Was I born a masochist or did society make me this way? I demand unconditional love and complete freedom. That is why I am terrible.


I’m not talking about the cute sort of depression they try to describe in poetry. The quiet classy dignified soft buzzing in the background, a monotonous bland boring sort of sadness that you can try to amputate with Prozac.

I’m talking like the kind where you’ve walked to the edge of the cliff and every cell in your body screams at you to jump, and when you’re better you forget how close you came to taking the leap, and you never bother telling anyone because you don’t want them to worry or judge you for being so out of control.

I’m not talking about the angsty teen who has barely experienced life but think they have nothing left to learn from this world because they listened to too much punk music, and their parents refuse to listen and even when they do they just don’t understand.

I’m talking about the kid that opened up the safe and brought the gun to his head and came so close to pulling the trigger he still sees bullets in his dreams. The kind where you start drawing red lines along your arteries until you run out of space and your skin forgets to heal and the scars begin to grow layers.

I’m talking like the all consuming, self indulgent, utterly unreasonable urge to say goodbye forever by not saying it to anybody. I’m talking being unable to write any notes because you don’t really know what to say anymore, and you lost all your words as the red seeped through cotton.

You don’t know how to explain it because when you’re better it seems so far out of reach and the last thing you want to do is grab it. But when you’re in it you can’t see any light. Your whole universe is blurry and you forget all the reasons for existing. When you’re in it it’s no longer a whim or a feeling but a deeply ingrained uncompromising truth that this is all a cruel jape and the joke is on you and you alone, and the only way out is out.


Perhaps I am still waiting for an apology. Maybe some unreasonable, idealistic side of me still yearns for closure, maybe we never really ‘get over it’, no matter what we tell ourselves. Maybe you’ll always feel that familiar ache in the pit of your stomach when our song comes on, no matter how much you want to forget me. Maybe every time I think I’ve really forgotten the sound of your voice, your laugh, your lecturing monotone when you’re reading me poetry, it all comes flooding back at the most inconvenient of times, and I’m forced to retrace your footsteps back to our beginnings. Do you remember it too?

I used to blame you for being older but none the wiser. But age turns out to be a tricky thing. As children we’re told to expect steady improvement, but as an adult you very quickly discover that growth no longer comes naturally. It’s actually disturbingly effortless to remain stagnant, and society will cater to all your childish wants as long as you cry loudly enough.

The older we get the more we’re forced to accept the flaws of our predecessors, as we uncover more unsavory truths about ourselves. How imperfect, how selfish, how cruel we can be. How our own illogical stubbornness drives us to fight relentlessly until there’s nothing left to win, but still we refuse to move on. You realise your parents had no clue what they were doing, just like you have no clue now, and you start to envy them for how far they’ve come, you start to fear how much progress you still have left. You’ll search everywhere for some kind of manual only to find that you’re alone in this, and everyone else is just as terrified. Some are better than you at pretending, and you resent them for this.

So you hunt for a connection, some spark, any sign that there’s some grander purpose to your existence other than the day to day tortures of small talk and paper shuffling, and the thousand other mundane tasks that make up your seemingly meaningless life, and you pray to whatever might listen just so you can stretch out some thin hope in order to not fall apart every morning. But that emptiness inside of you that you choose to sedate with religion or drugs or whatever else works, it never goes away. And God, it’s getting harder and harder to keep living.

On coming home 17 years later

My friend wrote this lovely poem~ Original post here.

When I was five my parents moved us to New Zealand.

I learned how to say Aotearoa before I knew how to write my own name in Chinese.

I knew how to spell New Zealand before I ever knew how to write the two characters that read ‘Taiwan’.

Yet I was always reminded of one thing:

Even if you grew up there, your skin is still yellow; they’ll never see you as one of them.

Don’t forget where you came from.

I know this because I’ve spent my life listening to people

yell go back to your country

from car windows when I walk down the street

and I want to yell back “this is my country, I know no other”.

I will always be immigrant in their eyes.

Politicians spit Chinese, spit foreign like we have not brought wealth;

like we have not paid dearly in both currency and dignity to make this place home.

I have heard the words bloody asians more than enough times,

so don’t worry, I’ll never forget where I came from.

Taiwan, I say, when people ask.

I’m from Taiwan.

But I wish they didn’t feel the need to ask.

Two years ago I moved to Taiwan.

(Or should I say back to Taiwan?)

