wow, i moved to nyc about a year ago. it’s shocking what i was like when i came to ny last year and how much i have changed. happy to report that change has been for the better! who knew leaving boston and moving to ny would be one of he best decisions i ever made in my life??? i recovered from depression more than i had ever before. i am working and pursuing goals i want to pursue!!!
all my life, i have never met so many first generation immigrants from korea as i have in the past few months of living in nyc. of course when i lived in korea, i spoke plenty of korean to just about everybody. but they weren’t immigrants. they weren’t speaking in korean with me instead of speaking in english which might be a more difficult language for them. and when i moved to u.s. i have mostly lived in college towns, where immigrants were harder to find unless you were talking about grand parents or great great parents, etc. so imagine my surprise with different treatment, better treatment when i speak korean in dry cleaners (just this morning got 5 dollars off 15 dollar asking price for fixing my pants), hair salon, deli, some of the restaurants (not all because ones in korea town or some parts of flushing, practically expect you to speak in korean it feels like), and lastly, i just got a job offer partly due to the fact that i’m bilingual.
why are people, immigrants, nicer to you when you speak their native tongue? are they nostalgic for their own country back home? probably not. are they grateful for not having to speak in english? maybe, but most of the people who can speak conversational english do it all day long so what’s the difference of not speaking in english for a minute or two? only thing i can think of is that when someone, even someone who looks like korean anyway, speaks in korean, seemingly choosing to instead of speaking in english with them, i think first generation immigrants just like it. they like knowing 1.5, 2nd generation or people whose english has no accent can still speak korean. and boy when they hear practically no accent korean from people who they might not have expected, i think they just appreciate the respect for choosing to speak in their native tongue and the fluency just makes them happy.
and then there are cultural factors. in english, you don’t have much way of showing deference to elders. you show more formal respect to strangers perhaps, but never out of respect for elders in ways that koreans are used to. so then when you speak in korean to people who works in stores or elsewhere, you can show repsect in ways that english limits you from expressing. and saying familiar or idiomatic phrases gets a chuckle out of people and a smile. i find that i speak way more korean now with strangers in nyc than i ever have. when i lived in boston i only spoke korean with my parents once a week or so on the phone. but boy oh boy in nyc, it’s every other store you walk in to where i get an opportunity to put a smile on someone by speaking in korean. it’s nice. it’s weird that it works even though i was made in korea and raised in korea. people might expect me to be fluent in korean by the way i look pretty much unmistakably a korean. but no. my experience has been that people are gracious and happy when i choose to speak in korean to them even though they know i can speak english and i know they can too.
i forgot that relationships are complicated! of course in the beginning it’s just about do i like him or do i not like him? does he like me does he not like me? but then later the question becomes, move to the next level or not move to the next level? and tons of other questions! why can’t relationships provide answers instead of posing questions! i guess sometimes you just know in your heart what the answer is. but even then, it’s not like you can just make reality match what is in your heart. all if not most of decisions are made by two people and take in to account two people’s hearts instead of one heart. and man, oh man, when you start caring about someone, really caring about someone, things get complex! anyone out there know how to simplify relationships? other than keeping one’s heart safely locked up in a safe to avoid getting hurt then becoming more alienated than one would ever want to! (C. S. Lewis said something to that effect – the only way to ensure absolute prevention of the heart being broken is to lock it up and not take any chances of getting one’s heart broken; but then the result isn’t any better. the heart is alone in isolation and the heart grows harder and colder.)
on a “happier” note, back in boston today and really enjoying my time here. i did miss boston! love this town!!!
i’m waiting for the other shoe to drop, so to speak. i’ve been going out with my bf for about 8 months now. and things are fine, more or less. i’m doing a lot better over all. successfully moved and starting to settle into new place in nyc. don’t really miss boston too much. but then was i waiting for something bad to happen? for a while everything was perfect, well almost perfect. then i started crying on consecutive days and not due to my reproductive cycle, thank you very much. and couldn’t stop crying even when my bf was with me.
so all that to say, is happiness really only a phantom of the imagination? maybe it’s something disney and hallmark and the marketing people at various places conjured up so they could sell movies, cards, chocolates, flowers, etc.
i was always unhappy. i was depressed. totally utterly in despair. that i can deal with. well, except when things got really worse then i couldn’t cope anymore. so then when i started feeling better after 5-6 years of really bad depression, i was skeptical at first. many changes took place that could explain why i was feeling better. i stopped working with the therapist i had for about 5 + years without miraculous improvement or anything. doctors on my treatment team tweaked with my medication. i started dating my current bf. i hadn’t dated anyone in over ten years before i started dating him. i mean, i dated. but i didn’t have a boyfriend for i don’t even know how long actually.
spring of 2002 to end of 2008 (my second depression episode) utterly sucked. only thing that was going to make it worse was to be treated with ECT (eletro convulsive therapy). my old psychiatrist recommended that and was banking that ECT was my only hope of coming out of deep deep depression. well, i wasn’t going to have my brain fried. so i fired her. moved on to a new therapist, new psycho-pharmacologist, and continued on with DBT (dialectical behavioral therapy). well, for about a good 8 months i had consecutive days of non-suicidal ideation or urges which had never happened before since the depression of 2002 started.
lately, however, after months and months of not wanting to die anymore, i can smell it in the air. the muse which beckons me to death, to take matters into my own hands, it is slowly but surely making her move on me. past couple weeks, i cried, overdosed mildly couple of times, drank, and thought about whether there is really a point to my life after all. yes. the question that i could not get out of my head for about 6 years, not even for a single day, it came back to me. and i started wondering, what’s the point? why work so hard at recovery? why try so hard to feel better? it’s not going to last anyway. life sucks, right? and being depressed and feeling pain and suffering in life sucks even more!
so today i told my psycho-pharmacologist that i’ve been thinking about what’s the point of my life. i told her i had been dancing with suicidal thoughts. maybe for now it’s enough just to admit that i’m unhappy. being happy for the 8 months or so, well, maybe absence of utter despair is like happiness. but now as i’m feeling better, it isn’t good enough just not to feel pain. i want to have a meaningful life. yes, i want to have a life worth living. a life worth staying alive for. not sure i’m there yet. or that i’ll ever get there.
is it time to give up again? i’m not sure. all i know for sure is that while in the past i was happy just to see my bf, now i cry even when he is there. i cry because i want more. i don’t just want to hang out, i want some kind of certainty that things mean something. i’m not happy just to read some articles here and there, or to just send applications out even on slim chance that someone might look at my resume. i want a job. i want to go back to school.
but wanting things, that’s what leads to disappointment and pain. so i decided i think, subconsciously, not to want any of it anymore. so again i am where i was before this bit of relief found me after years of stormy darkness. i don’t want to be here anymore if being here means i’ll be unhappy and if it means i live to testify to the happiness i don’t have.