Eye-Opening Moments Podcast

Feeling Trapped, Part I (and more)

February 20, 2024 Emily Kay Tan Episode 108
Feeling Trapped, Part I (and more)
Eye-Opening Moments Podcast
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Eye-Opening Moments Podcast
Feeling Trapped, Part I (and more)
Feb 20, 2024 Episode 108
Emily Kay Tan

Eye-Opening Moments are real-life stories of adversity, encounters, and perspectives intertwined. In this episode you will hear about Feeling Trapped, Part I  and Cooking Class Assistant with a Secret.


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Books: https://amazon.com/author/emily-kay-tan.2021_

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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Eye-Opening Moments are real-life stories of adversity, encounters, and perspectives intertwined. In this episode you will hear about Feeling Trapped, Part I  and Cooking Class Assistant with a Secret.


Website: https://inspiremereads.com
Books: https://amazon.com/author/emily-kay-tan.2021_

Support the Show.



Comments or questions welcomed:
Twitter @emilykaytan OR https://inspiremereads.com.
Subscriptions appreciated: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1919670/support

Hello and welcome to episode #108 of Eye-Opening Moments where you’ll hear stories of adversity, encounters, and perspectives intertwined. They are moments that can lift your spirits, give you some food for thought, or move you. For the introspective mind that likes to reflect, discover, and find solutions or meaning in a complex life, this is for you. I’m your host Emily Kay Tan. In this episode, you will hear about Feeling Trapped, Part I and Cooking Class Assistant with a Secret.

Feeling Trapped, Part I
Too young to be on my own, I was stuck. With no money for college, I got stopped in my tracks. Madly in love, I was imprisoned. Married, I had committed. Drawn into a relationship, I couldn't break free from the magnetism. Confined at home because of a global pandemic, I was trapped. Bound by circumstances, it was like being strapped in chains with limited mobility. Freedom seemed elusive, but escape was a must. How was I going to break free?

As a child, I lived with my grandparents, and my uncles constantly reminded me that I didn't belong there. I wish I were old enough to make money and be on my own. I wanted to run away, but I had nowhere to go. I had no money for food or rent. What was I to do? I did not want to be one of those kids who ended up in gangs, drugs, crime, or prostitution. 

I stayed with my relatives and had a home and food to eat. Grandma was good to me, but the emotional turmoil was hard to bear. Grandma constantly repeated the same story I got sick of hearing. "Emily, you need to love your mother; she married young and sacrificed herself so we could all come to America. You were born in America, the land of opportunity. Your mom was young when she had you, and it was hard for her to care for so many children, so I helped her by taking you in. You need to know what a great thing your mom did." Every time I heard that story, I just got angrier and angrier. It made me hate my mother more and more. It made me think of how I hated her for giving me to Grandma because it meant that she didn't love me and that I was unworthy. She killed my self-esteem and created my fear of abandonment in every relationship. Though Grandma took good care of me, she pained me emotionally with the stories she told me. I wanted to get out.

I endured the emotional pain as I planned my escape. When I was old enough to work, I would save money to go to college, live in the dorms, and be free of those stories and my uncles, who reminded me that I did not belong. They reminded me by directly saying it. It hurt every time they said it. They didn't know how they tormented me and made me feel worthless. 

The day did come when I started applying for colleges and realized that all the money I saved would not be enough. My escape seemed too challenging to achieve. What was I going to do? My school counselor only told me to write a good essay for my college applications. My grandparents were too poor to help. My uncles thought me too stupid to go to college and told me to apply to a community college and go to work to pay for it. They said my parents would not pay because they had long tossed me out. It became clear that I would have to do it alone if I wanted to escape.

I resented my parents, so the first thing in order was to "divorce" them. The seventeen-year-old me looked through the yellow pages, randomly chose a lawyer, and called him up. I have no idea what gave me that idea, but my life improved from that day forward. Mr. Cheng gave me a lifeline I could not imagine possible. He helped me get a "divorce" from my parents, and Mom signed away her parental rights to Grandpa. What did that mean? Grandpa became my legal guardian since I lived with them for over ten years. I hated Mom even more. I thought her to be the most despicable mom in the world. She chose to give birth to me but also decided to have no responsibility for me. I vowed never to be a mom like her, and to ensure that I did not, I never became a mom. 

My troubles were not over; there was still no money for college. However, because Grandpa and Grandma were poor, close to the poverty level, I could get state grants and loans. Fortunately, I got a huge scholarship and had only to work a bit. It was a streak of luck that, with the help of Mr. Cheng, my lawyer, I got the resources needed to finance my college education. I finally gained my freedom, went to college, and graduated with a Bachelor's and Master's degree. 

Though it was a bumpy ride financially, I loved the freedom college gave me, and I loved learning. College was my utopia; the struggle was well worth it. The impossible was made possible by me and with the help of strangers. My tenacity and bravery helped boost my self-esteem, and I continued to grant myself more perseverance because it was one of my keys to survival. I continued to muster up more courage because that was how I would achieve whatever I wanted.

I gathered the finances to start college and got that ticket to freedom. At the same time, I also fell in love. Seventeen was the most memorable year. Falling in love for the first time and having a best friend and soulmate in Keith was beautiful. He helped and comforted me through many growing pains and emotional struggles with relatives. I couldn't ask for a better friend. As wonderful as I thought the relationship was, things were not right, and something was wrong with it. He was unreliable and uncommitted. The grass was always greener on the other side for him; he always wanted to be "free" in case someone better came along. It made me feel unsafe and insecure. I tried leaving him countless times but was trapped. 

