The Cut-Off Defence

Through all this, I’ve come to realize that I cut people out of my life as a defence mechanism.

When someone hurts me, I distance myself from them so they mean nothing to me.

And if someone means nothing to me, they can’t hurt me.

Often it’s an easy choice — just one wrong word or action — but not all the time. Cutting off my mom was by no means a rash decision; it took years of consideration and plenty of chances before she finally went too far.

What surprises me the most is that even though I now know that I have this defence mechanism, I don’t see a problem with it.

I’ve been hurt by enough people, and I don’t want to be hurt any more.


  1. If you’ve seen the movie, the book is pretty similar. The Kitchen God’s Wife and Hundred Secret Senses were good too, but are pretty formulaic. (If you haven’t seen the movie, don’t want to spoil it for you) I think Amy Tan tends to focus on ancestry and rediscovering roots, dealing mostly with issues of first generation immigrants and identity issues of second generation children. Stuff like trying to figure out which side of the line they fall on, Chinese or North American? While some of the stuff resonates, there is a certain elevated and noble tone to the entire thing. While I’m interested in the past I never knew, I’m not sure it occupies that large a space in my life.

    I tried reading a book called the Jade Peony by Wayson Choy, but I couldn’t get past the first couple of chapters. I’m working through another book right now by Terry Woo that I just bought called Banana Boys (yeah, white on the inside, yellow on the outside) which is sort of like Douglas Coupland meets Amy Tan with vignettes of a few different characters who are students at UWaterloo. It’s a fun read and so far, I find I can relate to it pretty well, but I’ll hopefully post something about it on my now-decrepit blog when I finish reading it.

  2. Your realization about how much importance your history weighs in your life is exactly the way I feel. Even with a renewed interest in my culture in the last year, I know it’s not THAT significant.

    Maybe these movies/books are for the parents (first generation immigrants), not the kids. I remember a bunch of my aunts going with my mom to see it in the theater and they were bawling when they came out.

    And I read about Banana Boys just a couple of months ago! I think I’ll have to pick that up some time. There’s something about books that are based on local areas, and I knew a bunch of people who went to UWaterloo for university.

    By the way, you have to (re)enable comments on your blog!

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