Institutionalized Minimization

“We’re sorry, but your request for financial aid in regards to your sexual abuse case has been rejected. Unfortunately, you do not meet the parameters of this program, as while what you endured may have been traumatic, it does not qualify as sexual abuse..”

Upon reading this letter, my insides froze, just Iike they used to when my ex would touch me. There were no words to describe how much the world stood still in that moment.

(more…)

Hello Mother, Hello Father, Here I am, at Camp Grenada.

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.

A Snake in the Bush is Worth Two Shorts in the Hand?

For those who are uninitiated, bush parties are the epitome of redneck partying. Basically a get together for teenagers in the woods, they’re a haven for under-aged drinking and terrible life choices. Naturally, I was considered too much of a loser to ever be invited, so I lack many stories about what it’s like to get blackout drunk with my lead-laden teenage peers.

However, I do have one story.

Somehow, someone was foolish enough to let me know that there was a bush party, happening in Rossland, the town adjacent to mine. It was 15 minutes away, so I hopped on the bus and showed up in Rossland, hoping to finally experience these legendary outdoor parties.

Thing is, the police were also part of the MSN messenger group chat I was on, and put the kibosh on that pretty quickly.

So what were nearly a hundred bored, wayward, and definitely intoxicated teenagers to do?

Apparently, the solution to having the party cancelled, was to create one… in the town square.

By the time I arrived, the Rossland town center was awash in alcohol and surging hormones. The whole place was rife with belligerent teenagers, and they were getting rowdier by the second. Somewhere in there, I lost sight of my friends and saw some somewhat familiar faces. Upon saying hello, I was greeted by a very drunken boy who handed me what was probably a very harassed garter snake.

Okay, so half an hour into the party, I was handed a reptile. Cool, fine. I guess this is what the popular kids do.

So while wandering and witnessing the cops haul away one vomiting teenager after another, I link up with some random dudes who were purported to be the rough kids. We wandered off to one unsuccessful bush party, after another, to no avail; the cops were really on their A-game that night.

Bored and stranded with nowhere to go, I ended up crashing at their place. By ‘their place’, I mean someone’s porn-filled shed. With five snoring teenage boys.

I didn’t sleep a damn wink that night.

Around five AM, I decided that I had to get some shut-eye somewhere more familiar; so at dawn, there was a very disheveled, probably still-drunk 15 year old girl groggily weaving her way to her best friend’s H’s house in a town known for its healthy population of brown bears and feral dog packs.

Oh, did I mention I was also not wearing my own pants?

Somewhere around the night, I slipped and fell into mud. A kid, probably the owner of the porn shed, was kind enough to lend me his way-too-large board shorts.

What a sight I must have been.

Anyways, this muddy, drunk girl dodging curious bears did safely make her way across town and arrived at the door of her best friend’s house. However, I realised it was quite early in the morning, and it would be rather rude to ring the doorbell. So what did I do?

I proceeded to break into her basement, where she lived.

My childhood friends are saints. Not many would be able to tolerate their smelly and inebriated best friend sneaking into their room, crawling into bed with them without warning, muttering something about a shed and garter snakes. H simply muttered some noise of assent, and we snoozed until later afternoon.

What are best friends for, right?

Sometime upon waking up, I managed to backtrack my way to this stranger’s house. I didn’t know his name, but I somehow was able to recover my pants.

The rest of this tale was pretty normal., I watched these boys do an inordinate amount of drugs – I didn’t partake, for the record, and I realised I had no cash to get home. Instead of calling my mother like a normal person, I decided to hitch a ride home, competing with this very frustrated homeless man who also was trying to find a lift, beside me.

I managed to find a nice fella on a motorcycle who gave me my first bike ride, down the mountain highway. It was absolutely terrifying, although the man was an extremely safe rider.

By the time I got home, I figured bush parties were a little overrated.