With the coming of a new decade, I really wanted to reflect back on all the things that have made me into the person I am. I am realizing now more than ever that all of these moments are interconnected, entangled, and are accumulated into what makes me as strong, patient, compassionate, loving, and as empathetic as I am today. And although the journey here was far from easy and filled with many hard times and heart aches that I thought I would never get through, I did.
Accepting that some things were and are out of my control, I realize what is in my control is my choice to be thankful for all of the feelings, events, memories, and people I have been able to experience in my journey here, both "good" and "bad", both "happy" and "sad", both then and now. This mindset has given me freedom and gratitude that grows deeper and stronger within me each day. Although I still have and feel my fair share of heartache, sadness, anxiety, confusion, anger, and frustration, I am able to step back and look at the bigger picture better and more clearly than I ever have before. Instead of sweating and stressing over the small stuff and getting lost in the storm for long periods of time, I am able to cut through faster, and more easily to see what I am learning and growing by going through it. I am better able to ride the waves and cycles of healing (which are cyclical). So even when it really sucks (which it really does at times) and I have no idea what is going on (truly) or what I am feeling (or where it's even coming from at times), I know and have faith that it is worth it, someway and somehow. I also know that each time I go through something (even when I thought it was done or I was over it) is because I am getting an ever changing but expanding knowledge on these life lessons. And this is something that I was never able to do before because I felt and feel my emotions so intensely that it clouds my logic, intuition and view. So, I am so proud of my little small self that is still standing tall, both sensitive and strong at the same time, through it all, both then and now, and the love, compassion and understanding I have gathered and grown on my whole experience thus far.
With that, I have decided to reflect back on the decade to really remember and recognize my journey over this past decade. I do not however have the best memory so certain things stand out more so than others (specifically the really happy times, and the really sad times), and other times I have no clue where I was, but it definitely wasn't here so there are some huge gaps and blurs in my memory and journey. I think that during these times, I got so lost, so hurt, so confused, and so tired, it was easier to numb myself and go through the motions mindlessly rather than with awareness. Ultimately, I was not ready to face and feel the full extent of what my emotions were telling me, so I shut them down and silenced them. For all the times I have been consciously aware, I have also been subconsciously and consciously asleep, I was not ready to see. Due to that, these series of posts and reflections will be extremely contrasting to one another, after all we are the balance of light and dark within our soul and it is in struggling, accepting and loving these dual parts of ourselves that makes us authentic, whole and who we are, so here I go!
Although I had amazing friends and made so many fun memories (track, and band camp for example, I played clarinet from 4th-12th grade), it was middle school and it was in these years, like most, that I really started to look at myself, and others and most specifically myself in relation to others. Instead of seeing similarities that connected us, I saw differences that separated us and instead of embracing them, I disliked them, especially within myself. Before this, it never really bugged me that I was pretty much one of like four Asians in my hometown of Kenosha, Wisconsin. To be honest, I didn't really notice. After all, when you are a kid you do not know the biases or the divisions among people, you just love who you love, and you just play with all (the only criteria really being that they were nice/fun to be around). But along the way, you learn and look at things differently.
I remember in Elementary school, I was confident (almost too confident to the point of cockiness, I knew, accepted and loved that the boys, girls, and teachers all loved me). Things came easily to me. I got what I wanted. I paved the way (I even started the tradition at my Elementary school where a 5th grader does the morning announcements, and teachers sent me to the teachers' lounge all the time for different things because I was reliable and hard working) and I loved being there at the top and being regarded as such. Although I was never consciously cruel or mean, I tried to be nice and attentive to everyone, I was a little conceited, and that caused me to unconsciously hurt people at times. I often utilized other's opinion of me to my best advantage. For example, I packed lunch everyday and never had to carry the lunch basket even though I was one of the only few kids with a packed lunch because I just had one of the boys do it lol. So, by the time I reached 5th grade I did know one thing for sure: I loved being the center of attention, and I knew how to command it. I would often put myself in it eagerly (must be my libra rising haha). At lunch, being one of the only Asians at my school I was often asked what I was eating since my Mom packed my lunch for me everyday (she used to make super cute bento boxes for me, for example with nori and rice she made Jack the skeleton's face). Truthfully, I was almost always waiting for someone to ask or look. And when someone did ask (like I knew they would), I was always eager to share with not only them, but everyone around them as well. When people loved what they were eating, it made me super happy to have them expand their horizons and try something they were initially hesitant about. And, even if they disliked it (which was not very often), I was still happy they were open enough to try it and learn. I could also handle the rejection easily and humorously realizing the space and separation between the two (myself and my food). I knew it had nothing to say about me, and everything about that person's own likes and dislikes which were different than mine, which was okay. And just because they disliked something I had, it did not mean they disliked me! If anything, being accepting of these differences only made people like me more.
