Unrequited love. Planting roots. Building bookcases.

“Jess, this is for when you move back to the USA and get your own place.”

I’m entering a new chapter and this is the thought that keeps creeping into my mind. During the moments of quiet, the voice of my mommabear comes in. And just like that, I’m offered an opportunity to stuff the emotions into my ‘safe place’ or fully embrace everything that is. Granted, my preferred coping method is a distraction. It’s easy to deal when you don’t actually deal. So here is me dealing…

I spent 11 years in Asia. Each time that I moved into a new place, it was like a fresh start. Each place was celebrated with something new. I still remember buying my first red shag carpet. It was such an excessive buy. I had just started my corporate job in Singapore. My home has always been my sanctuary. And this red shag carpet made my space feel like home. I remember feeling conflicted on whether or not to treat myself to the carpet because I was also building a nest egg for mom. I made a promise to help her financially and each dollar that I spent on me was a dollar I was unable to spend on her. In hindsight, I’m glad that I bought the carpet. It’s funny how something can seem so insignificant but it’s actually pretty important.

My life in Asia was never meant to be long term. It was filled with ikea furniture and trinkets from my travels. I was able to gift things just as easily as I bought them. My home always had an open door for friends passing through town. I worked so much that any visitors essentially had my space to themselves anyway. I have zero regrets for allowing people into my space. Most of my visitors were American and offered a dose of home that always seemed to arrive when I needed it most. Life was simple.

Being back in Chicago has had its fair share of learning curves. Since my career (and credit) is in Asia, it’s been interesting to navigate the housing situation in the USA. Most places prefer W2 tenants as opposed to 1099 tenants. Applying for my first place, I realised that I had 9 credit cards opened and closed in my name. It’s strange because how could I have credit cards in the USA when I was living in Asia? I remember having a Victoria Secret card but outside of that, I don’t recognize the other cards. There isn’t debt or balances on the cards but still something that caught me off guard. In addition to that, finding someone to co-sign became a thing. The last time I required a co-signer was for college loans. My father was my co-signer. Being a survivor of domestic violence, it’s safe to assume that I cannot ask family for help. And then there is the emotional component to everything. Reminders that I’m on my own. I need to trust the process and continue to be my own hero. With the voice of my mommabear “Jess, this is for when you move back to the USA and get your own place.” Spending over a decade building a nest egg to take care of my mommabear and embracing the fact that I can sponsor lavish trips around the world for my loved ones and offer a substantial amount of funds to buy a townhouse but I’m not in a ‘healthy’ credit space to rent an apartment in Chicago?! I forgot to look after myself. I’m in this situation because of my blinders. My tunnel vision to look after family and trust that everything will just fall into place when it came to me.

I’m beyond humbled. I am learning to receive. The only way to give is to also know how to receive. My walls are up. I don’t enjoy asking for help. I don’t enjoy sharing these soft points. I also don’t enjoy the weight that comes with these soft points. The truths. The biggest truth is that I’m about to create a space to call home. Rather than have bonding moments with my mom of setting up my kitchen, buying that ‘must have’ bathroom rug, hang picture frames of my friends and travel adventures, candles so each room I walk into reminds me of something magical… Rather than debate on colour schemes and whether or not a throw pillow is self-care or non-essential. Finding the most perfect cutting board, wok and soup pot… and then, of course, my centrepiece: a bookcase. Finding (and building) pieces to make my space a home. I have done this so many times on my own (in Hong Kong, China and Singapore) and coming back to the USA, it’s supposed to be a time to do this with my mommabear. It’s one of the moments that I’ve been holding onto. And the difficult truth, despite all the noise to work through, my heart is hurting because when I’m supposed to be excited about starting a new chapter, my heart hurts knowing that the ONE person I want to share this moment with is unavailable. Last year, she told me not to tell her anything unless I was OK with the information being shared with my father and my brother. I accept her limitations. She prioritises the concept of family, even an abusive one before the safety of her daughter. Knowing that her husband (my father) has tried to kill me on a few occasions, personal information is still shared.

Today, I honour that my heart hurts. It’s not unbearable pain. It’s just a pain that wishes things were different. It’s a pain that longs for an opportunity to host a staycation for my mommabear and Jax. It’s a difficult truth that something we had been talking about for the better part of a decade will never happen. I honour that I’ve created homes on my own before. It’s not a matter of if I can do it. It’s the fact that I put in the time, the sacrifice, the hours away from my loved ones and this is supposed to be our time together. Even though my world is not filled with biological family, I am grateful that it’s filled with redefined family.

The journey continues… one day at a time…

#Grief #DomesticViolence #Family #Resilience #OneDayAtATime #Recovery

 

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