lessons learned on the path to awakening

Order mat­ters. Timing is impor­tant. It’s help­ful to arrive at the point where things can only get bet­ter, but los­ing every­thing takes time. Making mis­takes is okay. Being unable to cope is okay. Not being ready to say it back is okay. Life is a bal­ance between hold­ing on and let­ting go. Some peo­ple should never have chil­dren. You’re only over some­one when you don’t need to make a con­scious effort to stop think­ing about them. The first step in tak­ing respon­si­bil­ity for your needs is com­mu­ni­cat­ing those needs.

cat

Cats are lit­tle bun­dles of non-judgmental, unas­sum­ing, food-conditional love.

I need to be with lis­ten­ers more than talk­ers. A day spent writ­ing let­ters that will never be read isn’t a waste. Some peo­ple don’t know how to help, but that doesn’t mean they don’t care. It’s impor­tant to make peace with one’s suf­fer­ing. You never stop grow­ing with the right peo­ple in your life. She never loved me more than the words I wrote. The last thing I want is to be ignored when I open up. It’s okay when friends pri­or­i­tize their kids before me. It’s okay to pri­or­i­tize myself before any­one else. Always be mind­ful of long hair when cuddling.

Foxhole party

There are peo­ple who love me enough to save my life (and pants are optional at their parties).

The ones with a lit­tle bit of dark­ness to them tend to be more inter­est­ing. If a guy in a suit is cute like me, that means I’m cute like him. Lisa is my third cat and that’s enough for now. I deserve to be happy. A bad trip doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily mean a bad expe­ri­ence. Strength is often quiet, recep­tive deter­mi­na­tion, rather than chest-thumping pushi­ness. Being kind to dif­fi­cult peo­ple is just as impor­tant as being kind to bene­fac­tors and friends; being kind to myself is most impor­tant of all.

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hey, c'mon

He’s only 40, an age I’d still con­sider young for a doc­tor. I see the fea­tures of so many of my Chinese peers in his face, though he’s actu­ally an Irish expat. Family and a restau­rant sealed his par­ents deci­sion to emi­grate to the Emerald Isle when he was too young to speak. It explains why his con­ver­sa­tional dic­tion is impec­ca­ble while some spo­ken con­so­nants are merged or lost, a famil­iar accent from being born into a Cantonese fam­ily. This imme­di­ately puts me on my guard. I’ve rarely got­ten along with those peers; the cul­ture hasn’t been kind.

But I’m not here for myself. I didn’t even make the appoint­ment, which is why I don’t know what to say.

Thankfully, he takes the lead and takes his time. The ques­tions cover a mot­ley gamut, and I can tell how com­pre­hen­sive his notes are through the clack­ing of the keyboard.

At some point he asks if any­one came with me, and I tell him who’s in the wait­ing room. He kindly offers to speak to her on my behalf, but she already knows. It’s the only rea­son I’m telling this story another time. I can’t help admit­ting how humil­i­at­ing it is to be so depen­dent on oth­ers, to need peo­ple like her so des­per­ately some­times that I can’t imag­ine how I’d sur­vive with­out them.

Without any change in his pro­ce­dural tone, he says this sen­ti­ment is part of our Chinese guilt. We dis­ap­point our par­ents by not being strong enough to live up to their expec­ta­tions as self-reliant adults, but they pre­vent us from grow­ing up by treat­ing us like chil­dren and refus­ing to let us make our own deci­sions. He knows, cause he’s gone through the same thing. At the same time, he never con­dones my feel­ings, offer­ing a reas­sur­ance that we all han­dle things dif­fer­ently, and that we can’t do it alone some­times. It tells me he doesn’t just lis­ten; he cares.

Before send­ing me off with a dose of Pristiq, he hands me a sealed enve­lope — on it writ­ten “emer­gency room let­ter” — and tells me to give it to the doc­tor at the Queensway-Carleton, while care­fully sug­gest­ing I have noth­ing to lose at this point. It makes sense, but I’m not ready. Not yet. This is good for now. She’ll thank me for tak­ing this step, one that’s as much for her as it is for me.

After, we hold hands in the car while wait­ing to be com­posed enough to be seen in pub­lic, bass lines wash­ing over us like heart­beats, an affir­ma­tion of rea­sons for and the things I love.