Neglect and abuse go together like deep breaths and serenity. These opposites are intertwined in lives like mine. Sexual abuse at five or six from an older female and, later, older males. Neglect and physical abuse from my mom and dad. It's no wonder some of the depressive and extreme thoughts that cycle through!
In favor of a continuous balance, these days I strive to walk an ambiguous line between darker, restrictive thoughts and healthier, lighter frames of reference. Hence this blog, the artwork, and a general development of what I might have once called softer skills. The truth is, I don't like the way I feel when I focus on suicide, cutting myself, or trying to escape my life. The dissociation that used to be so frequent, it feels uncomfortable now. Those teens and early 20s, you know. All wild and carefree, limitless with belief and dreams and risky behavior. I didn't think about knowing red flags for abuse. Life was tumultuous to live and also fun beyond imagination. Bringing those earlier selves into harmony with current day... as I go to work, as I interact with my boss and other coworkers and other people in life in situations that can feel demeaning... it's a lot of effort. Getting older right now is all about finding ways to express myself and doing so in ways that harmonize with my environment. Boundaries and feeling safe are a real skill, and learning how to practice with such skills takes time. A lifetime, probably.
There is a special kind of peace that happens when we accept ourselves and our moments. We are not smaller or less than anyone, and no one is smaller or less than us. We are able to find ways to help our mind and body exist comfortably with our spirit. I really enjoy great art and adventurous life choices. On that note, I read an amazing comic by Yumi Sakugawa, The Moon in the Mountains. It really captures how I feel in the world sometimes, most times, under the surface. It's online at http://therumpus.net/2013/02/saturday-rumpus-comic-the-moon-between-the-mountains/, but seriously if you can read a hard copy it's so satisfying to hold in the hands. Love that part about climbing out the window and into the universe around us. Also read this interview with Cheryl Cohen Greene, a sex surrogate, at http://www.sadiemagazine.com/issue-no-12/centerfold/cheryl-does-it. It's really far out to me how she shows other people how to masturbate and practice other intimate acts. I wonder if she experienced sexual abuse as a child, too, and now shows others how to handle sex with respect and kindness.
For the first time in a long time, I recently attended a happy hour. I like a nice rye whiskey or a dark beer if wine isn't around. My relationship with alcohol has gone through many iterations. In the past, there have been periods of time during which I drank to excess and did risky stuff while inebriated. There was someone at the happy hour who reminded me of those times. She seemed to drink too much too fast. I didn't know quite how far gone she was until she threw a dart way too close to my head. I was being careful, too! That's the thing about happy hours, though. They involve me with my boundaries, others with theirs, and a lot of something that could make all of those lines quite hazy.
Check it out! Caring For The Bicultural Family: The Korean-American Example (JABFP, May-June 1993: 261-268). It's super interesting and discusses how to bridge gaps in communication in bicultural families. For example, B. Wayne Blount, MD, MPH, MA, and Amos Curry, MSW, advise that "...it is not appropriate to equate the nonexpression of emotions in Asian women with the absence of those emotions" (266). They also talk about the idea of a "cultural broker" and describe it as a "rare individual who understands both cultures well, who has bridged the differences between them, and who can live comfortably in either one" (266).
My experiences tell me that the Korean-American elements translate well into Chinese-American. I see myself and some other bicultural children as cultural brokers. A few tables and other sections of the article really stick out. Here recently, I've been thinking about how I might have been depressed as a child and not known to describe it as such. On the sixth page of that JABFP article, the authors describe how a child might present with depression: "abdominal distress, sleep disturbances, headaches..."
Well hello there.