Monday, December 31, 2007

Open Line of Communication

One more Emo Entry. I apologize.

I wrote an entry about defending myself and the issue came back.
I should have wrote that email and talked to my cousin beforehand, but instead, I let it build up inside me.

Last night at dinner the cousins sat together for a meal. There were about 10 of us from 16 years old to 30 at a fancy Vietnamese restaurant. One of the cousins made a joke, "haha, how should split the bill?!" Apparently everyone heard what happened one month ago. She dug up emotions that had been burried. She thought she was being funny, but actually she found a wound and rubbed lemon salt on it. Obnoxious. She is the same cousin that thinks gay=stupid. At least she's consistent.

My older cousin retold the story... I looked down. "I don't know what Christopher was thinking." That's funny, I thought I was being considerate. That story, like my car accident in 2004, pushes the wrong button. I had the opportunity to speak my mind, but once again I clammed up. I held my phone until it dripped with sweat and I text my other cousin on how I felt. She consoled me while people smiled. My appetite was gone, I wanted to leave.

My older cousin asked me from across the table. "Are you okay Christopher, is something bothering you?" She gave me another opportunity to defend myself. I dismissed it....1 minute later while someone was talking, I explode...

"Actually, there is....." I told her how much I hate that story, how much I was embarrassed, how much I was offended, how I did NOT understand how being considerate, being mature led to being treated like trash especially from someone I respected. I looked her in the eye. Looked away. With each word that escaped my mouth, my lips quivered. I was on the playground confronting a bully. My cousins around me looked away. I realized I was weak and returned my eye contact to hers. She explained herself. She was calm, composed and reasonable. I was a mess... I was done fighting. I felt foolish. "Well, Christopher and I had our moment, does anyone else want to have a moment with me?" She tried to avert the mood I placed at the table with awkward humor. I looked ahead of me and put my face in my napkin for 5 minutes. I hate being disrespected, then being weak, exposed in front of family, embarrassed once again. The table was silent for what felt like forever...

She took me outside.
She told me that she wanted to thank everyone for helping with the centerpieces by buying dinner. She also wanted to show her "white friends" how Vietnamese people do it: we take care of each other, we are grateful, we feed each other... and money does not mean a thing and I ruined it by suggesting to split the bill. Something so impersonal, so American, so individualistic... at least in her eyes.

She also told me that she thought Monyrith was my boyfriend and that she wanted to treat him out because she wanted to show him that he was an extension of her family... through me. She wanted to show me that she was proud of me.. for finding someone that I cared about and for being open. She wanted to welcome him with a meal and welcome me for being myself. And she was hurt that I took it away from her.

She explained that it's hard for her to realize that we are all growing up because since I was born until now she has taken care of me. Gone to my shows, taken me to movies, made sure I was okay; held me when I was a baby, hugged me as a young adult. And now that I'm independent, I want to pay for things on my own, take care of myself and my friends, make my own decisions. It was as if I was running away from her, acting like I no longer needed her, dismissing everything she did for me.

She apologized for hurting me. That she should have made it clear that she wanted to treat everyone out instead of treating me like shit. I was speechless. Like a child, I didn't understand until it was spelled out for me... with pictures. Ironically... I was hurt because she wouldn't let me grow up and I hurt her because I was growing up.

...she told me that she was happy that I told her because the "adults" don't communicate anything and that we are their examples. And I returned to dinner still feeling awkward because I had just displayed weakness and immaturity, but at least I was open about how I felt. And that's better because I am all about communication... honesty... especially with people whom I love.

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