Underneath my yellow skin

Tag Archives: flaws

Funhouse mirror of flaws

I’ve written about how my self-esteem has skyrocketed since my medical crisis. In general, I am happier with myself. My depression has disappeared almost completely and my anxiety is reduced by roughly 60%. Considering that I first wanted to die when I was seven, this is a massive improvement for me.

In addition, all my body issues disappeared. I can’t overemphasize what a big deal that is. My mother put on my first diet when I was seven. She made frequent comments about how fat I was and what a shame it was. But, because she was an Asian mother, she also insisted on feeding me too much food and making me finish the food on my plate. The conflicting messages did not help at all.

I dealt with two bouts of anorexia with a side helping of bulimia the first time. I’m not the usual person when it comes to eating disorders because…I don’t know how to explain it exactly. But when I decided to give it up, I  swung in the opposite direction and started overeating. It really is a matter of willpower for me and not the disordered thinking that other people get.

I’m not explaining this well. I had the disordered thinking as well, but it was more a byproduct of my willpower and not the central thing. I have read about anorexia and how difficult it is to treat. That it’s distorts a person’s thinking in a way that grooves new brain patterns.

I definitely had disordered thinking while I was dealing with anorexia (thinking I was a fat cow, even when my thighs didn’t touch), but once I stopped being anorectic, well, I stopped the thinking as well. Or rather, I swung in the opposite direction. Which is how I work in general. I swing to the extremes.

After I returned home from the hospital, my opinion of my body changed 100%. I went from being studiedly neutral about it (through many years of Taiji and I wasn’t really neutral) to being positively in love with my body. It might be the drugs talking. In fact, it probably is the reason that I felt kindly towards my body in the first place.

In those halcyonic days (daze?), I could not get enough of my body. It saw me through death–twice–without a scratch. Well, not quite, but close to it. I will sing it from the rooftop all day song. Walking non-COVID-related pneumonia, two cardiac arrests, and a stroke don’t mean shit to me! I can still walk, run, do Taiji, and drive. Presumably (and I’d like to find out soon), sex would be fine as well. I can sing and dance, and I sleep better than I ever have. Seven-and-a-half hours to eight hours a night, which is unheard of for me.

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What’s wrong with me?

I have written many times before about how most of my life is better since my revival from death (twice!). But, there are a few things that have gotten worse, and I’m not talking about the family dysfunction for once (though there is that). There are a bunch of little things that add up to irritation, but nothing serious.

One, my ability to do math in my head. One time, I was trying to figure out the Canadian kid’s age on the RKG Discord. He was saying that he was 12 in 2015 when Bloodborne came out. I kept trying to do the math and came up with him being 22. I literally could not figure it out and was embarrassed (he’s 19). I wanted to say, “I have had brain damage. That’s why I had difficulty with that simple math.”

I pride myself on my brain and my intelligence. I have always had my smarts, even when I felt I had nothing else. So to have issues with it is difficult for me. But, I can use a calculator or pen and paper to do simple math. It’s not a big deal, really. I just don’t like that when I tried to do it in my head, I literally couldn’t.

Another thing is my memory issues. That’s another thing I’m proud of–how good my memory is. I used to have to do intake for classes when I worked in the Diversity unit for the Department of Community Corrections. We had 500 employees, and I probably saw most of them throughout the year. I remembered everyone but two people, which is an amazing feat.

Now, I have a harder time remember names of people or things. I don’t always remember if I told someone something already. It can take me a few more seconds than it used to to remember a word. None of this really bothers me, honestly. I can just explain it with a smile and a ‘brain damage’ before moving along. That’s assuming that people know what happened to me.

It’s hard to feel too bad about anything when the end result is that I’m alive and in mostly fine fettle. i sleep better since my medical crisis, for sure. My norm was 6 1/2 hours before I ended up in the hospital. Now it’s 7 1/2 to 8 hours a night. I wake up once to go to the bathroom, but then quickly fall asleep again.

A bit of my anxiety has crept back. Maybe 10% or so more than before. Which was down 50% or so from before that. Whereas my depression is almost completely gone.

