This is why you can’t have nice things

This is a repost post with a little bit of a difference. The first difference being that the title isn’t the same as the old post.

I’ve really been enjoying watching Korean TV dramas, and reading full season recaps (courtesy of the excellent Dramabeans) of the Kdramas which aren’t available to watch on Netflix – I suppose I could sign up to a streaming service which has them, but I often don’t do the obvious thing to do, and may take strange detours to avoid doing the obvious and taking the most direct route.

Nothing in that previous paragraph is extraneous to this post. Even in my most rambling and seemingly incoherent posts, all which is said is a dot which connects to all the other dots and forms a picture – the picture may be one only I can see, and really I’m the only one who needs to see it because that picture is part of my life story.

Others who read my posts may notice dots which connect up and form a picture – that picture may be similar to my picture or may be entirely different. That picture is their picture, for them to see, notice, understand, as it is part of their life story.

Just this morning I finished reading the Dramabeans-recapped version of Master’s Sun. It’s about a woman who can see ghosts. The ghost stories struck a chord for me in a similar way that the ghost stories in A Korean Odyssey (Hwayugi) also struck a chord for me. The two shows are by the same writing team – The Hong Sisters.

What I liked about the ghost stories is that sometimes they showed ghosts as attaching themselves to people, not because those people were loved ones, family, or the cause of their death, or connected in any way to the ghost during the time they were alive, but because of a feeling such as envy, pride, lust, greed, sadness, yearning, etc. The ghost would attach to the person and then whisper to them to pursue their desire, anger, vanity, etc. In one story the ghost detached itself from a person and moved onto to another because the second person’s vanity was stronger than the first person’s.

This particular ghost story sent my mind wandering off on a tangent from the Kdrama (those tangential thought journeys are part of the reason I watch TV shows and films – sometimes that’s my main reason for choosing what I watch, which is why I watch such a mishmash of things).

This particular ghost story concept was very similar to another one – where a ghost was haunting the scales in a gym and attaching itself to those who hated themselves the most when they weighed themselves. The weighing scales ghost, once attached to a person, would make them lose weight at an alarming rate while they could eat anything and everything they wanted, it made them ravenous… but when and if it detached itself the person would become exhausted, and sometimes die from malnutrition. There was also another one where a ghost attached itself to envious people and made them hunt down people they envied on social media and troll them mercilessly with hateful comments.

If you want to check those ghost stories out for yourself, the links are as follows:

Master’s Sun – Vanity Ghost (episode 4)

Hwayugi (A Korean Odyssey) – Weight Scale Ghost (episode 4)

Hwayugi (A Korean Odyssey) – Evil Mouth Ghost (episode 8)

The chord these ghost stories struck for me was one which created a dot that finally made a picture out of other random dots. At first, while watching Hwayugi (A Korean Odyssey), the picture came into focus then blurred and I lost sight of it, forgot I’d seen it (although not completely), but then it came into clear focus again this morning.

I’m not sure if I can explain the picture clearly… maybe it doesn’t matter if I can explain it or not to anyone else, maybe all that matters is that I can see it clearly in my mind’s eye now. But attempting to explain it, writing about it in a post… it helps me to keep the picture just in case it begins to blur again, getting lost and forgotten again.

Funny thing is, when I originally began blogging, awhile before An Upturned Soul, I wrote an astrology (a sort of astrology and sort of not astrology) series about ghosts in the brain – that series can be found here – Ghosts in the Brain – on this blog since I transferred a lot of my (now defunct) tumblr posts to this blog during my early days of An Upturned Soul. So all of that is a dot created in the past which is connecting to a dot in the present – it’s part of the picture.

Yesterday I was reviewing the posts I’d written in October 2014, and the one which caught my eye and which I considered reposting is this one… ha! Haha! While scanning the titles from October 2014 to re-find that post I just noticed one which is called – Connecting the dots… I’m so tempted to read it, but not now… here’s the post I was looking for – Those who give have all things; those who withhold have nothing.

I’m linking to it because I’m going to mention one of the comments. Which is also a dot.

