Growing up, I often told my grandmother that I wished she were my mom. She would laugh in her soft way and tell me that I was silly for saying that, though looking back I wonder if she had been pleased to hear that from me. My wish made sense to me as a child: my mother was emotionally abusive and yelled at me all the time, whereas my grandmother practiced nurturance and compassion in every moment, so of course I would want my grandmother to have more years to live and to raise me over my biological mother. I question now whether my younger self felt life’s unfairness while making that statement. Why did the universe give me such a horrible mother when it could have given me my grandmother as my mother instead?
I felt a somewhat similar sense of unfairness this past Mother’s Day weekend, about a week and a half ago. Continue reading →
I have felt sad and depressed over the past several days because of a change in my life that occurred last week. Though I tend to share specifics about my life on this blog, I do not feel quite comfortable writing about what that change entailed. However, I will say that I feel proud of letting myself feel sad – in my childhood and adolescence, I considered sadness unproductive because it did not help me escape my abusive home life. Now I am giving myself space to feel the emotion, such as by writing about how change has both hurt and healed me in the past.
When I think about change, I remember a time I visited an ex-close friend – before she became an ex – in a state in the northeast and first recognized that I would have to break up with her. Continue reading →
In 2019, I started a clinical placement at a community health center in a city near where I live. This upcoming May, I will end my time there and my relationships with the clients I have worked with for over a year. Because I feel that people in helping professions should practice consistent self-reflection and because I enjoy over-disclosing about my various emotional experiences on the internet writing, I want to process what it feels like to say goodbye from my perspective, the clinician’s perspective. When I soak in my emotions about my impending goodbyes with my clients, I first think about the goodbye I experienced four years ago, with the first therapist I saw long-term, L.
When I reflect on my goodbye with L now, I feel a sense of calmness and serenity, that even though our work together felt difficult, I processed my PTSD and grew a lot as a result. However, when I reread the post I wrote four years ago right after our relationship ended, I remember all the emotions I experienced then. Continue reading →
A couple of weeks ago I caught myself worrying about whether one of my closest friends will abandon me. I have mentioned this friend on this blog a lot over the past year. I read some of her poetry before she submitted it; she took me out to dinner in DC when she visited; together, we’ve talked about how we feel about our friends, we’ve eaten Jeni’s ice cream, and we’ve shared our hopes for the future as well as for our friendship.
What is this friend and I break up? I thought to myself a couple of weeks ago. Continue reading →
In high school, I dreamed so much about going to college. I identified my top choice university my freshman year and worked my butt off the next four years to get in. I took tons of honors and advanced placement courses, I studied SAT vocab words while running on the treadmill to Lady Gaga and 2NE1, and I talked with my friends all the time about this school. While on one hand I saw college as the next step in my dream to becoming a psychologist, I also viewed it as an escape from my abusive mother. I saw college as a dreamland where I could free myself from her endless shouting and screaming and escape into freedom, into pure bliss.
I got into my dream school. But it turned out that college kinda like, sucked though. I spent my first year and a half in an unfulfilling, borderline-abusive friendship. Then when that friendship ended, post-traumatic stress disorder hit me like a brick. I cried in a lot of bathroom stalls and meditated in the midst of panic attacks in many others. I wanted pure bliss and got a ton of mess instead.
Today, I felt guilty for feeling my feelings. I felt guilty because I thought that I should work instead – put together a talk for an upcoming conference, write a research manuscript on masculinity and rape myth acceptance, organize a social justice brownbag series for my doctoral program. But then I played tennis for a couple of hours and in the middle of getting crushed by two white men, I thought, wait a second, not only is it sad that this tennis match is replicating the race dynamics of this country, I also just feel like, really sad right now. I need to make space to mourn.
A few hours ago, I watched The Farewell with a few friends then cried almost the whole metro and car ride home. The film is about a 30-year-old Chinese American woman named Billi who returns to China to say goodbye to her grandmother, who only has a few weeks left to live. In one scene, Billi confronts her mom about her grief and tells her that chasing fireflies with her grandmother is one of the only happy memories Billi carries with her from her childhood.
Similar to Billi, spending time with my grandmother is one of the only happy memories from my own childhood. Continue reading →
Your memoir Appetites saved my life. I first read it four years ago, at 18, the summer after my freshman year of college. You see, I had anorexia too, several years ago in my early adolescence. I starved myself for many of the same reasons you did. I wanted control over my life and didn’t have it, so I starved. I wanted to erase all the emotions I felt but I couldn’t, so I starved. I learned from my mother and the media and so many other sources that I could and should change my body, so I starved.
Tomorrow marks the one-year anniversary of my grandmother’s death. This past Monday, my therapist asked me about some of my favorite memories of her.
“I remember her waiting outside the bathtub with a towel when I first learned how to shower,” I said. “Or waking up from a nap in preschool and seeing her standing beside the door, waiting to drive me home.”
I told my therapist I felt unsure about why I kept thinking of all these early memories. Continue reading →
My grandmother passed away last year on December 20. Sometimes I shrug off her death. “Yeah, she was like my actual mother, so it’s sad,” I’ll say to a friend, “but it’s fine, like I’m fine overall.” I like to use the word “fine” a lot, because it helps me avoid how not fine it is to lose the person who had loved you the most. Or I’ll point to my planner and say, “Yeah, it’s tough, but I did this therapy session, and this research meeting, and that class reading, so it’s okay. Sad, but okay.”
But sometimes grief and loss and mourning are not okay, and no matter how much I want to embody put-togetherness, I just have to feel that shit, that not-okay-ness. Continue reading →