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“Lost in Translation, Yet Again”

“Can’t you just change your attitude?”

Family gatherings are usually a painful affair for the single girl. Here in this busy hustle-bustle moshpit of an Asian city, we had a long weekend to celebrate what I call Mooncake Festival. The grandmother and I went to the aunt’s home and ate with the cousins who are all married. Everyone is married or a couple (except for the Dennis the Menace-like 5-year-old nephew), and it’s hard not to feel left out, or that there’s something wrong with me. I just don’t get it. I’m a good person. too. I deserve someone, too.

But I fool myself by thinking I’m coming to terms with flying solo. I’d rather fly solo than deal with a second class guy. In order to stave off loneliness, I try to keep super-busy to forget singledom. I’ve signed up for more and more activities, taken on more projects; I try to juggle the early morning swims, a class in communication theories, and teaching. I tell myself that I can “have it all.” I went to a swimming competition extremely nervous, came home with two gold medals, and felt as lonely as ever. I went to church on Sunday and felt emptier than ever. I called up the father from afar and had a long chat with him, but felt pretty lonely after that, too. I took on a few extra projects at work and then regretted that afterwards. I wonder if I am getting bored. What am I chasing? What exactly is the root of the problem? How do I keep getting busier and lonelier?

I’ve been back to the counselor (a pseudo-shrink) every two weeks. She specializes in cognitive behavioral therapy, and she keeps feeding me the same lines. “You need to ask yourself what’s important to you, what makes Jane happy.” And she keeps giving me the same worksheet, “The Signs of Black and White Thinking.” Okay, I feel a little more grounded after our sessions, but overall the visits feel like a Band-Aid solution.

The grandmother is a more reliable reality check, as she tells it like it is. On one of her better days- the days when her mind is sharp and spunky – she tells me what is wrong:

I expect others to meet my needs and go with my flow, and rarely do I reciprocate.

It’s difficult for others to get to know me and make me happy because it’s not clear what makes me happy.

I can be a real stress-ball and pretty horrible to deal with when I’m in a tizzy.

I’m not feminine enough and can be really blunt. And then finally, “Can’t you just change your attitude? Good things would happen if you just made a few changes.”

The grandmother on the whole is right, but little does she understand that maybe the fact that I am wired differently prevents me from a total transformation and makeover.

How do you translate, “I am wired differently” from English into Chinese? I bet if I tried it would just get lost in translation.

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  1. I didn’t know I had ADHD when I was single, but now I see that it was a big part of why I stayed single so long. I was impulsive, and that impulsivity had landed me with a very short marriage and a child WAY too young. I decided I couldn’t be trusted not to choose someone bad, so at first I wasn’t dating because I didn’t want to bring anyone into my life that could hurt my son. But then my son got older, got to an age where he could TELL me if someone was hurting him, so I started looking. But who could I bring into my mess of a life? I couldn’t bring anyone home to my mess of a house, could I? I couldn’t explain all my “weirdness”, why I’d obsess over some things, but didn’t care at all about other things, why music sometimes made me want to crawl out of my skin, why I was so damn quirky about practically EVERYTHING.

    But the truth is, I just hadn’t met the RIGHT person yet. I did meet one guy before him, and we had a semi-functional relationship, but the truth was it never functioned very well because he had no intention of being anything more than a part-time boyfriend, which is why HE didn’t care about the quirkiness, he could just ignore it and walk away when it was too much. But then I met my husband. I didn’t know I would date him when I met him, and certainly couldn’t have predicted marrying him. We just talked, alot. I met him in a chat group online, and he was in another state, so there was no thought of a relationship at all. We just talked about our lives and grew to be good friends we could confide in. I told him all about my quirks, he told me his, and somehow, before we quite knew it, we realized we’d crossed the line between friendship and love. We never really had a dating “anniversary” because it just happened so slowly and naturally. But here we are now, married. And while it isn’t perfect, he has his own daemons and can sometimes grow impatient with mine when his start revving up, we do have a pretty good and supportive marriage. I’m no longer alone at family functions. I no longer have people staring at me with pity because I “can’t find someone”.

    My advice to you is just to wait. Stop pushing. Stop focusing on getting a relationship. Just focus on yourself, and, like your therapist said, what makes you happy. Join groups or clubs that match with your interests. It may not be as soon as you want, but eventually you’ll end up meeting someone who can look at the whole you and see something beautiful. Then you’ll know it’s right.

    1. CBT has really helped me. The fact is we do often jump to conclusions or judge ourselves for being single. The fact is I was married for several years and then I had some longish relationships…so it’s not like it’s impossible! I do feel bad for being single now but I think your therapist is right. From my understanding Asian society is more intolerant of single people (women especially) and it’s hard to tell them to back off. But you almost have to do that because pressure does not help!! Guilt just makes things worse!! Maybe join e-Harmony or something like that, and take your time meeting people. When you push to force a relationship bad things happen.

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