A Letter from the Future

Hey BoBylan.

I hope that you are doing well. I know right now you are uncertain, writing a whole book sounds daunting. But, I’m here to tell you that you’ve made it. The first book was rough, you put so much time and energy into it,  but didn’t get the feedback that you wanted. You edited it though, taking constructive criticism. Some were even purchased! Not enough to pay your bills, but that in itself was rewarding. That yours was picked.

The comments were ok, some were hurtful some were good. The hurtful ones of course cut the deepest.

You’re now on your second book. You’ve taken lessons from the first and you are determined to write better. Everything takes practice. Everything.

I tip my hat to you for making the leap and following your dreams. Some days you feel crazy..like really crazy, like, what am I doing why can’t I be like everyone else with regular jobs and dramas. But then, days when your imagination takes you through emotional rides reminds you that you are doing what you were meant to do.

I love you, no matter what. Rock it.

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What, then, have you been escaping from?

I feel like an amateur doctor, performing surgery on herself. I know I probably shouldn’t open these doors, but I’m curious to see what’s on the other side. It’s a dangerous strategy, you see. To unlock doors into old memories my mind picked to save. I hope to find clues that could solve the mystery I uncovered last.

“What, then, have you been escaping from?”

My mission could equate to nothing, really. My self harm could have been a result of some genetic defect that I can never cure. I’m aware of that possibility. But, I cannot give up hope that possibly there is something that I’m running from, that’s been running me. And just maybe, one day I can stop the chase and stop my unhealthy addiction.The risk, though, is that these memories are decades old and may have been altered and misconstrued, but I’ll try my best to not be a hero in my recollections.

I close my eyes, I remember:

  • my dad kneels by my bedside, I’m curled up with tears. He comforts me and gives me a dollar if I stopped. I remember a specific moment where I deliberately cried knowing he’d give me a dollar.
  • I was hurt one day, and my dad knew my pain. School would be the next day, he told me not to cry no matter what. When I couldn’t hold in the pain, I was sent to the nurses office, I felt that I let him down and broke down about it
  • When my siblings were chased for their, probably deserved, beating. I’d run and hide with them. Either I didn’t want to just watch as they were hurt or I didn’t want to be alone even if that meant I’d be unharmed.
  • I masturbated very early, before I was even ten. I was a very sexual child, I’m uncertain what provoked it.
  • One time, I rolled up paper and lit it up, pretending it was a cigarette
  • I pretended someone’s car keys were mine, I re-entered my bedroom repeatedly as if it were my own apartment. Dropping the keys off on a table, I loved the notion of independence
  • My dad bought me fried food for some reason, but only wanted me to have it. He favored me
  • I cried to my dad when I felt my mom favored my older brother, he laid me next to him on the couch. I don’t remember what all he said
  • Watching Clifford the Big Red Dog while loneliness loomed over me, my sister ran away from home and I was so sad with her gone
  • Seeing a bowl under Cong’s bed, which I believe was his vomit. Hearing him throw up in the bathroom. Realizing he was as tormented as I was.
  • My sister came home finally, and we had to room together. I wanted to feel like a happy family again, but I knew it was an illusion that we all hoped would become reality
  • I locked myself in the bathroom repeatedly, crying for different reasons. Beth would come in and console me, then the reasons I locked myself up and in there was because she was moving away
  • Eating in the temple’s bathroom almost every Sunday, talking to the spiders on the floor because anywhere else I’d be subjected to teasing
  • Getting the courage to tell my mom the reason for my hatred for temple and didn’t get the comfort I seeked
  • Getting told by mom, dad, and Beth hurtful things others say as well relating to my weight
  • First thing people seemed to say when I was introduced was how big and or fat I was compared to my mom or my sister in Vietname and at temple
  • Having the biggest crush on Cookie, my brother’s friend
  • Moving to an all white school and being so different from everyone else
  • A rice cooker being thrown, a marriage on the brink of failure, a father refusing to separate for the sake of his children. Me, the only victim that fled the scene
  • Wanting so badly to play on a soccer team
  • Wanting so badly to play in orchestra
  • Going swimming on beautiful summer days
  • The strawberry garden in our backyard
  • Hanging out with neighborhood kids, and especially with Mo, picking fruits off of neighbor’s trees

Scattered were times that warmed me and made me the happiest. Dominated were moments where I was consistently teased and when I lost my only emotional supporter, Beth – but even she joined in on the teasing when she couldn’t help herself. Planted were seeds of shame, self-loathing, and guilt. Never would it have grown without nutrients and water. But not only did those who were meant to protect me water it, they gave it light and urged it to grow. And I am so hurt by it.

