Lynn Chen (Voted #10 ep of 2013)

Lynn Chen (Voted #10 ep of 2013)

The first generation Chinese-American actress (Saving FaceNCIS, Lakeview Terrace) and blogger (The Actor’s Diet) opens up about processing the complex emotions of losing her father, the shame of food addiction,  and forgiving her abusers.  Paul opens the show with an extended update on current emotional, mental and physical battles.

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Check out Lynn's blog The Actor's Diet.  Follow it on Twitter @actorsdiet or follow her @mslynnchen

Episode Transcript:

Episode 113 – Lynn Chen

 

Introduction:

Paul: Welcome to episode 113 with my guest Lynn Chen. I’m Paul Gilmartin. This is the Mental Illness Happy Hour. 90 Minutes of honesty about all of the battles in our heads. From medically diagnosed conditions and past traumas to everyday compulsive negative thinking. This show’s not meant to be a substitute for professional mental counseling, it’s not a doctor’s office, it’s more like a waiting room that doesn’t suck. The website for this show is www.mentalpod.com . Mentalpod is also the name you can follow me at on Twitter if you, if you, care to.

It’s been a really, really intense couple of not only days but couple of weeks and really, really months. For those of you that are regular listeners to the show, you know that I’ve been sharing some stuff, personal stuff that I’ve been going through and let me just first read this email that I got from a listener, her name is Sophia. She writes:

 

----insert email here----

 

And I wrote her back and thanked her for that because I think what she said is true. I sensed myself doing it and I appreciate that kind of feedback from listeners because it… The spirit of that criticism is clearly one of love and support and wanting the podcast to get better. So, I appreciate that. And I felt like this would be a good jumping off point to kind of talk more about what it is that I’ve been experiencing the last, the last couple of months. I have a tremendous fear that I am too self-involved in the podcast and in the interview sometimes, injecting my story into things and while I know that there is a certain amount of injecting my life into it is helpful, I sometimes worry that I go overboard with it and I never know where the truth is. And one of the things that I struggle with and my therapist, um, kind of altered me to this is that I don’t trust my own integrity. And I think it goes back being the victim of, of covert incest and being sexualized or as she calls it, “sexual abuse.” Sometimes I call it that and I’m comfortable calling it that, but I’m so afraid of being a baby and exaggerated. All the stuff I’ve talked about before on the podcast but I guess I want you guys to know how heavily it weighs on me every day. I must think about it 100 times a day. ‘Am I throwing my mom under the bus? Am I being a bad son? Or am I, do I need to draw stronger boundaries? Where does the truth lie?’ And nobody can answer that for me. I have to figure that out on my own.  And as I was editing this episode this week with Lynn, there’s a moment in the podcast where she talks about being the victim of molestation. And we talk about that and there are two things that happen when I’m interviewing somebody and that subject comes up. Let me put it this way, there are two things that can happen when I’m interviewing somebody that can trigger me. Number one is they feel really like a kindred spirit and like, like I can collapse around them. Even if it’s not someone I don’t know that well and I know that’s probably not healthy and it’s something that I probably need to work on. But as Lynn was sharing her story with me, even in the beginning of it when it wasn’t about that yet, there was something about her that really moved me and you couldn’t see if because it’s just audio but she was crying through most of this episode. And it moved me and I started crying through probably the first half hour of this episode. And so when she got to the point where she was talking about being molested, it was overwhelming to me, the feeling inside me, I couldn’t continue the interview and I had to pause for about 5 minutes and ask her for a hug and I just started crying on her shoulder. And she was so comforting to me and I was apologizing and I was like, “this is, you know, fucking weird, you know, you don’t know me,” and you know, she was so gracious about it and she was so nice and she didn’t make me feel ashamed at all. She actually made me feel like it was the right thing to do. But, as I edited her episode together, I wanted to cut that part of it out because it embarrasses me. Because it looks, I look so needy and I look so fucked-up, and so, I look like a narcissus. I look like everything that I hate. And yet I know there is probably someone out there that who is going through this feeling of being an astronaut lost in space. Like when you think that the person who is your caregiver for 40 years really loves you and you finally wake-up and go, ‘Oh my God, that wasn’t love, that was control, that was abuse, that was manipulation, that was this…’ and you know, on and on. And you begin to really respect how you feel in your body that they make your skin crawl. And that when you see their phone number come up you feel this sense of dread. When you begin to get in touch with those feelings, it’s fucking overwhelming and suddenly, you don’t trust your, your judgment on anything. You don’t know what is left and what is right. What is up and what is down. And it is the biggest mind-fuck that, that you can imagine and you just want to know where the truth is and you want it more badly than anything. And so the one thing that I knew that I had to do with my mom was to draw some boundaries so I could collect myself, ‘cause I knew I couldn’t take her phone calls. So I limited it to, to letters. And it’s been about nine… actually it’s been about a year since it’s just been a correspondence through letters. For the first six months, it was nothing, it was, it was, I couldn’t, I couldn’t even write. And then I thought, maybe it’ll be safe enough to write. And one of the things I said, in my first letter, was I don’t want to go over the past because she is somebody who can twist things to suit her so that she won’t feel guilt. So I knew it would probably just re-traumatize me to try to go over that stuff with her. She’s 85 years old. She’s not going to change. So I asked in the letter, you know, ‘I don’t want to go over the past. It’s water under the bridge. I just want to move forward.’ So my first letter to her was very polite it was, “How are you doing? How is the things at your, you know, your new retirement home, you know, etc. etc.” and her first letter back to me was respectful. And then her second letter to me, she, just in the middle of this letter, and I think I’ve mentioned this before, she just threw a relative of mine under the bus suggesting that my problems might stem from something he might have done to me as a child and he was babysitting. Because quote, in her letter, “his family has a history of physical abuse.” I’m comfortable being around that person.  I don’t get any weird feeling being around that person. And it just bummed me out that she was respecting my boundary of not wanting to, to bring up the past and that she was throwing this relative under the bus. So I didn’t write her back ‘cause, I just, I don’t know what to say. I don’t have anything to say to this person. And she’s since written me twice and the most recent thing that she wrote to me…where is it? She wrote, “Don’t know why you haven’t answered my… letters, but I hope and pray that you are busy and well. If I had had perfect parents I might know what to be or do but I don’t. I can only try not to worry and be hurt.” And something in me was like, that doesn’t feel like someone who cares about their kid. That sounds like somebody who is angling to get something that they want. And is like playing, like a poker hand. And it just, it made me so sad and my wife could see the sadness on my face. She didn’t know that I had read that but, you know, I walked into the room and she could see it on my face. And I left to go to therapy. And she called me and she said, “I didn’t know why you looked so sad all of the sudden. And then I looked and I saw the open letter that your mom had written on the table and I read it.” And we talked about it at dinner that night. And, you know, I’m in that place where, you know, I don’t know, I don’t know where the truth is. And so I was asking my wife, you know, “What do you think I should do?” and she said, “Well, you know, ultimately it’s, what do you want to do with this. Can you live with cutting this person out of your life? If, you know, if you’re going to feel guilty for the rest of your life if she dies and you’ve cut contact with her…” You know, but she said, she said, “When I read that letter, I wanted to punch that cunt in the face.” And that made me feel so good. It made me feel so good. And I had this kind of epiphany that I’ve been trying to have it both ways. I’ve been trying to protect myself and protect my mom from being hurt at the same time. And I don’t think she’s capable of seeing how abusive her demeanor is. I think she’s sick and she can’t see it. I don’t hate her. I’m not angry at her but she, she just doesn’t…the last time I stayed with her three years ago, she wanted to read like spiritual readings one morning and this was after like her doing all of these annoying and invalidating things to me. And I said, “Mom I know you want to be closer to me but I have to be honest, I don’t feel safe around you.” And it was like she didn’t even hear me. You know, you would think that if a child told a parent that…they would want to know more. They would want to know more. They would want to know what they are doing that doesn’t make you feel safe. But she just had this glazed look in her eye, like, I’m this thing that she gets these feelings from and it’s like she only wants to hear things from me that she wants to hear. And the things that she doesn’t want to hear she just files away never to be thought of again. And she thinks that by sending me cards that have hearts and talking about hugs and how important you are to me, that that’s going to make up for it. And I think I finally had to look at the difference between her actions and her words and decide that her actions are just too fucking painful and invalidating. And I just don’t think I, I can hack having a relationship with this person anymore. So, I wanted you guys to know where I’m at with this. I’m sure it’s being exacerbated by the depression that I’ve been going through. I have a stack of un-opened mail on the kitchen table that is in danger of having snow form on the top of it. I’ve been going to get this transcranial magnetic stimulation. It’s supposed to start working after two weeks. I’ve been going almost five weeks now. I’m feeling nothing from it. They’re telling me to hang in there. I had this thing happen, two months ago where I lost vision in my left eye, lost it completely for about ten minutes. I’ve been having a battery of tests done. I don’t even care what the results are. I haven’t even called any of the doctors. It’s been like a month since I got the last test done. I’m in this place where I don’t fucking care. I don’t give a fuck. And it’s overwhelming to experience all of these things happening at the same time. And I’m not saying all of this to ask for sympathy. I’m putting this out there because this is the ball of fuck that your life can become when you experience exploitation by a caregiver. And you stuff your feelings for 40 plus years and you’re an addict and an alcoholic. And even though I’m sober…And you’re living with depression. It’s not clean and it’s not easy. It’s fucking hard. When I wake up in the morning, I am not happy that I woke up. I don’t want to kill myself but I don’t want to be alive. And I know I’m going to get through this. I’m not going to kill myself. But this is the face of depression. This is the face of recovering from abuse. It’s fucking complicated. It’s hard to decipher. It’s like…I don’t know. I guess I’m afraid…I’m afraid that I’m not doing this right. I’m afraid that…I don’t know what I’m afraid of. I guess I’m afraid that I’m never going to get better. I’m afraid I’m gonna lose listeners because this is going to be self-indulgent or sad.  But a little voice in my head is telling me, ‘no, you need to document this because there are other people like you,’ and I know you’re out there. I know you’re out there and I want to thank Lynn for this episode because I emailed her all of these things that I said, you know, after I, after I edited her episode together. And she just sent me the sweetest email back that let me know that what I was going through is ok. And the way I’m going through it is ok. And that I don’t need to be embarrassed about leaving that part of the episode in, where I make it about me. And so I guess I just want to warn you, because I’m afraid of getting emails from people that are…not going to like how I’m handling my life or the podcast. And I just feel like…I feel like I’m in a prison of my own making. I hope this makes sense. I hope this is taken in the spirit that it’s meant, which is that I just want to be understood and I want other people who are experiencing this fucking crazy, untethered feeling when you confront your past abuse. It doesn’t change overnight. You don’t get over it, it’s a process. And it’s baffling, and it’s draining, and it’s painful. And in a nutshell, it’s anal sex.

