Thursday, January 31, 2013
I always find comfort in songs. The song that got me by when my mother passed is I'm Movin' On by Rascal Flatts. So much said in that song is so true. I have ghosts that haunted me while living and gone when dead. I rise above it all as I was beaten down. I was burdened with blame in every corner but I just kept moving on. Every time I go home, I see all the familiar faces and as the song said "They mean me no harm but it's time that I face it, they'll never allow me to change." But the part that stab my soul is the truth within the next sentence "But I never dreamed home would end up where I don't belong." Never in my whole being have I ever imagine being rejected by my own. The ones that were meant to protect me, are the very ones that hurt me. I'm movin' on - I had to. 

As I relate to the song, I gain inspiration that my best years are ahead of me. Like the song said, there's no guarantees but I'm not alone. As I wait patiently for my life to reveal itself, I recall how my parents just let those years passed them but unlike them and as the song said "I have made up my mind that those days are gone." I did pack up my bag. I went out and explore the world. I took chances. I fall and I rise. As I learn to love like I should but live like I shouldn't, I will keep movin on. Last as the song ended "Maybe forgiveness will find me somewhere down this road, I'm movin' on." - Just maybe.

The song that caught my attention lately is "Merry go round" by Kacey Musgraves. A friend lately said that he'll write my book once he is done with his. He has the title chosen and my husband has the actress chosen to play me when my movie comes out. Seriously, I think the boys are having too much fun with this. In any case, my friend paid quite a few compliments regarding my resilience as I share more about my past in another one of our casual conversation. Maybe that's why the song became so real as I listen to it.

The song talked about people just settling down like dust, stuck in a cycle of broken merry go round, and where it stops, nobody knows. It reminded me about the life that could have been mine. Doing the mundane, day in and day out, without knowing why. Putting on my Sunday best, reading a passage from the Bible and wondering where I could have been.

That was the very life my mother had lived. Going by tradition and not knowing why. She married like she's suppose to. She had kids like she's suppose to.  In the end, it got the best of her. Just like the song ended "And Mary had a little lamb, Mary just don't give a damn no more."

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Chinese New Year is round the corner. It is one of the most festive season in our culture. Family gather for reunion dinner. Children receiving the red packets. Time where traditions are upheld and pass down from one generation to another. Sounds of fireworks and lion dance surrounds the neighborhood. Family stay up late on New Year's eve, believing that it will prolong the lives of our love ones.


Growing up, you can hear the sound of crickets in our household during Chinese New Year. The festivity is almost non-existent. Festivity that usually begins on New Year's eve where family gather from far and wide to feast together, was never celebrated in our household. My paternal grandmother was alive for most of my childhood and I've never met her. My parents have never taken the time to visit her or my other relatives. Not even during the New Year.  So, not only do I know very little about my heritage, I know very few of my relatives. Traditions were mocked in my family. We don't ever stay up late on New Year's eve. We don't light fireworks. We don't respect others when they refrained from sweeping during New Year's Day for fear of sweeping away their good fortune. 

But surprise, surprise, on the first day of New Year, we do dress up, go to church, visit a few friends, get red packets, and go home. Somehow, the tradition that has some involvement with money was upheld in my family. Mum always knew how much we were given in every red packet. She was always very happy when the amount was big. Thinking back, I have no idea where all my money gathered during the New Year went.  

Since living overseas, I am experiencing the same silence during the New Year. More than ever I yearn for the festivity. When I had no one to celebrate with, I will put on my red silk top on the day of the New Year. Last few years, I gathered a few close friends and hosted my version of Chinese New Year "party." Every year, I learn a little more about my tradition. I can't replicate what I missed and what could have been, but at the very least, I appreciate the tradition. I am proud of my heritage. While I still don't believe in many of the superstitions, I respect them. For now, it is time to start baking my pineapple tart. Time to get the ball rolling. Time to see if I can put together a super awesome YuSheng!

Friday, January 25, 2013

I always feel like I have it worse than everyone around me. I always feel like I need the validation that mine is worse than yours for whatever reason.  It's kinda obnoxious of me when others' share their story and at the back of my mind, I will catch myself undermining their past, their hurt, their pain. I hate it when that is done to me and I am replicating the very act that I despise. Silencing that voice is no easy task but whenever I did listen, it was appreciated. It also made me realize that mine is not always the worst of them all.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Courage to speak up.

