Thursday, December 27, 2012

Out of the three of us, who is her pet? At the end of her life, it was definitely my eldest brother. The one who is jobless more than he is with a job. One who does nothing but have three kids and being supported by his wife and siblings. That is who she has chosen as her favorite by default because in her own words "no matter what, I have one by my side."
Well, with a pet child, inevitably, there is a pet grandchild and that would be my nephew. She always defended him at all cost. Slept with him from infancy until a point where it borders inappropriateness as the boy reaches puberty. She constantly asked me for money to send him to camps, trips, or pay for his other expenses. She gets extremely defensive if I dare to suggest that the boy needs to work if he wants money.  Her favoritism was so obvious that surrounding tongues were wagging. They said that she favors boy more than girl. It is not uncommon in our culture to favor the boy but that is not where her favoritism stem from. She was so cruel towards my eldest niece. At three, my niece was expected the impossible. My nephew on the other hand can do no wrong. My mother harbored a resentment towards my niece from the day when that baby at the age of one, favored her babysitter than grandma. That was my niece's crime - an unforgivable crime in the eye of a narcissistic.

I don't think I was ever THE favorite but I was never "the hated" one either when we were growing up. Neither one of us was.  While my eldest brother has always been lazy, my mother always had an excuse for him. The two of us who are younger, are the opposite. We are very driven. We get good grades and most of all, we made her look good. Also in the mind of a narcissistic, her children can do no wrong.

Between the two younger ones, I think my second brother fell out of favor first. His crime was to soar and find his path. Very quickly after his departure, she realized she has lost all control of him. While we went on with our lives, she always confide in me telling me not to reveal any "family struggles" to my second brother because she "didn't want  him to worry." To this day, I don't really understand what her motivation was for keeping the "secret." Her script went from ranting and raving about her son who is studying overseas to "I don't even know what to say to him." For years she waited for my second brother to graduate and he kept going. From undergrad, to postgrad, to doctoral. He did it all on his own with nothing but a few dollars that my parents gave him. A few dollars that was not even enough to pay for the first semester. But to them, they have given him the world and for that, he owes them the world, and he failed to deliver. That's how he fell out of favor.

How I fell out of favor is much the same. I followed my heart. I followed my path and I have the nerve not to give them the world.

The home my parents resided is flooded. This monsoon season flooded over 60%  of the residence across 3 states and so far, have claimed 6 lives. What am I to do? I find myself sitting here and my first instinct or defense is.... money. How much is needed to bail them out? "Them" - now refers to my eldest brother's family minus my parents for the first time.

While I don't feel that it is my responsibility to pay up, I am also caught in the web of the past, tangled in guilt to help out. I also question if I am doing any justice to my nieces and nephew if I made it too easy for them. They have also been raised by a narcissistic and they have been indoctrinated about my role as the "banker." While I am untangling the past, I also feel compassion towards my youngest niece in particular. She is stuck home with her dad, my super lazy eldest brother, who will probably make her clean up everything while he sits in front of the computer and holler at her. Where am I to send the money and what can money really do? Too many time, money is sent for reason to bail them out, only to find out that it has been used to upgrade my brother's electronic gadgets. This time it will likely be more of the same if I am naive enough to wire any dough across the border.

So what do I do as an aunt who is trying to reach out but not enable the next generation from being helplessly dependent? It is a balance that I don't have an answer to. I sent a message to both girls and waiting to see what they say. I hope they are ok.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Newtown tragedy. Something no one can even grapple. So many lives lost. The unthinkable.

How would my mother react to the tragedy if she is alive today? She has never really valued life. Not her own and not those around her. My first realization was when I was in college. One day my landlady talked about her lost infant child with such sadness despite years gone by. My mother had a still born child before. She had mentioned him, but never with much emotion. It was just a matter a fact. When I lost mine in 2nd trimester, I had not realized how many years I grieved. Though the pain is not as deep today, we still hang his/her ultrasound every year on the Christmas tree. I have this numb spot in my heart for this child that I never had the chance to meet. I have remorse on perhaps not taking better care of me so that he/she can be here today. It's never a matter a fact.