Introduction Music/Montage

Paul: I’m here with Lynn Chen, who I met briefly through Janet Varney and her husband Abe who works at Huffington Post, or who did work at Huffington Post with Janet–

Lynn: He works there now.

Paul: Oh he does. Um, I actually heard he was fired. I’m the one breaking the news.

Lynn: (laughs)

Paul: Lynn is an actor…or do you prefer actress? Does it matter?

Lynn: Um, I really don’t care.

Paul: Ok. She is Asian-American. You were originally born in Taiwan? Is that correct–

Lynn: No–

Paul: No. Where?

Lynn: I was born in Queens.

Paul: Queens.

Lynn: Yeah.

Paul: Your parents emigrated here from Taiwan–

Lynn: Yes–

Paul: in the 60’s?

Lynn: Yes.

Paul: Um. Ok. That was it. People would know you from a variety of things. You’ve been on every iteration of NCIS and Law and Order–    

Lynn: Law and Order. Yeah–  

Paul: that, that is available. You were in the movie, Lake View Terrace.

Lynn: Mm hmm.

Paul: You play Patrick Wilson’s wife–    

Lynn: No I played his next…I play Justin Chambers’, from Gray’s Anatomy, I played his girlfriend.

Paul: Oh. Ok. I must have misread…this is the weird thing when I’ll read up on somebody on Wikipedia and then I meet them and then they correct me on about half of the –    

Lynn: That’s ok.

Paul: On about half of the things–

Lynn: (laughs) I love it. I love it.

Paul: And you’ve been in about a half a dozen other movies of note. What are the big ones?

Lynn: Saving Face, was a Sony Pictures Classics movie that went to Sundance in Toronto, that was in 2005.That’s probably what most people know me the best from.

Paul: And who did you play in that?

Lynn: I was a ballet dancer. Ah, the love interest. A lesbian ballet dancer.

Paul: How was that?

Lynn: It was great, I mean, it was my first feature film and it thrust me into this world of Asian lesbian that’s still…

Paul: (laughs)

Lynn: comprises the bulk of my fan-base.

Paul: Yeah?

Lynn: And so I’m happy with that.

Paul: Did you have a ballet background?

Lynn: No. I mean I grew up at the Metropolitan Opera House, because my Mom was an opera singer there–

Paul: Really?

Lynn: And my stage debut was at the MET with Rudolf Nureyev–

Paul: Really?!

Lynn: Yeah, like when I was really, when I was five watching him sweat on stage. But, I took ballet classes but I am not a ballet dancer.

Paul: But obviously you could, you could fake it enough that you gave a believable performance.

Lynn: Well, I didn’t have to, there’s only one like movement and it was more like a stunt coordinator telling me what to do. (Laughs)

Paul: Ok. So they covered it pretty well

Lynn: Yeah.

Paul: They made it look like it was you.

Lynn: Yeah. Well, I didn’t even have to dance, it was just that my background was, I was supposed to play a dancer –

Paul: I see.

Lynn: There was more bedroom action, let’s just say that.

Paul: And how did your experience in the bedroom come to play in that…? …I’m making a joke actually.

Lynn: (Laughs)

Paul: Where would be a good place to start with your story? I…One of the things that I really enjoy about doing the podcast is sitting down with somebody that I know almost nothing about. And aside from the 10 minutes that you and I were chatting about before we started rolling, um, I really don’t know much about you, um, except that we have mutual friends. And you seem really easy to talk to.

Lynn: Thanks!

Paul: Where…Where should we start?

Lynn: We could start with…the beginning? I guess. And how I came to find you, which was through this podcast. And the fact that I’m currently…I guess this is not the beginning. This is the present that I’m talking about–

Paul: – That’s fine too, starting from the present.

Lynn: I’m currently dealing with… some mental illness. I’ve always dealt with mental illness my entire life, I just didn’t know that’s what it was called, growing up. Um, I’ve been a binge eater my entire life. I didn’t know that it was an eating disorder until maybe 10 years ago when I started to get help for it specifically.

Paul: Does it involve purging as well?

Lynn: No. Mine was just eating massive amounts of food and feeling horrible about it.

Paul: Our previous, our guest from this last week’s episode is John & Megan Breman and Megan was, is the first non-purging binger that I’ve ever met and she said, “yeah, there’s quite a few.”

Lynn: There’s a lot, yeah. It’s called “overeating,” they also it. But yeah, it’s just binging. So, you know for me I would balance it out with anorexia, mild –

Paul: that’s what she would do too–

Lynn: mild anorexia. Um, but…

Paul: And over-exercising?

Lynn: (Laughs)

Paul: Was that part of it too?

Lynn: No, unfortunately I’m one of those people who would really love the benefits of exercise, you know, in terms of endorphins and those things, but I’m not–

Paul: That’s so funny because, you look very fit.

Lynn: Well, thank you, I, um. It’s been about four or five years that I’ve quote/unquote had this eating disorder under control. I’m currently on of the ambassadors for the National Eating Disorder Association.

Paul: That’s great.

Lynn: Yeah, it’s pretty amazing–

Paul: Where do you guys lunch?

Lynn: (laughs) Yeah, right? Right? I spoke for their conference in LA a few years ago because of my blog. I have two blogs. One is called The Actor’s Diet, which is a food blog, and it just basically shows my, what I eat every single day. And the other one is a body image blog called, Thick Dumpling Skin, that’s more for the community. But both are, you know, focused on body image, and so yeah, that whole thing going on…

Paul: What is the gist of the food blog? To say, I’m eating with health, healthfully, with moderation, here’s how I’m doing it.

Lynn: It’s more, that’s how it started…actually the reason it started was because I wanted to hold myself accountable. I had been on every diet under the sun, in an effort to get my eating disorder under control. It…you know, like I said, I play this ballet dancer and that’s when it really got bananas for me, because it was an actual job. And you know, Will Smith’s company was producing it, it was sort of a thing of like, I remember…my first day I showed up, I had been starving myself for three weeks because, you know, I had been jumping through hoops to get this part and I finally got it, and I show up on set and there is this gift basket from Will Smith, in my trailer, and it’s a bunch of cashews and chocolates, saying “welcome” and I’m like…I can’t think straight.

