a decade ago that the hyperactive thing was a drastic simplification of the matter. There was also a hyperfocus aspect that people overlooked when they talked about the inability to focus. Those two things (not being hyperactive and being able to focus with a laserlike precision) made me dismiss the idea that I had ADHD for a long time.

I kept getting drawn back to it, though. Things like being repeatedly told you’re lazy because you wouldn’t (couldn’t, actually, but it looked like wouldn’t) do simple things like check the mail or recycle empty boxes (the ones my cat, Shadow, doesn’t want). I would castigate myself for being lazy, which didn’t help, of course. I didn’t even learn of the term ‘executive function’ until about five years ago.

I did hear about hyperfocus before then, but I still didn’t think it was me. Until I read more and more about it. How it presents it women, I mean. I no longer identify as a woman, but I definitely grew up being treated as one. Oh, and it’s often talked about as a kid’s thing, when it’s definitely not.

The other complication is that I have trained myself from a young age to overcome some of the symptoms without even knowing it. I have, er, had a phenomonal memory. So I can overcome the shortcomings like being bad with details by brute force. I was also trained to take care of other people’s emotions so I was forced to pay attention to other people to an unnatural degree. I also have an off-the-charts EQ and can read people like books to an extent that makes them uncomfortable.

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I’m such a freak

I’m a freak. I know that. I’ve known it since I was in my twenties. I just didn’t realize to what extent until, well, now. And I’m still realizing it. I wish I had known the extent when I was younger because then maybe i wouldn’t have wasted so many years feeling like there was something wrong with me. And being deeply depressed about it.

One thing I’m still coming to terms with or realizing is…well, it’s more of a question. How much of my weirdness is an actual disability. I’m some flavor of neurodivergent, but I have never been tested because I can mask it well enough for government work. This actually took me until I was in my thirties to fully grasp that people do not think the way I do. Not just in opinions, but in the actual way of thinking.

I have a very high EQ, which is how I can make myself look like a normal person. Something I have difficulties with, though, is very dry humor. Since I use facial and body cues to read someone, it’s hard when they mask that–or make a joke in writing that is very sardonic. My brother does this all the time, which makes it difficult for me. I can usually know when he’s making a joke, though, because I know him well.

Back when I was younger, I was numb all the time. I had to suppress my emotions to the point where I no longer felt them. There was a time when someone could tell me the best news in the world, and I would feel nothing inside. Same with the worst news in the world. “I’m getting married!” Nothing. “My mother died.” Nothing. “I got a promotion at work!” Nothing.

Part of that was because you can’t always tell good news from bad. “I’m pregnant!” is usually good news, but not always. Not if the baby is not wanted or an unpleasant surprise. Or, god forbid, the result of forced sex. “I’m getting divorced!” looks negative on the surface, but for some people, it’s the best thing to happen to them.

Back when I was completely divorced from my emotions, I would have to follow a very elaborate system so I could display the proper emotions. So. Let’s say someone told me they were pregnant. My first step would be to scrutinize their face to see if there were any signs whether they were happy or not about it. If I got the news by text/email, I would pore over the rest of the email/text for clues. Exclamation points? That meant something. Exuberant words? Good. That helped as well. Then I could match their emotions with simulated emotions of my own.

This took less than ten seconds on the average, and I was able to make it seem as if my reactions were natural. With practice, I got it down to two or three seconds. It appeared like an organic reaction, but it wasn’t. With the help of Taiji, I’ve been able to inhabit my body and feel comfortable in it. Dying twice has cemented my love for my body.

I’m still shaky on emotions, but I’m able to feel them more than I ever have. I still go through the process I mentioned above, but it’s at lighnting speed now, rather than several seconds. It’s as if I have a Rolodex (I’m old) of emotions in my head that i rapidly flip through until I find the right one.  So it’s still not organic, but I’m not bothered by it.