However, in Middle school that all changed. I'm not sure when it happened or what made it change maybe a accumulation of things, but I was self conscious and insecure. I didn't want the extra attention my food got me anymore because I felt like I already stood out, and not in a good way. I begged my mom not to give me food that would draw people's focus on me, even though I loved my food (shout out to my Taurus taste lol). I didn't want to be seen as different especially when I felt I already was. I was pretty much the only brunette with dark skin and dark hair on my body among the girls of my friend group who all mostly had blonde hair,fair skin and peach fuzz. Although I did have a few friends who had dark hair like me, they weren't Asian (they were Mexican or white) and I wanted nothing more than to be the same as the other girls around me. I cannot tell you the amount of times I wished I had light hair and light skin and I could not and did not celebrate my darkness (which ironically is a lesson I learned physically then, but now have been learning emotionally and spiritually in depth this past year).
I remember being so insecure that if someone laughed, I automatically assumed they were laughing at me. Looking back now it makes sense I thought the way I did. I now know that at this age the world really does revolve around you and how you see the world is how you think others see it too, so it was easy to take things personally even when they were not directed at me. Being so hyper focused on myself, I automatically assumed that others had that same critical lens on myself and saw me the way I did, and I didn't like what I saw. And that critical lens I wore looking at myself really filtered my whole world perception.
I remember not only struggling with the relationship with myself, but also struggling with my relationship with my mother during this time as well. Coming from an Asian lineage the way they show care is by showing you how to be better and she was extra attentive to me and the things I did, so what was love and care from her point of view, was just criticism in my perspective. Comments that I could not handle when I already criticized and commented on myself in my own mind all the time. Furthermore, Asians are not traditionally the most affectionate, physically or emotionally. I now know that physical affection is one of my main love languages, so this was something I really struggled with because even though I knew she loved me so much, I never really got it in the way I wanted or needed most then. There was always a disconnect between knowing she loved me, but also feeling like she didn't because of our two very different and contrasting ways of expressing love. I wanted to receive love from her in a way that did not come naturally to her and when love didn't come in the ways I expected, I couldn't see the ways she did express it. I did not see that the way she treated me was her showing her love in the only way she knew how, and I could not accept this as love because it wasn't the way that I showed love. I remember wanting to be and feel closer to her, but not knowing how because it felt like when I tried, I only got further away. I remember wanting hugs all the time (I am very much like my father in this way; he calls me his hug bug) and she would brush me off and say she was busy or doing something. The ways that I expressed love were not ways that she welcomed love either or felt comfortable with, so when I showed love, it felt as if it was rejected. I felt as if I was rejected. That separation I had before, blurred and merged into one. Now, if someone did not like an action of mine, it meant they didn't like me. This led to resentment and frustration because we knew what we both felt (love) but did not know how to communicate this to each other. We gave it to each other in the way we wanted to receive it. And we didn't receive it, because that was not how we gave it. Now looking back, I am certain she felt the same way towards me because often times the things that we struggle with are reflected and amplified in each other, especially the ones we love most. And when you want each other's love the most but have expectations and are not accepting of people, who they are and the different ways of being and acting, it is hard, and it is painful. When you want love but feel like you can not get it in the way you want it, you can become so consumed in your hurt you overlook theirs. You are so lost in your efforts, you do not see theirs. Often times, we are one of the biggest blocks in receiving and communicating our love to one another, but I didn't see it then. Not even close. Not for a long time. I could not wait to move out. And I told her all the time.