Paul: How incredibly triggering…

Lynn: It was like such as, but you know, I mean, I was at the point where I was like about to embark on what could be the biggest career, make it or break it moment, and I decided to sabotage myself that entire shoot. So sometimes when I watch that movie it’s really painful to watch because I remember exactly what I ate before every single shot.

Paul: Really?

Lynn: Because I re– , ‘Oh, that’s the day I didn’t eat. Oh, that’s the day I ate too much cake.’ That day, like I’m sucking in my stomach that entire time. That’s what I was thinking of.

Paul: That sounds exhausting.

Lynn: It was exhausting. It was. And when I started my blog about four years ago, it was when my, both my agent and my manager dropped me on the same day. And I had already been going, trying everything from hypnosis, the raw diet, to food delivery, you know…so much therapy. That I was sort of like, ‘you know what, I’m going to take a year off from acting.’ Like I knew I could get another agent or manager pretty easily but I was like, ‘I don’t want to have to explain to anyone what’s going on. I want to get out of this industry that puts so much focus on how I look and just see if can, sort of, get over this on my own, without that pressure.’ And I stopped labeling food as “good” or “bad.”  I stopped trying to control everything and I said to myself, ‘whatever you’re going to be is ok.’ I was also trying to get pregnant. And, what happened was, I stopped restricting, I stopped labeling foods as “junk food” or “bad food” or anything and um, I gained 40 pounds initially, and everyone thought I was pregnant. And I was not getting pregnant, so that was a real mind-fuck. (Laughs.)

Paul: (Laughs). Would you just not say anything…when they’d say, “oh, when are you due?”

Lynn: Well see, everyone knew I was trying to get pregnant.

Paul: I see.

Lynn: It was basically this, this is one of these life moments where I had to really learn how to accept whoever I was in the present. Not who I used to be. Not who I wanted to be. But just, like, who I was. So, I used the blog to hold myself accountable. I didn’t talk about the infertility thing. I’ve actually never spoken about it publically. But it was –

Paul: –Are you still struggling to get pregnant?

Lynn: No, it’s interesting, since then, I’ve not longer…I don’t, I don’t want children anymore, that’s the decision…at least for now. I, I , I don’t think I want children. But um, it was–

Paul: join the club.

Lynn: What was that?

Paul: Join the club.

Lynn: Yeah. (Laughs). But it was one of those things where, that similar to, having an eating disorder is like, this image of what you have for yourself. You know, I’ve been with my husband for…we’re going on 16 years.

Paul: That’s great.

Lynn: This year. And we’re going… we’re celebrating our 10th year of marriage. And we just are like, I will say this. We have such a solid, solid relationship. And I can say that with complete pride because I know everything else in my life is falling apart. But, when it comes to my husband everything is peachy keen and I don’t care who knows it. You know, I don’t care if people are like, ‘oh God, that’s so annoying’ ‘cause I know sometimes, like, that is triggering to somebody that has it so together in one of those major life departments, but I do. And part of it is because he and I have been through so much together.

Paul: Do you feel like you can collapse around him?

Lynn: Yes. Oh, absolutely.

Paul: What’s that feel like?

Lynn: Amazing. I mean it took a long time to realize that. And it took a long time for him to realize that also. But we have definitely come to the point now… Can I say this? Both of his parents are therapists, so, I, I went from a very dysfunctional family who couldn’t communicate at all and I was embraced by this family who did nothing but communicate.

Paul: How fantastic.

Lynn: Yeah, it was pretty…

Paul: What did the…what was the arc like of thinking you had to hold it in around him to becoming the person that can collapse in front of him? Are there any seminal moments along the way that kind of opened up your mind? Did it happen by accident? Was it planned? Were you scared? Did you have fears about what it was going to be like if you let him know the real you? Did any of those fears turn out to be true? I have a gazillion questions about –

Lynn:  Well, you know it’s interesting that much like most things that I’ve been able to overcome, I don’t really…I can’t remember one moment. What it feel s like when I look back is like 12 steps forward-50 steps back.

Paul: (Laughs)

Lynn: Two baby steps...ahead and then you know like eventually it became, like, what it is today. I just remember so much like fighting and struggling throughout, like, you know, the beginning and then like one day just looking back and realizing it hasn’t…It’s been 10 days. It’s been a month. It’s been a year. It’s been three years since things have been like that. Similar to like other addictions I’ve had in the past with like with food.

Paul: So are you talking about like time passing with your addiction or with your relationship with him getting better?

Lynn: My relationship with him getting better.

Paul: Ok.

Lynn: …of like the way we learn to process things. Definitely in the beginning of our relationship we were like children, I mean we were still in college. So, you know, learning to deal with that and life changes of graduation and starting a life together.  We were definitely figuring things out but we were figuring them out together and I think that’s probably why he’s been able to shift and grow with me. Because we’ve known each other at moments in our lives when things aren’t supposed to be set. That we knew we were on a journey.

Paul: What were some things that were key to helping your marriage survive? You know, I don’t know what you want to call them. Tools? Or coping mechanisms? Or ways of communicating? Or things that you would tell yourself or that he would tell himself that helped?

Lynn: I’d say balance of communication. Like we’re very honest with one another, but we know that there’s a time and a place for it. But also, you know, there’s a lot of moments throughout our relationship where, mostly me, not him so much, mostly me where I feel like I’m about to lose it. So like either there have been moments where I’m like, I’m about to binge or like I really like I used to like drink alcohol, or I really want to drink. I really wanted to like, lose my shit. And it the past I used to abuse myself. And he used to just sort of –

Paul: abuse yourself through those addictions?

Lynn: Through those addictions.

Paul: Ok.

Lynn: And he used to just sort of watch me helplessly. And then watch me the next day, like, have a hangover or be in like a food coma or something and be complaining and be like, “what can I do to help you? “ And me being like, “oh please don’t ever let me do that again.” And of course I’m gonna do it again and he’s like, “why are you saying this?” So part of it was like me also learning not to rely on him to stop me from these behaviors.

Paul: What would the binge look like on the alcohol or the food? What would the feeling be in your body or in your mind? What would you be feeling and thinking when you needed that oblivion?

Lynn: I’ve noticed now that the dif…the main difference between overeating, which I always do now, like I never have a, I’ve had so many holidays or food events, especially as a food blogger, where what I eat may look the same as what a binge may look like. But the complete difference is that mentally I don’t feel guilt about it. And usually what’s going through my head when I’m overeating out of emotion is this underlying thought of, ‘I don’t want to feel. I don’t care. Um. I don’t want to be here.’ Usually it’s, ‘I don’t want to be here.’ I don’t want to be –

Paul: On this planet?

Lynn: No, no. I don’t want to be in this room. Or I don’t even know–

Paul: I don’t want to be me?

Lynn: I don’t want to be me. Exactly! So I’m just going to keep eating until I feel full and then that’s a feeling I’m familiar with. And then I’ll feel guilty, and that’s another feeling I’m familiar with. And then the next–

Paul: But it’s a feeling.

Lynn: Exactly. And what’s interesting is like…so my father passed away in August.

Paul: Oh I’m sorry.

Lynn: Yeah. And so it’s like, that’s like a whole other ball of everything–

Paul: Were you close to him?

Lynn: No. I wasn’t. So there’s all these emotions coming up about that. So for the first time in like four years I had like a legitimate binge, where it was completely emotioned based. People have watched me eat, probably the same about, a number of times on the blog but this time it was completely different because I had so much guilt, so much shame, so much emotion tied into it. And it was like it had everything to do with my Dad and the way my life was going. And that’s how I knew that, like, that life right now is a struggle. And it really frustrated me because like for so long, even when things were shitty, it wasn’t a struggle and I felt like I had it together. And now I just like, I don’t.

Paul: You seem like you’re getting emotional–

Lynn: Yeah–

Paul: Thinking about your Dad.

Lynn: Yeah. I mean, that’s the thing about grief, it’s like, when he died…I watched everyone process it so different. I could have stopped blogging then. And I didn’t stop blogging then and the out-pouring from people, um, who had been reading my blog for four years, I didn’t even know were still reading my blog was…overwhelming. And so now it’s like–

Paul: In a good way?

Lynn: In a good way. In a really good way. And really incredible, magical, other worldly things were happening. Um, when my father died. I’m not a religious person at all, but there were things happening, um, from another world. That I felt like, ‘wow, life has changed, and this is…I feel like I found the meeting.” And here we are–

Paul: Anything that you want to share in particular?

