“Emotionally, I was on a downward spiral because I went through a period of time where I hated black people, because all the pain and hurt that was caused to me and my family was caused by another black person. I hated black women because my brother had died for a black woman.” -kweisi gharreau

“Car Mats”

Fiction. Based on a True Emotional Downward Spiral.

By Mingjie Zhai

This journal entry is inspired by true events. Some of the characters, names, businesses, incidents, and certain locations and events have been fictionalized for dramatic purposes. Any similarity to the name, character or history of any person is entirely coincidental and unintentional.

Rick Warren said in his book, The Purpose Driven Life, that “cultivating a community takes honesty,” and so perhaps honesty is where Angelie needed to begin.

It started that day when her dad told her to get the car mat, which had been sitting in the garage all week. She had washed her car last week, but somewhere in the middle of the cleaning, she had forgotten to put the car mat back in the car. Now it was sitting inside the garage. Perhaps the symptoms of bipolar gave her a crutch, an excuse, a reason to not finish. Perhaps, she can blame it on the fact that her ex husband had left the tub un-caulked before leaving their home for good to the other woman’s home. And maybe it was because he never came back to apologize for what he did, knowing how messed up it was.

Victim shaming was the tactic that both he and his attorney had agreed on, and to rub salt on an open wound, he picked a Japanese woman to accuse her of being “belligerent, hostile, and threatening”–excuses really, so that he didn’t have to pick up his own clothes, help move everything out of the house he wanted, and finish caulking the bathtub.

Regardless, she ran her credit score down…it’s now a 581. She allowed the man she invested money, time, and dreams with in this seven year relationship walk all over her.  She never commanded any value for her writing, and the letter from his attorney stating that she was threatening as if she was “unstable” and “crazy” was the very thing she wanted to co-opt.

Since then, the word, “crazy,” triggered her.

Co-option

Like the word, “nigger” into “nigga” among the brothers that symbolized a brethren that nobody else can understand because nobody has ever walked a day in a black person’s shoes unless that person is black…well…that word “nigga” is now Angelie’s “crazy.” She is going to co-opt it so she can control it rather than the other way around.

Angelie was determined to embrace her stigma and perhaps a little bit too well–she now has the green light to half ass everything, including but not limited to forgetting to place the car mats back into the car after she was done washing.

When her father had told her to clean the car mats that morning, she brushed him off. “Later,” she told him, and kept typing away at her keyboard, determined to write this motherfucking book called “The Art of Breaking Your Heart Open.” Besides, she didn’t want to break her writing flow. She also didn’t like how he just expected her to drop everything and do it now just because he had asked her to do it now. She’s not the little girl who was easily ordered around like how he used to order her around to do stuff. She is aware that she is the epitome of the millennial snowflake living in a bubble protected by helicopter parents.

She is 33 and living with her parents, living on teacher’s retirement, and growing a not for profit in ways so she can learn accountability and in other ways, so she didn’t have to play the ugly corporate game that her ex had played–the game that required someone to learn the art of the sociopath to win–she didn’t want to play that game.

It’s ugly.

But starting a nonprofit was in ways more hard than starting a for profit enterprise. Shit is just slower with government– even more politics to play, more asses to kiss up, more people to kow tow to. So, Angelie’s job is to make this sustainable by operating it like a for profit small business.

She has to pick her board–her bosses.

Tension has been building up the past few weeks. It started when they were mad at her for bringing friends over. She’s a fucking adult, yet she can’t bring people over to the pad, but then again she’s not paying rent so whatever money she has, she spends it on the organization. When she invited her mother and father to her event, they didn’t go so she stopped inviting them. They didn’t view what she did as success because it had no monetary return on investment–no sustainable income to make it keep going. She was discouraged and embarrassed that her dad would treat her this way in front of her intern–she felt like a high school kid once again rather than a 33 year old startup entrepreneur.

Earlier that week, she had admitted openly in a podcast that the reason she believes she never fully forgiven her father for what he did and her ex husband for what he did was that she never had given her inner child the space to grieve or be acknowledged for the wound that was inflicted upon her. That what she felt is righteous anger, that what both her dad and her ex husband did to her deeply wounded her, by “flipping the script,” or victim shaming, or deflecting, as psychologists would call it. Being in the house in some ways re-opened those wounds, so much so, she has to leave to different trips so she can process her pain.

