As soon as we’re born, we’re already boxed into labels. I was born a female. My father is Japanese from Honolulu, HI. My mother is Korean from Pusan, South Korea. My mentor Alan always used to tell me that we chose our parents based on what we are meant to learn during this time on earth. I love my parents a lot. I have some obvious resentment towards my mother (“Mommy Issues”) because her Korean-style of parenting didn’t always resonate properly given my predominantly American upbringing. In comparison to the stereotypical “white family”, my lifelong perception of Koreans can be summed up as #EmotionallyAbusiveAF. That was my interpretation based on unresolved hurt feelings.
A few nights ago, I met with my friend in Venice who has always been an integral part of my healing journey. We had a very similar upbringing and so many hilarious stories of our mothers who seem to lack empathy. I laughed so much I almost fell off her bar stool. A few months ago, I finally told my therapist about how I was raised. My mother was always very loving, but guarded due to her own harsh upbringing in Korea. Her abandonment issues definitely trickled into my life as she raised me.
My earliest memory was seeing her cry after arguing with my father. My Dad is the sweetest man alive, but he’s still just a human. Her expectations of him continued to exceed as he showered her with unconditional love and kindness. When he was even a tiny bit grumpy, she took it so personally and threatened to leave. I remember her grabbing her neatly folded underwear and throwing them into a bag as she told me, “Diane, you’re going to stay with your Daddy.”
At 5-years-old, I didn’t understand the nuances of marriage and felt the intense need to keep things the same because change always made me feel so unsafe. I would grab my own neatly folded underwear and added it to her bluff bag and begged her to take me with her. She would throw my panties on the floor and told me that she was going to forget me and my Dad and have a new family. It was my first experience feeling disposable. At the time, my Dad was probably just waiting for her to find her grounding. He was always good at creating space for her to just process her insecurities. He had no idea how it affected me because at the same time, he had to protect his own heart and he could not deal with women crying.
She did this a few times throughout my childhood and I started to get accustomed to the show. In addition to that spectacle, she went on a few business trips and I slowly learned that she would eventually come back. Since I didn’t have siblings, I was under the impression that it was normal to throw away your family when husbands fuck up somehow.
My father is a very kind man. He was very close with his mother and treated her so well. I was mostly raised by my paternal grandmother and she showered me with so much love since she always wanted a daughter. Although I never received praise from my own mother, I was so fortunate to have a grandmother who saw me as valuable and consistently reminded me that I was lovable.
Since I lived in a time before Netflix and Hulu, I would constantly watch Disney movies on VHS to pass the time. My parents didn’t sign me up for activities and most of my childhood was spent watching Disney movies and Nick at Night (which is why I probably have the personality of a 75-year-old Sicilian woman). Most of my early education regarding forming relationships came from movies and television. For a long time, I sincerely believed my Mom was my stepmother. In comparison to the moms on Nick at Night, my Mom’s parenting was a lot more similar to that of a Disney stepmom. While I perceived her parenting as physically and emotionally abusive, her intention was always to make me a better version of myself–tough fucking love.
Recently my cousin told me that her Mom (my mother’s sister) shared that Korean Moms don’t want to set their children up for disappointment. Although Koreans are intense, they are typically extremely loving and nurturing when they aren’t planning their daughter’s plastic surgery or teaching them to be a good wife (because a woman’s role is to keep the house clean even if you work the same amount of hours as your husband). My Mom didn’t praise me while I was growing up. A part of me believes that she never wanted me to be too complacent. Our relationship is chaotic and high maintenance, but we’re a lot better at separating our individual issues from our interactions. As I shared a delicious meal with my friend in Venice, I finally came to the realization that My Mom loves me so much and did the absolute best within her capacity.
I spent so many years feeling unloved and unworthy because I felt my mother resented me for having a disability and not being a beautiful Korean goddess who she could sell (marriage) to a rich man who will buy her an E-Class Mercedes and provide a wealthy life that my Dad wasn’t ever motivated to provide. Her dream for me was like any mother’s dream for her daughter: to be happy, whatever the fuck that means. My mother’s version of happiness equates to wealth and beauty. My father’s version of happiness has always been being a father and that’s a role he’s always handled so well.