Lynn: Oh, like I had been really struggling. I have been really struggling with my career the last five or six years where if like a cosmic joke. Where like everything I had booked, the last minute it would…they’d hire someone else. Like, I’d be on a plane with my ticket in hand and they’d be like…I’d get a call from my agent and they’d be like, “you’re never gonna believe this.” And I’d be like, “but they hired someone else?” And they’d be like, “yeah, uh, I don’t know how to say this...” but that would always be like the call I would get. So it felt like this cosmic joke at a certain point where, like, all of my friends I was just watching their careers move, up, up, up, up, up. Or down, down, down, down, down. And I just felt like I was being…I was this yo-yo. So, when my father died, what happened was…it was very similar, like where he was in the hospital for two weeks. He was supposed to…it was a complete shock. He was supposed to go in for, um, for a very routine, not like a routine but…he was only supposed to be in there for a week and ended up being in the ICU for two weeks. Really struggling and died suddenly. And that whole time that I was there watching him struggle, I kept saying to him, even though he couldn’t talk back, like, “show me that perseverance is worth it.” I need to know like that’s the meaning of life. And literally the moment he died I was outside my house. I saw these two deer and one of them sat next to me. And for some reason I knew it was my Dad or something…I had this conversation a deer. And I said to it, “I need to know that,” that same thing, I said, “that perseverance is worth it.” And I heard on the radio, the classical music station was on, it was a piece I had played when I was a child that was really hard but I learned to master it. And it was beautiful. It was a Beethoven piece Pathétique.  I pull into the driveway, I go inside, two minutes later my Mom comes back from the hospital telling me my father just died. She had just gotten the call. And I remember thinking, that can’t be because if that’s the meaning of life…that you just give up, then that’s a shitty lesson. That’s a pretty shitty reality. And my mom –

 Paul: Meaning that your Dad had just given up and died?

Lynn: Yeah. Like I had…

Paul: Did the dear thing happen before you heard this song on the radio?

Lynn: Right before.

Paul: Like you get into your car and…

Lynn: Yeah. So I was sort of thinking, oh my Lord. So what happened was –

Paul: Had you persevered in learning that piece of music? :

Lynn: Yes.

Paul: Ok.

Lynn: Yes.

Paul: But that didn’t occur to you at that moment.

Lynn: No. Um. So then I go…I go to his Mass the next day. My Mom is very Catholic, my Father was not.

Paul: I just have to interrupt. What was the deer like? What, was it looking at you when it was sitting next to you? What –

Lynn: I have pictures. I, I…the weirdest part was that I had no cell service. So I like…I take pictures of everything because I blog. I just…I was trying to call my husband to be like, “there is this deer sitting next to me right now.”

Paul: Like how close? Like, literally right next to you?

Lynn: Like right next to the car.

Paul: Yeah.

Lynn: Like, just sitting there. Um. So what happened the next day was I went to Catholic Mass with my Mom, who’s very Catholic, and um…I had been there a week before. I had grown up Catholic but was not very religious. I had been there a week before praying for my father to get better, half-heartedly because I really wasn’t…I really didn’t believe in God. So what I did was I sat there at my Father’s Mass and I said to God or whoever, I said, “I know I’m not supposed to do this. I know I’m not supposed to test you but I’m sort of at my, this is it, this is my moment where I need you to prove something. You need to show my a sign, a tangible sign.” And um, “because I’m very low right now. And um, if you don’t then I know that there is no meaning and I know that we’re all going to die. And my Dad is like somewhere, caught somewhere. And none of these lessons I’ve been learning the last couple weeks mean anything.” And what happened was the preacher –

Paul: Showed you his balls?

Lynn: (laughs) That would have been very strange if the preacher had done that. No, he was, he was my high school director who was the reason I became an actress. I had no idea that he was like even religious. He was…He had become, I guess he wasn’t a preacher, he was a deacon and he worked now at my Mom’s church. And he gave this whole speech. At first I didn’t even think it was him because it had been like 15 years. Yeah, like 15 years.

Paul: So you’re sitting in church. You think that thought. You say that thing to God or the Universe or whoever and then at what point do you recognize that this is…did you say your Drama teacher from high school?

Lynn: Yeah. My Drama teacher from high school who was the reason I became an actress. I just, I didn’t even realize it was him I just thought, “Man he sounds a lot like Mr. McLaughlin.” And I thought, you know what, that’s enough. That’s enough of a sign for me. I’m going to go home and I’m going to watch the old tapes of me in “The Pajama Game” which my Dad taped and see if he says something and maybe I’ll figure something else out. And I, I went up to thank him afterwards because he had aged a lot so I didn’t know.  And he took my face in his hands and he said, “Lynn I am so sorry,” and I felt this emotion come over me. This incredible sense of peace and grace and calm. I don’t even think he was feeling it. I don’t think my Mom, who is really religious, was feeling it. Nobody else was feeling it except for me, this moment of connection where I just was like, this is my Dad, this is the moment he is telling me that everything is going to be fine. Keep going, you’re going to be fine

Paul: Wow.

Lynn: Yeah, it was pretty amazing. I remember my mouth was like on the floor and I had this out of body experience where I could see myself and I was like, “Lynn close your mouth.” But I couldn’t, I just had my mouth open, because it was just this moment that I’d never felt before. So the weird thing now is that I’ve had very few of those moments. That’s just one example of many, many things that happened right after his death.

Paul: By the way, that’s when I experience the universe loving me or God or whatever it is that’s out there. I feel a sense of grace and peace.

Lynn: Yeah.

Paul: I don’t know any other way to put it but I don’t question where I am at that moment and it’s like, “oh, ok, I don’t feel like I’m three steps behind everybody else.”

Lynn: Yeah, I mean like, it was such an incredible, magical experience that like… (pause) it was addicting. The whole experience of not only bonding with my family in a way that I had been trying to get at for 35 years, all coming together with my father’s death. Um, suddenly, I’m back with my life in LA. It’s pilot season. My life is normal but it’s not normal. So it’s just a really strange, weird time where, like things…And now I’m sitting here talking about it and I know that it happened but at the same time I’m like, “did that really happen? Did it?” Because it almost feels, it feels ridiculous when I sit and talk about it now because everything’s the same except my dad’s not around. And, you know, when someone first dies, everyone appears out of the wood work and now it’s like, everyone is gone. And the same time he died, I lost my therapist of five years.  Like I had already stopped seeing her for two years but she was like someone who like, “you can call me anytime.” And like I said, I thought I had my shit together and hadn’t needed an eating disorder specialist for years and suddenly I was like, “um, my father just died and I really need you.” But she stopped private practice and she could not be there for me anymore. And so I had two huge loses simultaneously and it’s just such a, I don’t know, like everyone gave me a book and I started reading the first 20 pages of all of them and then I just stopped because I don’t think anyone can give you a book to help you figure out what, how to feel at this time. (deep breath). Whew!

Paul: Was there a physical sensation in your body, mind, you heart? Do you feel scared? Do you feel abandoned?

Lynn: It’s all of the above. The weird thing is that I feel like…I…it’s a very familiar feeling. It’s a very familiar feeling that I remember feeling a lot, especially when I was growing up. Like feeling like I was alone, that nobody loved me, and that, it almost felt like all of the coping mechanisms that I have had for so many years that have worked for me, just suddenly didn’t work or I didn’t even want to like go about doing it, using them even more. All of the same things to be grateful for that gave me so much joy just a few months ago, so easily, just suddenly had no power or meaning. Things that made happy weren’t making me happy. Things that were making me miserable, were making me more miserable. And sometimes it didn’t feel like it made sense because I felt like it had nothing to do with my father…really. Even though I think it does have everything to do with him. Because when he first died it was very tangible. It was just like wanting him to be around and knowing he’s not. And feeling like I lost. I feel like I was robbed. Like I said –

Paul: How old was he?

Lynn:  He was 71.My parents had bought a place in Orange County. And they were supposed to move there like now. And last year they were here buying it and I didn’t see them at all because I was going crazy on pilot season. And um, my Dad kept saying to me, “we’ll have time.” This is like my Dad…my parents are the most supportive of my career of anyone. So they just like know how it is and they were like, “it’s fine, you never know, just go do these things.” And I missed out on so much. And I, I always felt like one of the reasons accepted and embraced the idea of them coming to live here which I never would have accepted and embraced about 10 years ago when we were not getting along was the fact that, I knew we weren’t going to have kids so I believed the Universe was giving me this gift of my parents coming to move to Orange County, where I could see them, and they were both retired, whenever I wanted. And whenever I was feeling bad about my career or when I had time we could just explore life together, be retirees together.  You know, have fun together. And I think that’s one of the reasons why right now is so hard for me because it’s just a reminder that they’re not here and…

Paul: So your Mom’s not going to come out here?

