I have been thinking about how to explain my why’s.
What I mean by my “why’s”, is my purpose, my reasoning, my motivation for being a therapist, for having followed the paths that led me to my now.
I feel like I have a lot of why’s and they are always ever evolving.
Believe me, there have been many paths followed, back tracked, covered over, only to be uncovered, yet not followed again. I have found myself on paths never anticipated, nor wanted, but nonetheless, I have completed them and started new ones; on my own, not alone, without and with children.
The beauty of human living is just that; our paths and the direction of our lives can change at any given moment. I know some people often feel stuck, like they do not have any options or choices to change. I absolutely and wholeheartedly believe that feeling, I too have been there at different crossroads in my life, however, ultimately there are choices we are able to make. It is often fear, shame and vulnerability (oh hey Brene Brown) that are the makers for us feeling as though we do not have any ability to unstick our lives.
Most of my life I have lived with a sense of displacement, bound by my skin tone, shape of my eyes and my outer appearance, but having lived inside the walls of white privilege. It is a strange dichotomy. When in the presence of my (adoptive) family, I inherit a sense of privilege, of knowing and being known, of acceptance (whether temporary or wholeheartedly), but without them, I have none of that.
Actually, even with them, it’s not an entire buy-in. I often recall being mistaken for the family friend, awkwardly a brother’s girlfriend or the furrowed brows wondering, “who’s the Asian?”.
Without their presence I am defined by the assumptions made by other people, that English is my second language, I am an immigrant taking up space of other non-immigrants, I am the nanny for my niece and nephew, I cannot drive, I am good at math because I am Asian…all of which I have internalized into a sense of humour to cope with this constant dual living or dual displacement and underlying racist assumptions or biases.
In my travel back to South Korea, the first time I returned since I had left as an infant, I was in awe. It was such a beautiful place to be and my heart and soul felt full, yet I quickly realized how displaced I was. I was spat at because I was with my then partner, who was white, male with a shaven hairstyle. I remember standing in the subway station, wearing my wedding bands and an elderly woman approached me, screamed in my face, spat at me and walked away. I played it off, thanking myself for not understanding my own native tongue, for if I had, I probably would have been angry and/or cried. We just stood there in disbelief and got on the subway train once it arrived.
After that trip, I think I realized how much I had been rejected by my own culture, by my own soil that had bore me. Much of the rejection seemingly was rooted in outdated cultural standards, tossed around with some classism, sexism and shame.
If we go back to my birth, and the birth of many babies who are abandoned, there is no room made to accommodate them. From the very beginning, and I am not speaking on an individual parent level, (I mean from a broader systems and cultural perspective), there is rejection, limitation and abandonment, without even a welcoming return or acceptance. I do not have a birth certificate. Nothing to say, this is where you are from, belong or represent.
From my beginning, this path of belonging has been an evolving journey and one that I hope never ends, as it has been an all encompassing transformational adventure.
Most human beings seek to belong and it is the rejection that can crush our spirits, confidence and sense of worth, especially when we feel doors are closed and paths are covered.
It is the process of engagement, in doing the work to reclaim your space in this world, to build on it and to re-define who you are, under your own terms, on your own timeline and to include whomever you see fit to accompany you on that journey, is how you ultimately reclaim your power. This is when the displacement is shattered, as it no longer weighs on how you view yourself. Others may still view you differently, but that’s the others issues illuminating their own judgements and biases, not yours.
This piece of me, this why, out of the long-list, has marched along with me, through the trenches and over the mountains, slowly informing and redefining who I am as a human being.
It has been a matter of self-acceptance, investing in myself and doing the hard work to finally come into my own, so much so that regardless of my citizenship and what I am on the exterior, me as my own human being does not have to grapple with an ongoing sense of displacement or of wondering where I belong.
Sure, we are all susceptible to triggers and moments of vulnerability, reminding us that this engagement and self-development never ends, but we are not defined by them.
One of the many Why’s.
Until next time,