Shortly after I was born, I think my mother had symptoms of postpartum depression. She would wake up really late and struggle to fulfill her standards of being a housewife. My father would tell me all sorts of stories of how much he enjoyed waking up and seeing me. He would feed me and care for me so my Mom could rest. My Dad’s level of compassion and empathy is incredible. I’ve always understood his actions as love, which is a huge part of why I was able to accept the way my mother expressed love. I think I made a good choice in choosing my parents. While I am pretty fucked up, I feel grateful that I have the capacity to feel and learn in ways that would otherwise not be possible.
Last week, I had lunch with my friend who is a fellow Korean-American and she gave me the best advice ever: “Diane, embrace your fucked-up-ness”. She also went into the importance of not defining myself by Mom’s actions/words. Those seeds she planted resonated so much throughout the week.
Not coincidentally, I started watching Hulu’s Casual with a close friend who is staying with me. We watch an episode every evening before we go to sleep (in our own rooms–relax Carol, if you’re reading this). During one of the episodes, someone said something along the lines of “children spend their whole lives waiting to hear their parents tell them sorry, while parents wait for their kids to tell them thank you.” My friend has heard me talk so much raging shit about my Mom over the last week and I felt like the biggest fucking cuntasaurus when I realized how horrible I’ve been to my Mom.
I allowed my own insecurities (based on the outcome of my own interpretations) to turn into a #MomHater. I absolutely do not hate my mother. I actually love her very much. She’s a beautiful woman who devoted her life to create so many opportunities for me. She would always tell me that having me made her a better person because I gave her a purpose in this life. She showered me with financial security and love, yet I fixated on the few horrible memories that I couldn’t accept in a healthy way.
Relationships of any kind are so fucking complicated, but I think we just do the best we can given our capacity to love and be loved in return. When things go awry, I have a tendency to be mean as shit and throw people away to protect my heart. My brother-in-law had to tell me that I was being mean to someone I currently love very much. Instead of having a moment of self-awareness, I defended myself and went on all sorts of tangents (as I often do). When I found a space of calm, I realized that I’m so afraid of expressing love through words. It scares me. The ONLY man who I can express love for safely is my father. He invested 32 years to make me feel safe. Every time I tell a partner I love him, he freaks the fuck out and cheats on me to let me know he doesn’t want to love me back.
A few nights ago, my friend interviewed me on his podcast My Unconventional Life and we discussed this telling people you love them business. I got really defensive and shitty at a certain point because I felt so uncomfortable. He told me he loved me as a friend and that made me feel depressed because I’ve heard that phase so many times. “I love you… as a friend”. A functional person would say the proper thing like “I love you, too”. Being fucked up, I said “thank you”. I may have even said a more casual, “thanks” to make it as awkward as possible. The truth is that I do love him a lot. He wouldn’t be in my company if I didn’t love him. Given the subject matter of that particular interview, I was so raw from discussing all of the ghosts of non-boyfriends past. I was disappointed because I realized that I’m not cut out for casual, non-committal relationships anymore.
My functional friends are happy I’m ready to pursue healthy relationships. However, it is fucking scary. Casual sex is just a click away. It’s so easy and meaningless. Since I don’t have a car, I’ve been taking Lyfts and about 56% of my male Lyft drivers asked to come home with me. I don’t know how to tell people no so I made up some elaborate story about how my husband was on his way home and wouldn’t like that. Why the fuck could I just say “NO, YOU DISGUSTING PRESUMPTUOUS FUCKFACE, the ride home is enough.”
A month ago, I would’ve been happy to play with a new stranger. When I’m really depressed, I enjoy having meaningless sex with more than one partner. It’s a lot like eating a whole bag of potato chips. I indulge to satisfy myself and then I want to throw up because I feel so disappointed. The one thing I don’t like about casual sex is my inability to orgasm. I didn’t have this problem when I was in my 20s, but now I can’t mentally focus on a person I don’t love wholeheartedly. I have a pretty high sex drive and I honestly would rather get a “Fucking Machine” because fucking machines don’t try to drown me in small talk and they stick to the objective of fulfilling an orgasm.
My Mom always told me never to get married and just have a lot of boyfriends so I won’t get attached and risk being hurt. My Mom is a hardcore love addict. When we weren’t talking, she had a meltdown because she was so afraid of losing me. The truth is that I’m just like my Mom. All I’ve ever wanted in this life was to love and care for one person and have a family. As soon as my attention is divided, I lose the ability to care about someone. I spent so much of my life being non-committal and choosing partners like Gladware tupperware. If I lose it, fuck it, I can just buy a new pack of three tomorrow.