But! We’re talking about negatives.

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Doing it to myself

I have waxed on and on about how great life has been since I woke up a year ago, and it is. However. In the RKG Discord last night, we were talking about romantic problems and one person said that barring a big life event, people didn’t change. I amended it to that people can change, but it is very incremental. I mentioned that after my life-threatening medical crisis (which I talked about in length further up the thread), some of my negative traits had vanished and some had been greatly mitigated. As I’ve mentioned, my body issues have completely disappeared. That’s probably the most amazing thing, and I’m grateful for it. Decades of hating my body–gone.

This is something I marvel at almost on the daily. I went from loathing my body to absolutely loving it. I am arrogant about it now. My body is, indeed, all that and a bag of chips. That’s what the kids say these days, right? That hasn’t been said in decades. Oh, well. I’ve never been hep or happening.

I love my curves, especially my booty. I am Asian, which means I was born with no ass. Not literally, obviously, but it was flat. I liked to joke that about my flat yellow ass, but it wasn’t really a joke. It was yellow and it was, indeed, flat. Taiji, specifically, Golden Roosters, lifted and boosted my ass. I actually had a bit of a curvature to it!

I was enamored with it, I’ll be frank. I kept looking at it with delight and I told Ian excitedly that I had an ass. He said diffidently that he had noticed, which made me chuckle. I kept staring at it in the mirror because I most definitely had an ass. I had to take ‘flat’ out of my vocab, which was fine by me.

I worked hard to get to studiedly neutral. Rather, I said I was neutral about my body, but I wasn’t. I didn’t hate it, technically, but I still wouldn’t look at it in the mirror. Which meant that I was more negative about it than positive.

Then, I ended up in the hospital. I had to have people wipe the shit from my ass, which is an embarrassing position to be in. But they treated me with such warmth, they made me feel safe, secure, and they allowed me to keep my dignity. It’s so vulnerable to not be able to wipe my own ass. Having to go through all of that wiped out my body dysmporphia completely. I love my body to distraction. It got me through death twice, and it is better than ever.

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Sick of myself

I’ve been big upping myself lately, which I’m fine with. There are a few things about myself, however, that really annoy the fuck out of me. Some are different since I got out of the hospital, but some are, annoyingly, the same since I was a kid.

The biggest one is my manic need to people-please. This started when I was a kid and had to tiptoe around my parents’ (yes, plural) moods. It wasn’t just my father and his violent mood swings, but also my mother and her constant depression. She should have seen a therapist when she was first married, but her belief was therapy for thee, but not for me (her). Instead, she dumped it all on me and expected me to caretake her. Not my brother because he was a boy and because he was not good with emotions. But I, on the other hand, had to be her emotional dumping grounds because I was female and because I was extremely sensitive to other people’s emotions. Sometimes I wonder if I would have been as sensitive to people’s emotions if my mother hadn’t forced me to be her confidante when I was eleven. I feel like my sensitivity is innate, but it’s hard to say when I had to do it for my mother 24/7. I can’t help but sense what other people are feeling, no matter how much I tried to shield myself from it. Even when it’s a chat and people are typing, I can sense what people are feeling.

And I’m always eager to step in and make sure that no one feels left out. That’s not a bad thing, necessarily, but I push it to the extreme. It’s not my job to make sure everyone feels included, but it certainly feels like it.

I’m trying to pull back a bit, but it’s not easy to change a lifetime habit. It doesn’t help that my mother still insists on dumping all her emotional drama on me. She tries to say it’s part of being a child (duty to parents’ emotional well-being or some such bullshit), which may be more true in Taiwan than it America, but not to the extent that she insists it is.

If I were to tell her the brutal truth, I would say that I didn’t have kids in part because of her. I hated the idea of fucking up another generation with the deep family dysfunction. I knew that if I had kids,  I would not have been strong enough to protect them from my parents. If I wanted children at all, that might be a hard decision, but because I never wanted them, it was easy-peasy. When my mother said she would come back to help with my kids if I had them (which, yeah, sure. Not if my father didn’t want to move back), I almost had a panic attack. Remember, I never wanted kids, but just the mere thought of my mother being around my mythical children made me want to move somewhere without giving her a forwarding address.