When I was growing up, I always felt like I don't have a voice. I felt unprotected and I felt that I have no advocate. Those who could have spoken up for me, could have defended me, did not. The one thing I always wanted is to have a voice and to be a voice for those who can't speak for themselves. Today, I do a fairly good job advocating for myself and my family. Professionally, I am able to steer people to do what is best for the little ones. However, I find myself still having no voice in certain situations. Being raised in the Eastern culture, I never had the experience of having someone in my face. I do feel threatened and physically, I feel like my heart is about to pound out of my chest when it happens. I have to challenge myself to rise above that because more often than not, I have reason to speak up. I have to speak up and quiet the aggressor in order to protect the vulnerable. I am in a position of authority to speak up and I am still afraid. I am also afraid to challenge those in authority or above me. Whenever I am positioned in a less than preferred situation, I generally do not speak up. My biggest fear is retaliation. Something I experienced too much of when I was growing up.

The one thing that is ingrained in my mind happened years ago. I must be around five or so. Mum bought something she shouldn't have and I blab it to dad. A HUGE mistake. She took me aside and although I don't remember what was said, I do remember feeling so guilty and so bad for even saying anything and since then, I don't say anything unless it is safe. Perhaps this is where my fear lies.

Growing up I must say that I never felt unprotected until I joined the work force. I joined the airline at 19. I traveled the world. I was overseas, alone, and open to predators. I was almost violated a few times but I was savvy enough to wiggle my way out of it, physically unharmed but emotionally shaken. I remember calling my mother after the first incident with a flight engineer. A married man twenty thirty years my senior, who tried to do the unthinkable. She brushed me off with no signs of empathy at all. I remember what she said to this day "that happens in every work place." In other words "get over it." In other words, she has no interest in protecting my rights. From then onwards, I knew, I was on my own. I have had several other close calls but as time went by, I learned what not to do. I learned to self protect and not put myself in position where I can be violated. Similar things have happened to other girls but the outcomes were quite different. Most of their parents took legal actions and the perpetrators were either fired or demoted. Of course, there were those like me. Some turned to alcohol to soothe their pain but secrets were revealed as they try to forget.

Through it all, I learned that predators know who to target. I learned that power is resources. I learned that power is knowledge. Power is connection. I had none of those things that would have empowered me and protected me. I was an easy target. I am proud to say that I am no longer an easy target. I have resources. I have knowledge and I know my way around. But unfortunately I am not proud to admit that I am not using my resources, my connection, my knowledge to protect those who are in position I once were. I still let my fear overwhelms me. I still let the voice of my past threaten  and silent me. I cannot let this be my legacy. For every time I don't speak up for those who needs me, I see myself denying a life line as they are drowning before me. I do need to find this voice of advocacy within me. I do need to silent my fear. I do need to rise above the threat of retaliation. I need to know that if I don't speak up for those who have no voice, I am doing to them what was done to me. I need to learn to be brave enough to do what's right.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

I always described myself in my 20s as "stupid." I was gullible. Easily hurt. I have dreams that were yet to be realized. In my 30s, I felt more in control. I have matured and become quite a woman. Today in my 40s, I am more content than I have ever been and I believe my best years are yet to come. Quite different from my mother's hopeless view of life. When my mother was at my age, she was healthy, has 3 healthy children, a home with a yard for her to indulge in her gardening, and she didn't have to worry about her 3 square meals. She was respected in the community. She had everything one can ever ask for but she never knew nor appreciated what she had. It's true that happiness is a state of mind. She was never happy with what she had. It really didn't matter what she own or what I could have done. Even if she lived another 100 years and given the world, she would have been just as miserable.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Went to a funeral today.   A friend's mum passed away. I got ready and I put on my mother's ring. A pretty set of pearls. Wasn't one of my favorite but today it just seemed appropriate. The funeral was held in a small church. Quite like the one I grew up in. We sang old hymns. The ones I sang as a little girl. The pastor gave the eulogy using the same phrase my dad had used week after week. Being there today brought back memories of my childhood but I'm surprised how unemotional I was. Perhaps I was numb. Perhaps I wanted so much not to shed another tear for my parents that I shut all my emotional connection down. A year ago, I had a sense of much intense hatred and anger that I no longer feel today. Perhaps this is my second stage of grieving. I don't know.

Today's funeral was about a woman who had lived a full life. A daughter's grieve and sadness. A daughter left behind. I felt left behind years before my mother's passing. That hurts me more than her actual passing.

When a person loses a parent, I can only assume that it is comforting when others says "I'm sorry for your loss." For someone in my position, I have people wishing me ill before I can even begin. And when others who care expressed their sympathy, I can only respond with graciousness. Very few can comprehend the true struggle of love never had. Very few can comprehend the hurt to see relationship that others have had and while it is sad to see my friend lose her mother, she will always have memories to cherish. My memories are not nice. It is filled with rejection. It is filled with hateful lies and hurtful words.

While I am sad that my friend had to say goodbye to her mother, I am also sad for me. I am sad that I didn't have a mother like hers to say goodbye to.

Friday, January 18, 2013

I always consider myself a tomboy at heart. For that I thought maybe that's why I never had a vision for my wedding day. No interest in beautiful thing or beautifying myself. No mother instinct for the longest time. But recently I wonder if being a tomboy is what is hindering me from having the capability to crave for such things? I begin to question and analyze how my feelings have evolved over the years. Perhaps it is not so innate afterall.