My mother says when she looks at the sky here she sees her youth floating past,

and she knows the streets we walk down by heart.

She hears home in each step she takes.

She did not want to leave 17 years ago.

It was here, too, that I drew my first breath, spoke my first word, took my first step, learned the word home.

But I was torn from my soil as a sapling, and now my roots have all dried –

slice them open with a pocketknife and nothing spills out.

But if  you cut open my veins I will bleed pohutukawa flowers.

I will bleed the salt waters of the south pacific ocean, childhoods at the beach fighting with seagulls,

and an expanse of long white clouds.

I will bleed quiet night skies filled with stars, the damp smell of bush walks in the Waitakere Ranges,

and the taste of cold L&P.

People here tell me how lucky I am to know how to speak English but

How do I tell them I wish I could exchange my tongue for one that matches my skin?

How do I tell them that when I try to speak Chinese, I often opt for silence because I struggle too hard to find the words;

I guess I just misplaced them when we crossed an ocean all those years ago.

How do I tell them that when I try to write Chinese, my pen is like a lost explorer, depressed and drunk;

each stroke is a maze that he cannot fathom so he sits down to cry.

How do I tell them I wish I could write the intricate characters telling stories in the language that should be carved into the walls of my brain?

My grandfather told me that each Chinese character evolved from a picture and each picture tells a story.

If a picture is really worth a thousand words, and there are over 50,000 Chinese characters,

there are 50 million stories to be told.

50 million stories I do not know.

I have only 26 letters to rearrange, but they work with me,

use my tongue as diving boards,

fall from my lips like fearless skydivers,

deliver my thoughts like practised messengers.

Nowadays I avoid mentioning that I don’t belong

but when people ask me what city I’m from I don’t know what to say.

I was born in Taipei

but Auckland nurtured me with its gentle fingers.

Auckland taught me peace,

taught me how blue the sky can be

taught me, how it feels to take off your shoes and run barefoot in the grass.
Do I say Auckland or Taipei?

I’m not going to point out that I’m out of place

but I can’t claim this city as home and

I don’t know how to talk my way out of this one and oh no my words are tripping over my teeth on their way out again.

I wish I could say what I’m trying to say in English –

no i’m not saying I’m better because I speak another language –
I’m sorry.
I wish I was one of you.

And when I say I miss home I’m not saying I don’t love my birthplace,

it’s just that the definition of home has always been fluid and

my search for belonging has made me an albatross,

gliding along the shoreline on switching currents,

my feet never touching land.

And even though I finally look like I’m home now –

a dark haired, yellow skinned puzzle piece that’s turned up as last,

my edges don’t quite fit as well as I’d hoped.

So I tell my parents I don’t think this is home and this city is a stranger to me,

and that it makes me want to run because they’ve always warned me against the unknown.

I tell them that before I left Auckland,

I ground my heart into sand and let the wind carry it away

so New Zealand would always have a piece of me

and now when my friends walk along the beach there,

I feel each footprint in my chest.

I tell them the sky in this city is thick with a collective memory that I cannot access,

and when I reach out to those around me I only grab empty air –

but my father insists that I’m home now and so I say

I’m home now.

How to be a woman in Modern Society

Be sexy, but don’t be slutty.

Be assertive, but don’t be bitchy.

Be pretty, but don’t wear too much make up.

Be skinny, but don’t lose your curves.

Be smart, but don’t be a know it all.

Be affectionate, but don’t be clingy.

Be a home maker, but don’t neglect your career.

Be fun, but don’t party too much.

Be available, but don’t be easy.

Be genuine, but don’t try too hard.

Be a good mother, but don’t let your children dictate your life.

Be original, but don’t stand out from the crowd.

Be edgy, but don’t have too many tattoos.

Be faithful, but tolerate his infidelities.

Be perfect, in an imperfect world.


If you find the world is harsh then you must be stronger. And though you may falter, you may feel the flow of hatred running through your veins, you must never lose your humanity.

Though life will change you, scar you, you must never allow it to break you, nor tarnish your soul. If there is good remaining after all this time then you must protect it.

We may be small and insignificant in this vast and terrifying universe, but we have each other. So even if every bone in your body is screaming enough, don’t ever stop being kind, you won’t regret this.

And if your existence makes the world a little less cruel then yours will have been a life well lived. And God I hope to die in those arms, my last shelter, my sweetest memory. If life must end in tragedy then let mine be a beautiful one. All I ever wanted was a little less loneliness, a little more love.



