I am my father’s daughter.
Part of my depression has been an attempt to squelch this knowledge, but now it’s time to openly talk about it.
I get my writing and performing talents from my father. Early on, I can remember going to Taiwanese parties (many, many, many Taiwanese parties) and watching my dad perform on stage. He can sing; he can do Taiwanese puppetry; he can act. Now, while I don’t do puppetry, I can do the rest. In fact, at one of the endless Taiwanese parties, I dressed up ‘punk’, was called Minna (said to rhyme with Tina) Turner, and I sang a Taiwanese song in a punkish-way. It was a huge hit.
Every since I can remember, my dad has been fighting for the independence of Taiwan. We marched in the streets of Minneapolis when I was a kid, and I remember my dad being interviewed by the local TV news during one such march. In Taiwan, he is the president of Taiwan’s Institute of Economic Research, and one of the first things he did when he took over was convert half of the men’s bathrooms into women’s bathrooms because the company is three-fourths women. He makes sure that bonuses are fair, and he refuses to live the ostentatious life that his predecessor had.
My father is a passionate believer is social justice. I get that from him as well. I see the inequalities in the world, and they drive me crazy. The difference is that he is in a position to actually do something about it whereas I am not.
If you met my father, you would be dazzled. You would not be able to help yourself because he is a charming and magnetic man. I had a boss at the county who was definitely not one to be snowed by anyone, and she was damn near swooning after my father left from visiting the office (after killing my computer. He affects electronics and other mechanical things negatively, but that’s another blog entry altogether), gushing about how handsome he was. I swear she sounded like a schoolgirl with a crush on a rock star.
My father takes it as his due to have all these people pay attention to him. Not just because he’s the president of an institute, but because he has that thing that makes people flock to him like moths to a flame. I have watched the havoc he has wreaked over the years because he wielded his charm indiscriminately, and I resolved never to do the same.
You see, I have that same thing, too. Magnetism, charm, charisma. Whatever you want to call it, I became aware of it sometime in my mid-to-late twenties. I probably had it before then, too, but I was too messed-up to register that I had it. When I did finally see that people, for some unfathomable reason, were drawn to me, I froze. I didn’t want to fuck up other people the way my father had. I didn’t want to cavalierly toss aside heart after heart without caring that I had destroyed a person in the process. I didn’t want to become a raging narcissist who thought that all the adoration was simply my due–a tribute from the mere peons to their idol.
In addition, I was terrified of the power he wielded so thoughtlessly. He had the women of our church hanging on his every word, willing to do anything to bask in the sunshine of his approval. They couldn’t see that he didn’t give a damn about them. It was the same with my boss who gushed over him. She would have been devastated to know that within two minutes of walking away, my father would have forgotten that he’d ever met her. She simply would not be important enough for him to remember.
When I started to get the same reactions, I rebuffed them pretty strongly. I clearly remember doing a performance in which I stripped to my panties (I was all skinny and hot then). During the intermission, a woman came up to me as I was chatting with my friends and said, her eyes shining with something, “Is this where we line up to bow down to the goddess?” She was half-kidding, but I could tell she was half-not. My immediate response was to run away because I was repulsed by the slavish adoration I saw in the woman’s eyes. I did NOT want to be worshiped in that manner.
I have issues with my father (BIG understatement, I know), so I have a hard time coping with the idea that so much of me comes from him. When I was in my strongest bout of bulimia, I learned that my father regularly made himself throw up after eating, too. He said it was because of the pain he’d get in his stomach (he has many stomach issues), but it floored me that it was another thing we had in common. You see, while most of my purging simply followed a binge, there were times when I threw up because the food was hurting my stomach.
I don’t want to be my father’s daughter. I don’t want to be anything like him, and yet, I have to acknowledge that I am more like him than not. In the last year or so, since I started participating in blogs, posting on FB, and writing my own blog, I have had to acknowledge that there is something about me that draws people to me. I have no idea what it is, exactly, but I can no longer deny that it’s true.
