Things have been interesting in the Hong household lately. It started with that one little no to my mother–actually, it started with her letter to me before she came back, and it really started with my letter to her in return. Then, it continued with me insisting that we define our working relationship. If she wants me to do something by a certain time, she has to tell me and not make me guess.
Then, I said no to driving over to my brother’s, and that really loosened the flood-gates. A few days ago, he came over with the boys (my niece wanted to stay home with her mom, her mom’s friend, and her mom’s friend’s daughter, who is one of her (my niece’s) best friends), so that’s what they did.
The biggest difference, though, is that my mom and I are having honest conversations. I am losing my ability to dissimulate, and though I do mourn the loss, it is, overall, a good thing.
So. Last night she was telling me about two dreams she had. One had to do with me telling her I was getting married (go ahead and laugh. I did–inside) to someone who was introverted, scholarly, had a stable job, and was more conservative than am I (traditional, I think she meant, not politically conservative). She was relieved that I was marrying this guy, someone she thought of as a good man, because then I would have someone to take care of me. Now, my mom is a Jungian, which means she thinks that most of the people in one’s dream represents oneself. Or in the case of this dream, she thinks the marriage is actually an integration between my masculine and feminine side in search of a more perfect union.
The other dream was involved and complicated, but it had to do with her feeling there was a distance between us (true) and that my father was supporting me (false).
Then, she told me about another dream she had in which she lost the diamond to her twenty-year anniversary ring (from my father, naturally), and while she was looking for it, she found another diamond ring. The diamond was bigger and prettier, so she thought about keeping it. She didn’t, but she never found her diamond, either. She asked me what I thought of the dream, and I immediately said, “Divorce Dad and marry someone else.” We both laughed heartily, but she admitted that was her first interpretation as well.
Now, at this point, normally, we both would have backed away and just let the white elephant in the room loom between us. This time, however, she did not let it go. She reminded me that I had told her to divorce my father since I was a teenager. I said that was true. She asked if I still felt that way. I said it’s not really about me–it’s her decision. Then she asked the oddest question: “Would it make you happy if I divorced him?” I was flummoxed. I didn’t know what to say, but I finally told her that my happiness should not be a factor at all. It was her decision and her decision only.
You want to know the big reason I was so noncommittal? I mean, I actually do believe it’s her decision and whether she divorces him or not is actually tangential to my life. However, the biggest reason I did not answer was because I was not going to be pulled into that game again. When I was a teenager, she would tell me all the ways my father mistreated her. Hell, I could see half of them with my eyes. She was desperately unhappy with him, and she made sure I knew about it. At the end of her litany, I would beg her to divorce him. I was sure that life would be so much better with him out of the picture–and this was after the ages of molestation. I pleaded with her, but to no avail. She would always tell me that she couldn’t divorce him, and I would be devastated anew.
I’m not letting her do that to me again. Plus, I don’t want to be responsible for the decision, as in, “You told me to leave him” years later if it turns out horribly.
Bear with me.
In my therapy session today, I explored more of my feelings towards my father–and my mother. I realized that my father never wanted to be a husband or a father and that he did it because he thought it was what he was supposed to do. My therapist asked if I truly would be fine without him in my life. I thought about it and said, yes. Then I amended it. I would be fine with never seeing him again. I can deal with talking to him on the phone twice a year or so.
Then, I realized that the trip to Taiwan would have been much better if he hadn’t been in the picture at all. When my brother, my mother, and I get together, we work pretty well together. Throw my father into the mix, though, and everything goes to hell.
The thing is, I think my mom is inching towards talking about him. I have to give her credit that she is working with me to redefine our relationships; I think some of her own delusions are dissolving as well.
Anyway, when she talks about something standing between us, I want to say, “Yes–your husband.” I haven’t yet, but I feel like we’re closer to that point. After therapy, I went back home, picked up mom, and we went to the co-op. In the parking lot afterwards, an older gentleman from the army flirted with my mom. I pointed it out to her, and we got into a discussion of whether she would date a white guy if she were single. She said she would.
So, the foundation is there. But, as I said, I’m not going down that road again. Quite frankly, her relationship with my father is none of my business. It never should have been, and I really, really, don’t want to make it my business now.
Ed. Note: The prior paragraphs were written on June 23/24th. The following paragraphs are being written now–June 26/27th.
