Goddamn It, I was So Fucking Close

I almost made it through the day without snapping.  I was sofuckingclose.  Five more minutes, and I would have made it through the day without snapping at my family.  I had tucked myself pretty much away for the day, and I had made it through the family reunion dinner as best as possible, and….

I fucking snapped.

Let me start at the beginning.

Today, got up around seven.  Poked around in the room for a bit, discovered I had internet capacity, and YAY!  I’m off and running.  Bro comes by and walks into my room without knocking and announces he wants to take a walk around the block before my mom comes at nine-thirty.  I say fine, but I am not very happy about the unannounced barge-in, especially as he did not close the door on the way out.

Oh, wait.  I have to start at the very beginning.

Last night, my dad came to pick us up with his driver (yes, he has a driver).  My mom stayed behind at the guest house because there wasn’t enough room in the car for her.  She got the keys to the rooms ahead of time, and then she ‘fixed up’ the rooms for us.  Which meant she was in my room before I was.  Then, my father trooped into the room last night as did my bro, so any thoughts of it being mine alone went out the window.

OK.  Back to today.  Bro, niece, and I walked around a bit and got back in plenty of time to meet my mother.  And father, apparently.  They changed the itinerary.  We had a fabulous breakfast of sticky rice before strolling around Tai Da (National University) campus.  Then, my dad went off to work, and the driver took us up a mountain to a sculpture museum.  It was really fucking cool.  Ju Ming, the artist, has done all these sculptures of different things, including people doing tai chi.  This, for me, was the best part of the day.

Before that, however, I had to endure my mom talking nonstop all the way up the mountain (about a forty-five minute drive).  She would talk talk talk, sometimes repeating the same information, and then be silent for ten seconds before starting up again.  Then my brother would join in.

You have to understand.  I spend ninety percent of my time alone.  This means that I pretty much control the noise ratio around me (except for my cats, of course).  I am not used to having to listen to someone talk and talk and talk.

So, ok.  The Ju Ming Museum was fucking cool.  Then, my brother wanted to see the crematorium/storage place across the street.  So, we went.  It was ok, but it wasn’t that exciting to me.  Plus, my mother was exclaiming very loudly in English how expensive the spots were, and my brother almost took a picture of a urn that was just about to be interred.  In other words, they were acting like goddamn tourists.

We spent three hours at the museum.  Then, about a half hour at the crematorium.  Then, we went to the ocean shore (which was fucking amazing) where my brother and niece wanted to walk and walk and walk.  Now, keep in mind that I have been pretty damn sick for a month and a half.  In addition, I am fat and out-of-shape.  Going from doing no exercise to walking from ten in the morning until five at night is pretty much guaranteed to hurt.

So, then my mother wanted to take us back to her condo to show it to us.  Fine.  She and my brother have pretty much talked the entire time we are in the car.  Y’all know that I am verbose, but I barely said anything because I was just barely functioning at this point.  Oh, I did do one thing to help myself earlier on at the ocean shore.  At one point, I sat down on a bench and told them to pick me up on the way back.  At first, my mom was going to stay with me, but then she decided to go with them.  So, I got a much-needed twenty minutes to myself.

OK.  Back at the hotel, my mom says, “Which room can I stay in until dinner?”  I said, “My brother’s.”  Dinner started at six-thirty, and went about as well as can be expected.  However, I kept thinking as I looked at the cousins, “They are all so much more accomplished and established than am I.”  In addition, the two single female cousins are fucking thin and gorgeous.  Actually, most of the women in Taiwan are thin and gorgeous–and they all try to look exactly the same.  Oversized sweater over really skinny pants/tights.

And yes, I am a freak in Taiwan.  I think it’s partly because of my tats, but it’s also because it’s the coldest weather they’ve had in years (around fifty/sixty Fahrenheit), and I was walking around in a short-sleeve shirt and no jacket.

At dinner, there were about twenty of us.  My dad got up to say the prayer, and I felt a flash of anger so intense, I had to clench my hand very tightly in order not to do something stupid.

So.  Fine, dandy.  I make it through the dinner.  It’s nine-thirty at night, and I’m almost home-free.  Except, my parents follow us up the stairs to our rooms.  My niece is sleeping in her and my bro’s room, and my bro wants to show my dad the pics from the day.  My dad demands I open my room so he can use the toilet, and as he is doing that, I tell my mom that I don’t want my bro showing Dad the pics in my room.  She asked if it’s because I’m tired, and I said, “No, it’s because I need my space.  I need some alone time.  I have been around you guys since nine in the morning, and I am used to being alone.”  My dad comes out of the bathroom and sits on the bed right where I had been sleeping the night before and tells my mother to use the bathroom.  I am frozen in my seat as I see him sitting on my bed.  I am seven again, and all I can do is feel the fear of that seven-year-old girl.

