Monthly Archives: September 2007

Family…

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…and love.

The big question is “Do I love my family?”. Hell if I know. OK. Maybe I should rephrase that. “Do I love the family members that abused me?”

Would I be upset if something happened to one of them? Sure. I guess. I cried at my grandparents’ funerals. But somehow I think it was more of a reaction to seeing other people cry. I’ve always been super sensitive to other people’s feelings and maybe I was just experiencing their sadness.

It’s hard for me. Sometimes I feel guilty about my lack of feelings for those family members. A good daughter/granddaughter should love her family. She should care about them. She should be devoted to them.

But what to do when they hurt her? What to do when her life is shattered? What to do when rebuilding feels like a momentous task?

I wish I had some answers for these questions. But I don’t.

I constantly struggle with the thoughts that I’m a bad person. That somehow this is all my fault. That I should love them and that I’m a terrible person because I don’t know if I do love them.

Right now, I don’t know what to think. Sometimes it feels like I would be better off with no family and no friends. Only myself to rely on. Hell, it feels like I have relied on myself for so long now, I don’t see any other way to live.

Life can be so confusing. And I don’t always know the best way to deal with it. I’m trying as hard as I can to keep my head on straight. But so often I feel like I’m wandering in a dark alley with nothing to guide me.

::sigh::

Sometimes I wish there were easy answers to my questions. I know there aren’t any but I keep on wishing.

My Grandfather

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Last night was a horrible night. It was after 4:00 when I finally got to sleep. I had a panic attack, the first one in a while. God I hate them. Nothing predicts them. They seem to come out of nowhere. And they still scare me so much. The Benadryl didn’t help. Even the Ativan didn’t help.

It was my memory again. There are times when I just can’t control where it goes. It’s like sometimes it simply has a mind of its own. No matter how hard I try to use the visual imagery I learned, or how hard I try to use any of the other coping techniques I have… There are times they just don’t work.

It was my grandfather. The summer after kindergarten, my parents made me stay there while they took my grandmother out of town. I don’t remember what I did that was so bad, but I got punished but good. He took off all of my clothes and made me lie on the bed. He put my arms over my head with my hands together and told me to stay that way. If I moved or cried, he hit me with a leather belt.

I don’t know how long I stayed in that position. It was so cold in there. He had the air conditioner on as cold as it would go. It felt like it was forever. I had almost fallen asleep when he came back into the room. I laid there while he felt my whole body, from top to bottom. He was on the bed with me. Then he left and told me not to move or I’d get it with the belt again.

I tried not to cry, but I did. As soon as he heard me, he came back and punished me for disturbing his baseball game. He told me that I better not move again. So I didn’t. I laid there and counted the cracks in the ceiling, over and over, and over again. But I couldn’t help but listen for him. I was terrified he would come into the room again.

After what seemed like forever, he came back into the room. And he got on the bed again. I was so afraid he’d get the belt out again. He wasn’t touching me anymore. He was on top of me. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t breathe. He was so big and heavy. The penetration was extremely painful. I wanted to scream and yell, but I couldn’t. It hurt too bad.

All of a sudden, he jumped off of me and the bed. I put my arms down. He started to scream at me. He told me that he had said not to move. He told me I was an evil child filled with the devil. He was right. He got the belt again and told me to put my hands back up or he’d punish me again. I begged him not to, but that made him really angry. He took me by my shoulders and shook me. He kept yelling how little girls should obey their elders. He put my hands back over my head and made me stay like that.

I laid on that bed for hours. It was so cold in that room. I really had to go to the bathroom, but he told me not to move or say anything. I had to go so bad, I ended up wetting the bed. When he found out I had wet the bed, he beat me again. And then he was on top of me again. It must have gone on like that for hours. I remember watching it go from day to night.

I was so ashamed of myself. All I can think is that I really was a very bad girl to be punished like that.

I’m definitely not looking forward to getting in bed tonight. I’m terrified, absolutely terrified. I’m scared of my mind. I’m scared of the memories. I’m scared of losing my mind.

Listening to other people’s opinions

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One thing I continue to struggle with is reconciling how I see myself with how others see me. I’m making progress in not seeing myself as a steaming pile of crap. I still fall into the old patterns fairly easily, but I’m trying to look for counter examples that show I’m not an idiot.

But every once in a while, something that someone says will send me back over that edge. I start thinking “How can he/she say something like that” and “Don’t they really know what kind of a person I am?” repeatedly.

Case and point. About a month ago, I sent an email to someone reflecting on the last two years. I also included a personal message thanking this person for the emails we had exchanged. This person has helped me start learning that not everyone in the world is as untrustworthy as my parent. But the response I got from this person…

Getting back to you: you are REALLY SMART, and I’m not just saying that to be nice.
You’re starting to become aware of your potential, right?
Don’t stop there; keep going, set some goals, go for it.