It’s interesting. Even knowing that I’m different, a freak, and a weirdo, it’s astounding how far out of the norm I am. And, this is something I have a hard time discussing, that I might actually have disabilities. Believe me. It’s not something my family would have accepted. My father cannot handle the idea of women who actually work outside the home (even though he saw plenty of them when he was the VP of TIER, the Taiwanese Institute for Economic Research) let alone whatever the fuck I am.

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People always tell on themselves

In the last post, I was talking about how people have a hard time looking at their own flaws.  I said that I was comfortable with mine, but that’s not completely true. There are flaws I have that make me uncomfortable, but I at least know I have them. I know I can work on them if I want.

It boggles my mind how other people don’t see themselves as they are. I mean, I know the brain is inclined to see the best in itself because that’s how humans are made. But the extent to which some people deny their own flaws or project them on other people is endlessly fascinating to me.

It’s one reason I read advice columns. The letter writers often tell on themselves without realizing it. The thing they’re writing in about is not the thing that is actually the problem. A good columnist will see that and answer the real quesstion, not the one being asked. Captain Awkward is pretty good at this as is Ask a Manager. The two of them collaborating was the best thing ever. I also love that Alison (AAM) will answer a question just because it interests her, even if it doesn’t really fall in the category of work-related. She’ll be honest about it, too. That she picked it because it tickeld her fancy.

Captain Awkward tends to write reams in her response, which is one tihng I like about her. I am verbose, and I appreciate a thorough reply. Plus, I read quickly and she writes very readable text. Alison’s replies are longer than average, too, but also highly scannable. They both have an engaged style of writing–like we’re having a conversation. It’s a skill that not everyone has, unfortunately.

The thing I really appreciate about Alison is that she will admit when she is wrong and take other people’s points into consideration. I have read her for several years and have delved into her archives. She has expanded and grown, and she’s wiser and more mature now than she was when she first started (obviously). I like that she has a sense of humor and seems eminently human. She’s warm, even in her writing. She’s compassionate and no-nonsense. She’s a nice blend of pragmatic and caring. Her one flaw is that she’s pro-pranks, but we all have our shadow sides. (To be clear, not harmful pranks, but the ones that those of us who don’t like pranks would consider annoying. And she’s made it clear that she thinks pranks are opt-in and not opt-out).

Both of them will get to the root prablem, rather than get caught up in the face of the issue. To me, part of my enjoyment from reading AAM is because of the commentariat. What people bring into the questions is the most interesting part by far. There are some questions that have a pretty much universal answer (such as the repost today about a woman who was wilding out at the medical office in which she worked. The letter writer was her boss. The employee was taking naked pics of herself at work, including in front of her boss’s (the letter writer) desk. That’s not the whole story, but that’s the main gist. Consensus: fire her), which are usually highly-entertaining, but there isn’t much room for discussion.

The best ones are the ones in which you can look at them from several points of view. Maybe the LW (letter writer) is correct to be upset with her coworker. Maybe the coworker has a reason for being the way she is. There was a letter (and several updates) from a woman who was the boss of someone she (the LW) was jealous of. The LW clearly stated this in her letter. She didn’t hire her employee and never would have if it had been her choice because of the way the employee looked. She openly admitted she was jealous and probably made her other employees think the attractive employee is bad aat her job because of the way she (LW) treated her (employee). The LW was in therapy for anxiety and an eating disorder. She was doing better until this employee was hired.

She stated in this letter that she lied to her boss when her boss (the one who hired the attractive woman) asked if she was jealous of the employee. She said she wasn’t, and the boss believed her. In other words, according to the writer herself, she was jealous of this employee. And yet, in the comments, there was a sizable minority of women who were skeptical about the employee saying that her boss was jealous of her. “Who would say that?” “She thinks too highly of herself.” These were the comments, paraphrased, and when it was pointed out that the LETTER WRITER HERSELF had said that she was jealous of the employee, these commenters doubled down. Well, yeah, but the employee sounded full of herself for saying it out loud!