My brother comes back in with his laptop and spots that I am on FB.  He says, “Oh, you can show him.  They’re on my FB wall.”  I said, “That’s not what I am doing.  And, I don’t want you showing him the pictures in my room.”

My bro:  “Oh, there’s only a few.  I’ll show him over here.”  So he brings the laptop over to my father and starts showing him the pics.  I am in tears at this point as my mother comes out of the bathroom.   I made a comment about no one listening to me, and she said he doesn’t know (meaning my dad.  Automatically defending him).  I said I told my brother, and he just blew me off.  Once they are done, they start talking about when Mom will come to pick us up in the morning.  Mom asks if nine is ok, and Dad says, “Nine is fine.”  Mom, “I’m asking them.”  Dad, “Nine-fifteen is fine.  Minna says she got up at seven.”  I said sharply, “Just because I get up at seven doesn’t mean that I want to do anything at a certain time.”  And, the motherfucker laughed at me.  He laughed at me.  He said as he was laughing, “Ooookay.”

I lost it.  I just lost it.  My mom said, “Nine-fifteen?”  I said, “Whatever.”  She said, “Minna’s tired.”  I yelled, “I am NOT tired.  I want you to get out of my room because I NEED my space and my alone time.”  They were stunned as they left.  I was in tears as I locked the door behind them.  I felt like a shithead for being such a bitch, and now I can once again vie for the worst fucking daughter in the world.  Worst sister, too, apparently.

Here’s the thing.  I don’t know how to say firmly, but effectively, “I need this much time alone.  If I don’t get it, the result is ugly, as you saw tonight.  In addition, you are not respecting my needs when you so cavalierly dismiss what I say.  Stop doing that.”  I have regressed into the role of  stupid daughter whom no one takes seriously.

And, I had a few quick flashbacks while being around my father, which further reduces me to nothing.

This is taking a lot out of me.  It’s reminding me of how inadequate I am and how…disappointing I am to my parents.  Probably to my brother right now, too.

When we were at the ocean shore, the ocean called to me.  I stared out at the mighty waves, and I felt the ocean in my soul.  She was telling me to join her, to step across the red line and to be free of all the fucking bullshit of the world.  I envisioned dropping my purse, weighting down my body as did Virginia Woolf, and then walking into the Pacific Ocean, my spiritual home.  A sense of peace filled me as I thought about it.  The demons showed up to whisper in my ear, “Go ahead, you know it’s what you really want to do.”  The damnedest thing is that they were right.  I really wanted to walk into the ocean and never come out again.  I had to fight with everything I had not to give in to the urge.  I don’t know how many more times I can resist the siren song.

P.S.  Here are the pics.  My bro tabbed the album as open to public so all should be able to view it.

13 Responses to Goddamn It, I was So Fucking Close

  1. I don’t think I’ve ever been at a family function where I didn’t revert to my 8 to 12 year old self.

  2. I addressed some of this in our email exchange, so I won’t bore you by repeating myself. =) I’ll stick with other stuff instead.

    The ocean does indeed have a strong pull. But listen carefully to her: she is not an escape, and she is not inviting you to abuse her strength in order to avoid finding your own. She is offering to aide you in the process. She is telling you to seek her out, to let her help you, and that she is there for you, just like she is always there for me. But she isn’t welcoming you into her depths, Minna.

    You may well need to get more assertive in this journey; and that’s ok if you do. One thing from my email that I will repeat is the fact that if they already think crappy thoughts about you, and nothing you do can change it, then taking what you need isn’t going to make it worse. Do it.

    Stand strong. We’re here with you.

  3. It sounds like you did really well under the circumstances.

    You didn’t hit anyone (I know, I know, you’ve got a week ahead of you) and you *did* assert yourself.

    I know it feels uncomfortable, but it’s the right thing to do. Doing it smoothly is less important for you than doing it at all. Hopefully it will get a little easier to do (and it wouldn’t hurt to have your family be a little afraid of you at this point… maybe they’d listen).

    Your family is (metaphorically) beating you up enough right now… don’t help them do it.

  4. I probably would have yelled at them a lot earlier than you did. And then walked off.

    You have every right to need some alone time. You’re an adult. They don’t acknowledge it or respect it.

