I hate when I’m in the car with someone and a song comes on that’s a duet and the person with me doesn’t automatically know that we will obviously be singing along as a duet like no you do not get to sing both parts who died and made you two people
i don’t really like humanity as a whole. i think people are selfish, greedy, lazy, manipulative, dishonest, and cruel. of course, there are exceptions, and i’ve met many of them. i want to believe that those people made me a better, stronger person or taught me valuable lessons that were crucial to my getting to where i am now in life.
however, i’ve also met people who possess many or all of those awful qualities, and i’ve unwittingly let them into my life. i’ll admit i’m a pretty damaged person, and a lot of it stems from those experiences. of all the people who’ve left scars on me, there are three whose actions towards me still resonate today.
1) my two best friends in first and second grade.
the sitch: let’s call them k and s. k was my first best friend — i met her in kindergarten, and we did everything together. she was the first person whose house i slept over at, the first person i talked about boys with, the first person who took me out boating. we were inseparable. in third grade, s transferred to our school. she was pretty, popular, and mature for our age (she had highlights and boobs!). i immediately became friends with her, because she was in my class. after a while, i decided to introduce s and k, who was in another class, so that the three of us could hang out. s and k immediately clicked, and less than a month later, they became the inseparable popular girls. they ignored me and made fun of me and spread rumors about me, and as a result i was largely shunned by the rest of my grade for the remainder of my time at that school.
what i learned: relationships never last. if you trust/invest in someone, you’re basically granting them permission to fuck you over later. since the s and k incident, i haven’t been able to let anyone get close to me for very long — all of my friendships have had an incredibly fast turnover rate. after a while i always start to push people away, because i’d rather be alone/break my own heart than give them the pleasure of doing so. i also try to keep all the facets of my life separate — i’ve never had one big group of friends, because i’m always afraid that if i introduce people they’ll end up fucking off with each other and forgetting about me. i hoard the people i care about out of fear of losing them to each other. i’ve been without a solid support group all my life because of that. i just don’t think i’m interesting enough that people would want to stay friends with me after they’ve used me for something, which kind of leads me to my next anecdote…
2) the boy i liked in seventh grade.
the sitch: like i said above, i lost any shred of popularity i had in elementary school when my best friends turned against me. as time wore on, i only became more uncool — i was smarter than my classmates, so i took advanced math and had to leave class two times a week to go to gifted school. i also had a very unfortunate lisp. still, there was this one boy, j, whom i’d been secretly crushing on for some time (along with the rest of my grade). he was one of the popular kids, and he had a reputation for being the bad boy of the bunch. one day i came back from gifted school during lunch and walked by his desk. i had just started wearing training bras, and i hadn’t really grasped the concept of not wearing thin, see-through shirts yet. as i passed, he grabbed the back of my bra, snapped it, and asked me why i was wearing a bra at all. he then told his friend that he’d never date asians because of their small boobs. the entire class heard, and i was completely humiliated and heartbroken.
what i learned: i’m ugly and i should be embarrassed about the way i look. i avoided dating and hooking up all through high school and college because i didn’t love myself. my first relationship was online, my second barely lasted a few weeks before i got scared off by the idea of being physical. i was terrified to be intimate with anyone because i couldn’t handle being rejected. i sneered at couples and the idea of marriage to make myself feel better. anytime i started developing feelings for someone i suppressed them to protect myself. i didn’t go out, because i felt hideous compared to my friends and couldn’t bear being overlooked by guys looking to pick up girls. even now, when i’m a lot more comfortable with my body, i still feel suffocated by my insecurities. in my most recent relationship i was constantly comparing myself to the girls my boyfriend hung out with and telling myself they were so much prettier than me, that he would leave me the moment they showed any signs of receptivity. j’s immature comment dealt a huge, lasting blow to my confidence and sense of security in a relationship, and i don’t know if i’ll ever fully recover.
