Adequacy of a woman
The more desperate Miss Nagai became about her pursuit of a husband, the harder I tried to persuade her to take control of her own happiness. And I did so by presenting my lifestyle. I had a rotation of men to go out with (though I didn’t necessarily sleep with them), went dancing on the weekend, had many friends, got drunk, smoked cigarettes, and worked out at a gym. But Miss Nagai didn’t envy me for living a single life, which eventually affected my beliefs that only you make yourself happy, and my self-esteem plummeted. I felt inadequate that I was incapable of a stable relationship. I blamed myself for having an uncompromising standard for men, in which I required respect, not power. But I didn’t have the language to own my narrative. I kept sitting at the lunch table with Miss Nagai and other women, who lifted the corners of their lips while their unsmiling eyes stared at me pitifully as I spoke of my night out with a girlfriend. It took me a long time before I started taking my lunch break at my desk alone, pretending to be busy. And I really was getting busy as I was more involved with projects with the men, and within a year, I was going to leave the country.
I might have separated from the women physically, but the lunchtime ordeal crept back to me 15 years later, at age 40. I gave up on control over my story and let the ingrained misogyny narrate for me. I told myself, “what a loser you are, failing again. Something is fundamentally wrong with you. You are an old, unwanted defect.” I took full responsibility for the separation and blamed myself for being me, a woman.