prose

To you.

THIS POST CONTAINS RAW AND UNEDITED LETTERS TO THE “MEN OF MY LIFE.” THIS IS A WAY OF EXPRESSING HOW I FEEL AND HOW I WILL (HOPEFULLY) GO ABOUT ACCEPTING THAT THEY HAVE MADE AN IMPACT IN MY LIFE BUT HOW THEY WILL NOT DICTATE HOW I LIVE THE REST OF MY LIFE. THESE ARE THE LETTERS THAT WILL NEVER BE SENT.

Dear Dad,

From the time I was born to the time I am in now, I haven’t truly had a father – a male presence in my life to help me understand and comprehend the opposite sex. I wish I could tell you how abandoned and betrayed I felt when  you walked out the door. I remember that one night when you were so angry, so furious that you smashed your palms on the closet door making a scary, deep indentation in the soft wood. I couldn’t understand why you were so unhappy with my mom and with us, and that left me feeling like it was my fault. But I know that I can’t tell you these things because you really are so far away and on the rare occasions you decided to check up on me – on us – you would disappear just as quickly as you came. I am angry because you left us to grow up by ourselves leaving my mom alone to care for us all. I am disappointed because every child needs both of their parents – whether or not they are divorced – to be there for them, and you were never there to let us know it wasn’t our fault but rather the fault of incompatibility and inability. I wish I could change how you left us and how you continued to be a constant reminder of the lack of emotions found in our family, but I accept that I can’t and have learned that people have different perceptions of how they love and want to be loved – and you just weren’t ready for the relationship with my mom and with us. I suppose that may be the reason why I have felt so pessimistic, guarded, and abandoned when my mom couldn’t divide her attention equally. I now have difficulty truly trusting people – especially men – when it comes to being vulnerable and loving; that is the thing I am most angry for. I need to let this all out because I want to enjoy my relationships with other people and not feel so paranoid about the things they do or say; I also want to be happy and view people in a positive light. I want to be able to accept your actions for what they are and realize I wouldn’t have been able to do anything about it because it had nothing to do with me. In the future, if someone betrays my trust, I will not let their actions dictate and consume my thoughts into thinking all people are distrustful. Today I feel okay knowing that you won’t be a huge part of my life. I am not indifferent to you anymore because that would just be a lie. Of course I still care that you are my biological father, but I now know that you haven’t been a fatherly figure to me and that’s okay because I have and will find a better role model for myself and for my children. I forgive you for not being able to understand the importance of reaching out to people and salvaging that connection; I forgive you for not being ready or prepared for the task of being a father to me and my sisters, of being a husband to my mom. I now know that I can enjoy happiness with someone else.

Dear Stepfather,

What is an experience without a name? Your name conjures up so many mixed emotions and thoughts that it seems almost impossible to extract all of the issues I might have with you. I wish I could tell you how confused, betrayed, and hurt I felt when you touched me in a way that was not considered appropriate or even reciprocated at the time – or ever. I started to feel like I had to justify myself for your actions. Did it start with that foot massage that Su Co used to frown upon, and my mom would be so still and quiet about? I feel like that was where it started, where I began to open up my feeling about you. I had never had a father for the beginning years of my adolescence and I wasn’t too sure how to react or act around you. Was that flirtatious? Too informal? Disrespectful? Was I allowed goodnight kisses? How long could hugs be? Could I seek you for advice? What sort of advice could I ask you about? I know I was your favorite child (you had told me so yourself) but I didn’t know how to interact with you and I still don’t know how given the circumstances – you and my mom being separated and now there is a chance of you coming back into my life (again) as the stepfather. I act happy and friendly but inside I don’t know how to feel – I am empty and emotionless – an empty shell of a person. I feel as if most of the emotions I had reserved for important people in my life have been spent trying to understand the wrong people or at least they have been spent one too many times trying to understand why some people are the way they are. I remember we were sitting on the couch, just the two of us, but I don’t even remember if we had been watching anything. It was dimly lit – shades of dark amber, red, and blue – and I remember not know where everyone else had been. Why had I been alone with you in the first place? There had been a blanket on my lap and I was wearing those fuzzy purple pajama pants with the green and red polka dots. We were sitting so close to one another despite having plenty of space on either side of each other. You were massaging my thigh for some reason and I hadn’t taken note of it until you started trailing closer and closer to my groin. When you reached the tope of my pubic bone, you continued to stroke me. I had been frozen in place and I had been confused because I hadn’t known what to do. Maybe you didn’t know what you were doing but you were (are) a grown man. You knew your anatomy. When I look back on it now, I remember how vulnerable I felt feeling so connected to you and feeling like you wanted to be more than just a father to me. I remember waking up distraught and frightened from a dream: I found myself lying naked next to you as we both laid facing each other, staring into each other’s eyes. I remember waking up from this following the days after you touched me and I had tried to avoid you as much as possible. It scared me because I didn’t want that – I wanted a normal relationship with a father that I was supposed to have had years ago. I remember when my mom confronted you about it, you drove as fast as you could to the house (you had been living in the RV during the separation) and we had a talk in the room. You told me how you hadn’t meant to do that and that you never wanted me to feel like that. But your words didn’t feel sincere and I couldn’t accept your apology even though I told you otherwise. Today, I still don’t know how I feel about you. Now, you realize the “importance of family” and you still “love” my mom (even though you cheated on her about two years into the marriage with a married woman who was also Asian and also had three daughters) so maybe give you a second chance because everyone makes mistakes. I don’t know how I feel about you or if I am at the point of forgiving you yet.

prose

Tongue-tied.

You are eloquent with words—a soft curl of your tongue, a swoop of resounding air, a subtle, wet smack of your lips—and I am speechless, unable to respond.

‘What did you say?’ I ask eagerly, curious to understand, my naked torso now turned facing towards you. I want to know you more, so much more.

You allow a small smile to slip through your guise and your young face loses its usual detachment, its sternness. Silky waves of my hair tenderly hug your bare shoulder and I notice how much we contrast—your Irish skin pales in complexion against my golden skin and your familiar, fiery red hair burns brilliantly against my sable-chocolate hair.

You continue to talk in a language different from the one that I can understand—it is French now and before that, it was Italian. I turn myself away from you, feigning distress and annoyance as you ramble on without acknowledging my question…

Viens ici, viens ici,‘ you murmur softly, wrapping your lanky arms from behind me. You pull me closer to you and I feel the gap between us closing in, capturing the heat. You make me feel tingly all over and I shudder slightly, reveling in the warmth of your embrace, your touch.

You try to teach me a few words—’That means “come here,”‘ you mumble into my neck— but the rest of the one-sided conversation you have with me, you tell me not to worry about it. I haven’t been worrying about it but I still want to know what you were saying. Why do you speak in another language? Why can’t I know what you mean to say? Why must you be so mysterious and reserved, so full of intrigue?

Perhaps those were little cues, tiny hints that we contrasted too much. But don’t opposites attract? Not in the way that would have been healthy for the both of us. You are a person of few words yet I can sense that there is so much on your mind. You are vague with your emotions but extremely straight to the point with your words.

You were the first one I couldn’t fully express myself to.