She purposely did not respond to his demand. In fact, she resented him for all those years he’s treated her like she was inadequate. More criticisms than complements, more expectations and disappointments than allowance and encouragements, more belittling than believing, and it has taken a toll on how she has navigated towards her projects, her relationships with people. She didn’t understand boundaries since hers was violated at such a young age when she was hit for the most basic things; she was hit while standing up for herself, she was hit when her mother didn’t stand up for her. She was hit for having a voice that says, “this is wrong!”

It’s not me who should change, it’s you!

So this time, she did not follow her dad’s orders even though he may have a point–not with force, not with criticism, not with anger, not because she can’t, not because she is sick, but because she didn’t like the way he talked to her. She’s 33 now, not 3. And it’s time she became the mother she wanted to become that stands up for her inner child. She is now standing up to the bully even if that bully was the first love of her life–her dad.

She hated the system of control, the system of things where people respected others for being mean which is a perverse view of looking at it as “strong” and a “survivor” —how has THAT worked out for our society? It’s time to let that inner child come out and speak.

This is not right! This is not fair!

He comes back home a few hours later to find that the mat is still untouched. He takes the mat and slams it in front of her window and says, “Hun dan!” which is translation for “asshole!” And she responds with, “Don’t you start verbally abusing me!”

He reacts. “Get out of the house!”

Familiar. It brings Angelie to the times she has reacted and told Sonny to get out of their house. Her temper flares, a reaction of the abused, to say, “Get the fuck out!” a rejection.

She starts furiously looking up places to stay. One in Portland, Oregon, and another in Las Vegas. All of them are crammed, tiny, and overpriced, way above her budget, and a stark reminder how grateful Angelie should be that her parents are not charging her to stay at the house.

She has the luxury to move around with her car because of the retirement money she’s been getting. Her parents do not expect her to pitch in and yet all they want from her is to clean up after herself.

She starts to cry after her dad slams the car mat on her front window sill. She doesn’t want to be here anymore. She wants to become independent, grow her wings, and take off already. She takes the car and with Roxy by her side, she starts driving around this farm town, Haysville, where cows, white picket fences, and the State prison remains. People comfortable, complacent, and disconnected from the rest of the world.

This is exactly where she needed to be right now, writing her book, and dealing with issues that she is now only beginning to truly face.

  1. Becoming responsible for her worth
  2. Becoming responsible for her abusive behaviors
  3. Becoming responsible for her alcohol and codependent behaviors.

While defending that piece of her that is still innocent. That piece of her that doesn’t deserve to be treated with contempt, that won’t tolerate being talked down to, and who has realized that she was bullied as a little girl by her own father. The first man she loves and the first man who broke her heart.

She decided to go to court that afternoon, so that she could collect on the money that her father and her had collectively won against a guy who bamboozled her out of her money by making false claims and charging an attorney’s fee without actually being an attorney. A racist, a hater, and she had knowingly hired him knowing his character.

Just like she knew she got involved with a man who was a hustler and a habitual liar. And this man, who has ghosted her, neglected her, denied her of his time, energy, and resources, is telling her that she is not worthy of his time, energy, and resources, and on the flip side, also telling her that he is deeply hurt by her actions.

Why does she keep attracting men like her dad? Alcoholics. Temperamental. Insecure. Controlling. Smart. Creative. Sociopathic.

How is he any different?

Something her friend, Junie, had once told her.

Enabling someone is also to deny that person of his process.

She thought about how she has also enabled Branson. By her saying, “I love you,” to him while she was exhibiting actions completely contrary to it–it’s just mouthing words at that point. A clashing cymbal, as the Bible would say.

Or perhaps that was the beginning of her manipulation. Perhaps, without her even realizing it, she was the black widow, the poison ivy, who attempts to win men’s hearts only so she may crush it because she still has not fully forgiven her father. Her father has gotten better, but has not completely changed, and she can not stand being around him.

She realized that she had lost her boundaries as a child and now, she is in the process of taking it back.

The beginning of Angelie’s healing is to acknowledge how much it actually fucking hurts. The little girl who stayed up waiting for her husband to come back home, but didn’t. The person who had lots of hope but was dismissed by her friend, and the man who came home and lied to her, treated her like a child, because perhaps she was acting like one.