The one thing my mother had always hoped for is for my dad to die. I know for a fact that she had prayed the same prayer for my oldest brother and I would not be surprise if she had wished me dead too. And whenever she is faced with a challenge or when things don't go her way, her only solution is to die.

She once talked about someone who lost their college aged child to a tragedy. Her take was, if they had known she was going to die, they wouldn't have spent that much money to send her to college. Another time, a family friend lost her husband, leaving her with a few young children. My mother's   take was that she deserved it, just because she married a decent and educated person. Like that was a crime. In recent years, when someone died, she would say, "he got to go at 50." When I told her that a friend in his 40s died suddenly, she simply said "poor thing" but with a tone that she had wish it was her. 

Her life is meaningless to her. Let alone the life of others. Does she even have the capacity to grieve for others. Would she grieve if I was shot and killed at 6 while I was in school? She might. But not for the same reason. To her, I am the extension of her dreams. I am the person sent out to fulfill them. If I had died at 6, she would have lost the hope of the realization of a perceived dreams. But if she had known that I would turn out as my own person fulfilling my dreams instead of hers, she would be glad that I was dead.

So, I don't think she would understand the depth of the grief that the people in Newtown are going through. I don't think she has the capacity to understand. Worst of all, part of her probably believes that these innocent people deserves the tragedy. Her reasoning is right to her but it is just so wrong.

 Newtown Memorial

Monday, December 17, 2012

I don't care anymore does not equate to I don't hurt anymore. While I detach myself from the grip of a psychopath, I am hurt by the love I see other mothers give their children. I find myself fighting back tears when others celebrate the pregnancy of their daughter. I fought back tears when others appreciate their children's sacrifices. I fought back tears when others talked about the simple joy that they get to share with their mothers. I fought back tears to see pride in their eyes when they talked about their kids or grandchildren.

Lately we watched a lot of intervention show. Every episode triggers more hatred towards my parents. It baffled me on how deep a parent's love can be towards their useless, drugged out kid and here I am, a career woman, clean, and sober, and my mother treated me with such disdain. It just does not add up.

For the longest time, I wanted her approval. I wanted to give her pride. It is an impossible dream. Unless I am able to fulfill her EVERY unreasonable wishes, I am nothing but trash. For the longest time, I didn't realize that I am seeking something she couldn't give. I am seeking something that she simply does not have. I realize that now. While I still wish that I had a love of a mother, I am slowly learning to be okay with accepting this fact, that she has no love in her heart.

3 years ago, the disease of alcoholism threatened to destroy my marriage. It was another very tough phase of my life. It was round the second weekend of January 2010, one of the recorded coldest day in our region in 30+ years. I slept on the floor on my infant son's room. Huddled with only a thin infant blanket, wondering where will we go from here. The week began with only my second week back to work. I returned to a new place, new people. I brought my son out of the house before dawn the next after my life came crashing down on me. We sat in the dark parking lot of the daycare center. With him cooing in the back, while I sat and wonder, and my heart ache to no end. I knew what I had to do if he did nothing. I made my expectation clear to him. He researched, he quit drinking and went into therapy. He stepped up to the plate and have not had another sip to this day.

I had plan to go visit my parents that year. To let them meet the grandchild that they didn't care for. But after my personal life went topsy-turvy, I knew that comforting my parents is not top of my priority. The trip to see my parents had to be postponed for obvious reason. Healing my own wounds and reconnecting to my family is everything that I needed to do and that is exactly what I did.

This event ripped open old wounds that were never completely healed. Reminders of how they were never there for me and that they never will be. A reminder that they will be pleased to see my down fall because to them, I probably deserve it. For as long as I don't give them money, I am not worthy. I remember driving to work one day and a feeling a sheer hatred towards my parents came upon me for the very first time.

That year, my focus was on healing. Begrudgingly, I decided that they were not to get a penny of what was saved for the trip. I used some money to go on a short vacation. A rejuvenation that we both needed as we face our next chapter. I also agreed to put all the money for the trip for our bathroom renovation. It was long overdue. It was one of the many things that I had to sacrifice in order to give my parents monthly allowance, pay for some of their random bills, and to plan for trips to see them. Sacrifices upon sacrifices that were overlooked and under appreciated. I have had enough. From then on, my heart and my relationship with my parents, my mother in particular have become completely superficial.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

As the holiday inches in, I find myself getting irate. I have caught myself on several occasions having perhaps unreasonable expectations on holidays and events like birthdays. I will dwell on what I want and that it will not happen, that I will not get the gift, the surprise, the whatever. One year I remember for my birthday, I was just simmering on what my husband didn't do and I was so wrong. He did buy me gifts, he did make plans. Because he simply went about the everyday life, giving me no clue, I simply assumed that he gave no regards to my birthday. Instead of being apologetic, I brushed it off, just like my mother would have. I am my mother's daughter after all. Oh how I hate to admit that.

