Growing up, I told my grandmother that I wish she had been my mother instead of my actual biological mother. I said this to my grandmother because she gave me everything my bio mother did not: unconditional acceptance, a safe space to cry, and a celebration of my more femme qualities. When I said this to my grandmother, she would give me a look of fake sternness before laughing and smiling with me about it.
When my grandmother died in 2017, I felt sad though also prepared. Continue reading
content warning: explicit writing about passive suicidal ideation
I thought about killing myself* for the first time in a while earlier this June. I did not have any active plan or means to do so. At the same time, I felt a lot of pain related to my attraction to men and wanted that pain to stop.
When I noticed these emotions, I googled a DBT worksheet about the pros and cons of engaging in self-destructive behavior and filled it out on a piece of paper I found lying around in my apartment. Continue reading
Multiple people have mistreated me within my several years within academia. This mistreatment has taken the form of gaslighting, lashing out at me over innocuous statements, and borderline emotional abuse. One of the reasons I try to keep this blog somewhat low key (e.g., I changed my Twitter handle so it no longer contains my full name) is so that I have a safe space to share about my experiences without too much fear of repercussion.
While I like research, the culture of academia often annoys and disheartens me. I know so many folks who have mistreated me and other students who have tenure or will get tenure just because they publish a lot of peer-reviewed articles. I have met people who conduct research about social justice topics and then directly perpetuate harm and white supremacy culture. I have seen people who have made multiple students cry and then take no accountability for their actions. While I know many others experience similar forms of harm in other environments (e.g., nonprofits, the arts) due to the intersection of patriarchy and capitalism and white supremacy, I still sometimes feel sickened by my own participation in a system that allows people, including people of color, to treat vulnerable students with such malice and lack of care.
I felt down in the dumps about academia and my participation in it after experiencing another painful incident earlier this week. In my worst moments of distress, I remembered a research mentor I had in undergrad who I still keep in touch with. Continue reading
I have always loved people and their feelings. My family told me that I did not make a sound until I turned two years old, because I spent so much time sitting and watching other people. As a kid, I felt drawn to television and video game characters who used magic to heal others, like Katara from Avatar: The Last Airbender and Yuna from Final Fantasy X. Though I did not have the words for it then, around the age of eight I sensed that I wanted to be a psychologist when I grew up, if not a writer. My then best friend in high school and I loved playing amateur psychoanalyst, such that we would spend hours talking about our peers and our families and fictional characters and their emotions, their relationships, and what drove their behavior.
Flash forward to now, over a decade after I started high school: I provide therapy*, and I feel guilty about it. Continue reading
I hold a lot of cynicism toward romance. Given the state of masculinity in 2020, I tell everyone I will not find a dateable man until 3019, several reincarnations down the line; I roll my eyes at every engagement and wedding post I scroll through on my Facebook feed; I bought a book about single parenting to prepare myself for single fatherhood because I refuse to put my life on hold for a man. I feel like I must have pushed the person with the solution to destroy white supremacy off a balcony in my past life, because like, what else could I have done to deserve being attracted to men.
Then I encountered AWLOB in late 2018. Continue reading
Growing up with an emotionally unstable mother, I developed a strong preference for planning and control from a young age. By eight, I knew I wanted to be a psychologist to help others. By middle school I planned out the one college I wanted to go to to escape my family. Now, as an adult, I am one of the least spontaneous people I know. I plan almost every day out by the hour; I once had a near-breakdown in undergrad when I thought I had lost my planner. A friend who I’m kinda on pause with once characterized me as “regimented” on her blog, a word that Google defines as “very strictly organized or controlled,” which fits me embarrassingly well.
This desire for control and planning emerged the other week when I ranted to my therapist about my typical life conundrums: men, friends, the men who date my friends, etc. 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.
But not all of college sucked. Continue reading
Four years ago, a man I loved broke my heart. We met as freshmen hallmates at my undergraduate college, his room at the end of the dorm and mine more toward the middle. We grew into close friends after a few intimate conversations and decided to room together our sophomore year. In the early spring semester of my sophomore year, he told me he did not want our friendship anymore, that he would never care about me as much as I cared about him. He said that I cared too much about him. He said I expected too much.
Now, I understand he took advantage of me throughout the friendship. I remember one of our conversations early freshman year, while walking down Colonial Williamsburg at night fall, the air crisp and fireflies illuminating our path. At one point he told me that he felt impressed by me because I cared so much about people, because he himself struggles to actually care about people. At the time, I found this inspiring: wow, he struggles to care about people and wants to learn how, that’s so deep and self-aware. So, over the next year and a half, I tried to teach him. He would fail and I would feel hurt. I took on the role of his therapist instead of asserting more healthful boundaries. He saw before I did that he would never meet my expectations, so he ended our friendship.
“He literally told me from the start that he doesn’t care about people, which is like, the reddest red flag that’s ever been red,” I told my therapist the other day. “I was so freaking stupid for having ever trusted him, for caring about him.”
My therapist said all the right things: that it wasn’t my fault because I didn’t know as much about abuse then, that I’m so much more empowered and self-aware now. Yet I struggled to believe her. 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
Two truths, one lie: Continue reading