One day hot and the next day cold. The man didn’t want to deal with emotions because that did not bring food to the table and that didn’t put a roof over one’s head. Money is on his mind and he can’t make time to process–he’s busy surviving. Making moves.

She came home ready to confront and tell the truth. Mother made fish and garden grown fresh from the backyard that both her mother and father had built together. During dinner, the same thing was happening. Dad is disconnected and watching Television, and mom is quiet. There is no conversation among the family, just social avoidance and the inability for father to have a real conversation with his daughter. This time, Angelie spoke.

“You have disrespected me way too much dad. I have been hurt way too long,” she said. “You do not talk to me that way you hear?”

“And what about the way you talk to me?! What about the way you treat me?!” he shouted.

“What about it?” she asks.

“You treat me as if I don’t even exist,” he says.

“You criticize me all the time. Whenever I talk about what I’m up to, you have some sort of criticism. You don’t care,” she says.

“You don’t care about me!” he says.

She starts to cry again and she walks away. It’s too intense. The pain, watching her father all these years go through bipolar but denies it–and for good reason–so that the stigma doesn’t create investors to doubt and pull out. But he exhibits it and deals with it the way he needs to deal with it, but this has affected the family. This has affected her and for him to not own up to it, creates even more rage. The burning irritability.

“You are weak!” he says to me, “I am nothing like you.”

“I am more like you than you think,” she bites back. This is called “ding zui,” which in Chinese terms means “talking back,” and she has a lot of it. She doesn’t give a fuck anymore. She’s a grown ass woman. 33 now. She doesn’t need to be treated like a child.

“Do you know I kept on abusing my boyfriends and ex husbands? You know I talk to everybody else the way you and mom talk to me? Do you know what people say? They say it’s emotional abuse. They say I treat them horribly, which means that growing up I was treated horribly. I did not deserve to be treated like that–with belittlement, with derision, and that has severely affected my ability to have long lasting relationships with people–including my ex husband.”

“You can’t keep blaming me for all your troubles,” he said, “It’s not healthy.”

“But your refusing to acknowledge my hurt is what makes me angry,” she said. “I understand that only I am responsible for the relationships I destroy, but it is you whom I must confront.”

She walks away shaken. This is not going well. She wants to run away as far as possible. It’s too emotional and it’s too confronting. Fuck it. She must go with the truth. God has given her the power of the holy spirit to speak truth.

“I’m leaving to Portland, Oregon,” she said. “Or to Los Angeles, depending on where I want my organization to run.”

“If you leave, I don’t want to see or hear from you. I don’t want to get a call from you saying that you are in trouble,” he said.

This hurt. It felt like abandonment.

She left the dinner table and started to get her stuff ready to leave.

She came back to the dinner table while mom and dad were still eating.

“When you cheated on mom, you had broken my heart dad. It has affected my relationship with my husband. Did you know that? I know it’s no longer your responsibility but I just need to let you know how much it had really affected my relationship. And I refuse to allow you to talk to the little Angelie the way you have been. It’s not right. She was innocent. She was speaking her mind. Do you know how much it has affected her business?! Her relationships both with friends and in her business relationships?”

“When are you leaving again? Today or tomorrow?” He asked.

“You broke my heart dad!”

“You broke my heart!” he cried.

Mom was holding him down because he was getting agitated and he wanted to get up from his seat.

“You may have the money, but that gives you no right to be an asshole!” Angelie says as she walks out.

“You are an evil woman!” dad yells across the room.

Angelie walks off crying, with Roxy following behind her. She realized that she had somehow failed. The evil woman is that Jezabel spirit that was passed down from her matrilineal line, the one that courses through her veins.

She hates men.

While Angelie was driving around town, crying, and praying to God. “I did NOT deserve to be treated this way. I told him the truth, even if it hurt him, even if it hurt me to do so, at least I spoke up for my inner child.”

Sensitive artists. Sensitive child. Sensitive Angelie. Good. At least she has the sense to sense these things instead of numbing it down with alcohol and drugs. 

She became addicted to this project. That is a good thing. It takes an addictive personality. She’s on it. David does not like his daughter ignoring him. She’s been ignoring his presence all month. Even when his brother came from China, she barely spoke. Her parents don’t remember that they had shut her down with their criticism of what she should be doing with her life. So she had shut down, became a zombie, and then they were worried. They called her crazy. 

Life is fucking crazy.

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