“You wouldn’t know how we feel. You come from White Privilege.”
“Your life is just so perfect. You’ve never had to deal with hardship.”
“Everything is just so easy for you. Pretty girl privilege.”
Last week, these were statements made to me when I tried to discuss ways to move forward (solutions). My opinion, these are words of abused people. It seems that people want to talk about racism but (to me) the real issue is moving forward from abuse.
Physical abuse – keeping people in chains – physical or emotional.
Verbal abuse – telling people they are not worthy of something.
Mental abuse – distorting reality and what someone thinks is acceptable.
Emotional abuse – isolating people from their support network and destroying anything that might bring comfort.
To a stranger, it might seem that I have a ‘perfect life’ but that’s only because I have thrived despite my abuse, I’m not a victim because of it.
From a racism perspective
I am second generation American. My grandparents migrated to the USA. My father’s side of the family is Italian. My mother’s side of the family is Chinese. I grew up in the USA thinking that Italians were absolutely lawless, consequences for unsavory behavior didn’t exist, the get-out-of-jail-free words were, “I have Italian blood.” I grew up hearing ‘friends’ sing, “Chinese, Japanese, dirty knees, look at these” or “You are Chinese? but you are not very obedient?” I learned to be quiet about my heritage because I wasn’t the smartest kid (Chinese were held to higher academic standards) and being Italian obviously meant I had family that worked for, you know, THE FAMILY.
My upbringing was amazing but it was also filled with contradictions and double standards. I’m the eldest but I’m also a girl. I’m supposed to be seen, not heard whilst also understanding ‘silence is acceptance.’ When I wanted something, I had to write a 2-page essay on the difference between WANT vs NEED whereas others were protected with “Am I wearing stripes? I am NOT the referee” and never held accountable. “Do as I say, not as I do” was my favorite one-liner but then again integrity is everything right? “Obey your elders” but always think for yourself and question authority. One could oversimplify by saying I was brought up Chinese and my brother was brought up Italian.
Living in Asia for over a decade had some quirks as well. If you have a pretty smile, are a little bit friendly and admit to being American, the biggest question asked is either about (your assumed) sorority life, “Is it true that you all sit in sexy pj’s and have pillow fights?” or my favourite, “What are you willing to do to get this job?” Maybe the latter is more because I’m a pretty girl than because I’m American. When I tell fellow Asians that I’m Chinese, I am generally greeted with, “Really? Are you sure? You are not like us” or the echoes from my childhood, “Really? But you are NOT obedient.”
So many labels, one cannot possibly keep up with the (in)sanity. I have enough examples that could fill a book, but I think you get the point, I know something about racism but it means absolutely nothing. We are ALL HUMAN. I am considered the token Asian in the USA and the sleazy American in Asia. Labels make me laugh every.single.time.
From an abuse perspective
This has been a taboo topic to discuss. Only recently, have I found the strength (or perhaps indifference to consequences from my abusers) to talk about my experiences. I’m not a victim and will never claim such. The abuse was not my fault nor did I do anything to deserve it. I have gone to great lengths to protect my spirit and maintain a strong sense of self. I could very easily retaliate but that’s just a misuse of time, my choice is growth, forgiveness, and Love. I chose Love every.single.time. I’ve been hit in the middle of the night and left with bruises up and down my legs. I’ve been pushed from a bed into a window sill. I’ve been held up against a wall, with my feet dangling. I’ve even had a loaded gun put in my face and then after a few minutes of terror, the abuser wrapped his lips around the barrel asking if I wanted him to pull the trigger. I’ve had an apology letter admitting to 14 months of malicious playing with my heart (thank you for validating I’m not crazy). I’ve had 12-step type acknowledgments asking for my forgiveness for wrongs that I couldn’t even remember were done to me. I’ve been told that the world would be better off without me. I’ve been credited for being the catalyst for drama (abusers hate being held accountable). I’ve been asked who I slept with each time that I earned a promotion. Heck, most times when I open up about abuse, ‘friends’ either jump on because I’ve been preconditioned to accept terrible behavior or I’m told that I deserved it because of my unwillingness to keep my mouth shut, “why can’t you just accept people?” I’ve been asked if I taste as sweet as I sound (in the workplace). I’ve been asked to lay on my back because I accepted a dinner invitation. I have traveled around the world where some guys think travel buddy = sex toy. I get asked to send nudes. People send me dick pics. (Boys, if you MUST send, at least hit the gym first). I’ve also been told to kill myself.
I’m far from perfect. I have my share of bad habits. I have a wicked temper when provoked. I lied about a pregnancy to hurt someone. I had an abortion to free myself from another. I threatened to burn down a restaurant if a narcissist and his flying monkeys didn’t leave me alone. I lost track of the number of people I’ve verbally assaulted. I slept with a guy and later found out he was married. I believed the lie. I get sidetracked by grand gestures. I allowed the wrong people into my life. I still struggle to set boundaries with people I love. I believe angry people just need love. I realized trends in my poor decision-making and have seen 3 professional therapists within a decade. I have also dedicated my life to maintain my awareness and break every single toxic cycle.
Of all the abuse, caused or otherwise, there was only ONE time that my spirit was broken. December 2014, my body was in full on shutdown mode. I exceeded my limit of abusers in my life. That was my bottom. I couldn’t keep food down for 13 days. I had a 6-inch thigh gap and my body weight was a life-threatening 97 pounds. I had sores on my tongue and my hair was falling out. I blamed no one but myself. I worked through my hurt, anger, and dysfunction.
I have gratitude in my heart for the lessons the abusers taught me. Experiencing abuse from various perspectives has opened my eyes and made me an extremely compassionate, empathetic, and resilient person.
I CHOSE to keep a soft heart in a cruel world.
I CHOSE to not allow abuse to define me.
I CHOSE to pick myself up.
I CHOSE to survive.
Abuse is only a small part of what has made me who I am today. No one is immune to abuse. If you have been on the receiving end, isn’t that more of a reason to be kind to others? Be that person you needed when you were at your lowest.
The point of this ramble
Aside from feeling really freaking good to get this off my chest, is to hopefully redirect the conversation. We shouldn’t be talking about racism, sexism, elitism, or whatever ism people want to blame. This isn’t a problem because of the government nor is it their responsibility to fix it. We need to take ownership of our own HEALING. Acknowledge your part in the abuse and begin your healing journey. Maybe if more people reframe the conversation to be about abuse or better yet, MENTAL WELLNESS, then people will understand what steps are necessary for healing.
Everyone is different but my healing journey has included countless personal development books, brutal honesty (and acceptance) of my quirks, joining addiction support groups (learn about trauma bonding), seeking 1-on-1 professional advice, journaling (this one is HUGE help to navigate the overwhelming amount of emotions), hanging out in nature, doing sports (athletes always have solution based, goal orientated and positive mindsets), eating healthy (food is fuel) or reach out to suicide hotlines when sometimes, all you need is a complete stranger to validate your feelings and say we are in this together.
I am healing. I have rough edges. I have a fierce love. I use my voice. I am a daughter, friend, Ironman, small business owner, world traveler, lover and fighter. I am perfect.
Even if this only inspires ONE person to shift from victim to survivor, then sharing my story was well worth it. You are brave! You can do this! We are in this together! Love and positive vibes on your healing journey. <3
#Building #Healing #Surviver #Thriver #Toxic #Abuse #Racism #Sexism #Narcissism #NPD #WhyIWrite #MentalWellness #DomesticViolence #JourneyToPeace