This tension (both internally and externally) was amplified further because my dad was not living with us at the time. My dad is in the Navy (and has been now for over 20 years) and was stationed elsewhere as was what you call a geographical bachelor. At one point, it got so bad between my mom and I that my mom wanted only me (out of my 3 siblings) to live with my dad where he was stationed. This hurt me a lot. The one person I wanted most, didn't want me. What I didn't realize then was that it is often easier to push away or run away from the things that hurt you but can make you grow when you actually sit down and face them. We both couldn't face each other.
My parents were married and still are, but geographically they were separate because my parents decided to keep us in Wisconsin for school. They didn't want to uproot us again (I had gone to 3 different elementary schools) and my older sister had really struggled transitioning middle schools. So my mother and I were forced to face each other and communicate even when we were hurt, because we had to to get things done, but we struggled bad through it all and for many years. Even for my dad, who I felt like I naturally communicated very well with, I could not communicate with because it felt as if so much time and space had elapsed between when we saw each other, I did not even know where to start, so I didn't.
Looking back, I think when you are little you do not realize the traumas and humanness of your parents. You think they are perfect and they do not show you their struggles or weakness. They don't talk about it. So you don't either. This can can be hard to understand (especially as an unaware empath) because you feel them anyways. But they were only trying to protect you from the worst parts of themselves because they felt like you deserved better. But like all things the inner affects the outer, and the outer affects the inner, no matter how much you try to contain it. And sometimes in trying to save us, they don't save themselves, and in turn they don't save anyone. But they didn't see that then either, they were only doing what they thought would save you, it didn't matter they weren't saving themselves until they had to, to save you too.
As I get older I realize my mom tried the best she could, and she really really tried. She gave it everything she had, all the time, each day. Even when she probably didn't want to, even when she felt like she probably couldn't. And I am so proud of her. And I am so thankful for her. I also realize now more than ever that I am my mother's daughter. I used to think I was so like my dad, but I'm beginning to think I'm a lot more like my mother. I catch myself in the midst of a lot of things that are so much like her. Like a ripple in a pond, she's touched me in more ways that she or I can possibly know. We are small parts of the same. Two droplets from the same rain, different in shape but alike in what they are made of. And I know it goes both ways. We wouldn't be who we are without each other, and for that I love me, and I love her.
Our relationship now is better and closer than ever, she is my favorite hiking, picture opportunist, and exploration buddy, and I could not imagine life without her. We've both grown a lot over the years. We understand ourselves, each other and others in a way we did not before and she is one of the most strongest, loving, and patient people I know and I am so blessed to call her my mother. I am so proud to be her daughter and I know that we chose each other for a reason, to grow, to learn, and to love through the pain, the laughter, the anger, the joy, and all. She has showed me what it means to love someone for who they are and to be open to the many different ways of showing love.
And although this time period was one of the hardest things I've been through, it made me who I am today. I love because I know what it feels like to not feel loved. I am compassionate because I know what it is like to not be and I certainly wasn't towards my mother at all who was basically raising us all alone with my dad being on deployment often too (we ended up living separately from my dad for 6 years and by the time we lived together, I was heading away to college). I am humble because I was cocky and life showed me what it was like to be humbled. I am patient because I know what it is like to be impatient. I am open because I know what is is like to be closed off. I am confident because I know what it is like to hate yourself. I choose not to judge because I have judged. I appreciate family and the time I have with them because I have felt what it is like to not have them around (physically or emotionally). I accept and love my differences (no matter how different it may be from others or even past versions of myself) because I have felt what it feels like to try to hide or run from them. I am proud of myself because I have felt what it feels like to be ashamed of myself. And I choose to love myself, I choose to love, I choose to be compassionate, I choose to be patient, I choose to be open, I choose to be humble, I choose to love all differences, I choose to be proud of myself, even when it is hard, even when I don't want to or feel like I can't. Human beings after are all constantly changing, and personally for me, I have always gone from one extreme to the next until I finally find a sense of balance between all the chaos that allows me to change and understand both sides all the better. And in going through all these extreme changes it gave me the choice to choose differently.
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"She dances with the spirit of the sun, loves with the strength of wild water, moves with the moods of the moon, and creates with the wills of the wind.
She is magic. She is woman. "
She is magic. She is woman. "