  5. Thanks everyone else for your excellent comments. You family showed absolutely no respect for your space. Boundary issues! But after you yelled at them, I bet that they stay out of your room. Keep your door locked. It will help.

    Sometimes yelling is the only thing that will get through to some people. You are NOT the worst daughter/sister! You stoically put up with everything else that day. And you have a right to expect some respect – you ARE an adult. I had to do my share of yelling before my parents realized I wasn’t still a six-year-old.

    BTW – liked the picture of you doing Squatting Single Whip in front of the statue. That is a really cool sculpture. And glad you had three full hours at the museum you were excited about!

  6. Cleo, I know! I vow to be mature, and every fucking time, down I slide.

    Kel, very true on both accounts. It’s hard for me to let go of the fairytale that if I just STFU, the family would be…a family. There is some cultural clash going on here, but it’s also just a matter of them not taking me seriously.

    Alex, you are right, too. Setting boundaries and stating me needs is going to be uncomfortable and frightening at first because I have been trained not to do that and to take what I am given.

    I am just so tired of being the ‘bad’ daughter, even though I know there is no way I can be a ‘good’ one without completely abnegating the essence of me.

    Jim, I can’t see you yelling at anyone–you’re a pretty even-keeled guy. However, you are right that I am an adult (nominally, anyway) and should be treated like one. Which means repeatedly requesting to be treated like one over and over and over again until it happens.

    Choolie, yeah. It is about the respect. I have a hard time locking my door for the same reason I have a hard time saying no to my family. It’s just not supposed to be done. The training is fierce and deep and so fucking hard to break. Gotta remember what my therapist told me–every little deviation from the script will feel crazy. I just have to live in crazy for awhile.

    P.S. I did the pic just for you. We switched plans and are going to the National Palace Museum today, but yesterday’s museum was fucking cool, too.

  7. Minna, your experiences don’t make you nothing. You are not the worst sister / daughter if you don’t agree to be the only person who gives, the only person who subordinates herself and her needs to the others. Boink that.

    You have to be true to yourself, Minna. You have to be what you need and want to be. If that’s disappointing to your family, I know that you have to deal with the fallout, but it’s *their problem*, not yours. And it says a hell of a lot less of them if they can’t perceive what a fine person you are.

    You’ve put up with this stuff plenty, and I admire you for it. Now you’re an adult, and only you can allow anyone else to set the rules if you don’t want it that way. Hang in there.

  8. One more thing. If the so-called “siren song” is really that strong, you need to call your therapist de pronto. Or someone.

  9. hehe,
    I told you “STFU or I’ll punch you in the face!” sounded good.
    I think it’s good you set some boundaries, now you just have to figure out how to do it BEFORE your own snapping point, and how to do it in a way that doesn’t leave you feeling like shit for being a bitch.
    I’m glad to see you’re blogging. 😀

  10. We can help be your gauge for what just FEELS crazy. Locking your door – NOT crazy. Having to yell at family when reasonable requests are ignored – NOT crazy.

  11. The way you said it in your blog IS how to say it, “I need this alone time and…if I don’t get it will get ugly (not exact quote).” If they don’t get this or respect this, then throw in the ugly if needed and it’s THEIR FAULT, not yours…their worst behavior, not yours. Also, can you pull your bro to the side and see if he can be an ally if you explain some basic needs/ feelings to him in private? Also, also that’s a REALLY LONG day for anyone!!! And as for that ocean…jump in, swim naked, but you goddamn better get back out and hug me when you get home! I’ve got your one drink and a few cigs waiting for you and I to sit down and talk. Love to my BEST friend in the whole world–and I have really fuckin’ high standards:)

  12. Gregory, I try to keep that in mind (that it’s not reasonable for them to expect me to cede everything about myself in order to be tolerated), but it’s so deeply ingrained in me, it’s hard for me to rebel at all (I know, the irony, right?). it’s hard for me to believe that who I am really matters at all. Today was a much better day than was yesterday, though, so we shall see.

    As for the siren-song…yeah, I know.

    whabs, I came really close to using that mantra. I hope one day I can figure out how to not reach the snapping point before deciding to exert myself.

    Choolie, thanks, for the affirmation that I am not batshitcrazy. I certainly feel that way from time to time.

    Kat, hey, you. Always good to hear from you. Yeah, it was a really long day. It’s how my family rolls on vacation. I really need you here to stand in for me to do the “I need my space” speech. I love you and I miss you. I’ll see you when I get back.