I don’t know if it’s our ego getting in the way of us admitting that we don’t really know as much as we pretend to, or if we are just programmed to ignore the fact that there are no real answers in life. There is no rule book, because we’re all living for the first time.

Which makes it so bizarre that we rely on tradition to guide us when we know that everyone before us simply followed the people before them, and the same people who decided to make marriage a legal institution also thought slavery was a great idea. There are still places in this world where child brides and female genital mutilation is the norm. That’s the power of tradition. It’s so hard to put an end to what is ‘normal’.

But if we wiped the slate clean, if we didn’t look to our parents or our grandparents or their predecessors for guidance. If we didn’t view marriage and monogamy as the norm, but merely as options, and there was no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to be with someone, what would you want? What would make you happy?

My views on so many things in life have changed so drastically over the past few years. I used to think being pro choice was a no-brainer. Of course women should have a right to decide what to do with their own bodies! No uterus, no opinion!

But what happens when there is a body inside your body? What happens when your decision means someone else doesn’t even get to exist? We love to boast of our intelligence, and looking around at the world we’ve created, you cannot deny the genius of humanity. But what does it mean to be human? Given how little we know about consciousness, and how much we know about human development, it is very hard to argue that life doesn’t begin at conception.

Once you begin to understand that those ‘clumps of cells’ the size of a kidney bean is the perfect possibility of a human being, it is very hard to argue that abortion is not the destruction of life. I understand there are children born into poverty, born into war zones, born into families that never wanted them, and we start to believe that abortion is the better option. But when did death become better than suffering, and who are we to decide that only a comfortable life is worth living? Life is not meant to be perfect, life is meant to be lived. What a pity that humanity loves to kill, but will not plead guilty to murder. Yes, they are only cells. But wait, what are you made of again?


I used to wonder whether dementia was the brain’s primitive way of saying ‘Hey, I’m tired of remembering’.

Because we’re not supposed to live this long and suffer so much pain, and it’s merely nature’s last defense mechanism against the cruelty of reality. Those who are affected are never the ones who suffer. It is friends and family who must live with the fact that their lives will never be the same again. They have lost someone who is still with them, and must watch their loved ones’ mind succumb to nothingness while the body remains.

I can tell you what it feels like to see someone who has watched you grow up all your life forget your name and existence entirely. It feels like relief, to see her stare into my eyes and not glimpse a shred of recognition. Like her slate had been wiped clean, like life had forgiven her, all her mistakes, all her worries, they were with the wind. Because sometimes when the world won’t grant you peace, the mind retreats. No matter how broken or battered, what lives once may never die, and we always find our own serenity.


‘Do you not like me sober’?

She wanted to ask but the words were glued to the back of her throat and she couldn’t cough it out. So she lit another cigarette instead and watched the smoke swirl around them, filling the air with toxic fumes.

It takes precision to kill yourself slowly. It takes discipline to commit to socially acceptable suicide. It’s like a traditional sort of depression, the mild kind that people can ignore without feeling guilty. Common and predictable, easily manipulated with medication, and doesn’t end with a noose or a gun shot. No one will ever discover her corpse and say it was a tragedy. They will have seen it coming. They will say she deserved it.

When her body is laid out in the coffin and her legs don’t quite fill it out, they will say that it’s a shame she didn’t try harder to stick around. When the scars on her skin become conspicuous under the fluorescent light they will mutter that she was weak, that she succumbed to the worst type of regression. Self harm is selfish. Self mutilation, a childish renegade form of indulgence. Her inability to cope with reality, her distorted view of the world, her disillusion, her mistakes, her failure to be.

No one will discuss the drunk boy that raped her when she was 19 and too scared to say no. No one will mention the boy who told her he loved her only to cheat with her best friend. No one will understand why it was easier to hurt herself than to hurt them back. No one will question the absence of her family, their anger, their disappointment in her unnecessary existence. Their bitterness will be justified. No one will make excuses for her.

But her smile. They will remember her smile. The way her eyes would light up, the faint lines around her mouth, her charming grin, her girlish giggle. They will remember the way she could brighten the room with her laughter, the sound of pure joy. It’s hard to imagine how someone clearly filled with such happiness could possibly contain such grief. Maybe that was the problem. Every experience was so exaggerated, every emotion so raw, so incompatible. The pain had nowhere to go, so it consumed her.