For years and years, my mother guilt us about many things. One thing that she ALWAYS talked about is the opportunity to travel. She wished, and oh how she wished to be able to travel and see the world. If it's not for us (the kids), there will be nothing to hold her back. She can't wait for us to grow up, so she can have her freedom. Oh, how she would LOVE to see her long time friend in England. OH her dreams. Guess what, that dream was handed to her in a platter sooner than she thought. One would have thought she would jump on the opportunity but she didn't. She was now too old in her mind. She was only in her early 50s. "Oh, what's the point," she said "I'm about to die anyways" or "why waste the money?" and so on and so forth.

HUH???? I can't win for trying. I joined the airline at 19. She can travel ANYWHERE she wants for however often she wants. She can stay in 5 stars hotel at no cost with me on my trip. I am the youngest of her children. There is NOTHING to hold her back. NOTHING! and yet....

My 2nd brother tried for YEARS to take her places and he got handed the same thing. He has always been baffled by her resistance. He has interacted with much older folks and they were right in there, having fun and doing stuff. How he wished that his mother will do that with him. He wants to take her kayaking. Stay in a nice hotel. Go to the pool. Oh no, she is not having any of that. She accusingly said to me that my brother don't understand her. He pressured her too much. He doesn't know how physically strenuous it is for her. Excuses after excuses after excuses.

I never thought giving someone such an opportunity would be so hard. Finally, after years, I had to literally blackmailed her and guilt her to take her on a trip to New Zealand. I had to lie that I had already paid for her portion and that she would have cost me THOUSANDS of dollars if she backed off. When she said her knees were bad, I had a wheelchair arranged for the trip. I bought her the best shoes. She wanted a pair of jeans, I bought it for her. I got her everything that she wanted. All expenses paid for and all she had to do was to show up. How hard is that? she did show up. She came to our place and stood at our apartment for a few days before the trip and complained that our cable stink! It always have to be something. As much as she fought not to go on the trip, she did enjoy herself. It opened her eyes to so many things. She was truly happy.....for a little while, and then she was back in her rut.

Sometimes I wonder if I should have wasted my money and effort on her. On someone who had nothing good to say about me. I still wonder. I used to look at the pictures of that trip and was glad for a long time that I did what I did. I joked about it, like I have accomplished something. Because I was able to make her go somewhere. But really, I have accomplished nothing. Going home and seeing the souvenir covered with dust was heart breaking. Was another reminder that she didn't care.

Her happiness is so short lived. Whatever we did or attempted to do for her, never measure up to what she wants. They never measure up to what she had envision. And I catch myself doing exactly the same thing. Seeing what others have and too often failing to see what I have. And ended up being caught up in feeling disappointed and feeling unhappy. Lashing out at my love ones. Just like my mother. Just like her.......

Monday, December 3, 2012

My "ah-ha" moment perhaps.....

When I heard the news of my mother's passing, it was definitely a sense of relief, followed by sheer hatred. A feeling so deep and a burden that I carried for over a year now. Although the intensity has decreased, it is still there. For over a year, I had wish that I had told her how much I hated her for all her lies and for not being there for me. For deliberately hurting me over and over again. For too long, I said all the right thing and bit my tongue. I made sure while she was alive, I did what was right and said what was right. I didn't want to carry the burden of regret for not taking the high road and be the bigger person. But not in my wildest dream would I imagine that I would ever regret not letting her know my true feelings. A feeling of sheer hatred. I know that this is not healthy but I struggled to relief this feelings. I lash out at every opportunity I have to trusted people on my feelings towards her. Many who loves me, although don't comprehend where all these hatred came from, supported me nonetheless. For that, I am truly blessed. So, what is my "ah-ha" moment? While I regretted not articulating my hatred when I had the chance to,  I also know that I would probably regret it if I did. But most of all, lashing out at her would me just like her. It would compromise who I am. Today as I sat watching Dr. Phil, it came to me. Out of the blue, I came to a simple realization that instead of battling for the final word, I should be proud of how I handled the situation all these years. I should be proud of my ability to deflect. I should be proud of my ability to stand tall and do what is right. To set boundaries and to protect my family. My ability love myself and not let anyone, not even my mother to take advantage of me. For that, I think my healing process is beginning take place. I may not ever forgive her but I will at least know that I am not like her and I am the better person.