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Life goals

I have stated several times that I am better than I ever was. My medical crisis was the best thing to happen to me, and, yet, that doesn’t mean I’m magically without flaws. I still talk too much and get mean when I’m tired or short of energy. I’m lazy and a slob, and I tend to procrastinate when I don’t want to do something. It makes it a bigger deal than it needs to be. I know I’m doing this, but cannot stop myself from doing it.

It’s been eye-opening to see my brother working the dating apps. He does it while he’s here so I jump into it as well. I’m on Bumble and OkCupid, but I haven’t really done anything with either. I don’t like that you can only be a man or a woman on Bumble, though I do like that I don’t have to put up with dick pics before even getting a ‘hello’. So. Many. Dick. Pics on Craigslist.

I like that OkCupid allows for a wide variety of genders as well as sexual orientations and relationship choices. You can be polyamorous in different ways,  or you could just be looking for sex. But it’s overwhelming in other ways, which makes me just not want to use it at all.

For example. You cannot save a profile for later. You have to swipe right or left immediately. I understand why they made this choice, but I don’t like it. I want to be able to think and ponder before making a decision. Yes, I know if you swipe right on Bumble, you have 24 hours before you have to message, but that’s still pressure.

My brother is quick to swipe left or right. He sends a brief message and if he gets a reply, suggests they chat on the app or meet up in person. When I used to use Craigslist, I would message with someone several times before feeling comfortable enough to meet them in person. That could be because of gender dynamics, which was certainly part of the issue. But, it’s also that I’m a ditherer, and I rarely make decisions in an appropriate timeframe.

I wish I could be more like my brother.  I’ve been thinking about dating for ages. My last relationship was a decade ago, and it was spectacularly bad. I was love-bombed from the start and fell for it completely. He was a sexist, narcissistic, touchy, alcoholic lout who should not in any way have been in a relationship. I’m no angel by any means, but I did not deserve to feel like I constantly had to tiptoe around his fragile male ego.

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I am definitely not flawless

For most of my life, I have been focused on all my flaws. I could barely see any of my positives and I was unhappy with myself in general. The psychologist Carl Jung talks about the shadow as the dark, negative side of a person that they either are unaware exists or actively try to deny. Usually, it’s the negative behaviors and ideas that a person does and has, including their flaws.

For me, my shadow has been my positive side. I have no problem listening my flaws and my negative attributes. I would do them at the drop of a hat and at length. I was comfortable with my negative side because I felt like I was worthy. It was drilled in my head that it was wrong to show pride in yourself. You were supposed to be humble and never brag, which morphed into the need to debase yourself in front of others lest they get the wrong idea.

Taiji helped me with that. I went from thinking that I didn’t deserve to live and that I would let someone kill me rather than fight to not wanting to fight someone, but willing to do it if necessary. I was walking the circle with DeerHorn Knives (Bagua, not Taiji) as a substitute for meditation when I couldn’t do the latter because of flashbacks. I loved the DeerHorn Knives (and I would love to have real ones, not practice ones) and walking the circle was very meditative. I focused on the middle of the circle which was where your opponent would be. I had a flash of “It’s either him or me” and  choosing me before it disappeared.

I talked about it with my teacher afterwards because it shook me up. I had been a pacifist up until that moment, so the idea that I would actually deliberately choose to kill someone rattled me. Granted, it was because he was going to kill me, but still. She said that it was common for women to be raised to be nice and to be averse to violence of any kind. It was how they were kept in place and it was based in sexism and the patriarchy. She said that she had to teach men how to CTFO and not take everything as a challenge, but she had to teach women how to be more assertive and not shy away from confrontation. Or rather, run away as the first option, but be ready to fight if need be. When she said that, it made sense. I was raised to believe that as a female-shaped person, my greatest value was in what I could do for others. I didn’t have any intrinsic value in and of myself, and I must never forget that. From the time when I was eleven and my mother made me her confidante, I was imbued with the belief that I had to do for others to be worth anything.

