As in the title above, I am in the process of telling my dad I go through therapy.
In Korea, it was deemed almost taboo for someone to go to a therapist for psychological reasons. They thought anything that was psychological was either considered a sign on weakness or insanity.
Well, these days people are taking it much more seriously- and I personally know many people who go to the therapist on a regular basis: yes, including me.
It was hard to open up to my mom and dad about this, because the first time I told them I was suffering from depression– which was way back in my teenage years, they didn’t take it very well.
My mom burst into tears. She asked me if I was out of my mind- and asked me in such a mean way “that I have it pretty good, and that I don’t understand what real suffering is.” To be honest, that is just one of the bad episodes I have with her.
These days, I’ve been dropping hints about my mental issues:
I take sleep medication, because I can’t sleep.
I can’t take the subway when it is crowded- I sometimes faint and often freak out.
I go to therapy to talk about these problems.
Of course- I didn’t “put a label” on it. And when I start talking about it, my dad starts to shut his mouth. He’s not ready for it, or possibly, he thinks its not an issue that I should be worried about- because ‘people have gone through that without medication or therapy for AGES’, and I can too.
I’ll never really know what he’s thinking, because he never really talks about these things with me. But one day, I hope he’ll realize that this is just a part of who I am.
After my mom passed, I brought home two foster cats to my dad’s house. This was after I had changed all his furniture, got him a new bed, and moved back in with him. (Just for a while)
My dad spent a lot of time sleeping- which he doesn’t do often… and a lot of time drinking his sadness away. Of course, I was there with him every night- doing the same.
There was a limit to the things I can say to him. I didn’t know where to start. I didn’t know what I could say. Sometimes, even among family- you will find that there are no words to describe your emotions. Especially when you’ve been trained to lock your emotions in for over 50 years.
Lunar New Year came and went- we prepared my late mom a meal for the holidays (Korean ancestor worshipping tradition) and on the last day of the holiday, I brought these two fuzzies home.
Maybe it wasn’t a good idea to bring two new family members to our house in a state of grief. But I believed that we learn to heal by helping others heal. My dad and I needed a sense of empathy, a support group telling us it’s okay to be… well… not okay.
None of our human family members told us this. They told us to be strong. They told us to move on. They looked at our grief as a sign of weakness- something they can just rush past when clearly that wasn’t possible for the both of us.
What I learned from these two
Lesson 1: It’s okay to feel uncomfortable.
When Yulmoo and Chapssal first came, they seemed fine. They ate, ran, and used the bathroom. But just when I thought they were adjusting, that night- they soon became agitated and scared. Chapssal (I’ll call him Chap for short) meowed the whole night, and Yulmoo (I’ll call her Yool) hid under the sofa for the whole day after.
I think sadness and fear don’t necessarily show up as we predict they will. Sometimes, we feel okay- then we find out later that we really aren’t. And that’s ok.
My dad and I were okay with the cats being so- and maybe we should let ourselves be okay with not being okay. Even if we said we would be.
Lesson 2: In time, you will learn to love and trust again.
Must have been hard for them to come out of hiding. Even as small, fearless kittens- you can’t really force them to come out of hiding. It’s something that cannot be done by force.
But when they did come out from under the couch and stop crying- they learned to resume their daily activities, even started a few fun kitty fights with each other.
They learned to trust their environment and the situation they were in. Chap and Yool gained the confidence to start being themselves again.
Lesson 3: There are better days coming.
This isn’t the end for Chap and Yool. They are going to find a better home- and a loving family. For them, coming out of their fear and sadness was just the beginning of a new story.
Sure, they won’t go back to the old, warm house and family that rescued them. But that is in the past. There are better things waiting for them, and with every passing day, that day becomes closer.
Lesson 4: We always have each other, and sometimes it doesn’t require words.
Lastly, they’re always there for each other. That’s all that matters. Though they are parted from their rescue home, they still have each other to help each other get through it.
They don’t really say much, to be honest. They just sit there watching TV together, grooming each other, and eating with each other. Sometimes- it’s just the fact that someone is there for you that counts.
My dad and I, Chap and Yool spend more and more time laughing and playing now. It’s amazing what emotional change two foster cats can bring to us. I know that we may not be their forever home- and if someone else comes along to adopt them… we might need to say goodbye.
But for now, we are going to enjoy the time given to us- and just let ourselves be who we are, and look out for each other, for all of us- just like these two do for us.
A very strange sensation that occurs after the loss of a parent is the fear of being alone in grief.
For me, that moment is now. Two weeks after my mom passed.
During the weeks after the funeral, I spent my days taking care of my mom’s financial loans and inheritance.
It was burdening financially as it was time-wise and emotionally.
Every time I would look at her driver’s license or hand in some paperwork with the words “deceased” on it,
I was forced to let her go, one set of paperwork at a time.
But I still got up and went to work. I had bills to pay, my mom’s bills to pay- and mouths to feed.
Every day in the office for two weeks- I worked harder, to get the days, the weeks behind me.
“After a few days, time will heal-” … “After a few weeks- time will heal these wounds.” This is what I kept telling myself.
But as every day passed by, the more the reality of it sunk in.
She was gone and there was nothing I could do about it.
Still in my heart- it’s so hard for me to let her go. I guess I’m scared I will forget her if I don’t hold on.
The only time I spend alone is in my car. That’s the only time I cry without being embarrassed or disturbed.
At home, my partner- At my parent’s house- my father, and anywhere outside- everyone else.
I had to keep strong, just to live the life that my mom would have wanted for me. Just to give them the reassurance that though I am in pain, I will be alright.
I had the feeling that I needed to keep moving, because the lives of everyone around me just went back to normal- even when everyday, I was struggling more and more to keep up with everyday activities like getting up or brushing my teeth.
Today, I woke up and wanted to sleep forever. I wanted to quit my job. I wanted to evaporate off the earth.
I spent a few hours in the lobby of my company’s wework, crying and trying to focus.
Things didn’t get better. I told my superiors about how I just couldn’t face people right now-
How I found it hard to stay in the office without tearing up-
How I said my goodbyes with every paper I turned in-
And how the tree where my mom was buried now had a tag with her name on it.
It has begun to sink in that, I won’t ever see her again.
I keep wanting to grieve, and stopping myself from grieving at the same time- because of the pain.
I feel so alone and misunderstood. I feel that the sadness is choosing to isolate me from the people I love- yet the company of just me- not having to do anything- is quite comforting and spooky at the same time.
If time heals these wounds, I wish I knew what to do for the time being.
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