Category Archives: Personal

Idealization

I had stopped seeing my therapist L in 2017. After two years of therapy then, I felt I had grown a lot, such as learning to communicate more directly instead of passive aggressively, to tolerate my more intense emotions, and to process my traumatic childhood. However, elements of our work together still felt unresolved. In particular, I still questioned at times whether L cared for me. Though a skilled therapist, he had not been a particularly nurturing one – which he himself said multiple times – and I wondered what that meant for our therapeutic relationship.

When I saw him last week, I made a comment about how I write about him on this blog. Continue reading

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My Turn

This week I visited my old undergraduate college. I decided to go see my little cousin who attends that school now; at one point I promised her I would, and I figured better to do it now than when I live a ten hour drive away in the Boston area. About a week prior visiting I reached out to my former therapist L to see if we could meet to catch up and talk a bit about our therapy work together.

I had talked with my current therapist about whether I should reach out to L. Some of my old concerns about L and I emerged – would this come across as too needy, will he think of me as annoying – though I also felt that as a 26-year-old with almost 900 clinical hours under my belt, I was more prepared than ever before to talk about our therapeutic relationship and to address some of my unresolved questions about it. When I reached out, he replied soon after and said that it was good to hear from me and that he would be happy to talk.

It felt surreal stepping into L’s office, the same office I had seen him in five years ago. Continue reading

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Wanting

A desire I felt ashamed of: I had wanted my first long-term therapist L to attend my college graduation. When I stood on the auditorium stage receiving an award in 2017, I thought less about the work I had put into my academics over the past few years and more about the effort I had spent in my therapy with him. I felt fine that L had not attended, though I had always perceived my desire to see him there as too needy or too much in some way.

“I totally get why he couldn’t attend, because of ethics and stuff,” I said to my current therapist over Zoom a few weeks ago. I had never told anyone about wanting to see L at my college graduation before this. “I feel some shame though that I had wanted him there at all.”

“Thomas, it’s completely normal and makes sense that you wanted L to be there,” she said. “You two really cared for each other.”

When my therapist shared this, I started to tear up a bit. Continue reading

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What Matters

Oh my goodness screaming: I matched at H*rvard Medical School for my final year of my Psychology PhD program! The email arrived in my inbox at 5:06AM yesterday, right after I rolled out of bed and brushed my teeth in my Seattle hotel room. I feel excited because this position focuses on conducting therapy and research related to serving marginalized and vulnerable populations in the Boston area, which aligns so well with my values.

I visited Seattle so I could spend the days before and after match with my bff Bri! Here is the fantastic dinner we had the night before the Match results.
Also omfg there’s a cafe that sells acai bowls within walking distance of my hotel room and I’m LIVING. I’m fruity and so are these bowls and that’s why we stan (feat. a random meat bun).

In some ways this match process reminds me of when I graduated from undergrad in 2017. Continue reading

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Reflection of Feelings

I saw my first client in 2017, toward the beginning of my time in graduate school. Before my cohort and I saw our cases, we practiced therapeutic basics with one another, such asking open-ended questions instead of closed-ended questions to encourage deeper exploration, or reflecting and paraphrasing statements to get to the gist and the heart of the matter. Though these techniques feel automatic to me now, I still remember how much my listening skills – and my self-awareness – improved when I started using them on a consistent basis.

“You don’t really go toward sadness,” my first therapy supervisor told me, way back in 2017. Continue reading

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You and Your Pale East Asian Ex-Boyfriends

The femmephobic guy I mentioned in my most recent post also told me that he found me unattractive because of internalized colorism. “all my past relationships were with pale skinned east Asian guys rip” he texted me. He shared that he did not have a specific plan to work through his internalized colorist sexual preferences.

I first felt a surge of anger. Continue reading

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Thinking Twice

Last week I made the mistake of texting a man. More specifically, I messaged a guy who I had gone on a date with when I visited Boston several months ago at the end of summer. I liked several things about him: his intelligence, considerateness, and critiques of capitalism. When I got back to DC though at the end of August, he said he didn’t want to try long-distance and I also sensed a gap in our emotional maturity, though I also wondered if we could have seen each other more if I had been in the Boston area for longer. When I texted him last week though, I learned that he wasn’t physically attracted to me because of my femininity.

When I learned about his femmephobia, I felt a sense of shame rush over me and my body tighten up in self-disgust. Continue reading

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Peeta and Katniss

The other day I spoke with an older Gaysian guy I respect. He first gave me some advice about my Psychology residency application process, and our conversation later turned to topics such as the political roots of queer Asian men’s romantic desires. He expressed some ideas about white supremacy and transracial adoption I hadn’t yet put into words, which I appreciated.

At one point, though, as we talked about how internalized racism may motivate fellow Gaysian men to date white men, he said something along the lines of: “well, if gay Asian men don’t have any other options around them, is it their fault to be with a white man even if he’s basic or a fetishizer? It’s like Peeta and Katniss from The Hunger Games, it’s not like they had a choice to kill other people. I’m not saying it’s the ideal scenario, but if gay Asian men don’t have other options, I’m not sure I blame them.”

I want to make it clear that I do not think this older Gaysian himself endorsed the idea of Gaysian men settling for white men (just in case this Gaysian somehow happens to stumble upon this blog post, I think you’re rad and cool and otherwise wouldn’t have reached out to you!) However, I felt struck by the logic underlying this analogy, that not having any romantic prospects removes you of your agency to the same extent as being forced to kill other people against your will by a totalitarian police state. And yet, I have heard the same sentiment uttered by a less rad older queer Asian man who is now engaged to a white man who couldn’t hold a conversation on his own when I met him, uh yikes, that it’s not about if you’ll settle, it’s about who you’ll eventually settle for.

What strikes me as most bizarre about this idea that you have to settle for the romantic prospects in your geographic area, is the implicit notion that you have to settle for a romantic prospect at all. Continue reading

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Emotions and Beats

Growing up, I always felt scared of what my mother. One moment I would walk by her as she leaned against the kitchen counter, eating tiramisu with a smile on her face, and the next I would hear her screaming my name in anger because she didn’t like the way I set my shoulders. Throughout my childhood I prepared myself all the time for her to berate or yell at me for hours.

“Your accomplishments are pretty amazing,” my former therapist L told me, a few years after I had left my childhood home for my undergraduate studies. “It’s kind of like pillars. For a lot of people, when one pillar gets knocked down, a lot of their other pillars fall too. But not for you.”

L said this to me when I told him I maintained a 4.0 GPA, at the end of the semester that my PTSD obliterated my mental health. I think he wanted me to take some pride in my academic performance even though a bunch of my friendships had fallen apart a few months ago and I had just finally managed to get ahold of my panic attacks. I probably shrugged, saying something like yeah, well, school’s kinda always been whatever for me, so.

My most recent year or two of therapy has helped me see this past conversation from a different, or at least deeper perspective. Continue reading

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Just People

“Sometimes you see the world in black and white,” my former therapist L said to me, in our last session together way back in May of 2017. We had already reviewed the ways I had grown in our two years of seeing each other, and he stated this black and white comment as an area for me to maybe explore further after our final session. At the time, I thought something like hm, that’s interesting. It’s not that I disregarded L’s feedback – in fact, I valued it quite highly – it’s just that this one comment didn’t resonate much with me in that final session four years ago.

Looking back now, I can see how my black and white thinking manifested when I entered my doctorate program at the age of 22. Continue reading

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