I am surrounded by remnants of lives I have lived, lives I intended to live. Piles of raw materials waiting to be sewn, knitted, painted, and assembled. Two closets, over ten years of clothing, ranging from sizes 4 to 10. Dishes, pans, utensils... yoga props... musical instruments...
and boxes, boxes, boxes of notebooks, slips of paper, pictures cut from magazines; breadcrumbs I've accumulated, wandering along my path. Reminders of where I came from, what I went through. How I imagined life would transpire; my disappointments, my accomplishments... my shame, my pride... my fears, my hopes.
My darkest fear has been that I might be "crazy". My greatest hope has been to share a full life with a man who loves and understands me. I wonder... The rabbit. The symbol of magical thinking. Can one fear something bad into happening? We would like to believe that we can wish for good things... and in aiming our good intentions towards a goal, align our decisions and actions to achieve it.
As is the common story, I was miserable in high school... So miserable that my guidance counselor advised my parents to take me to see a psychologist. This should have been a good idea. I did need professional help. But there was a stigma lingering in my family at that time.
"So, what's going on?" my dad asked, with a very unreceptive tone. "Are you crazy or what?"
This was how he prepared me for my first psychological evaluation. It was a mistake. My mother should have been the one to drive me to the appointment. No one inquired whether I had a preference. My mother had to work that day.
This first psychologist was a man. This was a mistake. I saw him only once, and although I cried throughout the session, I lied to nearly every question. Did anyone hurt me? Did I think about hurting myself? Was a sexually active?
I have never been raped, molested, abused. I did deliver myself to a 25 year old man that I met in an America Online chatroom when I was 16 years old. By the time I was twenty, he had convinced me to move to New York to live with him- and his mother. It became obvious that it was a bad decision immediately, but I stayed for three years. And when I left to go to graduate school in Philadelphia, we were still planning to get married after my graduation. The carrot held over my head all those years- a ring. The night I broke him up, he drove the hundred miles down to my dorm and proposed. When I declined, he refused to leave and tried to force me to have sex with him. He was not stronger than me, and for the first time in all those years, I made it apparent. For months afterwards, he sent cards and Christmas presents to my parents. I never spoke to him again.
My mother says that I barely spoke or walked until I was three years old. I was the youngest, the only daughter. My brothers, eight and nine years my senior, assume this is why I received special treatment. I attribute it to one of my earliest memories. When I was about three, I ran behind my father's pickup truck as he was backing out of the driveway. I recall intending to wave goodbye to him in his rearview mirror. ...There were no broken bones or permanent injuries, but my father has never forgiven himself. Perhaps this is why they worked hard to give me piano lessons, dance lessons, and trips to my mother's native country (South Korea).
Still, I always felt like I was lacking. My parents told me I could do anything I wanted, but I would have to do it on my own- Not because they weren't supportive, but because they didn't know how to go about helping me. They said I could build a ladder to climb as high as I wanted, but they did not know how to build one themselves... or where to find wood... and they couldn't afford tools. It was obvious to me early on that my artistic talents were not going to provide a comfortable lifestyle for my potential future family. So, I put aside my creative endeavors... A long winding road led me to a career in speech pathology. Now I provide therapy for two year olds who are not developing communication and social skills on a typical timeline. Some children, undoubtedly, similar to myself as a child.
It is a good living, and I love helping people... But frustrating, trying to help parents learn to meet their children half way- Help them understand that we have to start by understanding how the child is trying to communicate with us before we try to force our manners of communication on them.
After the New York boyfriend, my grandmother passed away. In the midst of this tragedy, I fell in love with an old high school crush, who was now residing in a town outside of Philly. He reluctantly fell into a relationship with me... a combination of financial strife on his part and emotional need on mine. We stayed together for three years. It was only when his career began to recover that I began to realize we were not happy together after all I saw it before him. Another man saw it before me.
The other man took me by surprise, seduced me into the sort of affair I should have had in high school- had I not been fooling around with an internet predator. He was a talented musician, and I was... confused... but inspired- and for the first time in almost a decade, my creative side reemerged. I started to write music, to play guitar, to sing in front of crowds.
Suddenly I was meeting so many people.
During college, I focused on gaining experience with the cognitively challenged and those on the austistic spectrum.
In my first semester at graduate school, my clinical supervisor told me that I was intelligent and academically prepared, but I simply demonstrated no confidence. I left in tears with the advice, "fake it until you make it". The next semester, when we met again, she told me, she was so impressed, "I can't tell whether you're faking it or not, but keep it up!" I held back my tears until I left her office and reached the restroom.
It was not until years later, after I entered the world of music that I realized how inadequate my own social skills were. How was I supposed to teach children skills that I did not have? I made a study of everyone around me. I experimented the way I should have in my adolescence- had I not been so afraid of the warm cheeks and skin tingling that accompanied my embarrassment.
When I realized that my affair was transparent to so many... When I began to pour my heart out in song... I stopped worrying about how embarrassing it all should have been. To my surprise, no one was judging me- except myself.
I dabbled very briefly in the modeling and acting communities. The problem was- everyone was looking for a type. A half-Korean, half-Caucasian girl of my sort fails to fit into any particular boxes.
I always wanted my mother's exotic dark skin and my father's precious blue eyes... and above all, a petite figure. But I was cursed with my father's pale skin that burned and freckled in the sun, my mother's typical Asian brown eyes, and following puberty, curves that refused to be contained in the little clothes I so coveted.
During one fit-model go-see, I was informed that my hips were one inch too big and my stomach, one inch too small. I decided then and there, modeling was not for me... Music has never asked me to be anyone but myself.
If one begins life, slowing accumulating... objects, clothing... interests, skills. Then at some point one must have too many balls to juggle. I am beginning to make choices about which ones to put down, whether there are new ones I want to pick up... I try not to drop any, but sometimes I fail.
What does it all mean? Where am I going?
I'm still afraid I might be crazy. It is impossible to keep track of all the faces and names. -and this story. I am so tired of hearing my own story... does it add up to who I am now? What does that mean about who I will be in the future? ...or is it all just remnants...