I just don’t know.  I think I know this person well enough to believe the part about not saying things to be nice.

I know that I should listen to what this person writes.  I know that I should file it away and pull it out when I start to feel bad about myself.

Theme change

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I’m bored. I get this way when I have too much time on my hands.

Today is Chu-seok, so there’s nothing to do in the city. I may go for a walk and enjoy the peace and quiet. But that’s about it.

So what do I do when I’m bored? I start fooling with my blog. I decided to change themes. I’m not in love with any of the ones that WordPress offers. But I’m not going to complain. I don’t know CSS and honestly, I’m not really motivated to learn it either. That, and I’m cheap. So I’ll pick from what’s free.

Status update

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Not much to say.  I’m stressed with the crud that’s going on at work.  It should temporarily decrease at roughly noon on Thursday.  Next week we have vacation for the Korean thanksgiving.   I’m looking forward to vegging out in front of the computer and/or TV.

I’m still fighting with my computer to make it behave the way I want it to.  My current issue is with Java.  Oh why can’t things just be
easy.  And in trying to get Java and Firefox to play nice together I ended up creating something I didn’t want to.  Oh why can’t the FAQs be noob friendly.  How was I supposed to know that the thing they wrote on two lines really belonged on one long line?

I’m tired.  I’m going to bed.  Hopefully I’ll sleep.

ARGH!!!!!

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I just want to say fuck it all right now.

I simply don’t care if I live or die.

This stupid lingering cough is driving me nuts.  Add to it an allergy flare up.  I just lost the little food I was able to get into my stomach.  Between the snot running down into my stomach and the coughing triggering dry heaves.  Blech.

I’m tired.  I hate going to work.  I see those kids.  Especially the ones in the morning.   They’re only a little bit older than I was when the abuse started.  Or at least those are my earliest memories.  Somehow, I find it hard to believe that my relatives would have suddenly started all of this when I was 3 or 4 years old.

I know I should reach out to friends.  I can hear them telling me to do so.  But I can’t.  I just can’t.  I don’t want to burden them with the horror stories of my past.  It isn’t fair to them.  No one should have to sit there and listen to shit like this.

The only thing I can say is that I’m completely and utterly exhausted.  And somehow, I don’t really care what happens any more.

Rough time

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I can feel him inside of me. And it feels like he’s on top of me. I can’t breathe. He’s so big. He’s so heavy. My chest hurts. His hands are there. He won’t stop. I’m begging. I’m crying. Please stop. He won’t listen. He just keeps on doing it. He whispers in my ear that I had better stop crying or I’ll really get it. Please, beat me. That can’t hurt as bad as this does. Beat me like I deserve.

He’s coming to get me. Please don’t come in here. God! I promise I’ll be a good girl. I’ll clean my room. I’ll do whatever they want. Please don’t let him come in here. Why won’t somebody protect me? Where is everybody? Why don’t you hear me God! I thought you were supposed to listen. You must not hear. I must be so bad and evil that even you don’t love me. All those teachers lied to me. You don’t love me. Probably because I don’t deserve Your love. I guess that means I’m all alone. But it doesn’t really matter.

He’s got me pinned down on the bed. I can’t move. He keeps saying you had better never tell anyone. And now I’m telling. Something bad is going to happen. He’ll find out some how. I’ll be in so much trouble.

He can’t decide what to do to me. He starts and then he stops. Stomach. Back. I don’t know what is going on.

Please. Just do it already. Then I can go to sleep. Maybe. Or maybe not. If I stay awake, I’ll know when he’s coming this way.

He’s on top of me again. I can’t breathe. I can’t move. He’s shaking me now. I think I accidentally bit him. I couldn’t get any air. My head hurts. My neck hurts. Why is he doing this to me? I’m so sorry for being such a bad girl. Give me another chance. I’ll behave. You can do whatever you want. I promise I’ll be good. Please just don’t hurt me. Please, I’m begging you.

He left the room. But I can tell he is angry. Is he angry with me? What did I do? I can’t sleep. I can’t sleep. I have to stay awake. But I’m so sleepy… No I have to fight it. If I’m awake he… I don’t know what will happen to me. But at least I’ll know it’s coming.

No. Nothing he does hurts me. I’m not there. If I don’t think about it, it won’t be there. It’s not really happening. This isn’t real. Nothing is real. It’s happening to somebody else, anybody else. I’m not here. Where’s that rose garden again? It’s filled with beautiful white roses that never seem to die. The sky is always blue. The grass is always green. And there’s nobody there except me. Nothing can ever hurt me in that rose garden.