Here’s the thing. I knew when women were jealous of me. They were not subtle about it. At all. It wasn’t because I was full of myself; I hated the way I looked, but I knew that some people found me very pleasing to the eye. I couldn’t help but see it. I also couldn’t help but see that some women were snide about me because I didn’t fit what they thought a woman should be, but the guys liked me, anyway. These were hetero women who believed the  attention of men was the pinnacle of success.

In addition, the LW was paraphrasing what her boss had said to her, so that migth not have been the way her report had phrased it. The employee could have said, “I feel like I can’t do anything right with the LW.” The big boss could have prodded a bit and the employee could have realized at some point that, yes, the LW seemed jealous of her. It was fascinating and frustrating to see the women who insisted that the employee was full of herself when the whole letter was that the LW was jealous of her report and never would have hired her. I don’t think I was reading at the time because I did not comment on this, and I probable would have if I had been.

There were several updates, gathered here. It became clear that she had been minimizing what happened, even though she was always clear that she was responsible for what happened. Still. There were people who insisted her report overreacted, despite not knowing the details or any of the people involved. It was fascinating how she revealed a bit more each time, and it ended with her settling with her report on the advice of her (the LW’s) lawyer. And even then, theer were people in the comments who insisted the LW was somehow the one being wronged somehow. One person even said she thought the report was a jerk for suing the LW. As noted in the comments of that update, we all bring our own shit into these letters.

Personally, I could not get behind cheering on this OP because she did harm to another human being. Deep harm. In addition, she was such an unreliable narrator, I felt that I could not trust what she was saying. I understood why Alison and most of the commentariat wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt, but while I was glad she was improving, I couldn’t help but notice that the harm she did her report was revealed to be worse with every update.

That’s human nature, though. We don’t want to look at the nasty stuff inside our head until we’re forced to do so. Even then, most of us would find a way to ignore it or pretend it wasn’t happening. This LW was fired for her denial, which was the catalyst for her drastically changing her life. At least she found the strength to deal with her flaws. That’s more than most people can say.



When I’m done, I’m done

I am pretty patient in general. With people, I mean. Wait. That’s not true. I am impatient in my brain, but outwardly, I’m patient. I understand people’s foibles because I know the reasoning behind it. I’m not an empath for no reason.

Side note: There was someone at Ask A Manager (a commenter) who wrote, “Of course, there is no such thing as an empath.” She dropped it in like everyone knew this to be a fact.” I did not say but should have, “Just because YOU don’t believe in them, it doesn’t mean it’s not true.” But I didn’t because I know what people think of empaths. I don’t even really like the word, but I accept it’s the common nomeclature. I can understand why she did not want it to be true.

I have known since I was in college that people don’t like being told about themselves. I mean, I knew it before that, but it was when I was studying psychology that I realized that most people don’t know themselves and more to the point, don’t want to know themselves. Jung was spot on when he said that people didn’t want to see their shadow sides.

It’s funny to me because I’m all about my shadow side. For most of my life, I have freely admitted my flaws. I’m a slob and a procrastinator. I am quick to take offense being very thin-skinned and quicker to anger. I am sarcastic and I see the negative in people much more easily than I see the positive. I’m sarcastic, snide, and will always find the fault in everything.

For decades, I refused to look at any of my positives. I liked to joke that my shadow side comprised my positive aspects. This was collateral damage from a childhood in which I could not do anything right. I got it in my head that I would be punished if I said anything at all positive about myself. This was my Taiwanese culture at work, but it was also my parents being overwhelmingly negative people.

Other people, though, cannot bear to face their own flaws. In fact, many of them will go to any lengths not to acknowledge them. And then act up because they’re so ashamed of them. It’s fascinating as a student of psych to watch the defense mechanisms people use. There’s a saying in psychology. You don’t take away someone’s defense mechanism without giving them something to replace it with.

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You don’t know what you know

I’ve been watching a Sekiro (FromSoft) playthrough and I am reminded of how people think their level of skill is normal. This is Nath from Playstation Access, and I was watching his plat run first, but then switched to when he was playing the first two hours (for the second time). In the plat run, he talks about finding the rhythm and he makes it look effortless as he whizzes through the game. He only needed two trophies with one of them being the ‘kill all bosses on one save’ one. Plus the all skills one. The former means you have to play it at least two times through (meaning NG+) and save-scum as there are four different endings and…well, ok. See, you need all four different endings as part of the plat. You need to do different things for the different endings, obviously.

