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
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
In my last blog post, I wrote about a friendship ending with distance. In this one, I write about a friendship that with distance has only grown stronger. Friendships are hard to form in a
patriarchal society that celebrates the heteronormative nuclear family above all else adulthood, so I want to celebrate my friendships on this blog, especially this one, which helped motivate me to take care of myself in a time of darkness.
I met my best friend Bri in my freshman year of undergrad at William & Mary. Continue reading
How do you deal with a long-distance friendship? I ask because one of my closest friends, A, moved away from the DC area about three months ago. Though we still text almost every day and FaceTime about once a week, I still feel sad. As I write this, I sit alone in my apartment’s living room space with all the lights on, covered in a semi-thick blanket, though I wish I were sitting a few feet across from her on her old apartment’s worn-down yet comfy grey couch. I am mourning: remembering the closeness we once had and confronting my life where I still have it in some ways, yet in other ways, no longer.
A and I met when I moved to the DC area for graduate school in August 2017. Continue reading
A few weeks ago, I watched Amour, a movie centered on Georges and Anne, a married couple in their eighties. They reside in Paris as retired and cultivated music teachers. Their peaceful lives change when Anne suffers a stroke that paralyzes the right side of her body. George chooses to take care of her no matter what the consequence.
My semester in a nutshell.
The media floods us with images of passionate love, with dramatized versions of real life. Continue reading
A few nights ago, I wondered what it would feel like to cut off my ears.
I remember thinking something similar when I was thirteen or fourteen. I was in the car with my mom, sitting in the passenger seat as she screamed at me. This I was used to – what scared me was how she had formed her hands into fists and was punching the leather of her seat as well as the surface of the dashboard. While I cannot claim to remember exactly what had caused her anger, I do recall that it was something insignificant. Perhaps I had closed the car door a little too loudly. Maybe I looked at another boy who walked by for a little too long.
But, as she spewed poison and purged her anger, I thought to myself: I wonder what would happen if we got into a car accident right now. I wonder how much of myself I would be willing to give away for her to disappear. I proceeded to bargain mentally – would losing an arm be worth not having to put up with the abuse anymore? How about an arm and a leg? All of me?
Looking back, I realize how melodramatic and shallow those thoughts were. Continue reading