I never thought I’d write anything like this, but here we are.

My name is Ivy Kwong and I am a first-generation Asian American psychotherapist. I support #BlackLivesMatter. In case you’re thinking, “But you’re a therapist and you shouldn’t be bringing up political issues,” I offer the following quote by Aristotle:

We are political animals. The color of our skin makes us political. The neighborhood we grew up in makes us political. The history of our ancestors makes us political. It is impossible…

Here is a group of Asians. Hustling, apparently.

I saw the following image scrolling through my FaceBook feed this morning:

Let’s Demystify The Friend-Making Process

If you’re reading this, it’s probably because you’re an open, curious human who is interested in developing real and meaningful connections with other humans (either that or you read my article on Vipassana meditation or Avicii and randomly wandered over here —welcome, get comfortable, and FYI we’re talking about adult friendships today!).

The friend-making process can be more challenging as an adult, when people can be quick to side eye you if you attempt to begin a conversation with a stranger or wonder what your motive is as you approach — Does this rando want to hit on me? Ask…

Once upon a time (the mid-90’s) in a faraway land (Rochester Hills, Michigan), there lived an awkward 12-year-old Asian girl with metal braces, bad skin, and a perm that was supposed to be cool but turned her head into the shape of a trapezoid.

Artist’s rendering (this is as good as it’s going to get since all photographic evidence from this era has been destroyed):

Oh, and I had glasses, too. Obviously.

Actual pre-perm photos, so you can get a general idea of the extreme awkwardness that ensued:

Tim Bergling, a.k.a. Avicii. (image via Rolling Stone)

The first time I heard Avicii was seven years ago. In the shower. I remember feeling the water, then the music. It hit me with a rush, filling up my body with every beat, pulsing inside me to the point where I couldn’t distinguish between the rhythm and my own heartbeat.

I began dancing on the slippery wet white porcelain, not caring if I slipped and fell. My body had to MOVE, caution be damned:

That’s what inspired music does. It makes you fucking FEEL something. In the din and drudgery of day-to-day life, amidst the struggles and suffering, uncertainty and unknowns, music makes you feel. Connected to yourself, connected to others, connected to Life and to Spirit and this whole goddamn gorgeous, uncontrollable, inexplicable universe.

At some point, this creator of music struggled with his own connection and his own relationship with Life. …

Yeah, me neither. But I got what I needed, in the most unexpected way.

My father is a traditional Chinese man.

He grunts in response to “I love you.” He “doesn’t understand emotions” (his words, not mine) and he processes information like a computer. As a former mechanical engineer and self-taught software developer, he literally thinks in 1’s and 0’s. Right. Wrong. Good. Bad. Acceptable. Unacceptable.

I can’t remember him ever hugging me, although I can remember sitting next to him on the couch once when I was eight years old. He was eating a Dove ice cream bar, watching the Pistons play the Bulls.

Announcer: Joe Duuuuuuuuuuumars… (there, I just dated myself)

My little…

Lived Through This

My slow spiral into insanity and inner peace

This gong at rang at 4:00am in the morning. Every. Freaking. Morning. For 11 days straight. All photos courtesy of author unless specified.

No talking. No phones or technology. No yoga pants. No working out. No music. No reading. No writing. No killing (even spiders!). No stealing. No masturbating. No sex. No lying. No drugs or alcohol. No moving during “sittings of strong determination.”

The morning gong rings at 4 a.m. sharp to rouse everyone for the opening 4:30–6:30 a.m. meditation session. The first two of 10 1/2 total hours of meditation scheduled every single day. For 10 days straight.

How did I end up here?

In a questionable moment of sanity, I decided to book a…

As a therapist who has worked with suicidal teenagers, depressed clients, and survivors of sexual assault, and as a survivor myself, I’m joining the ranks of everyone weighing in on the show.

13 Reasons Why is a Netflix series based on a book about a high school sophomore, Hannah Baker, who commits suicide. Before killing herself, she records her innermost thoughts on cassette tapes that go into incriminating detail about all of the shitty things people have done to her over the course of one school year. …

May the Force be with you always, Linz.

A friend of mine, Lindsay M. Hawley, passed away by choice on the first day of this year. January 1, 2017.

I haven’t been able to stop crying lately and today my thoughts were consumed by her. I have never lost a friend before, and have definitely never lost anyone to suicide. Sometimes writing helps me sort through my thoughts and feelings, so I wrote this. Maybe it will help just one person to read it as it helped me to write it.

It was a normal day, just like any other day.

I was in my standard seated position…

Ivy Kwong

Asian American therapist specializing in healing codependency, trauma (ancestral, sexual, racial), AAPI thriving, & decolonizing mental health. www.bareivy.com/

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