Sunday, December 2, 2012

As the holiday approaches, I find myself being reminded of many memories.Last memory with my mother around the holiday is definitely unpleasant. She was mad at me for something. I never really know what the trigger was but I certainly felt her animosity.  I called and called and called and called. Given our time difference, it is not always easy to find the right time to call. My youngest niece would be the one to answer the phone and she was expected to lie on grandma's behalf, and she did a real good job. Somehow I know that this is not the first time she had to lie for grandma's sake. She was well trained and it broke my heart. For a few weeks, I believed the lie that grandma had gone to bed. At 6/7pm? quite unlikely. But who am I to question. But by the fourth or fifth call, I was suspicious. I let the holiday went by without talking to her. I finally woke myself up one day at 4/ 5 am, simply to make that call. She finally answered. I have proven a point and then what? Time wasted. It aggravated me. It saddened me. Perhaps that's what she wanted. To ruin my holidays. It didn't ruin mine but it certainly ruin hers. It gave her another story to tell. Another story of abandonment by her children.


As little children, holiday was the busiest time of the year for my mother, myself and my 2nd brother. Given that my dad pastor a church in a small fishing village, the three of us gathered the children in the neighborhood for practice as soon as the school holiday started in around the end of November. My 2nd brother was very talented and he choreographed dance, songs, and we decorated the church. We had very little resources but that didn't stop us from being resourceful. Every year, there was a theme. My most memorable ones were the one where we painting twigs in silver and putting ornaments on them and the year we used a huge porcelain barrel with a basketball, and covered it with cotton to make a snowman. It was our escape to places we've never been. Year after year after year, we put on a great show and we were well acknowledged by both church goers as well as non church goers. The church was always packed to the brim. It was definitely a moment of glory. That was my holiday as a child. I never really said anything to anyone but as a child, I remembered yearning to have a break. I just wanted to go places. But I knew better. I knew that I couldn't say that. It would not be well taken. It's amazing what a child can sense even when she has no words to articulate her desire. So year after year, I simply did what I had to do until it ended abruptly 8 years later.

Christmas carols always bring me to that day. Me sitting in the car with my ex. as we drove along Orchard Road while the shadow of Christmas decorations cast over me. Sitting in the car, I realized a year had gone by and we were right where we started. A year ago, I was certain that things would be better and I just realized that things weren't. I just realized that it was time to take action. Before long, I gave him an ultimatum which he didn't fulfill. I proceeded with divorce paper and the entire process took over a year. A year of agony, pain, and at times, fear for my life. He had his family backing him up and supporting him. Speaking for him and advocating for him. I had no one but my friends. A friend gave me a room to stay rent free for 6 months. Another friend took me home for dinner day after day and keeping me company, comforting me and letting me know that I matter. Covering up for me at work when I broke down and overwhelmed by all the legal battle. My parents did not call me for the entire year. I stopped calling because I ended up having to console my mother when my own life was potentially in danger. When my mother finally called, it was to ask how much I was to make with the sale of my apartment. I was so offended when she promised my sister-in-law that I was to give them $20,000 from the proceed of the sale.  I remembered vividly as I crossed the road one particular day. I realized that I am nothing but a bank account to my parents. They wouldn't care if I got hit and die. As long as they didn't have to foot the bill of my funeral, it didn't matter.


Christmas was also the first time I met my now in-laws. I remembered being completely overwhelmed by the gifts I received. I remembered vividly realizing that the gifts I received that day was more than what I had gotten my entire life! That was also the day that I realized that I want my Christmas to be just like that. Where family gathers to create happy memories.