In my teens, my one wish in life is to have access to higher education. As we graduated highschool, I see my peers going overseas. I see that their family had plans for them and I had nothing. While I was as bright as the others, my road for higher education ended there. At 19, I joined the airline. I saved every penny. I ate instant noodles while my peers graced the street of Paris, London, Tokyo etc. and filled their wardrobe with only the best. When in town, I ate at local food stall while my peers partied in the best club and drank the finest wine. I was the odd one out. I couldn't do what they did. I couldn't indulge because I have a goal. To pay for a higher education. And that is what I did.

But that is not all, I took it a step too far. I was ridden with guilt if I even dare to indulge. The first New Year's day that I spent overseas, I was overwhelmed with guilt when I went out to dinner with my peers at a fancy restaurant. I couldn't help but compare the cost of that dinner to the average cost of my parents' meal. I was so indoctrinated by the guilt if I dare to spend a penny on myself. I carry that guilt for too many years. Over the years, as I slowly allow myself to care for myself, I started to feel empowered. It started with getting a decent haircut. Followed by buying a nice outfit for an occasion. Buying a nice pair of shoes, a purse. But I still short changed myself on bigger things like a vacation or my wedding. It was only in recent years that I allow myself to indulge in bigger things and my parents completely held that against me to their death bed.

Mother instinct. How can I even have one when I was told that I was a regret. That my own mother had wish that she had never had me. I don't even know what is mother instinct. I have never heard my mother talked about the joy of motherhood. She never told us about the cute things we did as a baby. She never talked about how she felt when I took my first step. As my peers had babies, I can't relate and don't see what is the big deal with those kids. I don't see what the ranting and raving is about. I don't know what is the purpose of having children. And then, I have my son and suddenly it all made sense. I just wished that I knew what I was missing out all those years.

While I still consider myself a tomboy, I am starting to allow myself to be a girl. As a mother, my instinct is as intact as one can be. I am allowing myself to indulge a little bit more here and there. I will continue to watch my spending but today it is becoming more of being smart and budgeting, and not because it is driven by guilt.


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

If my mother is a narcissistic, what about my father? I asked my husband as I referred to my dad "what is that?" and he said "a zombie." I can't think of a better term. My dad simply existed. He has no opinion. No awareness. He was just there. I remember once he corrected my 1st grade work when I was already in highschool. That just doesn't even make sense. He "pastored" a church. He gave the same sermon for 8 years. Same script, same prayer. He once mistaken the yellow river with the red sea. He simply stared at the Bible day in and day out. He never had to wake up early to go to work. He goofed around the yard. Took us to school. Annoyed my mother. 

Towards the end, as my mother became this tyrant, he simply repeated what she said to others in letters to me and my 2nd brother. I can't figure out what's up with him. I can't figure out how I am the way I am today. I am an irony. I should be in a nut house after reflecting on where I came from. It's a wonder that I even have any sense.

My father passed away 11 months after my mother's passing, on Father's Day. He carried on with his letters after mum died. Saying the same thing but for the first time, he said that he loved her. I guess that's the only love he knew. She hated him. She wished him dead and he knew it. They were tangled up in their web of whatever and we, the kids and grandkids were caught in it. I am still untangling myself from the web but it's the remains of the poisonous pus that are hard to get rid of. I am still seeking the remedy.

Sometimes I wonder if my dad has always been like that. Did he turn himself off after living with my mother. Seriously, who wouldn't! Sometimes I wonder if there was ever a person in there. I don't hate my dad like I hate my mother. I've always viewed her as the ring leader and he was simply a blind follower. I don't like that but at least he has never used guilt to get us to fulfill his agenda. But then again, he has no agenda. I guess I'll never know the answer. But one thing I do know is that, my mother has been wanting to get away from him for years and he only gave her 11 months before he trailed her behind to the after life. Well, they can carry on their drama over there and I pray that when I cross over, my path won't cross with them. Because I've had it with them in this life!
My other mother in law is planning a visit next month. I have to say that I am not thrilled about the visit. Today I confessed that sentiment to my husband. I am aware of my fragile feelings and unresolved issues with my own mother. While I'm sorting out my inner struggles, part of me still wish that I had a final say with my own mother.  I have held my tongue with this mother-in-law for far too many times. A reminder of what I've done for years with my own mother. I am more than ever is likely to spill what would have been kept at the tip of my tongue. I can't stop her from visiting. There is never a good time for someone like her to visit. You can't stop her from wanting to do what she wants and if I try to even disagree or have a different opinion, I know I will be shot down with a condescending and crude remark. At this stage, such behavior will be so much harder for me to tolerate or bite my tongue to keep the peace. Only time will tell. I will continue to strive to be the one that takes the high road. I will strive to be the hero but I can't guarantee that I can at this time.   