I am a lightning rod for people. When I comment on blogs, I am instantly liked and loathed at the same time. On BJ, there was a troll who went after me because he saw me as one of the prized members of the in-club there. I got so upset, I had to leave the thread, but I read it the next day, and the others swooped in to my defense. I still get emails from people on another blog I used to read and comment on, years ago, letting me know that I am missed.
I have friends of friends on FB wanting to friend me. Yesterday, I had a friend of an FB friend who became my friend through another FB friend (from a political blog) want to friend me. Since I keep my FB friends number steady (yes, it’s 69), I have become much pickier about whom I choose to friend.
People gravitate towards me. Again, I am not exactly sure why, but I am slowly starting to realize that just because I have a similar charisma as my father, it doesn’t mean that I have to use it in the same way.
You see, there is one big difference between my father and me. Whereas he doesn’t really give a damn about other people as individuals and only draws them to him because that’s his nature, I do. I don’t like people en masse, but individuals and their stories fascinate me. In part, it’s because I get much grist for my writing mill that way, but it’s also because I’m an empath. I feel other people’s pain and sadness and anger. I am almost driven to learn what makes other people tick.
Because I can feel other people’s emotions, I am exquisitely-aware that they have them. And, I do not like hurting a person whether it’s intentional or by negligence. Therefore, I try my hardest not to play the cruel games my father did (and he wasn’t even aware of it most of the time), and I haven’t left a trail of shattered souls in my path.
On a tangential subject, I was never aware of my sexual power. I was a loner and picked on when I was a kid–all the way to college. By the time I entered college, I was physically hot (so I’ve been told), but an emotional mess. I had many many male friends, but very few boyfriends. After we started dating, D told me that it was because all the guys with whom I was friends were too chickenshit to ask me out (thinking that I was out of their league), but I was skeptical of his hypothesis. I have another entry stewing in my head about the whole me being cool thing, but I will limit myself here and say, I was the polar opposite of cool as a kid. By the time I reached college, I firmly saw myself as a loser, so it didn’t matter what anyone else thought. Anyway, the idea that some guys were afraid of me or thought I was too cool to ask out was anathema to me. I mean, it was me! Dork, loser, and definitely uncool! WTF?
Then, Thailand. Then, sexuality on freeze. Then, my slut years. Now, you would think that during my slut years, I would have found my sexual power. No. Not true. My slut years were more about wanting to be found desirable and sexy and having sex with anyone I could because I didn’t think I could say no and because, more importantly, I felt validated every time someone chose to have sex with me. It didn’t matter if I wanted to have sex with that person or not–just the fact that someone, anyone wanted to have sex with me was enough.
I had lots of fun during my slut period, but it sprung more from a place of a need for validation than a true desire.
Fast-forward to now. As I wrote many paragraphs ago, I have begun to accept that I have the magnetism that my father has. I have even started to acknowledge that having the same charm does not mean I have to use it in the same destructive manner that my father did. Taking it even one step farther, I have a similar sexual lure that my father has. Again, I don’t understand it, but I know that other people find me sexy. I have to admit that this is true. Admit, as if it’s a bad thing.
Now, I want to experiment with my sexual powers in an ethical way. I want to flirt because it feels good and not because I need validation. I want to choose my sexual partners based on my attraction to them–and not how much they are attracted to me. I want to be free to say yes or no to sex based on, simply, whether I want to have sex or not with that/those person/s.
In addition, I want to be a bit selfish in that I get to define the parameters of the sex I will be having. I am not going to just go along with someone else’s agenda because, hey, I don’t have to. The biggest thing I need to understand is that if I don’t have sex with person A, there’s always persons B-Z, and then double up on the letters. There is not a shortage of sex to be had, so I don’t have to settle. I don’t have to answer the craigslist personal ad filled with misspelled words and a picture of a misshaped cock just because that person happens to be awake at four in the morning.
So, for now, I want to have a little fun with flirting and maybe having teh hawt sex if the opportunity arises. However, it’s liberating to know that I don’t have to jump through hoops to get it and that I can set my own terms rather than just accept whatever comes my way. In acknowledging my power, I can relax my death grip on my control.
I am my father’s daughter in so many ways. However, I get to decide what I want to keep from him and what I want to throw away. That is my power.