Shame over empathy
When I got home that evening, I called my parents. I cried and ranted about the injustice done by my bosses and my undeservedness of such treatment. It was intentional to stun my father with my display of emotion. If I had kept my calm and told him about my disappointment at work, I knew he would have shoved me down deeper into the well of shame. Compassion was not his language. But I also knew he wouldn’t know how to handle my raw emotion. My father was initially taken aback by my angered, incoherent speech. Then he mustered the dad skill as best as possible and started telling me about how he endured obstruction by his political opponents for many years until he grabbed his chance to come on top. It might not have been a story I needed to hear because our situations were vastly different, but I realized it was the first time in my life that I had what could be called “communication” with my father, no matter how ineffective it was. It was extremely uncomfortable to have an emotional connection with my father. I’d rather gone back to our usual exchange of shaming language.
My eyes were so swollen the following day that I didn’t look like myself in the mirror. I was highly conscious of other people’s eyes all day. Miss Asai asked me if I had a hangover. I said yes because that sounded better than crying to my father on the phone.