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The dark side of humanity

I am a negative person. I will always see the flaws in something, no matter what. It can be the best idea on earth, but I’ll see the cracks in the foundation. Let’s take Elden Ring for example. Because of course I would want to talk more about it; it’s constantly on my mind. It’s a fantastic game, but it’s not perfect. By the way, it quickly rose on my list of favorite FromSoft games. Here’s the list as it currently stands. Demon’s Souls is not on the list because I have not played it. I wish it would come to the PC already!

  1. Dark Souls III
  2. Elden Ring
  3. Dark Souls
  4. Dark Souls II (SotFS)
  5. Bloodborne
  6. Sekiro

When I started Elden Ring, it was immediately ahead of Bloodborne and Sekiro in terms of games I’d rather play. It’s not a list of the best From games because I don’t do that kind of ranking, but of my favorites. I’m more a Souls person than a Sekiroborne person. I think Sekiro and Bloodborne are both fantastic games, but they just do not lend themselves to my style of play. Souls games don’t, really, either, but at least I can cobble something together in those.

Anyway, the more I play Elden Ring, the more I appreciate it and obsess over it. I’m still not done with the second legacy dungeon. Apparently, I’ve stumbled over a few other main story bosses who are in the field; I haven’t beaten either one.

Still. There are issues. The technical issues have mostly smoothed out for me. There is micro-stuttering once in awhile and the game takes a few seconds to shut down, but other than that, it runs great. I don’t notice pop-ins, though, so that may be happening under my nose.  But with my higher-end graphics card, it’s running well.

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Elden Ring–it’s a neigh from me

dragon head on my arm
Woah oh oh, you’re on fire

Elden Ring. It’s still a thing. Ian was talking about a game he’s reviewing, and I was like, “You mean there are games other than Elden Ring?!?” I was jesting, but I wasn’t jesting. I put in ‘only’ four hours yesterday, but I’ve been putting in an average of six hours a day since it released. That’s five days. I’m just under 30 hours and have only scratched the surface of the first area.  I’m not much past the first boss in the first legacy dungeon. I ran into this game’s version of a Black Knight and noped out of there. The area immediately following the first boss is…hard. Not fun. But that’s Souls for you.

I rode around for a bit, taking in the sights and finding things hidden here and there. Oh look! There’s a cave. I wonder what’s in it? A big, massive stonetroll is what! What’s up this hot air stream over here? (Where Torrent can jump miles in the air.) A bear fighting a bunch of dogs down the cliff!  There is a thrill of riding past a danger and hoovering up the loot as I glide on by. Torrent is the absolute best.

Horse combat, however, is not. I mentioned it before ,but I want to revisit it because I took on two field bosses–and it was not good. It was really not good in one of the fights–the dragon featured in the trailers and the Closed Network Test. Flying Dragon Agheel. It’s the best to watch people freak out as he flies directly at them and kills them. I put off taking on Agheel because, well, I just didn’t think I was ready. I was spending too much time just exploring the world rather than focusing on leveling up so I didn’t get much early on. That’s my excuse, anyway, so I’m sticking to it. I went at him yesterday because I felt I was tuned up enough. I used the jellyfish summon for the poison stack. I got him down to half and died. Whatever. It’s a part of the game. I tried again and he got…stuck on the cliff above? What? I’ve seen it in the CNT, but I assumed they would have fixed it. But, no. And one time, he flopped back into the lake on his back–oh, right. I didn’t say, but he’s in a lake–and didn’t move. Did I win? Nothing happened until he suddenly got up again and came at me, bro. I couldn’t connect with him for whatever reason and I died again.

I died several times to him. Normally, I take full responsibility for my deaths but at least a good quarter of my deaths were because of Agheel glitching in some way and me not being able to access him or me getting caught up in the environment. Stuck in a tree, stuck behind a tree, etc. And, as I mentioned before, the sword swings themselves don’t feel weighty at all.

