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 →
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.
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 →
Sometimes I act a little dramatic. Earlier this week, after an eyeroll-worthy email exchange, I stopped harboring feelings for the crush I held onto for the past eight months. Afterward, I thought well, if this seemingly beautiful well-read social justice-oriented hunk of a man turned out to be awful and an emotionally stunted communicator, I will literally never ever trust or date a man on this planet. On top of that update, one of my good friends, who I still care about and respect, has started prioritizing her boyfriend in her life, and I thought well, if this is happening to a person who identifies as a feminist and used to rant with me about people who over-prioritize their boyfriends, I might as well never make new friends because they’ll all eventually prioritize their boyfriends. For a day or two I felt the urge to stop eating. I thought to myself, hm, if I cannot control the quality of men that exist in a patriarchal society and I cannot control the prioritization of men and romance in a patriarchal society, then I might as well control the prominence of my ribcage. I literally felt my heart freeze up, like someone sprayed an icy mist into my chest and made my insides all cold and untrusting.
But after feeling my feelings while playing tennis at 7:30 this morning and then waiting for my tuberculosis screening in a nearby CVS, I thought to myself, wait a f-ing second, this is not who I am, I am not a fundamentally cold and untrusting person. As I guzzled a Blue Machine Naked Juice while in line at the CVS and then an Orange Fanta in my apartment, I thought I’m Thomas, who values warmth, vulnerability, and over-disclosing about my personal life on the internet, I’m not going to let some random man on the internet and the patriarchy turn me into someone I’m not.Continue reading →
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 →
I did not expect my grandmother’s death in December to bring so much of the pain from my past losses back to life. On a lot of days, my grief spills over into other parts of my heart, reawakening the devastation I felt from the loss of L, the therapist I stopped seeing last May, as well as the sadness of missing my close friends and mentors from undergrad. I always knew that grief would take me on a curving, misery-laden path – no linear progressions, no easy fixes, no strong emotions that just fade into weaker ones over time – but you still feel heartbreak even if you prepare for it. Continue reading →
My grandmother passed away last Wednesday. I stayed with her in the hospital a few times in the days leading up to her death , though she had been sick for awhile at that point. She had Parkinson’s disease. Over the last few years, she lost the ability to walk. Over the last couple of months, she lost the ability to breathe without the help of a machine. Despite this physical decay, I have a clear picture to remember her by from an earlier time in her life: when she raised me, protected me, and loved me unconditionally. Continue reading →