Underneath my yellow skin

Family dysfunction is not a good function

Family dysfunction has been on my mind lately because it’s the one thing that has gotten worse since my medical trauma. Well. Let me restate that, but in a minute. The only lasting injury I’ve suffered from my medical trauma is a slight issue with short-term memory. It’s not a big deal as I can take notes to shore up the gaps. When I first got out of the hospital, I had marked short-term memory issues, but they’ve dissipated in the following months.

But with my parents, well, that’s another story. Part of the issue is that I’m not willing to shine them on as I once was. I shouldn’t say not willing because it’s more not able than not willing. I open my mouth to say the platitude, but I just can’t force it out. All the anger I have built up inside surges into my throat and I have to work hard not to let it out. There is always a thin edge to my voice when I’m talking to them (or thick, depending on how well I can hide it).

Here’s the issue. My father is getting worse. I think it’s partly because of his fear about COVID (which is rising rapidly in Taiwan). They went from no cases in 10 months to nearly 7,000 cases in one day. And if one of them gets it, the one who has it has to be isolated in the hospital or a hotel by themselves. Which would be terrible because my father cannot live on his own.

Side Note: That is one of my frustrations with his pontifications. He likes to talk all this big shit when he can’t live on his own. He used to be the president of a research company, so it’s not that weird that he has an overinflated opinion of himself. Plus, he had a secretary who did everything for him while he was president, including printing out his emails and putting them on his desk for him to read. And my mom does everything for him at home. He’s a paper tiger who thinks he’s a lion.

In addition, when he dumps this shit on me, he doesn’t actually start the conversation. He just assumes I know what he’s been thinking about and continues a train of thought. So, for example, last night, he started talking about these two people he knew who were doing some kind of business. They may or may not needed an editor, but he couldn’t say for sure because he never asked them, but they did do things in English, but he wasn’t sure how they did it, but one of them, it might have been private, so he didn’t know how to approach them about it because they might consider it privileged information…then he started looping with the same information. Mind you, he never once mentioned why he had brought all this up in the first place. Yes, I could intuit it, but still. He never once said clearly that he was suggesting I edit for them–and again, he hadn’t even talked to them about it, yet!

Now, in the old days, I would have said something noncommittal like, “Oh yeah. I’ll think about it” and push it off as long as possible. I opened my mouth to say it, but I couldn’t do it. Instead, I said no that it was unreasonable. I didn’t get into the details because never argue with a narcissist, but there were so many reasons I wanted nothing to do with it.

One, I don’t want to work with anyone who’s friends with my father. I’ve done work for people in Taiwan and it’s an exercise in frustration. The norms are so different there, including no professional boundaries. If I work for them, then they’ll talk with my parents about it. That’s just how it goes. Two (and I got this from my mother emailing me later), while one of them sounded reasonable, the other did not at all. The one was just one article, which, fine. The second was so nonspecific and hypothetical, it made my head swim.

This is something my father has been doing more and more of lately. Going off on a tangent that is not relevant to anyone but him. And, again, it’s never with a clear start, middle, end.  It’s just him starting in mid-thought. In this case, it was about Taiwan and America coming together to set up a think tank to deal with COVID. Except, this is how he brought it up. I’m paraphrasing, of course.

“COVID is a big concern now, but Taiwan has been dealing with it for quite some time. We have been dealing with it well. It’s been months since we had any cases and–”

At this point, I’m ready to scream. I fully admit that I have no patience at all for this because of history, but it’s doubly irritating because he won’t just say what he want to say. I know it’s partly cultural, but it’s partly because he just likes to hear himself drone on and on.

He went on to say how an alliance between Taiwan and America (over COVID, I presume) would be beneficial to both sides. At that point, I didn’t know if I should laugh or I should cry. He went on to explain that he wanted something like a think tank, which, I mean….I didn’t know how to tell him that there was no way that was going to happen. And even if there was a chance, it wasn’t going to be because two people with no connections decided to make it so. Yes, he used to be an important person in Taiwan and he does know the President of Taiwan, but, I highly doubt she (the president) would be able to set up that kind of think tank, let alone him and me.

He urged me to look into setting up a think tank, which is not my thing at all. At all! I don’t do think tanks. I’ve never been a part of a think tank. I have no desire to establish a think tank. More to the point, and this is what I was thinking, there was no benefit to America in this setup. My father tried to explain why it would be mutually beneficial, but that’s just his narcissism at it again. Because the only reason he thought of it was that he was panicking about COVID (fair) and wanted something done about it (also fair), and this was his answer (what???).

Again, I should have just said that I would look into it and not do it, but I have no patience for even that low-level subterfuge any longer. My father is full of shit and I just can’t. My mother’s email was much more reasonable, but I don’t want to deal with them any longer.  Their concerns are reasonable, but how they (especially my father) are bringing it up is not. When I told him I was thinking about what to do, he started pressing to know more about it. When I demurred, saying that I preferred to think about it by myself, he persisted. When I said it a few times, he switched to saying I could talk about it with him once I figured it out because we were family! And, again, I should have just made some noncommittal noise, but I couldn’t do it. I said no and we hung up on a frosty note.

Bottom line is that I don’t want to talk about any of this with them so I need to figure it out myself–and fast.

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