The Survivors Speak Interview series is dedicated to amplifying the voices of survivors by providing a platform to share our stories and connect us through experiences and healing. Read stories of Childhood Trauma as survivors share their pain, their hope, and their healing.
This Story Has Been Shared Anonymously – Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Please tell us what inspires you to share your story.
As I sit here and type this, I am not sure what brought me here. But I have never shared many parts of my life story, because on the outside everyone sees a different version of me that I created that would be the perfect daughter, sister, friend, girlfriend, or whatever title I have picked up on in the last 31 years.
Introduce yourself: tell us about your passions, interests, family life, favorite quotes, etc.
I was born and raised in Calgary. I was born into a family and home with a mom, a dad, older brother, and my grandparents. My parents worked full time jobs to provide for my brother and I and of course our grandparents. By now you might think, is this girl a child of immigrants? Nailed it. My dad is from mainland China, my mom is from Hong Kong. Long story short, my dad moved to Canada with his parents to start a better life, as immigrants do. Later my mom moved here and married my dad and that is where it began.
I am huge into drawing, sketching, painting, anything creative I have always been drawn to from a very young age. I enjoy yoga, reading, meditating, taking care of my plants, I had a frenchie named Gus that passed away last month, and now I am a rescue cat mom, and no I have never had a cat before…
“We were always in survival mode, long after we didn’t need to be” – Rupi Kaur
Please share your story in as much or as little detail as you are comfortable.
Branching off from what I already told in previous paragraph, I think we can all list a handful of things that an Asian family would endure in a white dominated city. With that being said, my parents worked hard to raise us, but both my brother and I always had food, and a shelter and people we knew that loved us or so we thought, no one ever said “I love you”. I didn’t even tell me parents “I love you” until I was in my 20’s. We grew up learning to suppress all of our emotions, if we got hurt and cried, we were told to stop crying and that we were wimps. If you gained or lost some weight, it’s the first thing everyone at a family dinner points out, in which later on they push food on you, after just telling you that you got fat. Growing up as a child I was called ” Fat Little Girl ” is the literally translation, I went all of my life after that always watching what I ate, and who was there to see how much I ate, how eat bite I would physically feel like its making me bigger.
I have an older brother, he is 8 years older than me. Growing up we had nothing in common, it was like growing up in a single child home. When I was five years old we moved into bigger house, in a different part of town, I remember moving in and we lived in a “block”. Our house number was #17, the blue and white house, I am not joking you when I tell you there was not a SINGLE family on that block or even neighborhood had any other family of color. My parents used to go for walks just to see if they can spot another Asian family moving in. This was when my obsession started, I felt different, because I was. But it started a whole new obsession, now it was something I couldn’t change like my weight, this is now my skin color were talking about.
Obviously at that age I didn’t know what any of that meant nor was it taught in school. I remember in grade 3, we were told to go home and bring a baby picture of ourselves into class, when we did the teacher basically put all the pictures onto a wall and said “guess who, is who?” I remember thinking, well this is stupid, I am the only Asian kid in the class, in the room full of blonde haired, blue eyed kids.
As my brother got older he was involved in drugs, and gambling and put my family in a lot of debt, I watched my parents keep giving my brother everything and receiving nothing, not even an apology or “it wont happen again” it was always just my parents fixing him and his mistakes. Guess what happened when I grew up and started dating? The drama and trauma lasted years with my brother, he was in and out of rehab, hanging out with the wrong crowds, coming home covered in blood, find him doing cocaine in my bathroom, all these things were never once explained to me. No one told me what was going on, there was nothing, we just moved on till the next shit show. When I saw all this happen, all I wanted to do was make it better, I saw my parents crying and screaming at my brother over different things he was doing wrong, all I wanted to do was the opposite, I wanted to be perfect.
Though there are many more things that have happened in my life, and I only barely touched the surface…
What are some of the challenging ways your trauma has manifested in your life?
As you can imagine, a lot. As I typed that I laughed under my breath thinking “where do I even start?” but that in itself explains a lot, that I have learned to mask a lot of it with humor and sarcasm. I have become a chronic people pleaser with anxiety and depression and recently diagnosed with ADHD. Lots of things that we’re ignored are now all bubbling up, in ways I didn’t even know. My trauma responses we’re also what I considered my personality traits.
When did healing begin? Was there a catalyst moment and how did you reach this point?
I had moved to Vancouver in 2010, I was on my own for the first time. In the 8 years I was there, all of the old feelings came back, but in present day, showing itself in unhealthy romantic relationships. I still then had no idea, I thought everyone walked around feeling the way I did. It was when I moved back to Calgary and started going to therapy consistently, going to EMDR, doing self care things that was not me having a bath with $15 bath bombs, it was was much deeper than that.
What has your healing journey looked like day-to-day: techniques, modalities, practices, tools you use?
I would say everyday is different, I have a tendency of thinking at some point when I reach a certain point then everything will be alright and all will be perfect. For example: when I buy my own place, and dog everything will fall into place. WRONG-O.
Day to day I practice breathing, yes, the thing we do all day every day to live. I didn’t realize how short and quick my breathes always were, its what happens when you literally have never learned differently. EMDR has been something that has really helped my healing journey.
What are two or three things you have learned as you heal that you believe are important for survivors to know as they heal?
1. Your feelings are valid, and should not be ignored.
2. You are allowed to love people from a distance if that means it betters your own mental health and healing process.
3. It’s time to start looking after you. it’s not selfish.
Additional Thoughts From Sharer
There is much more to my story, I just don’t even know where to start, its like my brain wants to vomit it all out so I apologize if some of it doesn’t make sense. I wanted to get it all typed up before I changed my mind!
Share Your Story
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Looking for Ways to Connect With Other Survivors and/or Receive Support as You Heal?
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