Otherwise the whole post is included below after the dot (the reason I used so many periods in it was because at the time I was struggling against what seemed to be a formatting glitch within WordPress, and dots was my solution to the problem. Maybe the glitch was in my brain, perhaps a ghost was the cause, perhaps it was a ghost in the brain… I could remove them now, but since I keep mentioning dots, it seems appropriate to leave them in):



“Those who give have all things; those who withhold have nothing.” – Hindu proverb



Do you value generosity?

Do you consider yourself to be generous?

Do you see yourself as being a giver rather than a taker?


My mother has always seen herself as being generous. She has often used the term ‘generous to a fault’ to describe herself… but the fault is never hers that she generously gives to others.


She also has always seen herself as being a martyr and a saint… largely due to being generous to a fault. She gives and gives and gives too much… too much is never enough… others are never grateful enough or grateful at all.

Others not being grateful has been a fault of theirs which she generously complains about all the time.


I used to accept and believe this truth of hers, mostly because she repeated it like a mantra all the time. Generously filling my ears with her talk, her endless talk…


Did she ever walk instead of talking?


Her talking was her walk… and she traveled far with it.


Yet she could also walk and talk at the same time, she was extremely talented like that… although she often fell off of her shoes as they were usually not the sort of shoes designed for walking, they were mostly of the sort designed to be a talking point. She did love to talk about her shoes…


One day, while walking and talking, strolling along a small and fashionable street, the glittering displays in a shop window stopped her in her tracks. The treasures glinting under the halogen lights made her feet and her mouth go silent for a split millisecond.

Then the walking and talking resumed.

Into the shop she led me.

I felt my entire being groan. Here we go… a different kind of torture is about to take over from the previous torture.

Inside the lights made the place warm with their glow. It was an Indian Summer…

The landscape was glistening gold, dappled with fiery rubies, deep sapphires and verdant emeralds.

Not real ones…fantasy ones which are always more beautiful than the real ones.

My mother drooled with dignity over each cabinet filled to the brim with costume jewellery… of the very affordable kind, the kind which you buy generously in bulk.

She took a generous amount of time to choose what she wanted for herself, once five pairs of ornate, enameled earrings were chosen, she turned to me… her shadow waiting for the torture to be over.

“You should buy a pair…”

It was not an offer, it was an order. If I did not buy a pair, I would suffer yet another different kind of torture. I had learned from experience that when she wanted me to do something, especially when she phrased it as a generous offer, I had better give her what she wanted or I would pay for it with the sort of talk that went on even longer than her usual talk.

Lectures were another one of her great talents. But of course for her they were not lectures but very generous, rare pearls of wisdom being thrown at a swine hoping to educate and elucidate the swine and possibly transform it into something more acceptable.

So, I dutifully chose a pair, a pair of which she generously approved, and bought them.


Shortly afterwards she generously took me out to dinner. I was expected to wear the earrings which she generously ordered me to buy. So, I did to demonstrate my gratitude, knowing that my gratitude would not been seen as ever being enough, but we give all we can and then give more… in the hope, the hopeless hope, that a bottomless pit of greed and need will eventually be filled, satisfied… but it never will, for it does not will to such a will.

Throughout the evening these earrings took over the conversation and became the main point of talking.

By the end of the dinner I had been generously informed that the earrings were too beautiful, too elegant, too much for me, too large even for my big ears, too long for my short neck, too old for my too young age (although I was a teenager at the time, in her eyes I was permanently six years old). The worst crime of my wearing of the earrings was that too many other diners had been looking at them admiringly.


I wore the earrings on a couple of other occasions. The results were the same, yet worse as the previous results were added to the subsequent ones and soon a generous sum would be reached – a sum of all fears.


I eventually knew what had to be done. This had been done before. This would be done again.

I gave my mother the earrings. She refused, she couldn’t possibly accept such a gift… then she generously accepted the gift.

I was very grateful… yet not grateful enough, one could never be grateful enough towards someone who was generous to a fault.


I saw the earrings again, once very briefly… they were too large for her shell-like ears, to heavy for such delicate lobes, too short for her swan-like neck, and really rather gaudy and gauche for someone as elegant as her, which is why she had not bought them, would never have bought them, in the first place and only had them because I gave them to her. Refusing my gift would have been rude, and she was always generous to a fault where being well-mannered, polite, was concerned. But they were beautiful, that she generously gave them and she would generously keep them in her jewellery box buried under all the other treasures which she kept therein.



Okay, flashback over, we’re back in the present.