He came back to me many times, and I let him back into my life too many times. He was like a magnet that would not release its magnetic force on me. I think he kept coming back because he couldn't find anyone better. Maybe I filled his ego because he could advise and comfort me or because I doted on him or loved him so dearly. Perhaps it was a combination of it all. I let him back in because I loved him so much. No other boyfriend could measure up to him when it came to having a best friend and fulfilling me emotionally. Loving him imprisoned me. I would go through one boyfriend after another because I could not find anyone who could fulfill me like him.

Keith stole a permanent seat in my heart, leaving little room for anyone else. That was how I got trapped. I eventually married someone else whom I was not in love with, but he had something Keith didn't. He was reliable and trustworthy, made me feel safe, and made me feel like a priority. I thought I had finally gotten rid of Keith. He agreed that since I would get married, we should stop any communication, and we did. He didn't stop me from marrying someone else because he said, "If you love someone, you set her free." I thought the comment was preposterous, and I believed it was his declaration that he did not love me so much.

My marriage released me from the prison I was in with Keith. Loving him was not satisfying because he was always on the lookout; it was painful not to be his priority. Oh my gosh! He is like Mr. Big in the TV series Sex and the City. He attracts and draws you in, but you can never fully get a hold of him. He loves you, but he won't give away his heart fully. Ultimately, his heart, which he didn't give up entirely, killed him. Sad. Keith is still alive, but I wonder what will become of him.

Ten years later, I unwittingly called Keith three years after my divorce. Of course, I didn't forget him, and I never forgot what a great friend he was to me. He asked to visit me and see for himself if I was okay. I was reluctant as I was afraid of the magnetic force that was difficult to escape. Even over the phone, he could draw me to him. I could not resist him and gave in to his request. He seemed to want to get back together, but I told him I had a boyfriend this time. I said, "I think I love him more than you." This statement led him out the door to never return. Maybe he kept returning in the past because he knew he could count on my undying love for him, but not this time. I may love him forever, but I did not want a love to put me in jail again.

I escaped the home life I didn't want, but it took many years of tolerance before I gained my freedom. I struggled to finance my college education, but the freedom I enjoyed was priceless and precious. Though I loved and deeply loved, I was smart enough to realize that it strangled me slowly, and I needed to break free from the pattern. And break free from them all I did. Breaking free from entrapment is most exhilarating. It's like being that eagle that soars through the sky. The freedom experienced is like none other and all worth it.

Cooking Class Assistant with a Secret
At only eighteen, I became a cooking assistant for one semester and was ecstatic that Professor Chin asked me to assist her. Surrounded by ten adults around a rectangular table, I assisted my Chinese Philosophy professor, who taught a cooking class in the Adult Education department. So honored she asked me to help her; I enthusiastically took out the pots, pans, trays, bowls, and cooking utensils. I measured the ingredients and carefully listened as she instructed her students to follow a recipe because she could call on me to get or move something at any moment. After all the preparation and cooking, we ate what we had made. Because I was all smiles as an assistant and loved eating Chinese food, no one knew my secret.

Why did Professor Chin ask me to be her assistant? She learned that when there was an international potluck day on campus, I made wontons for the campus-wide event. Because of that, she thought I knew how or liked to cook. I know how to cook, but I didn’t enjoy it! Then why did I accept the position as her assistant? I love Chinese food! And I liked Professor Chin.

Professor Chin taught me many ideas from Chinese Philosophy, but one thing she said to me stuck with me. I don’t know why, but it did. She said, “What may seem so important now may not be so significant later. Every time I make something so meaningful, or when I am angry, sometimes I will comfort myself by remembering those words from her. I have found her statement helpful in making me take the time to pause and reflect and then find her words to ring true. Perhaps that bit of wisdom I gained from her made her a relevant person who passed through my life. As such, I could not turn down her request to help her cook. And I enjoyed spending more time with her.

But I hate cooking! Why was my hatred for cooking a secret? I heard many people liked to cook, and I didn’t hear about people who didn’t want to cook. So, I thought it was terrible not to enjoy cooking. On second thought, I think it is because I had to help my grandma cook as a kid growing up. It seemed that if there was anything I had to do, it was not anything I would like much. Grandma would always enlist my help with washing vegetables, cutting vegetables and meat, seasoning and marinating meat, setting the table, and cleaning up. It was all a chore to me. I wouldn’t say I liked it, but I am thankful for my food preparation and cooking skills today.

Today, I cook simply. Anything more complicated, I don’t like. When I want to eat, I want to eat immediately. Lengthy preparation time only delays my eating time. Though I will now admit that I don’t like cooking, I still find it uncomfortable to say it. It seems that people misunderstand. Just because I don’t like cooking, it doesn’t mean I don’t know how to cook! 

Why do I care that people might mistakenly think I don’t know how to cook? They might think I can’t take care of myself! The independent me wants to fight back and say I would not have lived to this day if I didn’t know how to cook. How dare you even think for a moment that I could not care for myself! Let me clarify: I know how to cook but don’t enjoy it. My secret is out.

Key Takeaways:  Though I felt trapped because of age and a lack of money or ability, my determination, patience, creativity, tenacity, and courage helped me to escape.

Though I don’t enjoy cooking, I know how to cook and survive.

Next week, you will hear about two real-life stories called Feeling Trapped, Part II and My Road to Fame and Fortune .If you enjoyed this episode of Eye-Opening Moments, please share it with others, support the show by clicking on the link in the description, or go to www.inspiremereads.com and leave a message. Thank you for listening!

Introduction
Feeling Trapped, Part I
Cooking Class Assistant with a Secret
Key Takeaways