Like any good Chinese girl, there’s a great deal of ambivalence about my relationship with my parents. They’ve given me everything, and have taken away nearly the same; there’s no way I could repay them for their sacrifice, but the damage they’ve left me, has also been immeasurable in its cost.
I just don’t know how to feel about them.
Honestly, it feels like I barely know them; as people, they’ve been this peripheral presence in my life most of the time, and when they were in full focus, those experiences were something I’d rather forget. As parents, they were a mixture of “trying their best” and “how did you screw this up so badly?”
I hated them, I loved them. I feared them, and never respected them as parents.
Yet when I look at them, I see myself in them.
I see my mother’s smile, my father’s humour, and both of their relentless tenacity. As I grow, I find myself more interested in learning about who they were before, in order to get an idea as to who they are now.
I want to paint in the rest of the portrait, of these two individuals who met, fell in love, raised a child and proceeded to screw her up by trying to do the Right Thing the whole time. However, with each pass of the brush, they become increasingly layered and considerably more difficult for me to hold in my mind. They weren’t always the neglectful, abusive tyrants of my past, and they were more than the adorably aggravating, harmless parents of my present.
Somewhere, sometime, they were hopeful young lovers, heads filled with dreams of a new life in Canada.
Somewhere, sometime, everything went wrong.
The reason why I am in so much pain, is that I feel like I was that something.