3) my father.
the sitch: my dad is really into the notion of a traditional chinese family — patriarch as the primary decision maker, wife as the silent sidekick, children as the little slaves who spend their lives studying for test after test so they can rake in mountains of cash when they grow up. he’s also immensely stubborn, opinionated, and quick to anger — all traits he passed onto me. as a result, we’ve never gotten along. when i was a child he used to always push me to do better in school, because even my high level of achievement wasn’t good enough for him. he’d yell at me until i got an insanely math problem right. when i struggled, he punished me verbally. he’d tell me i was stupid and a failure, that his friends’ children were so much more successful. he’d say he was embarrassed of me. our relationship became even more strained during my sullen teenage years. he and my mom worked all the time, and in the rare hours i’d see him, he’d always criticise every decision i made, compare me to my smarter, more motivated friends, and just yell at me for no particular reason. i was never good enough for him because i didn’t get into harvard, i didn’t get high enough grades, i was disrespectful and ungrateful, i was too emotional… you name it, i didn’t do it well enough. i never had a father (or even a mother, really) who i could talk to when i was feeling down or needed encouragement, because encouragement wasn’t in my parents’ vocabulary. eventually i just shut him out. he became a stranger to me, and that’s the way it’s been ever since.
what i learned: to take everything personally and always blame myself when things go wrong, because no matter how hard i try, i’ll never be good enough. i’ve always felt like one of seligman’s dogs — beaten down, helpless, and tired of trying to rise above the rest of the pack when it’s clear i’m just average. i strove for perfection in everything i attempted, and when i didn’t reach that level, i gave up, because effort means nothing if it doesn’t pay off. everything in my life had to be the best. obviously that can never happen, and instead of telling myself to be realistic, i told myself i’d failed. and not just failed in a general sense — failed because i couldn’t do it, i made a mistake down the line, i wasn’t perfect enough. thanks to my dad i can never be happy with my life, because what i have will never be enough.
I don’t know… This could break my heart or save me. Nothing’s real until you let go completely, so here I go with all my thoughts I’ve been saving, so here I go with all my fears weighing on me. Three months and I’m still sober. Picked all my weeds but kept the flowers but I know it’s never really over and I don’t know, I could crash and burn but maybe at the end of this road I might catch a glimpse of me so I won’t worry about my timing, I want to get it right. No comparing, second guessing, no not this time. Three months and I’m still breathing. Been a long road since those hands I left my tears in but I know it’s never really over, no. Wake up. Three months and I’m still standing here. Three months and I’m getting better, yeah. Three months and I still am. Three months and it’s still harder now. Three months I’ve been living here without you now. Three months and I’m still breathing. Three months and I still remember it. Three months and I wake up.
we’ve been working on this study about caregivers at work, and for the past two weeks i’ve been watching focus groups with caregivers who care for loved ones with serious illnesses. today i visited some of the patients of those caregivers in their homes. during the course of the 11 hour endeavour, i learned two really important things:
1) my life is not over. ever since i graduated i’ve felt like my life has been slowly flatlining. i wake up at the same time everyday, work for 8 hours, go to the gym, come home, watch TV, and go to sleep. even though i love my job, it’s kind of sad to feel so lonely and hopeless all the time. but my coworker, who’s been through all of this, told me that my life is just beginning. i may think i have it all figured out, but i don’t. there’s so much left to learn about everything — myself, friendships, relationships. i can’t let myself sink right now. anytime i feel like i have nothing to look forward to i need to do something… pick up a hobby, travel somewhere, meet someone new. the job i have right now is not the be all and end all. the city i live in right now is not where i have to plant my roots. the person i’m with right now is not the person i’m meant to be with. i can’t let myself give up at 22. i’m smart, passionate, driven, and relatively attractive, and there’s so much happiness left for me to discover.
2) there is such a thing as true love. all my life i’ve been so cynical and dismissive towards the idea of love. i never really believed it existed, even after i thought i fell in love. the past month i’ve been particularly bitter, and i really, really didn’t i’d ever find that one person everyone tells me i’ll meet one day. but after hearing these patients talk about their caregivers (and vice versa) i’ve realised that true love is very much real. one guy called his caregiver and girlfriend of 17 years his soulmate. another called his wife incredibly special and said he’d be lost without her. both of them spoke about their partners with so much reverence that i wanted to cry, because i would kill for that — for someone to love me so much that he can’t imagine a life without me. but the point is, there’s someone out there for everyone. someone will love you unconditionally through the good times and the bad. and i know i’ll find that someone one day… i know he’s waiting for me and that when i find him, he’ll make me a better, happier person than i ever knew i could be. i know he’ll be patient and selfless and hold me so tight i can barely breathe when i need someone’s arms around me. and i know things between us will only get better with time.
maybe both of these things are foolishly optimistic, but right now, i don’t care. i’m at a point in my life where i need to believe in something.