My uncle used to be so nice. My father had so many siblings, yet his youngest brother is the only person that I knew longest ever since childhood.
I should have seen the signs of how much of an image he and his wife try to hold up.
HIs father, my grandfather passed away when I was in college. It made him man of the house now, but he is not ready for that position yet. After all, he is the youngest in his family, even compared to the girls.
Respect your elders. Submit and be obedient, or leave.
Ever since the funeral, we’ve been arguing often. Okay, girl… he’s just upset his dad died. Maybe he’ll change soon. He’ll be back… Right?
The arguing continues. It went from petty nitpicking from the chores, the way I walked, talked, pretty much everything. Then he started to curse.
Didn’t all elders say that swearing was bad?
They say respect your elders, but they don’t actually give respect to the younger generation back.
What are we, emotional punching bags?
I am in acting school. We are arguing in the car again. It’s so hard to find a job. I’m living on my own for the first time. I’m in a new industry. Mother doesn’t believe in me and did something domestically violent that I’m still trying to see through, and he doesn’t care?
“If you don’t find a job soon, I’ll make it so much harder…”
Yeah, I know I’m a loser. You can tell by my glasses and awkwardness that I was never part of the cool crowd.
Are you ashamed of me cus I’m not your trophy niece?
We’re Southeast Asian, but you prep your kids like the 80’s jock stage dad on ‘Breakfast Club’.
“Come on, I didn’t raise a loser…!”
I’m in a different town a few months down the road, so at least I don’t have to see you in person.
I try to open up to you about what mom just said. How she’s trying to do all these things for religion, so she could be ‘redeemed’.
She wants to go to our version of heaven. One part of it is keeping her distance emotionally from me.
I’m one of her regrets.
Oh, so I shouldn’t exist?
He basically turned it all around and spat it in my face.
“I don’t care.”
“Whenever I try to tell you what’s going on in my life, I feel I can’t open up to you. Did you get that email about mom turning to religion?”
“No, I didn’t. I either deleted that or don’t remember, cus every email you send me makes you sound like a brat. If I showed them to anyone, they’d be like ‘yeah, she’s a brat’. You always say in your relationships how frustrated you are, maybe you’re the problem. Hang up before I get angry…!”
I try to breathe.
What just happened?
I hold my pillow tight as it stains with tears.
So basically, nobody wants me to exist. To be born.
“Mommy, Uncle Hien just did something really bad…”
I’m in my early twenties, and here I am talking like a baby.
“You actually talked to that jerk?” Dad’s side of the family abandoned mother years ago when I was a kid. Her side of the family ditched her, too. “Where’s your self respect?”
She’s the last person I want to discuss self respect to. She does let her own son call her fat after all.
How could anyone stand to be insulted anymore in this family?
My own brother even calls me overweight now and then.
“Oh, we’re just trying to make you strong.”
I already hate the word ‘strong’ from the phrase ‘come on strong’ when I messed up socially in making friends and dating. I was bullied for it.
“Do you come on strong cus you’re autistic?”
You’re not human, walking freak show.
‘Strong’ is such a cliche word already, it’s practically given to every girl like ‘beautiful’. The worst part about being strong is no one ask if you’re okay.
Enough is enough, I’m not gonna put up with your crap anymore.
Either acknowledge you hurt me, or leave.
It’s been months since that phone call and nothing has really changed. He hasn’t replied to or acknowledge any of my other emails.
Oh, so you’re just going to go about your day like nothing happened, and just pretend like everything’s okay?
You don’t actually care about me as a person. I’m just your tool to make you look good, and I’m the shame of the family.
All because of my autism diagnosis.
“You always send me nasty emails. I can’t let you do this to me and my family.”
I’m being nasty? Record yourself and see how you talk.
“I’m not trying to hurt you, I’m just trying to tell you what’s going on. And what do you mean your family? I was never apart of it?”
I have had it with this man.
All the cursing, the threats, the degradation.
I have had it with their shallow world and their hypocritical asses. As long as I’m like them, all pretty and perfect, you won’t judge me. I may vomit from that.
I finally wrote this to them in an email.
“You know what you all remind me of? Kardashians. Plastic Barbie dolls. Oh, and how much did that plastic surgery cost for your wife? Hope the push up bra didn’t break the budget.”
I shouldn’t have said it, but it was true. I was jealous that their family, specifically the girls were way more prettier than me. My little cousin, their daughter had way more potential to be in the popular crowd than I ever did when I was her age. Being around them, it was high school all over again, the jocks verses the nerds. Having glasses doesn’t help.
Since I am Southeast Asian, and have to respect my elders, if I said that in person, I’d be beaten the snot out of for being disrespectful. Then again, that’s all she is, plastic. I don’t think her slap would hurt as much.
I’d be lucky if I got away with just a slap. I’d be this century’s Anne Boleyn with my head rolling on the floor.
I didn’t stop there. Just to see if he was listening I called aunt more names that she was unattractive. I didn’t just name called her.
I name called uncle, finally.
“You’re still stuck in high school, aren’t you? Pushing your kids to get into sports and to act all cool? And you tell me I’m the one in a fantasy. Get over yourself, Hien. That popular girl you liked? She’d never go for a loser like you.”
The first remark about calling my aunt unattractive was my first slip to a path of no return.
I became a monster.
A fearful coward like him who just wanted to fit in.