If you’ve never watched Kdrama… Kdrama uses a lot of flashback-ing. Sometimes what happened within the episode you’re watching will get ‘flashbacked’ in the very same episode. While this can feel a bit like the show’s producers think their viewers are stupid, suffering from memory problems, ADHD, or maybe they just think their Kdrama is so easily forgettable… sometimes it’s explained by the flashback showing the same scene from a slightly different perspective, maybe a detail is added which gives the scene more or a new context. Sometimes the flashbacks make it difficult to know what timeline you’re in… which is made even more confusing by the tendency of Kdramas to skip several days, weeks, months, even years ahead without informing you, the viewer, they’ve done that. However… the time confusion, and the flashbacks… could also be a dot.

The present is often a repetition of the past… but we may not realise that we’re repeating the past in the present because we’ve forgotten the past, or we’ve decided to steadfastly ignore it, telling ourselves in internal mantras that we’ve moved on, let go, can’t go back so don’t hold on, etc. In the West, in particular, we like to treat the past like it’s a bad thing best dismissed. Past, you’re fired! Past, you have no place in the present!

And yet… the past often is a big influence on our present, regardless of whether we acknowledge it or not. What happened to us in our past… sometimes is the driving force of our present and future self.

And no, I haven’t gone off track at all. This is a dot.

When I posted – Those who give have all things; those who withhold have nothing. – someone commented on it to say – “Odd how years later, you don’t view it as just a “fable”.”

I replied to their comment by saying: “It’s part of my personal collection of Aesop’s fables. Incidents which my mind has never forgotten, however inane they may seem, because they hold within them a snippet of wisdom, a life lesson, in a very simple form. When one of these memories pops up in my mind, it’s often because the pattern is repeating in some way and it reminds me of what I’ve learned thus far. Sometimes by reviewing the incident I find something which I previously missed, or spot a tangent which ties it pertinently to a life lesson in progress.

You can see their great reply by following the link to the post.

The incident which I related in that post wasn’t the first time my mother had behaved that way, and it wasn’t the last time either.

If I look at her, and this incident, and all the similar ones… from the perspective of Kdrama ghosts, and also recall that her behaviour with me wasn’t exclusive to me, she did this with my father too, and with countless other people. My mother had an Envy Ghost attached to her, and it never let go, it’s still whispering in her ears, still feeding off of her. Seeing her as having an Envy Ghost attached to her… kind of makes a lot of sense, even though  I do realise just how crazy that sounds.

But if you stop seeing ghosts as ghost-ghosts, and instead view them as issues which some life experience, perhaps one which kicked us repeatedly at (and thus kicked in from an) early age… then it begins to be less silly spooky and more normal… if we’re all still pretending to believe there’s such a thing called normal.

All those things we call insecurities… which we’re more than happy to point when other people have them and are being haunted by them, but are so not happy when others happily do to us what we’re happy to do to others… could be considered ghosts haunting us. Our insecurity is what attracted them to us and caused them to attach themselves to us. Trying to get rid of our insecurity… often causes living hungry ghosts to feed off of us, (such as making us pay strangers to share their ‘secrets’ of owning security with us – why would they ever give us that secret as long as we keep giving them money to get it? The Greed Ghost is fully attached to them).

Maybe what we need to do is make friends with our ghosts instead of being scared of them… but how do we do that?

In my experience… you take the least obvious route, which may entail a long detour through strange lands, languages, and ideas.

And no, I’m not cured from all my Oh, My Ghosts and Ghostesses…

I’m not sure that I want all of the things which haunt me to R.I.P… ask me later.

If I’d received the comment on my old post now…

I wouldn’t have replied to it all that differently – that story of the earrings is still a relevant dot which connects into a picture for me, a random something which takes what is blurry and puts it into a clearer focus. Only right now… well, I might see the ghosts in that ‘fable’. Not just the Envy Ghost attached to my mother, but the one which had attached itself to me long before that incident, the This is why you can’t have nice things ghost – this is quite an intriguing ghost, whose story is interesting to hear, there are many lessons to be learned from it.

That’s it for now…


    • Thank you for sharing 🙂

      I used to wonder who I would be and what my life would be like if I forgot my past completely, like the amnesia trope in K-drama. For awhile I kind of saw that as a great way to cure my problems, but then it occurred to me that I would be haunted by the emptiness, the not knowing, and would probably spend all my time trying to remember because I would have also forgotten that I’d wanted to forget it all.

