Monthly Archives: June 2010

Lady of the Evening

In another life, I would have been a concubine who had nothing to do but think of ways to sexually satisfy her master.  In another life, I would have been a geisha, taught seventy-six ways to please a man without even touching him.  In another life, I would have been the last wife, the one who was strictly there for pleasuring her husband in his dotage.  In another life, I would have been a courtesan who had all the time in the world to be witty, sexy, scintillating, and above all, nurturing.

See, in this life, I have had the equivalent training, and, quite frankly, I’m damn good at it.  I am witty and charming and sexual, and I know how to focus my attention on someone to make him feel like he’s the only person in the world.  I am a good listener, and I like listening to people–which is an added bonus.

I’ve always been the anomaly–the freak.  I’m the girl you don’t take home to mother.  And, quite frankly, I can understand why.  Let’s face it–I’m not really ‘meet the mother’ material.   I’m the good-time girl, not the ‘until death or divorce do we part’ kind of gal.

I have only broken up with one partner in my life–the first one.  After that, I got dumped by every person I dated–and even some I was just fucking.  Now, to be fair, I was pretty messed up in my twenties, so I only went for people who wouldn’t commit to me.  I thought I didn’t deserve to be in a relationship, so I picked people who only reinforced my negative belief.  Then, once I got dumped, I could nod my head grimly and say, “See, I was right.  I am unlovable.”

Of course, much of this was because I had my own ambivalence about whether or not I wanted to be in a committed relationship.  Over the years, my ideas about monogamy, nonmonogamy, sex as love, sex as sex, morality and lack thereof have fluctuated wildly.  The idea of being with one person and only one person for the rest of my life felt uncomfortably restrictive to me.  Plus, given what I’ve seen of my mother’s relationship with my father, it’s no wonder that I thought marriage was a crock of shit.  No way I was gonna be a doormat the way my mom was.  Better not to be in a relationship at all than to be that.

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Getting Off the Merry-Go-Round

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.

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Not Your Average Father’s Day Greeting Card

Ed. Note: This is a Father’s Day post only in name only.  There will be no praising my father or talking about how great he is or how I wish I could hug him right now.  In other words, this is not a Father’s Day post at all.

I did not send my father a card today.  I did not call him.  I did not acknowledge him in any way.  I was going to last night (after I napped from midnight until four in the morning), but when I sat at my computer to send him an e-card, I just couldn’t do it.  Something inside me rebelled (again!), and I ended up not doing anything.

I thought my mom would comment today, but she didn’t.  Frankly, she’s probably scared to bring it up because of my mention in the epic letter to her of “family dysfunctions, especially when the four of us get together” as a reason that she saw me as so unhappy.   And, to be honest, I have no idea if my father even realizes it’s Father’s Day without her around to remind him.

Normally, I ignore Father’s Day.  I ignore all the treacly commercials talking about how wonderful fathers are.  I ignore all the Happy Father Day wishes on FB or whatever, and I go merrily about my way.  Sure, I either feel icky because I grudgingly sent my father an e-card or guilty because I didn’t, but other than that, the day didn’t really register in my mind one way or the other.  I am not married, and I don’t have kids, so I don’t have to grapple with Father’s Day for that reason.  I don’t even have a partner who considers himself a dad to my cats (by the way, I do not consider them my kids, though other people, including my mom, call them that), so there isn’t that bit of fun to deal with, either.

In other words, I have no reason to pay any attention to Father’s Day.  However, for some reason, it is chafing me this year.  I don’t know what it is, but every time I read something telling me how great fathers are, it  irritates the fuck out of me.

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Just Say No


Can you say the word no out loud?  Easy, isn’t it?  No.  Two letters.  It’s a very useful word.  I can use it in just about every capacity except one–I have a really hard time saying no to my family.   Well, really, I have a hard time saying no to anyone, but especially to my family.  As I have blogged about before, it’s verboten, and it’s ingrained, so I have had a hell of a time trying to break through this particular wall.

Just to recap, for most of my life, I didn’t feel as if I had a right to be alive.  I thought that I was born into the world under a heavy debt, and no matter how many good deeds I did, I could never pay off said debt.  Somehow, I began thinking that doing everything other people wanted me to do would help pay off my bad karma.  The problem was, I was garnering the negative karma points faster than I was able to do good.  It felt hopeless to me. I felt as if I was failing, failing, failing.

Add to that the indoctrination I had received as a child that I was supposed to cater to my father’s whims and be my mother’s confidante, and I was destined to be a yes-woman–albeit a grudging one.  I seethed with resentment with every yes wrest from my lips.  I radiated my disapproval, but apparently, I am better at hiding my resentment than my father was.  Or, for that matter, better than my SIL is right now.  At any rate, I would be fuming on the inside as I went about whatever it was that the person had asked of me.  I would be tense the entire time (especially if the event occurred in my brother’s house).