He will remember the way she used to look at him, like he was her whole world, and he was. She didn’t know how to love only a little. All the ways she understood him that no one else ever could, all the words they never said, but felt. It was true, he didn’t like her sober. He loved.


I heal faster but I feel less, I’ve learned how to steady my heartbeat. I don’t love as hard and my kisses don’t draw blood anymore. I know how to hurt people now, so I stay away. I know how to make them pay, so I don’t. My lips are kissed by fire but all you taste is the cold.

It’s not relapse and it’s not recovery. It’s nothing so simple but it’s not terribly complicated either. I just don’t recognise myself anymore, nor do I remember who I used to be. No one ever warned me when life alters you forever you don’t receive a memo, you never realise how important those moments are until they’re long gone. I see a stranger in the mirror.

I’m afraid I will never love anyone as much as I loved you, and the injustice of it hurts almost as much as your honesty. But we are not star struck lovers, we are not promises made under starry hot summer nights, we are not warm whispers in the dark and sweet memories. We are bruised egos and crooked hearts, we were stubborn even as we fell apart.

But you, my darling, you think this pain is unique. You think no one else has ever felt like this, felt so deeply, but we all did. You think no one has ever loved as hard as you, but we all did. You think no one could hurt this much and survive, but we all did. You think you’re alone in this world, but we’re all with you. You think this pain will haunt you forever, and you’ll never be able to erase his mistakes. But one day you’ll wake up, it might be three days from now, it might be three months, or three years. One day you’ll wake up, and he will have lost the power to wound.


Is it possible to miss the person you could have been?

Who would I be if we had never met?

Maybe my hands would be less shaky when I touch his skin, and I would relish his warmth and forget the world when he tightened his arms around me, instead of pushing him away whenever it felt dangerously comfortable.

Maybe I would have less scars on my body, and it would be easier for him to mark me. But to be honest I don’t think I would have stopped if you hadn’t told me you would stop loving me if I didn’t learn to love myself a little bit more.

Maybe I could listen to that damn song without crying or drifting into wishful thinking that somehow, miraculously, you were still by my side and we were still something, anything.

Maybe I wouldn’t waste any time thinking of different ways to hurt you should we ever meet again. Weren’t you the one who told me “we always hurt the ones we love”? Well darling I’m still hurting, so I guess that means you loved me the most.

If we had never met, perhaps the words I love you wouldn’t bring me to my knees. I wouldn’t be terrified of wanting permanency only to discover that I was only ever meant to be temporary. I wouldn’t be frightened by the possibility of happiness, I wouldn’t associate pain as a necessary part of that equation. I wouldn’t smile at him like I knew a secret, there would be less sadness in my eyes, and I would not doubt myself every time someone showed me a hint of affection.

But I have a sneaking suspicion that if I had never met you, some other boy would have taken your place. My heart would still be unceremoniously broken, just in a different way. Maybe we don’t matter as much as we think we ought to. So none of us are really villains because none of us are that important. Maybe we only hold on so tight to the hurt because we are not ready to admit that our love was never as unique as the stories we were promised. We never meant as much to each other as we said we did.

And yet, I miss all the things we never said.


Too riddled with inconsistencies to remember how to tell the truth. Too busy dissecting your mistakes to notice when you’re  being sincere. Too obsessed with how others perceive us to take comfort in our balanced imperfections. Too troubled by your misery to fix my own sadness. Too preoccupied with your life to live my own.

I am forgetting myself again. Cast in your shadows, tracing your footsteps, always steps behind, always waiting, always late. Always caught in the middle between leaving you and being left, not sure which is worse. Being left is always worse.

You never truly understand the value of something until it’s gone. Even then we try to salvage the leftovers, make art out of forgotten promises, but the bitterness seeps through and the sour taste lingers like burnt coffee.

Walking down the cobbled path, my hand grasping his a little too tightly, trying to keep my balance on the uneven steps. We caught glimpses of the sunset but never stuck around long enough to see all the colours. We called each other baby and kissed frequently, the taste of tobacco stuck to the back of my throat and I adored his particular disheveled charm. We drove too fast and lived recklessly because being young afforded you that luxury. We stayed up late and drank too much and smoked till our lungs were black and our hearts felt less heavy. Being around him was an escape from reality, I was never sober long enough to contemplate my own mortality. We sang along to bad music and danced under the moonlight and I swallowed my pride till all that was left was envy. We fell in love and I fell apart and boy he left me empty.