‘Et tu, Brute?’

This isn’t one of my imaginations or perfect ending stories, I won’t express this to my parents and they won’t ever understand. There won’t be a giant hug and we won’t live happily ever after again. The strawberries in our old backyard, though, will forever stay vibrant in my memories. My parents did the best they could with what they knew.

Knowing that resolution will never come I have nothing left to prove. Proving oneself is encouraged by the expectation for acceptance and my vision will never be accepted by those that matter most. If resolution was even possible, then I wouldn’t have to convince anyone that to take time to dream is ok.

If there is nothing to prove, is there nothing to escape from?

I hear them marching towards me. The something that’s got me running. I’m out of energy and out of fear to keep up my avoidance. I stop and turn around and expected to see my mom, my dad, my sister, even my old boss Steve, and my big looking at me in disappointment.

Instead it was a single figure, it was me. That’s the thing about memories, it starts with reality but ends with you. I’m disposed to remember all the bad things, it makes sense I’m so shaped by it. I can’t continue to blame others for my reality and what I chose to believe.What about all the good people in my life? Why don’t I remember moments of encouragement or times when I’ve been called beautiful? Instead, I focus on the negative. I’ve lived up to now wanting to prove myself to others so that I can tell my sad story and get sympathy. I wanted to collect regrets from those who caused me pain. That’s no way to live a life that I want. What’s done is over and was never put forth with malice.

This is going to be hard, what I’m proposing to myself. And I don’t even know if it will work towards healing.

I will chose to forgive the past, present, and future teasers. I chose to forgive my parents for not being there when I needed them the most, even though they do not beg to be acquitted.I forgive my sister for leaving in search of her own truth and will have a deeper understanding that I too am in search of mine, even though she will try to guide me in other ways. I will work hard in lifting the weight of guilt pound by pound that I feel towards my parents, as an unappreciative daughter.

I will forgive myself for changing my mind, in pursuit of something more worthwhile.So…I will forgive myself for not going to California, yet.

The moments where I felt most autonomous and like myself were created by me against others wishes. Mainly three key points in my life:

1: moving to mizzou

2: moving out of the house

3: quitting Forba

This is evidence enough that I know what is right for me. Although there is no guarantee there is only retrospection and I only have positive thoughts about those three events. Now, I can only go by how I feel in my heart and my gut not what I hear from those who do not understand me..

 

A trip into dark places

Follow me as I go on this trip down to places I shouldn’t go too often. It’s going to be relieving and so damaging.

I have egg whites smothered with cheddar cheese and avocado on top. A bowl of warm queso cheese to pair with barbecue chips, and last but most likely not all, I have Kaitlyn’s forgotten snack pack of a healthy serving of cheese and ham. Already devoured was a cold pork loin left over from two nights earlier. My intent is obvious being so indifferent to the coldness as I hurriedly turn the slab of meat into a dose of medicine in my stomach. If it were a normal day and I weren’t alone, I would have warmed it up to enhance the taste.

Around me is darkness as I listen to the rain pound on the skylight. Thunder and lightning comfort me with every strike, telling me today was meant to be a day of binging. I’m nestled on the edge of the couch, it’s time. `

Excitement riddles me just by looking at the food. I know soon I will get an instant hit of happiness, and I know not long after that, a day filled with despair awaits.

As I consume, I’m trying hard to pinpoint my criminal thoughts that lead me to this binge. But, my mind is clouded by something that hinders me from thinking clearly. Maybe at this point, the criminal thoughts are too deeply embedded, as if it once traveled at the speed of light and now my addiction is the succeeding sound that perpetually echo to remind me of who I want to be but can never be. Maybe it’ll always be a part of me, something I can’t ever fix. Like the dark brown eyes I see through. Can I live with that? – my addiction, not my brown eyes, I’ve already learned to love that.

It is now that I am naked. The rain stopped pouring, sadly. I’ve eaten up all I’ve wanted and strangely it wasn’t a lot. This addiction is what separates me from myself and those I care for. I can never feel truly understood since I keep myself hidden around them and I only strip down when no one is around. One day I will perish, and I will take with me the torment and the lessons – since I only strip down when no one is around. That realization depresses me. What’s the point of this misery if it goes unnoticed? What’s the point of affliction if the fruits of rumination doesn’t connect or help another poor girl.

