Jane's Mental Health Source Page

One of the Web's Oldest Personal Mental Health Sites [Est. 1998]



Dear Daughters of Tiger Mothers:

As much as you struggle in this emotional war of guilt, know that your mothers who wage wars were once where you are, their free will bound so tightly at such a young age that their expressions of love had long been rotting until the shape of their love has grown misshapen the way bound feet become the living grave of broken bones.

And men of this culture once found these stumps of control beautiful, calling them “three-inch golden lotuses”.

Don’t be envious of how your brothers receive ‘better’ or ‘preferential’ treatment from your mothers and fathers. Your brothers endure endless lashes of obligation to excel and perform, only they bury their feelings and show the world their unbroken facades, because they must and they are expected to.

Our ancestors had to surrender their free will to survive and this survival mechanism has become a coat of prickles that we wear. And we wonder why we can never seem to get close enough to our mothers and daughters for love’s embrace.

Don’t underestimate the strength of these chains of control, for what we feel comes through generations of manipulation dressed in love’s clothing. You will not always triumph in your quest for freedom, and you may even wonder if Independence was just a commercial holiday for people who can afford to be free.

Take it from me, I have wondered the same before. I have found that becoming free is incredibly hard because first I have to free myself.

That was when I realized that I have been complicit all along with these ghosts of manipulators. Their ghostly voices echo around my life even when I’ve never met them. They speak through my mother’s mouth and I hear what they say about my mother, about me, about “who” we should be and “how” we should appear to the outside world.

I hear them telling me that I haven’t performed to specification, haven’t outshone enough competitors, haven’t achieved to expectation. Now that I’m a mother I can hear them goad me about my failures and faults and fallible judgments with my child.

I hear their propaganda about my role in my parents’ lives and my role in my child’s life, particularly the parts about “This is all your fault, I don’t care what it is, or when it’s going to happen, or if it’s going to happen, but whatever it is, if it happens it’s your fault and if it doesn’t happen it’s still your fault.”

Then I listen closely and I discover that these ghostly voices sound just like me. I don’t know when this happened, but it probably happened long ago even when I was a very little girl: I had learned the language of the manipulators and I have become my own enemy, prisoner, and abuser.

I don’t know how long it takes for this to get better for you. Sometimes you may feel hopeless and sometimes you may catch a glimpse of freedom. Grab onto those glimpses of freedom and never let go of them and collect them the way you used to collect praises from your parents. Because these glimpses of freedom are the true precious stones of your soul, they become the mosaic tiles of the vision of you, free from ghostly echoes of generations past.

Jane Chin

Jul 1, 2011