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It’s complicated. No, I’m complicated

I’m irritable. In general, but more to the point, right now. The filters I have set so carefully in place are…shall we say…stressed. As are we all. Here’s the thing. I have a constant dialogue in my brain–dialogue? Monologue. Lots of time, it’s just anxious chatter about how I’m fucking up. But, otherwise, it’s a snarky MST3K voice sniping about everyone and everything around me. I’m pretty good at keeping it under wraps for the most part–except when I’m driving. I have bad road rage. Or rather, I used to have bad road rage. Taiji has helped with it a great deal–but then it comes bursting out at the exactly wrong time. I’ve had this issue all my life so it seems as if I overreact to something small after all the rage has built up inside me.

I was taught never to show negative emotions, especially anger, by my father. He was the only one allowed to be mad, and he was very unpleasant to be around when he was raging. He would make his displeasure known one of two ways–either by shouting at the top of his lungs or by completely ignoring you. I don’t mean just not speaking to you, but looking straight through you. Unfortunately, I’ve perfected that ability, and in my case, it’s my way of escaping an unpleasant situation if I’m trapped. It’s my safe space, and I’m really good at blocking out everything.

Side Note: I know the silent treatment is not a good thing. It has a bad rap, and deservedly so. However, as someone who has been trapped in situations in which I cannot win, it’s the least-worst of all the bad options. When I was a kid, I was scolded about whatever. If I tried to protest, I was told not to talk back. If I sat there without saying anything, then I was attacked for the sulky look on my face. I felt as if I couldn’t win, so the only thing I could do was have a blank look on my face while being yelled at.

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The sins of the parent

One thing I hate when my parents are around is how I’m relegated to being baby once again. My brother is three years older, and he gets treated as if he were the font of wisdom whereas I’m…well, it’s complicated, and I’ll get to it in a second. One thing that everyone in my family has in common is that we all have Strong Opinions on things and will not let it go. It manifests in different ways with each of us. My father simply refuses to acknowledge points other than his own and hammers his own opinion over and over again. Over the decades, he has perfected the art of the blank look followed by simply repeating what he already said. He does not argue in good faith, and he’s not really looking for other opinions. My mother will acknowledge the other position, but then immediately want to drop the subject if it gets at all uncomfortable. In a way, it’s more frustrating because she’s vent for a half hour; I’ll give my opinion for five minutes; then she wants to change the topic if I don’t simply agree with her.

My brother states his opinions confidently, and while he’s willing to hear other opinions, it’s often hard to face his confidence with equanimity. Even when I know I’m right, I hesitate in the face of his certainty. One example that always stands out in my mind is Daylight Savings Time. For whatever reason, I had looked up whether the farmers were for or against it (I think we talked about it in taiji or something), and then it came up in a conversation with my brother and parents. This was a few summers ago, and I don’t remember the details. I do remember my brother stating the urban myth reason of farmers pushing for DST, which was what I believed before looking it up. Even though I knew he was wrong because I had just looked it up, he said it with no doubt in his voice, and I started thinking I had misremembered what I Googled. I looked it up again on, and I was right. Also, he does not get emotional reasoning at all (or thinks he doesn’t. He does it himself, but rationalizes it as logical), so he can’t understand why someone doesn’t just listen to all the facts he’s presenting and see the reasonableness of his position.

Me, I do one of two things. Either I say nothing at all or I forcefully state my opinion. There is no in-between for me, and I feel bad regardless of which route I choose. Nobody in my family can argue/debate without pushing it to the limits, and it gets really annoying when we’re all together. I’m working on my own issues around this, but it’s slow-going. I have a bad temper, which I try to keep under control. For the most part it works, but when my buttons are pushed, I blurt shit out without thinking about it because I’m pissed. Or at least deeply irritated. I get this from my father, and it’s not pretty. For many years, I just stuffed it down deep inside because I wasn’t allowed to show anger. Only my father was, and, oh, did he show it. Then, I was angry all the time and popping off about everything. I’ve managed to temper the rage somewhat with the help of therapy and taiji, but it’s still something I struggle with on a daily basis.

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