Lynn: Oh no, no. Yeah, there’s no reason for her to be in a huge house by herself in a community she doesn’t know. So…I mean that’s the other weird thing is that, as wonderful as my relationship is with my Mom now, you know, we had many, many, many years of struggling as did, you know, me and my brother, who I am close with now too. But, it’s sort of like, you go back to normal but everything has changed and you still want that connection but that connection was like all during that time of trauma so you don’t want that back…(laughs). It feels really fucked-up to want that back.

Paul: (laughs) right.

Lynn: And that’s the other thing that this kind of loss is so strange because with any other type of loss, you don’t want…you don’t want to remember. If you break up with somebody you don’t want to sit around thinking about them all the time. You want to move on, but, the loss of a parent, you don’t want to move on, you want to keep remembering them…

Paul: It’s so complicated.

Lynn: And you want to keep remembering them for the best things and not the worse things, but those worst, those bad things still come up.

Paul: They say sometimes too that it can be even more difficult with or someone that you weren’t necessarily that close to because then there’s that feeling that you start to blame yourself for not having a better relationship with them.

Lynn: Right, right.

Paul: Did you go through… I mean you talked about it a little bit. I mean, did you go through blaming yourself or were you just kind of mad at the universe for being dealt this hand.

Lynn: The latter, yeah. I have a feeling I’ll probably go through blaming myself in the future (laughs). But no, I feel like, like I said, I was robbed of the next, I feel like I should have had the next 20 years to really get to know y Dad.

Paul: You know I think that sums up some of our most emotional difficulties is getting past that feeling that we’ve been dealt a shitty hand and to not take it personally, because it’s so personal.

Lynn: Yeah.

Paul: Nothing is more personal.

Lynn: (deep breath). This feels good. (laughs).

Paul: It does feel good. I…

Lynn: It’s amazing what a good cry will do. And I’ve been experiencing that a lot which is like, the amazing thing about right now is that I have set-up, sort of, this community of friends and even strangers who I feel comfortable enough to break down like this in front of, because it’s safe, and that’s not to say that I don’t get my share, especially putting myself out there on line, of really negative abuse. But, for the most part, this sort of thing is like, what is getting me through it. And it’s helping other’s get through it. I just notice, the older I get, the more I’m crying. You know (crying/laughing).

Paul: (crying/laughing) that makes two of us.

Lynn: When I was a child I would get hit for crying.

Paul: Really?

Lynn: Yeah, I mean, like, I would…it was not ok to show this kind of emotion.

Paul: Is that something that is more specific to Asian cultures or is that just specific to your family.

Lynn: I think it might be, I think it’s an Asian thing.

Paul: ‘Cause I’ve heard of –

Lynn: Yeah

Paul: Of other friends of mine say that, that it’s really frowned upon showing that weakness because it can be used against you.

Lynn: Yeah, it was a lot of like, “don’t you dare cry in front of me.”

Paul: Ah, that makes me so sad.

Lynn: Yeah

Paul: It’s so, it’s so important for little kids to be able to collapse and feel protected. Do you remember any, any seminal moments where you wanted to collapse and couldn’t and what was said or what it was about.

Lynn: Yeah, I mean there was lots, lots of times growing up where I was called a cry-baby in school because that’s where I went to unleash all of my burdens that I couldn’t really talk about the seriousness of what was actually happening and so people would just call me a cry-baby. And I remember there was one moment where I actually had a social worker came to the house and my family was, even my brother, who was like a punk-like kid who was always like rebelling against my parents himself. I remember he was like, “that’s what you don’t do Lynn, you don’t air your dirty laundry.” Like its fine if you, if you um, go and cry and don’t talk about it, but don’t bring us into it. I mean, that’s even happening right now as we speak, as we sit here. I sometimes, I wonder how my brother and my mom will react to this.

Paul: Have the decency to feel in isolation.

Lynn: Right.

Paul: Don’t feel in front of others. Uh, what was it that you were crying about as a kid that, that you were taking to school.

Lynn: I, you know, mental, physical, sexual abuse as a child. And knowing…I knew as a kid, like, I’ve been dealt a shitty hand.

Paul: Was this all from one particular person?

Lynn: All over the place.

Paul: Ah… (sighs).

Lynn: And just sort of like a, you just have to accept it, but don’t talk about it. Um, I’ve been going to therapy for a long time. I remember the moment where I knew I needed to get help was where I was watching…(laughs) this is embarrassing. I was watching Melissa Etheridge’s video for Come to My Window. Is it Juliette Lewis? I believe it’s Juliette Lewis, she’s like in a Mental Institution (laughs), I think that’s the video and um, I remember watching her and thinking, I know what that feels like. And that’s when I was like, “oh, maybe I’m crazy.” I went to go see Mad Love.

Paul: How old were you?

Lynn: I was 15 or 14. I saw Mad Love with Drew Barrymore and Chris O’Donnell. I saw it with my friends and I remember them saying, “she’s crazy” but me thinking, I know what that feels like. And that’s when I said to my family, “I need help.” And they just sort of let me, they let me go get it. They didn’t want to talk about what –

Paul: When did the social worker come? How old were you? That was before that?

Lynn: That was Junior High. I was like 13. Yeah.

Paul: What had you told the social worker.

Lynn: I told her that I had been hit and so, but then my family was sort of like…what the social worker is picturing is very different from the spanking that you get. But at the same time, I was too old to be getting hit at that time. And it really drove a wedge between me and my mother for many years because she was like, “you’ve, you’ve brought shame upon this family,” like, “you’ve opened up…like, you’ve made us vulnerable, you’ve made me look like a bad mom.” Even though everyone does this. And she’s right, everyone hit their kids, that she knew.

Paul: Well…would it be fair to say though, that had your mom, had there just been the spanking, but had there also been emotional welcoming, and validation and no sexual abuse and no verbal abuse. You might have been able to roll with the occasional spanking?

Lynn: Yeah, possibly.

Paul: I mean that’s…a lot of times I think we, we want to say that a specific event or events have to  reach some certain standard for us to have viable, valid pain about them but in reality everything contributes to it. And some of it doesn’t have anything to do with anybody that contributes to it and other ways but you can’t sort that all out when you’re a kid. Sometimes all you know is that what you’re feeling is super intense and it all feels like it’s coming from what happened to you five minutes ago. From, you know, your brother doing something, you know punching you in the head, or –

Lynn: Right.

Paul: Whatever. Um, it doesn’t…and that’s why it makes me so angry when I hear stories about kids, who’s parents…who try to open up and their parent shut them down. ‘Cause it’s like the most important thing you can do and you’re wiring that kid to do exactly the opposite. You might as well just give them an addiction and say, “go start working on this.”

Lynn: And you know, that’s why, that’s part of why I started that other blog Thick Dumpling Skin –

Paul: Why do you call it that?

Lynn: It’s specific for Asian Americans to know that they’re not alone in this (sighs) in our community it is ok to tell one another things like, “you’re fat,” “you’re skinny” and then just leave it at that like a problem but don’t, but don’t process it with me. Grow a thicker skin. That’s sort of –

Paul: You’re saying that in the community it’s believed that that’s ok but you’re saying that’s not ok.

Lynn: We’re saying it’s not ok and that we all are learning to thicken our skins but we have to know that we’re not alone. Because they’re so many, especially young girls, who writ in to us and say that they have eating disorders and their family won’t accept it. Like, their just like, “you don’t have an eating disorder. You don’t need to go talk to a stranger. We don’t need to pay a stranger for that. So please just deal with it.”

Paul: And I love the idea that a stranger can’t possibly connect you any deeper than a relative can.

Lynn: Yes!

Paul: That that’s the fatal flaw in most sick family dynamics –

Lynn: Yes.

Paul: That ‘cause I’m blood related to you, a stranger can’t help you anymore than I could.

Lynn: So that was…that was what started that whole, that whole site.

Paul: What did it feel like when you went for help when you were like 15? Was it a therapist?

Lynn: Yeah. I went to go talk to a therapist.

Paul: What did that feel like?

