Underneath my yellow skin

Death becomes me

I’ve been talking about rules and why I don’t give a shit about them. When I was a kid, I was indoctrinated as to how things should be. My father, a narcissist with no sense of norms, had a highly-idiosyncratic idea of how people should act. In general, it was mostly that he should always be the center of attention and no one should dare contradict him. I remember once when I was a teenager, we got in an argument. I don’t remember about what, but it wasn’t anything out of the ordinary for a teen and a father.

I ran to my room and slammed the door shut. Seconds later, it went flying open and my father ran in with his face livid. He shouted at me that it was his house and that I was not allowed to slam the door like that. He looked like he wanted to hit me, and I was gobsmacked. Should I have slammed the door? No. Was it THAT out of line? Also no.

My parents did not tolerate me showing any negative emotion. Only my father could be angry and only my mother could be sad. I learned to keep my face completely still without showing a whiff of emotion. I also learned to not feel any pain. I mean literally.

When I first started Taiji, well, a few years after, my teacher showed us joint manipulations (chin na techniques). She taught us how to tap out if the pain ever got to be too much. Except, I could not feel the pain so I never tapped out. At some point, she decreed that I could only practice with her because it was too dangerous for me otherwise. I wasn’t trying to be recalcitrant in that case; I literally could not feel any pain.

My teacher’s teacher taught me a trick–to stand on my tiptoes as the other person does the chin na techneique. The problem was that I was muscling up and sort of gritting my teeth through the pain. By being on my toes, I couldn’t tense up. It worked like a charm. He had me stand on my toes and then did a wrist chin na technique. I flinched immediately.

Back to my family. I was a hot mess as a kid, but I managed to mask it well. I inhaled all the messages that I was worth nothing other than what I had to offer other people, be it sexually or emotionally. I used to crudely say that I was only worth what was between my legs because that’s how I felt. I was a terrible partner because I didn’t value myself–or the other person, really. It was more about being a martyr and desperately trynig to be the perfect girlfriend. Which, come to think of it, is exactly what my mother has done for fifty-five plus years.

I look back at little me, and I just want to gather her gently in my arms. I want to shelter her from the immense pain she was going through and whisper in her ear that she’ll get htrough it to the other side. I would tell her that she would shed a lot of herself along the way, both positive and negative (but mostly negative), and that she would be stronger for the experience.

I would let her know that she couldn’t dream how peaceful it was on the other side. How she could just let her burdens go and…not care any longer. Not care about being the freak and the one that never fits in. Not having friends and being teased all the time. Being the weirdo who read all the time and didn’t watch TV. How she was perfect the way she was and did not need to care about sewing or cooking, getting married, or having children.

I would tell her that she was beautiful the way she was, as awkward, gawky, weird, and ungainly as she was. Terrifying vocabulary and all. Smarter than all the boys she knew, it was a bonus, not a minus. No matter how she was made to feel like she didn’t belong, it didn’t matter.

No, she didn’t belong. I have never belonged. But she was perfectly fine the way she was. That’s the biggest message I would have liked to get across to her. She didn’t have to have blond hair or be a boy. She didn’t have to fit in any boxes in order to be have worth. She was allowed to be anxious, depressed, and not perfect.

One of the most destructive things from my childhood was how I was not allowed to show anything that might insinuate that life wasn’t perfect. Even while my mother was blubbering to me about how badly my father was treating her.

If I had known back then what I know now, that my parents being the way they are is not my fault nor my business. It’s not on me to fix it, no matter how much my mother pressured me to do so back in the day. She had me so that I would be a mini-her. She had me so I would mirror her emotions and be the repository of all her negativity. She didn’t want a daughter who was an actual human being; she wanted a clone. One who would validate every choice she made.

And, yeah, it sucks for her that I was not any of that. but one should not have kids for that reason. It’s something I’ve said for thirty years. The only reason to have children is because you want them–and you actually think you’d be a good parent. I know the latter is tricky because very few people think they’ll be bad parents. And, unfortunately, it’s the one who aren’t self-aware who make the worst parents.

Now that I have died twice, Idon’t give a shit about any of that. And, once I changed my perspective on my parents (they are two very old people who are having a rough time of it right now, so I can feel sympathy), I have some peace in my heart.

I love myself now. I can say that without reservation. Sure, I could list my flaws, but they are all a part of me. They make me unique, and I’m fine with most of them. The ones that bother me, well , I can work on them. I’m a work in progress, and I’m just thankful that I still have time to, well, make progress. My bonus days, as I call them. I’ll take as many of them as I can get.

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