People are often surprised by my “lifestyle” because I’m not a conventionally beautiful woman. I have a physical disability and I’m not attractive to most men. The one lure of me is fulfilling a bucket list. I’m Asian and a Little Person. Separately, those categories populate A LOT of porn. When it comes to sex, that’s what casual sex does to me. I’m just a disposable fuck toy until someone better comes along.
When I was working at my last social work job, I worked with a lot of women who experienced domestic violence. I don’t know why, but a lot of the women and men I worked with felt comfortable to share their stories (even though my role was to find them jobs). I suppose they felt safe since I have the capacity to be empathetic and listen. I also have my own experiences with being in an Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) situation.
Shortly after my first non-boyfriend in England told me I wasn’t the one, I gave up on relationships because I felt so unworthy of love. I immediately started fucking around with a guy I met in a Yoshinoya parking lot because he told me I was pretty. I yearned for someone, anyone to give a fuck about me because I felt so alone in this world. We had a very contentious non-relationship for about six months. I was basically a free hooker he’d fuck sometimes when he was in the mood. He enjoyed my naivete and introduced to all sorts of sexual situations that made me so uncomfortable. Since I felt so ugly, I let it happen for months.
When I’m completely honest with myself, I never enjoyed casual sex. It’s awkward and my anxiety doesn’t let me stop thinking about all of the Gonorrhea and Syphilis I have growing in my body until I go to the STD clinic. I endured disgusting non-committal men who would be terrible fathers because I conditioned myself to believe I was unworthy of a man who wanted to have a family with me. I was really better off just focusing this energy on a functional heroin habit. Same thing, really.
Over the last few weeks, I started reflecting on why I’m suddenly so excited about being in a committed relationship. I initially thought it was because all of my friends have found amazing partners, but I think it’s because I’m so tired of being with people who don’t give a shit about my happiness. I also recently had a glimpse of what it would be like to be in a healthy relationship. I’ve been living with the kindest person I’ve met in Los Angeles. He is the first person who hasn’t tried relentlessly to take advantage of me.
For my fucked up mind NICE = SCARY AND WILL GO AWAY DON’T GET ATTACHED!
He’s everything that I didn’t let myself want because it seemed so unattainable. When people tell me that I’m “a great person”, I interpret that as I have a cool personality, but I’m not attractive enough to fulfill someone in the context of a committed relationship.
The only person who has ever told me he wanted to marry me was a narcissistic friend who considered me his best friend. Although I don’t personally find him physically attractive, it really hurt me when he told me that he could marry me but wouldn’t be able to have sex with me because he wasn’t attracted to me. While the feeling was completely mutual since he wipes his asshole with hotel towels instead of taking a shower, his words reinforced that I’m just a fun person who isn’t pretty.
I don’t think anyone should be surprised that I’m guarded. Every time I tell someone I want to be in a committed relationship, they throw me away or tell me they aren’t wired for commitment. Yes, we humans get bored of fucking one person. That’s understandable, but sex isn’t everything. Orgasms don’t make a home. Jizzing on your tramp stamp won’t raise beautiful children who are contributing members of society. In my opinion, sex outside of a relationship should only be sorted out through a financial exchange. If my partner was bored of having sex with me, I’d buy him a hooker because there is no emotional investment opportunity (unless you’re a dumbfuck who thinks hookers love you).
I’m done with entertaining men who consistently let me know that I’m not enough. Want an open relationship? Okay, cool. I wish you the best, but I don’t want to settle for that. I don’t want my children to have to deal with crazy girlfriends threatening them (as I’ve experienced). It’s just too hurtful for children to get caught up in that drama. While I’m sure it’s possible to have positive sexual experiences with people devoid of emotion, I know myself well enough that my past won’t allow me to organically allow that to happen. I’m just too fucked up. I have so much to learn in this life and I don’t feel my energy needs to expended to condition myself to be okay about sex for fun. I’m just going to get a fucking machine and call it a day.
One missing piece of my quest to find love has always been unclear intentions. Writing clear goals has always helped me stay on track, here are my love goals. The person I spend my life with (it’s fucking possible, just don’t be a cunt about it!) won’t check off all these qualities, but it at least provides some direction in my journey to find love. Instead of fucking random people I meet in Lyfts, I just want to spend my life with someone who has a kind heart and keeps me in check. I basically just want a Sherry Tanaka, MSW with a penis. Thanks Universe, bring it on!
Love & Cuddles,
Diane Kawasaki, MSW