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I Can’t Fucking Say That!

I had my therapist session today.  We discussed many things, but the part that really stuck out for me was this.  I was talking about how I was worrying over Father’s Day.  I don’t want to send my father a card, but I usually do.  In addition, with my mom being here, she’ll probably want me to talk on the phone with him as well.  Needless to say, that is not high on my list of things I want to do.

Ed. Note: The above was written yesterday.  The rest of the post will be written today, tomorrow, whenever.  My therapy appointment was on June 9th.

I worry about shit like that until I am miserable.  It will run around in my head until it’s all I can think about.  I was telling my therapist how I had no interest in doing either, but I don’t know how to tell my mother that.  Several years ago, I stopped sending my father any birthday cards or Father’s Day cards (fun fact.  In Taiwan, they have a Father’s Day, August 8th, because August is the eighth month, and eight is ‘ba’ in Taiwanese, so ba-ba would be father (using different tones), but no Mother’s Day), and my mother informed me that my father was very hurt by this.

That’s the way our family rolls.  My mother relays a message guaranteed to exacerbate a situation under the guise of trying to ameliorate a situation.  Does she actually think she’s helping?  I don’t know.

Anyway, I brought it up to my therapist, and she said, “Minna, I want you to think about saying something like this.  “Mom, Father’s Day is very difficult for me because of my issues with Dad.  I do not know if I will be sending Dad a card or calling him on the phone.  Please don’t push me to do either.”

My response?  “Fuck, no!  I can’t say that!”

Therapist:  “Which part?”

Me:  “Any of it!”

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She’s Coming Undone

smirkI am slowly coming to the realization that much of what I believe about myself and my family is, well, for a lack of a better word, shit.  Let me explain (what, you thought you could stop me?).  My family mythos consisted of a perfect-looking family with highly-educated immigrant parents who work their asses off to give their kids a chance at a better life in a country renowned for its freedom, advantages, and dreams.  Well, I knew that was horseshit awhile ago, but I still clung to the belief that family was everything, blood was thicker than water, that I owed my parents everything.  Yeah, sure my relationship with my father was strained, and I hated it when he touched me at all, but doesn’t everyone go through that with their families?  As for my mother, yes we fought.  Yes, we didn’t agree on much of anything.  Yes, she threw me out of the car (not literally) when I told her I didn’t give a fuck about her god, but again, doesn’t everyone daughter struggle with her mother?  We were close under it all–or so she kept telling me.  I never felt close to her, but I always attributed that to my lack of trying.  Or something.

About three years ago, I saw my father for the first time in a long time, and I was shocked at how old and frail he was.  The thought that flashed through my mind was, “He can’t hurt me any more.”  This was as I started to have images of abuse resurface, and I wasn’t able to stuff them back into a corner of my mind any longer.  It was then that I realized exactly what my father was, and I lost much of my anger towards him.  What’s more, I lost any desire to have a real relationship with him, and I let go of the dream that I would ever have a father.  Granted, he wasn’t much of a father for most of my life, so it wasn’t that difficult to let go of any hope that he would shape up into one, but it was still a loss.

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Through a Looking Glass, Darkly

In the few days that my mom was home (she’s at a conference right now in CO.  She’ll be back Monday), I learned some not-so-pleasant things–about myself.  As most of you know, I really really really like my space.  Lots of it.  All around me.  Most of the time.  Silence, except for whatever noise I choose.  It’s pure bliss.  So, it should come as no surprise that I’ve been gritting my teeth while being around my mother.  Now, I think this would be true of anyone.  I hated having a roommate in college, and I didn’t like living in a house with other people in California.  I got along with most of the inmates, and I really dug Josie, a Taiwanese-American who is ten years younger than I am and reminds me a bit of me when I was younger, but I still was painfully aware when there was someone in my side of the house.  Of course, that could partly be because one of the people was the landlord, who was an odd duck (and somewhat creepy) and the other one was a guy upon whom I had a crush–against my will.  Let me tell you, it’s agony to want someone you’re not particularly attracted to in real life.

Anyhow, I’ve never lived with a romantic partner, so I don’t know if that would be a different situation.  I have a hunch it strongly depends on the partner and where I am in my own life at that point.  Down the road, way the fuck down the road.

So, that’s not the realization, of course, but it exacerbates the difficulties I have with my mother.  There are some people with whom I can be in the same room for a great length of time, and it doesn’t bother me.  She is not one of those people.

I have many issues with her, but so far, I’m uncomfortably aware that the things that really really really irritate me about her are things I do myself.  Oh, the burn!  Alex S. likes to say that parents know how to push our buttons because they installed them.  I would add to that that they also install some of our coping mechanisms, be they healthy or not.  Especially be they not.

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