I got an email from my mother today. After imparting news, she informs me that after the ‘fun memories’ of my visit to Taiwan have faded, she and my father have gotten around to talking about me and my life. This is never a good thing. Never, ever, ever. She attached two letters to the email, one from her and one from my father. So, she wanted me to read her letter first, and then my father’s (because she’s a control freak like me, she has to direct the order in which I read the letters). With a sense of foreboding, I opened her letter.
In a nutshell, she talks about me becoming self-reliant, how I am grotesquely fat and negative in my outlook, and that while she is perfectly happy to continue our arrangement concerning the house, she would like to include as a stipulation that I spend an hour a day (or something like that) reading ‘life-affirming’ material, preferably the Bible. She closed with a Bible verse that she and my father particularly like. I will confess that I did not read the verse. I would also like to say that I don’t find the Bible to be particularly life-affirming, but that is neither here nor there.
Then, I opened my father’s letter. If I had a sense of foreboding before opening my mom’s letter, it’s nothing compared to what was going through me as I opened my father’s. His talked about our responsibility to society and the environment. Then, he basically called me a leech on society. He ended with, “We spent _______ money on your trip to Taiwan. A family in Taiwan could live ______ time off that amount. We were happy to do it, but are you happy?”
My immediate response was to get physically ill and go straight for that dark place that is deep within me. I have been struggling since returning to the States as to not giving into the darkness, and the letters from my parents may very well have pushed me over the edge. I already think I’m a fat, ugly, worthless piece of shit (though I have had moments where I’ve transcended that), and my parents reinforced every belief. As Alex likes to say, the reason our parents are so good at pushing our buttons is because they fucking installed them. OK, he might not have said fucking, but I’m sure he meant it. And boy, did my parents push every single goddamn button I have. Every one.
I cried. I am still crying. My second reaction was to hurt myself. I did. I burned myself. And damn it, yes, it felt good. And it felt like what I deserved. And it took away the mental anguish for a minute. And it soothed and comforted me. I know it’s not healthy, but at the moment, I don’t fucking care.
I want to die. I have to say it plainly. I want to die to stop the mental agony that I am experiencing. I want to die because I am in hell (in part of my own making), and I don’t know how to get the fuck out. I want to die because I am enmeshed with my family (a very particularly Asian thing), and I don’t have much hope that I can extract myself. I want to die because I still feel, under it all, that I should not have been born. Before I went to Taiwan, I felt it less and less, but with the advent of the flashbacks and all the family shit, I feel it more and more. I want to die because I am tired of trying to convince myself on a daily basis that I should live.
I have many friends for whom I am eternally grateful. Quite frankly, I wouldn’t have made it this far without you. Many days, I have held on simply because when I imagine my brother finding my body, I can’t stand it. Or Kiki. Or Natasha. And, when I think of my boys not getting fed for days, well, I can’t let that happen, either.
My parents have one valid point: I need to become self-reliant. My reasons for it, though, differ from theirs, I think. I need to do it so I can cut myself off from my parents. We are truly enmeshed in a way that is not healthy (though, pretty common for Asian people), especially not healthy for me. The problem is, as much as they say they want me to be self-reliant, they still find ways to undercut that. When I was in my mid-twenties, I thought about doing the waitressing/writer/actor routine. They came up with a million different reasons why I shouldn’t do it, but it basically came down to class issues.
It’s very Asian to put your children down. As I was growing up, I got to hear about so-and-so’s children who were doing such-and-such. I know this is common in general society, but it is exquisitely Asian in nature as well. As my Asian friend in SF, I’ll call her Josie, just commented to me, “It’s like they think they can guilt-trip their wayward children into being the productive, upstanding members of society that they want them to be.”
Like I said, they had exactly one valid point: I need to become self-reliant. Well, I am grotesquely fat, too. I will have to concede that point as well. Granted, I have asked my mom not to comment on my weight, but hey, you know. Whatever. Still, the longer I go without supporting myself, the more I doubt I’m able to do it. As I wrote about yesterday, for fifteen years, I systematically shrunk my world to the point where I could put it in my pocket. Now, I have to find a way to expand it again in a way that will get me the fuck on my own? How the fuck am I supposed to do that in five months? That’s when my mom is coming back for her annual visit. I had already planned on winnowing out things from my life (books, mostly), but now I have to completely change everything at one time. I don’t think I can do it.
The rest of the letters, no matter what the intent, completely wrecked me. I am in a very shaky place as it is. The little girl inside me is curling up again in the fetal position. The pain is reaching a point where I can’t tolerate it much longer. And, deep down, I have a hard time arguing the underlying premise of their letters: I am worthless. The little girl thinks I’m worth something, but like I said, the little girl is very battered right now.
I can list all the reasons I’m not worthless. Yes, I can intellectually grasp that I do add some value to certain people in my life. I just can’t emotionally access that knowledge right now. I was listening to diva songs all day long trying to summon my inner diva, and now, she seems like a figment of my imagination.
I have a therapy appointment on Wednesday. I am bringing the letters so my therapist and I can work through them, if that’s possible. Tears are again streaming down my face as I conclude this blog entry. I am fast losing the last remnants of hope that I can make it through this alive.