I stopped reflecting because Cheeto was gnawing at his paw obsessively. I picked him up to see what was wrong, I nestled him and put pressure on his paw where it was drenched with his spit. He was just like me, obsessive and addicted to the feeling of relief. Even though I try to console him and comfort him, he cannot tell me if I’ve made him feel better just as I’m at a lost for what to do for my own addiction.

God. This trip I’ve taken is dangerous. I cannot open my mind up to enlightening thoughts without letting through the dark thoughts that may be detrimental to my well being. Perhaps they are intertwined and dependent on each other to survive, my yin and my yang, likely that my rewarding imaginations blossomed from the desolation I felt growing up. The stories and images I saw were another reality that I escaped into, that I could control…

Escape. That’s a telling word. Perhaps since the beginning of my consciousness I’ve been directed by the need to escape. Hence my writing, hence my binging, hence my quitting, hence my running, and hence my loving.

I’m hopeful by the epiphany, that I probably knew all along. The next pages were left blank with only a single question printed to announce a new chapter.

“What, then, have you been escaping from?”

By now the sun is seeping through gray clouds, lighting up the darkness around me. Perfect timing.

She Said Impossible

You’re unattractive, you’re unintellegent

You’re overweight, you’re under pressure

You’re wasting time, you’re wasting money

You need to get your life together

Put up the typewriter and the papers

Get up from bed put on your shoes

Trade in your creativity for excel sheets

Dreams don’t come true for someone like you

And that was the last thing that she said to me

the last time I called her a friend

still there are days she demands to visit

That frightened girl within

But another voice grows stronger and louder

until I can no longer hear the naysayers

and on days when she demands to visit

this voice shouts back in a voice much greater

You ARE beautiful and you ARE wise

You ARE the perfect shape and size

You’re not in debt and you HAVE time

You’ve got the fire to self actualize

Still I can hear her as I think

Her doubts fueled by what she couldn’t see

her words a challenge I accept

She said ‘impossible!’, I said ‘watch me’.

A conversation with Professor Patty Ward

I was annoyed with her simply because of her sarcasm given freely as she sat on the pedicure chair.

But, eventually I took out my earbuds because that annoyance turned to admiration. She was real and full of sarcasm and jokes. When I asked her how she was, she said not great because she was turning 65 in a couple days. I typically would console clients by returning positive feedback but she was too smart for my bullshit. So, in my blank thinking, I said, ‘yeah, that does suck [that you wake up with aches and pains with origins you do not know]’.

I am often at crossroads through out life. I’m at one now. I know what I’m going to do, but I feel a bit lost about it and nervous. When I’m in this funk, I stumble onto helpful movies, videos, and podcasts in a way that makes me second guess my atheism. Yesterday it was conversation that stumbled upon me.

She gave me nuggets of gold. I had to wait for these gems around conversation with her friend/colleague with whom she taught with at Johnson County Community College. Professor Ward and I are similar just in different decades.

When she was 40, she sold everything, valuables – her jaguar, and pursued psychology and left her high dollar management job.She was in pursuit of something beyond a comfortable salary.

In her new job as a psychologist, she met her 2nd husband. “When you do what you love, you also meet people who love the same thing.” And right now, it’s ‘the best time for women’ to pursue what they love.

She was flattering me with compliments but I mostly disregard it as a psychologists’ move [how low self esteem of me right?]. Still, it was nice to hear a new narrative. ‘You are wise’ in response to leaving Forba for my reasons.

Comparing this conversation with my previous post ‘Convo with Mom’ my heart hurt. I wonder how it would be if it were my mom or dad encouraging me like Professor Ward did [woe is me]. I get very little encourage or emotional support [of my dreams] from our parents. To be fair, I don’t talk to my parents about what I sincerely love because they haven’t given me reason to [how rotten of me].  So, I seek support in other people. This is why I love talking to inspirational people like Professor Ward. It gives me a perspective that aligns with what I believe in.

The most affectful nugget was the idea of self actualization. ‘When you are doing something without realizing the time passing’ that is something you love. ‘It’s self-actualization’. I’ll add – of course, you have to be smart about it, not throw caution to the wind and start changing everything, but it’s something to take note of.

