Tag Archives: recovery

Are You There Stomach? It’s Me, Thomas

Sometimes I lift my shirt up in front of the mirror and sigh because I have a stomach. I could make this go away pretty easily, I think to myself, after I suck my fat in and my torso turns flat. A plan comes to mind: cut out dinner, eat only yogurt for breakfast and salad for lunch, and treat myself to potato chips and a soda on the occasional weekend. The regime feels familiar, because I implemented it often back in my early teen years.

At that time in my life, my mom yelled at me for hours almost every day, a doctor once told me I could stand to lose a few pounds, and a Korean girl I had talked to for weeks over AIM called me ugly when I finally sent her a photo of myself. Continue reading

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Reasons to Live

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

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Protect Me

A few days ago, I had a dream about a former crush of mine. In the dream, I reached out to him through Goodreads messenger and asked if he could talk. He said wow Thomas, even in your sleep you’re obsessed with books and Goodreads, no wonder I’m not good enough for you yes and we agreed to talk on Friday afternoon. When Friday morning came around, he messaged me and said he could no longer talk on Friday afternoon because he had double booked himself. He asked me if I could talk sometime the following week instead.

When I woke from this dream, I remember feeling so hurt that my former crush canceled on me. Yet, I wondered why my psyche included him in my sleep, because I feel literally nothing about him at all at this point in my life.

“I’m pretty sure my ex-crush was a stand in for my father,” I said to my therapist a few hours after my dream. Continue reading

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More Good News

In my six-year doctoral program, our last year consists of a year-long internship in which we provide therapy full time. The process to determine which site we will conduct our internship at works kinda like the med school residency application process. We apply to different sites, they extend interview offers, and after we interview, they rank us and we rank them. Every year, on “match day,” my doctoral program directors send an email to the entire program detailing which students matched at which sites. Everyone shares their congratulations. It feels wholesome.

This year, a faculty member sent an additional email to everyone in the program with the subject line “More good news on an already fine day for our interns…” In the email, this faculty member shared how one of his former students recently had his second child. Attached to the photos were pictures of this student and his children.

While I felt positive about this news – I really like this former student, because he’s into social justice in a quiet way where he walks the walk about it without showing off – I also felt a little perturbed at the arbitrariness of this email. Like, are we all so into the heteronormative nuclear family that we think “more good news” consists solely of sharing pictures of students who have children with their spouses? I don’t feel turned off by celebrating someone having kids, though I do think we can widen what constitutes good news: how about the grad student of color who’s fought through imposter syndrome that stemmed from racism in academia? How about the grad student who’s learned how to feel happiness on their own and their chosen communities, outside of a romantic partner? How about the grad student who enjoyed their Friday night watching Itzy music videos no, these are all not just slowly morphing into descriptions of me?

Because I’m super into sharing about how I cultivate a fulfilled life outside of romance and the heteronormative nuclear family – even though I may want a child of my own someday – I want to share about my iconic weekend. Continue reading

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Everything I’ve Ever Wanted

I always wanted to run away from home, from my abusive mother and her screaming fits and mood swings. In high school, I put my head down and worked hard so I could get into a good college and escape. I did run away from home once. I wrote a blog post about it, too. Then, I got into a great college and left at long last, only to run head first into a disturbing relationship and PTSD.

Fast forward five years and countless therapy sessions later. Continue reading

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A Death in the Family

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

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Happily Ever After

Two truths, one lie: Continue reading

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I Got Published! Also, I Can Drink Wine in a Week

Last year, I submitted one of my creative nonfiction pieces to a publication contest for young LGBTQIA+ writers. I did not have high hopes for winning just as I do not have high hopes that the men in my life will text me back. But I heard from one of the editors that they selected my piece – one of seven they chose out of almost 400 – and now it has arrived. As Patrick from SpongeBob would say, look at it (and check it out on Amazon here): Continue reading

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Snapshots from Therapy: The Trust Issues Edition

“What would you tell your own client?” my therapist asked me. “When you’re in my position, what would you say?”

I uncrossed my legs. My whole body shook, and shivers ran up and down my legs, my arms. Over the past year, my therapist and I had started to uncover the abuse I experienced at the hands of my mother. Though I had made tremendous progress, talking about the abuse still made my skin crawl, like the past lived and moved inside of me, tiny slivers of memory ready to burst into flames at any moment.

“I would tell them it’s not their fault,” I said. Continue reading

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Child Abuse, Accepting Care, and A Little Life

Two nights ago I wrote a review of A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara, an epic book about four friends growing up together in New York City. One of the four, Jude St. Francis, suffered extreme sexual, physical, and emotional abuse throughout his childhood. As an adult, Jude works as an ambitious and renowned litigator. In addition to his handsomeness and his intellect, he forges several deep and tender friendships. However, Jude’s trauma continues to haunt him. He cuts himself in egregious ways to numb his psychological pain. He views himself as someone who only inspires disgust. He refuses to open up about his past. I write this post because Jude’s struggle reminded me a lot of the emotional abuse I suffered as a child and my personal battle with the scars it has left behind. I write this post to prove that hope exists for people like us, for people who experienced what no child should have to.

I slept with this book after I read it. I kid you not. You can read my review for more detail.

I slept with this book after I read it. I kid you not. You can check out my review for more detail.

A lot of the conflict in A Little Life stems from Jude’s inability to accept care from those around him. Continue reading

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