One of the endings is the ‘bad’ ending and there are two unique bosses. I have not done this ending or fought these bosses.  This is called the Shura ending. The other three endings are variants of the good ending. This is not uncommon in FromSoft games, to have three or four different endings with one being the ‘bad’ ending, but this is the first time you have to fight different final bosses for the bad ending.

The first good ending is just go through the game and do the things and you can choose the vanilla good ending. For the second good ending, you have to fight my worst boss of the game and get an item from him, plus do the basic good ending last bit path. For the final good ending, you have to do all that plus a bunch more. If you are smart, you will set up everything for this ending, save, and scum the other endings. I  should have done (or at least tried. Save-scumming for Elden Ring didn’t work), but I didn’t even think about the plat at that point.

Oh, all of this is before fighting the BRUTAL final boss/es of the good ending. Who is the second or third hardest boss in the game. There is an optional boss who is just a pain in the behind. Here’s the thing. I took a peek at the trophy/achievement list and it’s brutal. You have to defeat all the bosses on the same save, which means at least two playthroughs on the same character. In my case, I would have to go to NG++ on my current save because I’m past the point of going to the bad ending in NG+. It’s really frustrating. If I could summon, I would be all over it. But because I cannot, it’s all on me. And I just cannot play the game enough to do what needs to be done.

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New year, new me, who dis?

2022 was the year of faffing about and just taking stock of where I was. It was me being grateful to be alive and counting each day as a bonus day. It was me marveling at being not dead. I was moved to tears at times at how incredible the vista outside my window was.

I should be dead. This is something that I am always cognizant of. Fifty years was my alloted time on this earth, and I cheated death. I feel quite scandalous about it. Not scandalous, exactly, but like I got away with something. Which I did. I mean, I’m alive. I shouldn’t be. That’s the very epitome of getting away with something.

This is the year that I integrate that knowledge into my every day life. I really have an obstacle in my brain against talking about it because it’s just so bizarre. In addition, there really isn’t a lesson to be learned from it. I mean, there is for me. It’s to enjoy life and to truly internalize that it can end at any moment.

For anyone else, though, what can they take from my experience? This is frustrating because I have learned valuable lessons. Lessons I would like to impart to others. The biggest one being that your body is a wonderland, even though I dislike John Mayer. In America, women are made to feel their bodies are trash from a very early age. Americans worship at the altar of thinness for women, but it’s a very sparse range of thinness that is acceptable. Too thin and murmurs of eating disorder can be heard. But just a few pounds overweight or even ‘normal’ weight, and the person is excoriated. Woman.

I have watched a lot of YouTube content creators. A lot. The women are, to a T, thin and gorgeous. Well, that’s not completely true. If they are not white, there is a bit more variety (though, usually it’s skinnier if they are Asian. I am from two cultures that demand women waste away to nothing). White women, though, have to be skinny. But with boobs. And look very feminine.

Men, on the other hand, are allowed to be pretty much any shape, size, and pulchritude. I’m not talking about nonbinary/genderfluid people because, let’s face it, there aren’t that many high profile people who are not male or female.

I would be considered female or at least female-presenting. I am tired. It’s not on my list of things to care about. I am hoping to continue that in the new year. I don’t really relate to being a woman, but I don’t NOT relate to it, either. I would say that I feel closer to women than to men in general and we have shared experiences. On the other hand, I find women can be the worst when it comes to oppressing women, too. Something about upholding the patriarchy and being the ‘good’ woman.

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A boost to the ego

When my mother was here last during my medical crisis, I foolishly decided to show her the Sword Form. Why? Because I was drugged up and thought it would be a good idea. Why? Stop questioning me! I don’t know. I honestly don’t. It’s because I love my weapons so much and maybe I wanted to connect with my mother. Which is so stupid of me. There has never been a time in the history of ever when she cared and/or understood what I was trying to tell/show her.