After she said that, I just nodded my head. She asked “what are you thinking?”, I simply replied ‘my move to California’.  I couldn’t say more, the lump in my throat stopped me.

In my head, I was screaming, ‘Writing! I’ve experienced that with writing!’

I don’t remember why she brought up Erik Erikson’s Stages of Development, but she focused on the final stage, ‘Ego integrity vs. despair’.

From http://www.simplypsychology.org/Erik-Erikson.html:

As we grow older (65+ yrs) and become senior citizens, we tend to slow down our productivity, and explore life as a retired person. It is during this time that we contemplate our accomplishments and are able to develop integrity if we see ourselves as leading a successful life.

Erik Erikson believed if we see our lives as unproductive, feel guilt about our past, or feel that we did not accomplish our life goals, we become dissatisfied with life and develop despair, often leading to depression and hopelessness.

In the moment, I thought she was tying it to the decisions we make, either for love or money. But the excerpt above makes me think she was talking more about herself and where she’s at. She’s entering this life stage. She absolutely hates turning 65, maybe she is feeling nervous about instead because she’s entering a stage where her life choices are measured.

During our conversation, Tu, Ty, and Bella were all around my hearing range telling me to hurry, HuRrRy, HURRY! Which is exactly what the Professor and I were discussing. Value over monetary gains. I valued absorbing our conversation over absorbing money.

Conversations with Professor Ward a gift from the moment. It was also humbling. Once again, my judgement of people failed miserably. What I found annoying to begin with I now can’t stop thinking about and wished I had more time to talk with her. I write about her because I don’t want to forget her kind and inspirational words of wisdom. Next time, I will listen more than I speak though, because in retrospect, I could have learned more in doing so and asking follow up questions vs. talking about me.

So. Now. What do I do without realizing time passed?

Writing

Music writing/lyrics – when I don’t give up

Coding as well.

I’ll add to that:

What do I love? – this back deck. I could walk out here every morning and be content with life. My laptop, coffee, nature around me, and I’m golden. Of course, I would love to be paid for words/code I produce. That’s my dream.

I’ve been sad about the move. Highly questioning EVERYTHING. It’s been indescribable, how nice having 3 days on and 4 days to myself has been. Which leads me to my next decision – I’m not going to go into debt for coding. Being above the water allowed me to have this moment of realization, and I want to keep it as an option in the future.

Having that option makes California not look so permanent. The move will be good for my diversity in friends and in thought. It’ll also add some flavor to my writing ;).

I will take this prep course, and possibly a cheaper front end developer course. I will get an entry level, low stress job that will allow me time and freedom to continue writing. I will save save save! From this day on, I will be very mindful of my spending again.

I realize my dream now. My heart is literally fluttering and I have a stir in my stomach. It’s part fear and part excitement. If your dreams don’t scare you then you’re not dreaming big enough is what a song lyric said. I’m hella scared.

Convo with Mom

I have so much respect for the struggle and successes that my mom and dad accumulated throughout their lifetime.

But dang.

Can a girl get some support on her decision and belief in her abilities?

This is how I perceived the telephone conversation I just had with my mom:

Mom: Your dad and I have been struggling since childhood. We started with small difficulties when we were small, then adopted bigger difficulties when we were bigger. After we immigrated, we worked our butt off and saved our money. We’re at a place now, where we can live the retired lifestyle.

Me: That’s awesome, and I’m so happy that you are at that point where you can enjoy life now. You both deserve it.

I proceed to request for advice on whether or not I should apply for an online prep course which costs under $200 or apply for an in person course where it’s $1200. I listed the pros and cons.

Mom: You should do the online course to see if you like it. If you do, then you can invest in the full blown course

Me: That makes sense, I’ll do the online course

Then she puts on her punching gloves.

Mom: You should look into real estate. If I were your age, I’d do that. Community college has a lot of courses you can take that is inexpensive but will lead to a career as well. California is going to be so difficult and a struggle for you.I had a client that only took courses for exactly what she wanted then used that to land a job instead of going for a degree. What have you used your degree for?

Cotto_Margarito_111203_004a-530x317

It’s okay though. It’s a bit funny actually. When I thought about asking her, apart of me thought ‘do I really want wound up this music box?’ I did..and it played a familiar tune. Wrapped up in the discouragement was sound advice. And that’s what I needed. Any who. That’s my rant.