The pain just won’t stop. Sitting doesn’t help. Laying down doesn’t help. Why does it have to hurt so badly? I can feel his fingers in me. I can feel him shaking me. My whole body hurts now.

I am getting dizzy. I must be hyperventilating. But it feels like I can’t breathe. I just can’t calm down. The pain is still so intense. I don’t know how much longer I can make it. I’m so tired. I’m physically tired. I’m mentally tired. But my mind keeps going. There’s no end to this.

The images. I can’t stop them. I’m so scared. I can’t get them out of my mind. My father’s face. My grandfather’s face. My other grandmother’s eyes. I’m such a bad girl. Like Grandpa M told me, I’m filled with the devil. I’m a bad girl for lying. I must deserve this. It’s my punishment. The pain. It’s a beating that will never really end.

Austin Interviews Kathryn

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Interview with Kathryn

Thursday, August 30, 2007-7:44 PM EST

1. You live in a country where you don’t speak the language. Communication is difficult, how do you manage to travel, to buy food, to socialize when you don’t speak the language?

The nice thing about South Korea is that they take learning English seriously. So more often than not, you’ll run into someone who does speak English. Many of the signs for businesses and labels on things like food either have a picture or the name in English.

I’ve also managed to learn what I call “Survival Korean”. I know how to ask for simple things. I can count to five or so. I know how to say “please” and “thank you” and “hello” and “goodbye”. So I can at least be polite.

The Korean teachers are also really good about writing down messages to give to cab drivers, etc. Jeanie wrote down the name of the hospital so I could get there by cab and a message for the information desk worker so I could get to the right place in the hospital.

2. What do you miss most about the United States and what do you like most about South Korea?

I think I miss books the most. We have an ESL bookstore here, but you can’t get things like mystery novels or technical books (I’m a sucker for reading most anything about science). It’s great for buying kid stuff or textbooks to teach with, but not so much for casual reading.

I really like the people here. They are some of the kindest folks I’ve had the pleasure to meet. Last Friday I came home from the store with four big bags (that tends to happen when you don’t do any shopping for 2 weeks) and a guy outside the building took all of them and carried them up to my apartment on the third floor. There’s also the Korean concept of “service”. It’s people doing little things for you just because. When I lived in Yangsan, the lady at the convenient store (where I bought milk and water and juice) was always throwing little things in my bag. Sometimes it was an egg. Sometimes a little candy bar. Around Chusok (the Korean Thanksgiving) she put in some traditional rice cakes that she had made.

I also like the food. I never thought I’d like kimchi, but I do. When I moved home the last time, everything seemed so bland. I had gotten used to eating spicy food. And I can get most western foods when I’m having a craving. I went to Pizza Hut for dinner last night. And there’s a TGI Friday’s in LotteMart. The selection of western type foods is better here in Ulsan than it was in Yangsan. That’s true of both restaurants and groceries. I actually found chocolate pancake mix at LotteMart, and it’s fabulous. I make a very small batch on Saturday or Sunday for my breakfast.

3. When I first found out you were moving to S.K. I was worried but you were rearing to go. I thought you’d be living in a hut eating minnows and barely scarping by. What other common misconceptions have you heard about your new home?

I think a lot of people watch M*A*S*H and think Korea is still a war torn country. But it’s not. There are people who assume that people from the Far East have no interest in Western culture and language. There are people who assume that all you can get to eat is rice and kimchi

4. Are you treated with a cold shoulder because you’re an American? Do the people of South Korea expect you to be full of yourself, opinionated, rude and haughty the way Americans are rightly thought of in other countries?

I don’t think I’ve met anyone who has that opinion of Americans. But the bulk of the people I interact with have known and worked with Americans for a while. But you are right in that the stereotypical American is rude and haughty. I try very hard to be polite and do things that are appropriate to Korean culture.

5. As I understand it, this is the second time you’ve lived in Korea. Was there a time when you considered working in a country other than Korea or is there an attraction to that country for some reason?

I actually was offered a job in Venezuela but I turned it down because various things in the contract looked fishy. I would like to teach in Europe, specifically Germany and Italy. But those jobs are much harder to find. You generally need a TEFL certificate or an education degree, which I have neither. The nice thing about teaching in South Korea is that all you need is a bachelors degree from an accredited college or university.


Feel free to participate in this interview meme by following these rules:
I’d like to add an extra rule. In addition to leaving the invitation open for requests I’d like to ask others if I can interview them. My comments and additions are in red.

1. Leave me a comment (or email) saying “Interview Me.”
2. I will respond by emailing you five questions. I get to pick the questions. (But you can tell me not to ask certain things.)
3. You will update your blog with a post containing your answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation (with or without my additions) and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.