An Elegy for…Me

Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to pass the mourning of Minna E. Hong.  

Now, of course, I am not dead–otherwise this would be a pretty freaky post.  However, I am slowly letting go of the me that I have been for the last fifteen years or so.  You see, after I graduated from college, I basically curled up in a ball and ossified my way to 38.  Now, I am saying an elegy for that incantation of me because it needs to stay in the past.


I’m not saying I didn’t do anything in the last fifteen years because I have.  In fact, I shall list them now.

I worked for a year as a day treatment counselor for juvenile delinquents.  I learned from that job that though I cared deeply about the kids, I had to resolve myself to the fact that most of them were not going to make it.  In addition, I had to reconcile myself with the fact that many people who go into the social services to help others are pretty much fucked up themselves.

Then again, I met my best friend there, so it was well worth the negatives.

I did some performing; I was in a serious (though long-distance) relationship; I was involved with various Asian groups and had some of my essays published by one of said groups; I moved to California and got my MA in Writing & Consciousness.  

Those are the major highlights.  Oh, and I got my boys.  No, they aren’t an accomplishment, but they have added so much to my life, I felt I had to mention them.  

However, along the way, I came to believe that I was unlovable, unworthy, and unwanted.  I mean, I’ve felt that way much of my life, but it all culminated after my last ex engineered it so that I would break up with him because he was too wussy to do it himself.  Then, I found out that he found my love tiresome because he posted it on his LiveJournal online.  Funny, he never told me that, but he posted it online.  

I have the misfortune of having exes say the one thing I never thought I’d hear from them.  With D, it was that he never loved me.  With, let’s call him John (after John Cage as he, my ex, is into that kind of music), it was that my love was…I think the word was tiresome though it may have been wearying or something to that effect.  I am always afraid that my love will consume someone else.  I don’t love easily or very quickly, but when I do, I love deeply and completely.  Well, almost completely.  I always hold a tiny corner of myself back–I don’t want to be utterly destroyed when the love ends. 

After John and I broke up, I froze up.  I am a fearful person, anyway, and to have the person I love be so done with me, well, that allowed the fear to burst on through.  While I appeared to get on with the business of living, I was actually pretty dead inside.  

For the past decade or so, I have been on ice, waiting for the right time to thaw.  The world wasn’t safe, you see.  There was no way for me to feel safe, and therefore, I withdrew.  

It hurt, you see.  Life hurt too much, and I was tired of crying.  It was easier to hide everything under a thick layer of numbness and depression than to really feel.  I wasn’t safe, per se, but I was the least exposed I could be.  Time passed, and one year elapsed into the next.  Inside, I despaired of ever leading a real life, a ful life, and not the half-life I had developed.  

So, now we come to today.  I finally cannot live the half-life any longer.  There is a bubbling inside of me that will not be ignored.  No matter how much I try to tamp down the emotions that are percolating inside, they keep rising to the surface.   You know what?  They all have to do with desire.

I want to have a meaningful job that I feel contributes to the well-being of society while simultaneously allowing me to be self-sufficient.  I long to get back into theatre, especially musical theatre.  I never feel as alive as I do when I’m on stage.  And, the one I keep trying to push further down:  I want to date.  I say this with surprise because for the most part, I have no use for dating.  I want sex, but then again, I always want sex.  However, now I find that I want to have dinner and a few laughs with someone as well as engaging in mind-blowing sex.  Then, I can send the person home and return to my solitude.  This actually seems attractive to me!  It’s hard for me to acknowledge that I wouldn’t mind a little companionship (and a hell of a lot of sex).  

So.  With all this burbling, I have noticed an overwhelming sense of grief that surges through me from time to time.  I realized that I have to let go of the coping skills that have gotten me this far.  Hey, they may not have been the healthiest coping skills in the world, but they kept me alive.  I have to acknowledge that I would be dead if it weren’t for the numbing effect of depression, the comfort of overeating/starving, and an array of other unhealthy behaviors.  

So.  While they are no longer needed, and, indeed, are dying out, they have served me for such a long time.  I am feeling somewhat bereft at the thought of them leaving.  Part of my grief is knowing that in order to truly live, a big part of who I have been must die.  A bigger part of my grief is for the lost part of my life.  I wasted fifteen years because I afraid.    I was afraid of rejection.  I was afraid of looking stupid.  I was afraid of failure.  I was afraid of success.  I was afraid that people would see the real me and be disgusted.  I was afraid that I couldn’t contribute anything of worth to the world.

I don’t want to waste any more of the life I have left to live being afraid.

6 Responses to An Elegy for…Me

  1. Minna I think you know I have been burying all my big “fraids” for a while now. Its hard chica.
    Many of our issues resonate with others and we aren’t as alone as it feels. I have written about this new way for a while now and the hardest part for me is definitely the feeling of vulnerability from being open to possibilities.
    Get the bitter out of the way and believe and make room for the sweet.

  2. I was right with you, whabs, until the last sentence. This is what is so difficult for me to do.

  3. I’m glad you’re ready to embrace changes, to try living again. It’s a tough road, and I’m on it too. I would bet money that you are a stronger person today than you were the last time you were seriously hurt. But you’re better able to protect yourself now. The fact that you see those old coping skills for what they were is a good indicator. You have my enthusiastic support in whatever way I can help, even if I cannot do much. And isn’t that the way it should be? You can do it!

    I also want to pass on one small piece of advice that was given to me. Some parts of your past will die and fall away – good riddance! But part of your past self won’t die, and shouldn’t. You’ll just need to develop a new relationship to that part (those parts?).

  4. Choolie, thanks for all your support. I am not so sure I am ready to change; it’s not really my choice at the moment. Change or die. It’s pretty much that simple.

    P.S. I know that not all of me will die off, and that’s as it should be. It would really suck if I completely lost my crush on Alan Rickman.

  5. It doesn’t sound like those were coping skills, but rather a shell, a protective shell. Many of us learn to deal with our fears every day, fear of rejection, fear of not being able to achieve what we try to achieve, afraid of being judged, etc etc etc.

    Some of us have seen you and feel like we have seen the real you. I have had private exchanges with you, I have read what you have written, I have seen you care and outrage and expound. You are brilliant, a talented writer, a caring, generous friend, funny and heartwarming and supportive, you care passiontely about what you care about, nothing seems to be halfway for you. You have shown us (your group of internet friends) the real you that is safely hidden behind this computer screen. Now just let it come out.

    I will mourn with you, but not really. I know how positive it is to leave certain parts of ourselves behind and break out of our shells. Go for it and believe in the best of yourself. You will stumble, maybe fall once in a while, maybe hear something negative, but truly focus on the positive, the friends around you, each success, and go for it!

  6. Jamie, to be fair, I never said they were GOOD coping skills. But, as I said, they allowed me to survive until now.

    You speak the truth about facing the fears daily, but, oh, sometimes, I am a coward at heart. Thank you for all your support. I am grateful.