Saturday, January 12, 2013

My mother's death is deemed a suicide in my eye. Months before she left, I knew within my heart that the end was near. There were hints here and there. The last time we spoke, the conversation ended abruptly. She had a sudden urgency to go to the bathroom. She left the phone unhooked and never returned to it. I listened to her voice as she spoke to my niece for awhile. Realizing that she had forgotten that I was on still on the phone, I hung up. And that was the last time I heard her voice.  My eldest brother also left a couple of hints here and there. Hints of her hallucinating but not saying much more.

The call came from our close family friend. She told me that my mother was in a coma. I was told that she had a big argument with my eldest brother a few months prior. In the heat of the argument, she told my brother that she would stop all her medications because she wanted to die. That was exactly what she did. That triggered the hallucinations and then stroke and then coma.

I decided not to go see her for the final time and I have no regret to this day. There was no reason to see someone who hated me and who never appreciated me. I also didn't want to have an image of my mother in the condition she was in. I didn't want to have to leave my toddler behind to see someone who wouldn't even know that I was there. It was pointless.

My eldest brother very quickly asked for thousands of dollars to hire a foreign maid for my mother. Through my family friend, I found out that was not an option as my brother would not have met the approval for a foreign maid since he hadn't been paying his income tax for years. Then, I tried looking into hiring a part time local person to help clean and bathe her and that did not materialize. My brother also wanted money to buy diapers and supplies for her. Knowing that money would not have gone to the right purpose, I decided to purchase the items and mailed them. They arrived and but not in time.

Her last few months of her life were not pretty as I was told. She was laid naked with a thin sheet covering her in the middle of the living room. She had no bowel control. She had bed sore. She grunted when she was changed. She also opened her eyes when lifted into sitting position. A hallow set of eyes staring into others. I was told, perhaps looking to see if the rest of her children would be there. Knowing that neither me nor my 2nd brother planned to be there, our close family friend whispered to her to tell her to just let go.

She finally died. Left as insignificant as she arrived. A life unappreciated. A life that could have been so much more but was drown in a sea of hatred and resentment. I don't miss her. My greatest relief is not having to hear her hurtful words ever again.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Not too long ago, an acquaintance attempted to take advantage of a situation. Without hesitation, I set my boundaries and went on with things. Come to find out, the person was offended by my lack of cooperation. A common friend was rather concerned that this person may spread rumors about me. In the midst of our conversation I simply told this common friend that this person can say whatever she wants and besides I'm used to being the bad person.

That statement truly came from my past. My parents have successfully spread every possible rumors and lies about me. Over the years, I have learned that people are not blind. They see what they see and if what they see do not support what they hear, they will eventually figure out the truth. Of course along the way, my parents have a handful of die hard supporters who stood by them no matter what. Many of whom I don't really care anyways but I do have to cut ties with love ones who simply are blinded by their love and devotions for my parents. And that is no easy feat.

Due to my parents lack of care and respect for the money I have given them, a close family friend helped to hand them a monthly allowance under the pretense that the money was from them. My parents were so full of themselves that they never once questioned how this family can even afford to give them a monthly allowance. Initially, my mother in particular accepted the money with some gratitude but before long, she took the money with a sense of entitlement. For years, this family friend was burdened by the secret. She was very hurt when my mother said the meanest thing about me to the world. She tried every way to defend me and everything she said was met with blunt rebuttal that if I had cared about them, I would have sent some money.

My mother's tale to the world was while I am leading a fabulous life, I left them in shamble. Given the amount of crap they have said to the world, I would expect others to hate me. Instead, many were not blinded by the lies. Some things that came back to me were, if they were so poor, how come they have brand name stuff from head to toe. If they were so poor, how come they are better fed that others. If they are so poor, how come they have the latest gadgets. If they are so poor, how come all the grandkids each have a cell phone. This family friend who helped with the money was ridiculed by others for being so dumb to give my parents money. She was questioned by her own children who asked why she gave away her money while denying them of some privileges. Over time, she had to reveal the truth to her children in particular. She also confided with a few trusted friends, often to defend my integrity. 

Before my mother passed away, this family friend told my mother where the money had come from. She couldn't bear the thought of my mother bearing this grudge against me in her death bed. Truth is, it really didn't matter. My mother would have found some thing else to hate me with. With the truth revealed, my brother's wife and children managed to carry the torch to swindle from me. Knowingly, I let them have the final dip after my father passed away and that was that.

I am forever grateful to this family friend. Who stood by me and defended me. Who gave account for every penny that went through her hand. Who did what she did simply from the kindness of her heart. If I can say a prayer for her, I want her to have a prosperous life. I want her blessed beyond human understanding.