I talked to my therapist about this. I tried to explain how I didn’t know my father at all and how he didn’t know me. She said lots of people didn’t know their parents and vice-versa, but that didn’t mean they couldn’t have a close relationship–as long as there was love. I said immediately, “My father doesn’t love me. He’s not capable of it. I don’t love him, either.” I told her how when I was a kid, my father never went to any of my plays or recitals (though, I admit, I might be self-selecting to make it look worse than it is), and he only went to my graduations because he was supposed to go. He’s never read any of my fiction or showed any interest in it–or any of my writing, actually. Hell, he wanted me to get married in a motherfucking castle, for god’s sake. A castle!
Talking about my father with my therapist roiled me up. I had thought I had pretty much made my peace with my father, but I realize that I haven’t. I don’t fear him any more or hate him, but there is a quiet, seething anger that is steadily directed in his direction. It’s not as explosive as it once was, but it’s quite unsettling.
My mom had another dream about me. She’s been dreaming about me a lot. And, as I noted earlier, she is commenting on how there seems to be something between us. This is actually a huge step for her because in the past, she liked to pretend that we were BFF.
Maybe she’s realizing that every time she brings up my father, I answer tersely and never ask any follow-up questions. In the past, I would have asked questions because I would have felt I had to, but I don’t any more.
Through it all, I have been feeling really down. Shedding the past is necessary, but it’s not easy. I keep thinking about how much of my life I’ve wasted and how I’m middle-aged and have fuck-all to show for my life. All the things I coulda woulda shoulda but didn’t are eating away at me. I know it doesn’t help to focus on the regrets, but my mind tends to latch onto the negatives and not let go.
I feel like I’m still failing because I’m not making concrete movement on my goals. OK, the one goal of being self-sufficient. Oh, and the other goal of being published. I look at how far I have yet to go, and it gets me down. I try to think of it like the Taiji solo form. I mean, I started Taiji knowing nothing of this particular form. There are 150 postures in the form (many repeats, but still. There are over fifty original postures), broken up into three sections. I felt like I learned the first section fairly quickly, and then took an ungodly amount of time with the second and third sessions. All my own damn fault because I do not practice as I should, and I got frustrated with how slowly I was proceeding. However, once I ‘graduated’ from the form (and I use quotes because I don’t have it all memorized), I felt so damn good that I had stuck it out. And, when there is a new person in class and I see Julie teaching said person the beginning of the form, I realize how much I’ve actually learned.
Today, we did the whole form to music (which is just a fabulous way of doing the form). It takes approximately twenty minutes to do the whole form. There were maybe three or four postures near the end that I don’t get at all, but I at least know how to do the rest of the form. The steps were incremental from week to week, but taken as a whole, they are pretty impressive. Even if I still hate certain postures (fuck Fist Under Elbow!).
So, I try to look at my goals in the same manner. My goals are pretty serious ones, and I can’t expect to reach them in no time at all. I also can’t expect to go from having no job to be getting paid six figures to write crap for a national newspaper. It takes years of ass-kissing and stripping one’s brain of any rational thought to reach that exalted position. Still, I beat myself up for putting obstacles in my own way as I did in learning the solo form. Why the fuck do I always do things the hard way? I know it’s part of the coping skills I learned as a kid that no longer work, but I really wish I could just jettison them without a thought.
I am frustrated with myself. I feel fat and bloated and ugly and slothful and lazy and just ugh in general. I don’t know if it’s growing pains or what (maybe the fucking heat), but I really wish it would just leave me alone for a bit. I don’t need the Greek chorus in my head bleating about how terrible I am for not getting everything done RIGHT now. Choolie and I talked about the hamster wheel that keeps spinning in our minds. It starts out as, “I have ten things to do.” Then, I pick one. However, as I’m doing the one thing, the voices say, “You stupid fucking idiot! You still have these nine things to do!” Then, I don’t do any of them because I am so overwhelmed by all I have to do.
Then, of course, the voices are more vicious than ever.
I started writing fiction again for the first time in a long time. I don’t know why I don’t do the things that I enjoy more often. I think it’s partly because I feel if I’m not doing what I’m supposed to be doing (work, finding work, making money to buy my house, losing a bazillion pounds, finding a mate–no, it’s not a priority, but it’s making itself one, etc.), then I shouldn’t be doing what I want to do.
I dunno. I’m just sad and frustrated and worn out. Same as it ever was.