“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.
Life is a process of becoming, a combination of states we have to go through. Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it. This is a kind of death.
Life is truly known only to those who suffer, lose, endure adversity and stumble from defeat to defeat."
For the first time in my life, I'm really starting to unpack what it means to be biracial in this world. I have so many experiences from my past that I've shoved deep down so that I could try to live as if these things didn't affect me. But as I begin to acknowledge them, the painful memories start flooding back. It feels like cutting myself open and pulling out a foreign object that has settled into my body after years of being there.
Having access to spaces where I can be vulnerable about my experiences with other people who can empathize with me has allowed me to feel seen and heard in that way for the first time. But, this feeling comes at a price. It's painful to relive my experiences, and just as painful to hear about others' bad experiences. I can feel their pain because I have experienced it in my own way. Even if it's a different experience, the feelings of isolation, anger, shame and fear are the same. Knowing that the people around you can relate to what you're feeling really makes a huge difference. I never really even understood the importance of this until now. The rise in Asian hate crimes in the last two years have cut me deeply, and it's comforting yet heartbreaking to know that I'm not alone in feeling this way.
In a group therapy session I attended recently, the therapist facilitating the group said that one of the ways to heal is to use our voice. That really hit home for me because my automatic response when faced with racism (or any conflict in general) is to freeze and shut down. I carry so much shame and guilt for not standing up for myself in those situations, but my body has a mind of its own. It's extremely hard to override my body's natural response in the heat of the moment, but I imagine speaking up at the time of the interaction would leave me with less emotional baggage to carry around after.
Since I was a child, I learned to laugh at myself so that it wouldn't hurt as much when others laughed at me. I also learned to shrink myself down in hopes that people wouldn't notice me, and therefore not bully me or tease me. I bottled up all the emotions I felt in these situations, and tried to convince myself that I was ok. These survival tactics got me through those times, but now it's time for me to unlearn them. I didn't realize at the time, but these defense mechanisms caused me a lot of emotional harm. Yes, it did serve a purpose during a time in my life, but these behaviors do not serve me any longer. To do these things now would cause me more pain than the act itself.
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