Me being bi? That meant I wanted to fuck animals. Tattoos? Oh, she was not pleased by that at all. Of course, she didn’t approve of me relinquishing my religion (and had people pray at me to ‘bring me back into the fold’. Didn’t work, by the way). She said I was shirking my duty as a womn by not having children, and she encouraged me to get married so I’d have someone to take care of me in my old age. She relentlessly nagged at me for me being fat because she was concerned about my health, she said. But, when I  was anorexic and painfully thin, she was only jealous of my tiny waist.

She tried to be encouraging about my writing, but the only thing she said when I let her read a short story I had written was how it had ‘so many’ swear words in it. I can’t remmeber a time when she complimented me or appreciated me full-stop without any qualifiers. Oh, wait. Yes, I can. She was thankful when I listened to her dump her problems on me because she ‘needed’ it.

Needless to say, when she told me how grateful she was that I was still alive, I internally rolled my eyes. She only cared because I was her unpaid therapist. Not even a therapist because she  didn’t listen to anything I suggested. Or rather, very few things. She did not care about me the person, which is something that people have a hard time believing. A mother is supposed to care about her child! Rightly or wrongly, this is more embedded in our society than a father loving his child.

In this case, neither is correct. Neither of my parents love me as a person. They love the idea of their daughter as an extension of them, but me, Minna, the difficult, messy, complicated person? Nope!

Oh, I forgot to say that when I told my mother I was studying Taiji, she said that it was a way of inviting the devil to dance on my spine. How or why she came up with that, I do not know, but it’s almost poetic.

Anyway, when I showed my mother the Sword Form, it was the first three or four movements. She gave the uncomfortable laugh she does when she doesn’t like something and then said, “Oh, ah, it’s cute.”

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Being adventurous in different ways

I know the Myers-Briggs test has been debunked, with good reason. How valid it’s going to be is based on how well you really know yourself (and how not delusional you are). One thing that stuck out to me when I took it was that I split evenly on J and P. Meaning that I was equally capricious and regimental. Which is pretty much true.

I have a schedule that I keep to and it’s the same every day, but not at the same time. What I mean is that I do things in the same order every day. That has gotten shaken up in the last two weeks because of Shadow’s illness, but in general, it’s the same. I get up and take my meds save the one I have to eat food with (because I have one I can’t eat food with). In the past, I would do most of my Taiji next and then before the very end, feed my cat. Also, I would brush my teeth in there as well. Now, I take my meds an dthen feed my cat, then do my Taiji.

The reason I waited in the past was because I didn’t want him bugging me for breakfast the minute he woke up. Now, however, I’m pretty much feeding him whenever he’s hungry because I’m a softy and he was so sick. He’s being more picky these days, and I think it’s because his sense of smell isn’t quite back yet. He’ll sniff at his food and then not eat it. Or eat it, depending. Sometimes, he’ll be happily scarfing down the food and then stop. Then he won’t eat any more, but he will eat treats. Or not.

If I add hot water to it, sometimes he’ll eat more and sometimes he won’t. In the past, he would eat it if I put hot water on it more often than not. This is all wet food, by the way. And with treats, he’ll eat them some of the time and not other times. Before, he would almost always eat treats (meaning Temtations, Greenies, etc.). It could be he’s still not quite completely over his cold. It might be that he’s just gotten pickier since being sick. Or maybe he just doesn’t need the increase in food now that he’s better again. Or that much increase I should say because he’s still eating more than he did in the past, just not as much more as he was right after he started recovering from his sickness.

Anyway, then I write my blog post for the day. If it’s the weekday, I follow it up by doing my work for my bro. In between, I might play my day of Cozy Grove or I might do it before the post. Then I’ll fuck around for a bit before writing my 2,000 words of fiction/memoir for the night. Those are the broadstrokes to my day, around which I fill in the blanks.

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