Lynn: It felt good. It felt good to have somebody to talk to who would just listen to me.

Paul: Did you hold anything back or did you let it all hang –

Lynn: No, I let it all hang out.

Paul: How did that feel?

Lynn: It felt great. It felt really, really, really good.

Paul: How much of it did you think was your fault? (pause) Did you not think any –

Lynn: I didn’t, I didn’t think any of it was my fault.

Paul: Oh, you were steps ahead of many, many others.

(both laugh)

Lynn: Well I had like read a lot of Judy Blume (laughs). Stuff like that. It was more like, I feel like this is the theme of my life. I feel like I tend to be very honest. I feel like I tend to overshare sometimes so I feel like a therapist was really good for me in terms of like being able to talk to somebody and not have them hold it against me or stop talking to me –

Paul: Or have them go like, “this is too intense,” –

Lynn: “This is too much!” (laughs) I lost a lot of best friends throughout the years and I like sometimes it could have been….maybe it wasn’t because I overshared but maybe it was. And that ….

Paul: It’s so shaming. It’s so shaming when you do open up to somebody and they can’t handle it and they don’t know how to tell you that they can’t handle it. And it makes you feel like you’re freaky-deaky.

Lynn: Well, and like most of the time, and this is something I’ve learned with my husband, you don’t actually want them to fix it.

Paul: You just want them to listen.

Lynn: Yeah. You just want to – listen

Paul: You just want to feel heard.

Lynn: And so they don’t even have to say anything. And um, but, people often feel, especially at that age, you have to do something, so it’s just too weird.

Paul: I feel like 90% of the activities I engage in in my life can be boiled down to just really wanting a hug. Just really wanting someone to just look me in the eyes and to see me and to accept me, as I am. And to say, ‘I love you, I’m not going anywhere.’

Lynn: I think the, ‘I’m not going anywhere,’ is important. (pause) It’s really important. Like sometimes I think that’s what I wanted, really, when I wanted to have a kid. And I learned through my years of trying, I really didn’t actually want a kid, I just wanted something to be certain in my life.

Paul: You wanted to create stability.

Lynn: Yeah. I wanted to create stability and something that for the rest of my life was tied to me through love that could never ever go away.

Paul: That might have been disastrous if you hadn’t have got your shit together.

Lynn: Yeah. (laughs). Yeah.

Paul: ‘Cause then you’d become that parent that devours their kid. If you can’t find it in yourself to always know to put your kids’ needs ahead of yours. You know, ‘cause when we’re in our sickness…You know I think I always knew at some level that I wouldn’t be able to put a kids needs ahead of mine. That I was too much of a narcissus or too emotionally immature to, to do that. And maybe because I saw it happen in my life but so many parents walk into having kids thinking about what they’re going to get from it –

Lynn: Right. Right.

Paul: Which is –

Lynn: Right.

Paul: While you’re certainly going to get something from it – a lot from it. Man, I think the mindset needs to be, ‘man I want to bring this little person into the world because I want to give to it.’

Lynn: Right. Right.  And I think there was a moment where I, where I realized what it would take to have a baby. Because at that point it was like, you can do IVF. “Congratulations! You can do IVF.” And knowing what it would take, the commitment it would take and the percentages still weren’t a guarantee. There was something about that whole process…thinking about that whole process that I realized, I don’t want, I don’t want for the goal to be, because I heard this so often from other people in that community, ‘once I get pregnant everything will be ok’ –

Paul: (laughs)

Lynn: ‘Once I get this baby it will all be ok.’ That is so much to put on a child. ‘Cause I work with children and I know, they’re going to be pains in the asses. (laughs) And there’s going to be lots of problems and I don’t ever want to look at this child and think, ‘you weren’t worth all of that.’ ‘Cause I know there will be moments like that. I just –

Paul: I think you got –

Lynn: I just didn’t want that –

Paul: Expect that they’re never going to want to wear a blue shirt or have their food touched.

Lynn: (laughs).

Paul: Or, you know, all these idiosyncrasies that all these little people have.  And not only do they have them, they shriek about them.

Lynn: Yes. Well, I also realized in…I took a year off to just sort of deal with what life was giving me and not what life wasn’t giving me. Which was not a good way to live – to focus on everything that life is not giving you. I was very miserable. And um so instead I just started saying yes to all of these like Indie type films that I had always been saying no to because I was afraid I wasn’t going to have enough money to make SAG, to keep my maternity. I started saying yes to things, I started traveling, because before that I had always been having sex on a schedule, trying to get pregnant. And I had the best year of my life. And I think at the end of it, I think that’s when my husband and I were sort of like, I don’t know if we actually want to have children, I just sort of think we liked the idea of it and suddenly we were aunts and uncles and all of our friends had children and it was just sort of nice to be there with them and then go home when the problems arose.

(both laugh)

Paul: There is something so nice about that.

Lynn: And um, my brother has four children and I love them, and I love spoiling them, but I love not having to worry about, where they’re going to go to school –

Paul: And how are we going to afford a house in the school district that has the good school.

Lynn: Yeah. I don’t want those problems –

Paul: We’re upside down on our mortgage. My boss is a prick.

Lynn: Yeah. I mean, ‘cause everything, you’re always going to have problems in life but I guess those are problems that I guess I don’t want to play God to get. It just didn’t feel like it was worth the trouble.

Paul: Are you comfortable talking about the abuse that happened to you when you were a kid?

Lynn: I can talk about it in more vaguely. I’ll say that it was, when I was young and I have since forgiven that person, and I’m helping that person work through it now as an adult, which is pretty amazing. Um, and that every, I’m very vocal about it with my therapist obviously and with people in my life, but it’s not something that I talk about just because I know that that person is currently struggling with that. And it took me years to get to this place – so I know it’s going to take that person a really long time because they just started this journey. I mean, I’ve been dealing with it since I was 15, going to therapy, and now I’m 35.

Paul: It’s amazing how long that stuff can, can last because, I mean, our brain will overcompensate for pain by burying and burying and burying. And as deep as that whole gets dug, it has to be dug out, to pull that stuff back out, and I think there’s so much resistance along the way, because I think our brains will do anything to tell us we weren’t helpless and exploited.

Lynn: Yeah.

Paul: ‘Cause it’s such a terrifying thought because then that means that we’re in a world where we’re powerless and open to exploitation again.

Lynn: And I think that’s the overwhelming feeling that I get when I think about my father’s death is like just how utterly unstable and unfair this world feels and there really like nothing…it’s like it really feels random, like, someone just pointed a finger and buzzed you and you’re it and you’re the one who had to deal with it. Deal with it.

Paul: What? What was, and you don’t have to get too specific if you don’t want to, the verbal abuse. What were the things that were, that were said, that were…hurtful.

Lynn: I’d rather not…get into the specifics. Yeah but, the things that were said made me feel…

Paul: What did it…Did it denigrate who you were as a person? Did it denigrate you? Was it sexist? About your intelligence –

Lynn: No.

Paul: Your confidence

Lynn: No. No. No.

Paul: What did it –

Lynn: That’s why it was so confusing –

Paul: And was it all different people that were doing –

Lynn: Yeah, as much as –

Paul: Sounds like a neat family –

Lynn: (laughs). It is. You know it –

Paul: I’m assuming you’re related to these people –

Lynn: …is that, I adore and love these people for that. But I think part of the reason that I –

Paul: Hold on! Back up!

Lynn: yeah-

Paul: Back up.

Lynn Yes.

Paul: You adore these people because they abused you?

Lynn: Well, because now I’m able to…Because now (a) this behavior doesn’t exist anymore –

Paul: They’ve changed.

Lynn: They’ve changed.

Paul: Have they shown some contrition?

Lynn: Yes.

Paul: Oh.

Lynn: And so now it’s almost like um…looking back at…like watching a movie (laughs) about a dysfunctional family. Like a black comedy. And sort of being able to laugh about it. And say, “that’s my family.” Rather than saying, “God, poor me for being in this family.” It’s more like, throw your hands up in the air and be like, well, this is crazy but it’s what I have and it’s what I accept.

Paul: That must be really nice to have people apologize.

Lynn: Yeah. And yeah but that also has a lot with me being able to say to them, “you hurt me.” Or this is how I’m feeling. Like finally being able to come to the place where I was like, this is how I feel and whether or not you chose to change or not, I know is out of my control but I’m just letting you know that this is how I’m feeling. Those moments were really scary because it really could have gone the way of, “ok – fuck you.” But luckily it didn’t, it was more of like, “I didn’t even realize that that’s what I was doing” and you know part of the reason why –

Paul: Were these boundaries that your therapist help you set or were these things that just intuitively came to you?