      What haunts us makes us explore, pushes us outwards and/or inwards to find answers to our questions. Some of the most amazing experiences and treasures in life come from seeking to solve our haunting.

      Liked by 1 person

      • There are things I wish I could forget, but then I fear I’d make the same mistakes again if I don’t remember the lessons those bad memories taught me.

        My worst mistakes were in people I tried to befriend. I used to think most people were inherently good inside. I didn’t know about stuff like narcissism. Now I realize that true goodness paired with wisdom is a learned trait.

        Some people only act good, going through the motions of what they were taught was “good” without ever learning what that really means.

        Truly good people learn to overcome their inner demons. Our bad experiences can push us to do better as, like you said, we search for answers to the questions that haunt us.


        • I can relate to your experiences of seeing people as inherently good inside, and then getting stung because of it.

          I was actually having a chat with myself about that very thing just last night after binge-watching several episodes of the K-drama ‘My Love Eun Dong’ (aka This is My Love) – which I gave up watching halfway through because the villains were just too plentiful, too annoying, too petty, too illogical, too ludicrous (after scanning the recaps of the episodes I didn’t watch, I’m relieved that I stopped watching when I did). Both of the second leads claim to love their respective leads, but their actions are completely the opposite of what someone genuinely in love does towards a loved one whom they truly love. That particular K-drama is a good one to watch if what you want is a visual, fictional, dramatic representational lesson in variations on the theme of narcissistic love.

          If I was a psychology teacher, I’d use that K-drama in my teaching.

          Even with my experience of growing up with narcissists, seeing from an early age that people wear masks, are hypocrites, liars, delusional, manipulators, selfish, vengeful, and greedy, etc, and regularly getting hurt not just because of my parents but also because of the sort of people who tend to flock around narcissists, I’ve held onto the stubborn habit of focusing on the better side of human nature, of hoping for the best, of having faith in humanity, of giving people the chance to shine and show you who they really are.

          The Pollyanna is strong in me… not sure why or how because I’ve been through phases of being cynical, suspicious, skeptical and paranoid, giving everyone the side-eye especially when they’re telling me how good they are.

          One of the things to keep in mind, particularly when you’re going through another ‘why did I make that mistake again’ experience connected to taking a risk in a relationship, is that seeing the good in others isn’t really about them, it’s about you. The good you see in others, while it could exist in the other person, is something which definitely exists in you. It’s a positive projection/transference. The inherent goodness you see in other people is your inherent goodness reflected back at you.

          It’s not much of a consolation when you’re hurting after having trusted someone only to have them show you exactly why you shouldn’t have trusted them, but… sometimes we don’t see ourselves clearly, and because we don’t see ourselves clearly we don’t see others clearly either. Those experiences are supposed to help us see ourselves more clearly. Although they can also muddy the filters through which we perceive ourselves and others.

          Next time you see the inherent goodness in another person – that’s your goodness you’re looking at. That other person may genuinely have a similar type of inherent goodness… or they may not. The only way to find out is to take a risk on them.

          With friendship that saying – fall down 7 times, get up 8 – is helpful. Yes, the falling hurts, but so does the not taking the risk. Sometimes the only way to find real friends is by experiencing not real friends along the way.

          We really only need one or two genuinely good friends in life (and yes, it’s great to have more, humans always want more 😉 ), and one of those genuinely good friends needs to be ourselves to ourselves (that’s probably the hardest friendship and relationship we’ll ever have in life, it’s the most difficult kind of love too).

          It’s also worth noting how you react to other people looking at you with the ‘you’re inherently good’ look, as though you’re some sort of angel of goodness… it can be quite intimidating, onerous, and may cause symptoms of self-destruction where you show someone your ‘bad’ side because you’re afraid of disappointing their view of you as being inherently good, the one who must do no wrong ever. Humans can be very weird when they feel the pressure of being liked and… well we all have things we don’t like about ourselves which flare up when someone else likes us.

          Keep being you, doing your you thing… many people will come and go from your life, and you’ll come and go from the lives of others… but a few people will stick around through thick and thin, and you will do that too for others. 🙂

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