That first ray of morning light, the crisp air that chills your lungs and wakes you up better than a cold shower. Old books composed of battered pages, memories left behind through dirty fingerprints. The smell of parchment and the sound of creaking floorboards as you walk in. Rainy days and thunderstorms, excuses to stay in and hold hands with you when I was too afraid to ask you to stay. Speaking my mind even when I knew I shouldn’t and never making the bed because I liked the way you left it. Messy hair, shirts that never fit properly, torn sheets, and scattered ashes on the windowsill. That half empty bottle of whiskey left open on your desk, always tempting. That almost but never empty pack of Marlboro Reds I could never quit, just like I couldn’t quit you.

These are the little things that I miss.

These are the small things that kill me.


We spent most of the night talking, filling in the silence with too much staring and kissing, finally slumbering off to sleep as the morning sneaked up on us. I woke up to him studying me with those sharp green eyes, his steady breathing, and my not so steady heartbeat. For the first time ever I was no longer counting down the minutes till I left, I was counting stars.

It is hard to remind myself that love and lust are different things, and what we feel right now is simply chemicals reacting, nothing more. I should be content in becoming a pleasant memory, something to be filed away and looked at later, when we’re oceans apart and tired of dreaming. But I want more than just the gentle gaze of an old lover. I want to feel passion, I want to feel pain. I want to scream at the sound of his name.

I tried to remember the last time I felt like this but all my memories are blurry. I remember our first kiss. It felt like home, so soft and sweet I thought I would melt in his arms. He ran his hands down my back and traced the fragments of my spine, sending shivers all through me. I have never been touched like this before.

But all this happiness feels so temporary, like we are playing with borrowed time. The question is who is willing to play the fool this time. We are treading on dangerous territory, carrying our shattered hearts in tired suitcases and trading love for stolen kisses. We are stumbling fingers in the dark, dirty whispers in the night, guilty goodbyes when morning comes.


The problem is the profound influence he had on me, his ideas forged me into part of who I am. I am no longer able to separate the girl I was before I met him with the woman I became after he left.

He understood me, the parts of me that even I didn’t fully understand. I had spent most of my life subliminally championing the idea that being misunderstood made me interesting, but it took him seconds to dismantle my mask. I wanted to be mysterious, but he refused to give me that courtesy. I despised intimacy, he found a way to get close anyway. We found in each other something that completed us, we loved each other when we were both unlovable. I built myself a new home with his arms wrapped around me, and I thought forever was a promise meant for keeping.

But waking up in the morning to that empty bed, all that space, I felt like I slept on needles and every piece of my skin was burning. All my mistakes came hammering down, drilling into my brain and hell is the special pain I had invited into my life, hell is knowing I am no longer permitted to speak your name.


he says i’m all teeth and sharp edges
and soft skin doesn’t make up for the bruises i leave in the mornings
we fight we scream we kiss and wait for the guilt to wash in
we pretend we never wanted any of this to happen
i smile so much these days my cheeks are always aching and i never tell him that i have to bite my tongue to keep in the poison
i don’t show him the bullets under my skin

i tell him purple is my favourite colour but i don’t explain the reason
he watches the bruises blend in and tells me i’m too broken
i’m fractured i’m fragments but i’m stronger at the seams
i’ve been sewed up and smashed to pieces and glued together again
so maybe i am impossible to live with but you will never see me give in

he says i’m jagged knives and sinking stones but there’s no turning back now
and still waters run deep but he’s still waiting to see me angry
we poke and prod each others wounds till we’re both raw and bleeding
he tries to kiss it better but pride always get in the way of healing
i don’t show him the hollowness in my chest

i tell him rainy days are my favourite because i get to stay in but i don’t say i miss him
he shows up on my doorstep with roses at 10pm and i yell at him for no god damn reason (i yell at him because i love him)
i ask him if my hands are steady and i play a tune that can’t be forgotten will he still remember me when his shirt has finally been washed so many times that my scent is no longer stuck to the fabric
i just wanted to be his favourite

he says i’m tired of your crying and manipulation
i didn’t fucking sign up for this (i’m sorry, i’m sorry, i’m sorry)
i laugh and laugh and laugh and it comes out in frozen stitches and silence completes the spaces he used to fill in
we pack our bags we never say goodbye and i forget our composition
i don’t tell him that i love him


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