Lynn: Both, I guess. My therapist never said to me, “you should talk to them.” It was always a choice on my part. I think what helped enormously was blogging actually. Because I air out issues on the blog and for, you know, my family members to see, not only are people not going to shun you, they support you and say, “that’s happened to me to, or I know how you’re feeling.” Suddenly for them…it’s validation for me. And also a way for them to see, this is not, oh I guess it’s not so bad that you’re talking about it. You know, for me that was such a bonding experience for me and my father because even though I say we were close, he knew everything that was going on in my life. And I think that’s why I still blog, because sometimes I’m like, why do I still do this, because it’s very time consuming.

Paul: How often do you put up a new blog?

Lynn: I do twice a day. Yeah.

Paul: Oh, that is a lot.

Lynn: Yeah. Twice a day. And you know, it’s not something that –

Paul: What is the address of it?

Lynn: It’s theactorsdiet.com  um, it was his way of just knowing –

Paul: So you blog about more than just food.

Lynn: Yeah. I blog about like, what I’m doing and movies I’ve seen and doing this blog about doing this podcast with you. I’ll blog about Julius. It’s just, it’s just my life. And it was a way of, you know, not having to, for Chinese families, at least for my family, they don’t want to know, you know, the nitty gritty of how you’re feeling but they want to know what you’re doing. They want to know that you’re ok. And so it was a way for my dad to see like, my daughter is going to a nice restaurant tonight (both laugh) and she is going to eat a very nice dinner. And that means that her life is ok. And for him that was his way of, of connecting to me. I remember calling constantly and him being like, I’m going to put your mom on and I’d be like, “how are you Dad?” and he’d be like, “I’m fine, I’m fine. I know what’s going on with you I read your blog.” That was how, you know, he talked to me and so I didn’t want to stop and I don’t want to stop now. And I almost feel like that’s how my Mom now sees what’s going on with me day to day. Sometimes it’s hard to talk to her because it’s too much of a reminder of childhood and times that were difficult for me. And she knows that. And I can tell her that. It’s kind of amazing that, um, I chalk it all up to like social media because um, they care so much about what others think, like that’s a very (sighs) Chinese thing, like that’s the name of this movie –

Paul: Saving Face

Lynn: Saving Face. Of putting on appearances and um, for them to see that you’re, you’re ok. And that you’re at least…that you’re still there functioning and it’s important for me too because it holds me accountable. Because even though I still allow myself to have days where I do nothing and sink into the depression and not feel guilty about that. I still blog twice a day no matter what. I guess it’s the closest I have to a steady job even though I’m not getting paid for it. It’s like brushing my teeth. Aside from brushing y teeth it’s the only thing I do daily –

Paul: Does it seem like a steam-valve or does it seem like a way that you don’t become invisible? Or both?  Or neither?

Lynn: It’s very confusing because it’s … it is, it’s therapy but at the same time it’s validation, sometimes it’s harmful, it always hurts when numbers go down or when you ask a question and no one comments but at the same time it feels weird not to do it. And also there’s been moments in my life where I’ve connected with readers and so I know I don’t want to stop – just for that.

Paul: It’s one of the best things about doing a blog or doing a podcast – connecting to people, connecting to strangers. People that…who’s live have such parallel moments to yours it’s like oh, it’s like your soul is getting a massage.

Lynn: Yeah. I think at my core I’m like someone who likes to be a lot of people at different times in my life.

Paul: It certainly makes life more interesting.

Lynn: Yeah.

Paul: I have a question for you and I don’t  know if I’m going to wind up cutting this out or not…when you were talking about having gratitude for the arch of the people that have abused you I got so jealous because I think it’s almost impossible with my Mom for her to see that, but I want to confront her and I’m so terrified. I’m so terrified and my therapist has warned me that with such a narcissus that is so invalidating that you might just get traumatized all over again, since she… has this ability to just brush things away and way things never happened. But part of me really wants her to know how much she hurt me and what I’m feeling, but I’m terrified.

Lynn: Yeah.

Paul: I’m terrified.

Lynn: Yeah. I know exactly what you’re saying…exactly what you’re saying. Um, for me –

Paul: I would love to have like a half-dozen fellow sex-abuse survivors come with… I know it would be incredibly inappropriate but I’m terrified of being alone with her, with her manipulations and her denials and her…how did you, how did you go back into that room with that person and summon up the courage…”hello” her little doggie is in my lap.

Lynn: (laughs) Julius is… (pause) I think I prepared myself mentally the best I could that I would be disappointed. I hate to compare it to this but very similar to what I do every time I’m in an audition, just on a (laughs) a much deeper level

(dog yawns)

Paul: That was a yawn.

Lynn: Yawning. It’s that similar mindset of –

Paul: Prepare for the worst.

Lynn: Yup. Prepare for the worst.

Paul: Hope for the best –

Lynn: Hope for the best. Prepare for the worst. Um, and I will say this, it was neither, it was not, it was not, like –

Paul: Did they try to deny what happened or minimize it?

Lynn: No. No. Not at all. (deep breath).

Paul: Had you ever spoken about it with this person since it happened.

Lynn: Yes. Yes. And it was like a lot of years of processing it. And I will say this. It was never like a, each time I had a confrontation, it was not like I walked away from it like, “(big sigh), I’m so glad we had that talk and now things are so much better and I can go about my life.”

Paul: So it was a process.

Lynn: It was a long-ass process that –

Paul: That sounds excruciating.

Lynn: Yeah. It…But because I didn’t have that expectation that it was going to be life-changing, I think it made it easier to deal with and to confront each time it came up. It’s like any relationship where you’re like confronting on-going problems. They’re not fun to deal with those problems  (laughs) but you deal with them almost because you feel like you have to.

Paul: Would you be the only one that would bring the subject up?

Lynn: Nnnnno. Not always.

Paul: Why would that person bring the subject up? Would it be to make an apology to you?

Lynn: Yeah.

Paul: That must have felt good.

Lynn: Yeah. Yeah. And you know sometimes it would be like me playing shrink to them of, you know, it was this realization that you know what, I’m ok. And I think that’s part of my I like share so much of what’s going on with me is this realization of like, fucked-up, really fucked-up shit happened but I’m still ok.

Paul: Do you think you would still be that ok if that person hadn’t apologized to you. If you hadn’t gotten closure with that?

Lynn: Maybe not…but no, you know I credit a lot of it to the support system that I have of my husband and the friends that I have now that I do share this with. But also that I changed just sort of the…I call it the baseline, I guess it’s the mantra of what I tell myself. I guess when I was growing up it was always like, ‘What do you know? Stupid.’ Um, and know it’s more like, ‘No, you’re right and if they don’t agree you kind of don’t need them or just fuck-um because you have people in your life because that do –

Paul: So you were prepared to walk away from a relationship with that person if there had been denial or an invalidation of your experience.

Lynn: Yes. Or just to keep it going at a very face level that it had already been. Um. (deep breath). What’s interesting is that us talking about that didn’t really change our relationship…it didn’t make us closer or deeper or make our experiences more special, it just made it so I wasn’t angry, I guess.

Paul: Did you…Would you have a visceral reaction with that person when they were in the room with you before you kind of had that healing with them? And did that feeling of being around them change? Of how you were feeling in your body.

Lynn: You know, that had already occurred.

Paul: That changing.

Lynn: That change had already occurred and I accredit that to…you know what I think helped me the most was telling my loved ones about what happened, and having them say to me, “oh my God, fucking horrible person, let’s get him.” Instead their reaction was “we will take your lead, if you want to hate that person, then we will be your army and we will hate them to. But if you chose to love and embrace them, then we will do exactly the same.” Because that was always a fear of mine, like ,I don’t want you to judge and hate this person, because they’re in my life and they’re always going to be in my life, so, I kind of feel like if I do tell you, I need you to back me up, and they did do that. And so watching them, um, exhibit that kind of behavior, made it easier for me to do it too. And eventually just forgive on that level. Until I was ready to talk about it.

Paul: Do you think it was because it reminded you that you’ve got this surplus of love that you can tap into, as a source of strength if you needed it?

Lynn: Yeah. Even though that like, went away, like if I didn’t have that…I had back up, that I could depend on. I didn’t feel completely abandoned and alone.

Paul: ‘Cause I think that’s the thing with abuse survivors is…we hide it because we’re ashamed. We spend years… I don’t know about you but I blamed myself for, for years, and you just kind of file away on that and you bring it out and you reexamine it and you said, ‘wait a minute, I was a fucking kid, I shouldn’t have been put in that position.’ You don’t blame yourself as much but you’ve sat with it by yourself for so long, you forget that other people can connect to you, healthy people. And feed you  love and support around that issue because it’s been your little dark demon in the closet for years –

Lynn: Yeah.

Paul: That you didn’t want any light shone on because it either hurt so much or it was so confusing or it was so embarrassing or you didn’t understand it. And I never, whenever I picture confronting my mom, I never think about any support system. I always just picture me, alone, by myself having to figure this out.

Lynn: I wonder if it’s going to happen in a way you’ve never pictured. Does that scare you?

Paul: I don’t know.

Lynn: ‘Cause I find that’s how things usually happen.

Paul: I’m terrified.

Lynn: Yeah.

Paul: And I feel so stupid for saying that?

Lynn: Why?

Paul: Because, I’ve said so many times before on this podcast, I’m a grown man, I’m 50 years old. I could beat her up if I wanted to. Why am I afraid of this person?

Lynn: ‘Cause she’s your mom?

(silence)

Paul: It just makes me feel silly. It makes me feel silly and I know intellectually I’m not supposed to feel silly.

Lynn: Right.

Paul: It’s almost like there was a feeling put into my body…that I can’t take out.

Lynn: Yeah.

Paul: Does it? Do you have that?

Lynn: Yeah. Yeah, I definitely know what you mean, but I also…I guess especially in the last decade, I ‘ve had so many experiences in my life where (deep breath)…things…I guess I have proof, I have proof, I have proof that I can overcome anything. Not only overcome but live beautifully, really happily for very long periods of time despite unbearable pain…so that even when I’m feeling that pain now, I know that there’s proof that it’s going to go away. I guess that’s called hope, right. (laughs). For so long in my life I did not have that proof. All I had was decades of pain and this ongoing, the only proof I had was that things were shitty and that people leave and that you should keep this to yourself.

Paul: But if I book a job it’ll be ok?

Lynn: Yeah.

Paul: So I should watch what Scarlet Johansen does.

Lynn: Exactly. (laughs).

Paul: Oh Lynn, thank you so much, this has been…It’s so funny because I never know when the interview is…is gonna do this flip-flop and all of a sudden.

Lynn: How can you know?

Paul: And I feel…I get a little self-conscious when that happens. But I know this is how normal conversations happen with people.

Lynn: Yeah.

Paul: You know getting back to what you and I were talking about before we started recording…when you believe a lie for 48 years (deep inhale) you suddenly doubt everything you think. And you suddenly don’t know, and that person’s been invalidating to you and you don’t know where the truth is and it’s scary. It’s really really scary. Sitting here going, one minute going this is, this is so beautiful I’m connecting to this person and then thinking, ‘I’ve just ruined to this interview, I’ve, I’ve, um, you know, I’ve made it all about me.’

Lynn: No but see I think that vulnerability and that truth is why you do this podcast and why people listen. I’m a large part, it’s not the reason but it’s a large reason why. I’m mean if you were just to sit and ask people and not share…this would be a completely different show and would not be honest.

Paul: I think it’s somebody that has a history of struggling with moderation it just seems like this is going to be another example of something that I’m going to ruin because I don’t know how to moderate.

Lynn: I don’t think you ruined it though. (laughs).

Paul: I mean, how are you going to say anything other than what you’re saying but thank you.

Lynn: But I really don’t.

Paul: Ok, thank you.

Lynn: I know as somebody who creates content that sometimes it’s therapeutic but at the same time you don’t want to lose audience members. Um, I understand that mindset completely –

Paul: Ok.

Lynn: But speaking to someone who also does that, that’s the reason…those are the moments I’ve found that people connect to the most, which is why I don’t think you ruined it – honestly.

Paul: Ok, well I’ve just had these, such strong emotions come up in the last hour and a half where I’ve come this close to just wanting to set the mic down and say, ‘can we take five minutes out because I just need to cry. I just want to ask you for a hug and I just want to cry on your shoulder.’ And I go back and forth between going, follow that because this is, this is, you know, maybe interesting and thinking ‘shut up!’

Lynn: Well this is such, I have to admit this is like just, this has been such an honest conversation in such a real like a very real way of like jumping around from topic to topic. I didn’t expect it to be that –

Paul: I didn’t either -

Lynn: much. I mean I’ve done podcasts interviews where and…I’ve listened to your podcast so I thought I knew what to expect but I didn’t know what to expect –

Paul – It’s really disconcerting when you’re prone to second guessing yourself, it’s a fucking rollercoaster and it’s exhausting. It can be exhilarating but it can also be really exhausting.  And that’s not any comment on the guest, I think it can be a credit to how vulnerable you got right out the gate, you had tears rolling down your face and all of the sudden I had tears and it’s like, ‘oh my God…my companion in pain, my friend in the foxhole, this person know what I feel – “

Lynn: Yeah.

Paul: They know what I feel. Which I’ve been looking for my, my whole life…(pauses). (deep breath).

Lynn: Do you want to take five and…have a hug? (laughs)

(pause).

Paul: Yeah, can I pause it?

Lynn: Yeah.

---break---

Paul: We just took a little break, thank you.

Lynn: Of course.

Paul: You know I didn’t ask you, what does it look like when you binge eat? Give me an example of what you would consume?

Lynn: Oh, I actually blog about it in great detail so you can see but it would be…it would be like I would polish off an entire pizza and walk to the grocery store and be like, ‘just one more thing, I’m not going to eat the rest of the day,’ and then like get a bag of cookies and then like come home and then like sit at home feeling horrible and then like two hours later going into the cupboards and opening them up and being like oh I’m just going to have some of this cereal and then eating the whole entire box and going out and saying, ‘oh I need to replace that cereal,’ and I go and I buy the same cereal and I eat half the box so that so my husband doesn’t come home and say, ‘where did the cereal go?’ And then, and then I’m still full and my husband comes home and not wanting him to know that I’ve binged I say, ‘let’s go out to eat,’ and then thinking, oh you know what, this is the last supper and we go out to eat and I eat like another huge, huge, huge, huge meal.

Paul: Even though you’re full?

Lynn: Even though I’m full.

Paul: You’re still eating.

Lynn: Still eating. Yes -

Paul: Do you hurt…eat past the point of it hurting?

Lynn: Yeah. And I use to eat to the point where I would get food poisioning like symptoms where I would throw-up for days.

Paul: What is the feeling? Once you’re full…what is the feeling that you’re after by overeating? Is it the taste of the food on your tastebuds?

Lynn: Well first of all, it starts off, ‘cause like just like a love of food and it’s just like it’s fun and it’s food and whatever, and I still indulge in that side of my brain that needs that but what it is that I don’t have a shut-off valve.  And the guilt feelings that come up use to have a lot with how I looked with knowing that this many calories were consumed, this many fat grams, how am I going to compensate for this but really the overlying feeling was ‘I know that this is going to feel like crap but I know that in four days of not eating it’s going, I’m going to feel like I’m under control again. Like it was a predicatable feeling. Like even though it felt like shit. I knew what that shit was going to feel like.

Paul: So like the drunk waking up with a hangover saying, ‘I’m quitting drinking now.’

Lynn: Yeah.

Paul: I’ve righted the ship.

Lynn: Yeah. Exactly.

Paul: Lynn, thank you so much for not only being a great guest but for comforting me.

Lynn: Yeah.

Paul: Not even really knowing me except through the podcast, you’ve really…you helped me. You really helped me and I appreciate it.

Lynn: You’re welcome. Thank you.

Paul: Many many thanks. As many thanks as I can gather in my arms, ah, thank you Lynn and um, I don’t know why I apologized so much at the front of the episode. I think one of the things that makes podcasting so great is that it’s not really an interview it’s a conversation but I’m a fear-filled person. Getting less so but, um, welcome to the ping-pong ball in my head and the endless stream of judgments that, um, are going on. Um, I don’t really feel like listing all the ways you can support this show. The show’s running kind of long right now but I do want to give a shout-out to the people who keep the spammers out of the forum: John, Michael, Manny and Dan. I know I don’t thank you guys that often, um, but thank  you, thank you so much. And so many thanks to the people who’ve donated to this show, especially the monthly donors. You help pay, pay for this show, and um, I can’t thank you enough.

I’m just going to read two surveys…

 

----insert surveys here----