Raw

The Conversations That Make Me Cry Every Tuesday

I’ve just attended another session of ‘Reclaiming My Time’, a 6-week facilitated dialogue with the goal of building community to dismantle oppressive systems.

I feel unsettled, vulnerable, rattled… like my foundation has shifted slightly. I feel inaccessible to people close to me, and I think I know why. Some of the people closest to me are white, or look white. They do not look like me, they do not walk in the world like I do, and therefore, don’t understand my experience. And that is very alienating. It feels lonely. I feel lonely.

It makes me question where my alignment lies. My experience has been white-washed. And I’m starting to discover the healing power of being around people whose experiences are similar to mine. It is healing for me to see faces like mine, and to talk about concepts like being the perpetual foreigner; being an immigrant; being constantly viewed as the “other”; internalized racism; internalized oppression; what colonialism has done to us, and how it has shaped our narrative and what we tell future generations.

But the question remains: why do I align with whiteness? It’s a question I ask now, and will keep asking. If you are reading this, and are white, and feel uncomfortable, please don’t take it personally. Please take the time to educate yourself and understand it’s not about you.

The deeper I get into this, the more alienated I feel, like there are less and less people who get it.

I feel this sense of urgency because I want children. But I feel like I’m not learning enough, like I’m not learning fast enough, like I’m not prepared enough to teach them the beauty and complication of what they are inheriting. I want my children to feel whole. I don’t ever want them to feel like they’re missing something.

I feel the hole left behind in me where my roots used to lie. I feel it in the clumsy way I speak my native language. I feel it in the contradiction of being with a white man (historically, “the oppressor”) and loving him. I feel it in the way that I often feel like an imposter; someone who doesn’t deserve to be here, and who shouldn’t be here.

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This Is What I Want To Tell You, My Children

You are Filipino.

Your mother is Filipino, but at times, has not felt Filipino. Your mother has been dragged from country to country, each time, leaving little pieces of herself, and trying to glue randomly-found pieces to herself, in an attempt to fill the holes. Your mother is a puzzle put together by pieces that don’t quite fit.

I want you to feel the full weight of your combined identities, and to not take them for granted. I want you to feel all dimensions of yourself and feel the healing pride that comes with that. I want you to feel the weight of your ethnicity, your culture, your appearance — and how people treat you as a result of your appearance. I want you to know that there is a difference between gender identity and sexual preference. I want you to recognize that in this instance, you are able-bodied and mobile.

I want you to be self-aware and to constantly think about how you think. I want you to know the patterns of your mental and behavioral habits. I want you to be a more empowered thinker.

I want you to have options—real options—in who you are, and what you do. I want you to not be constrained by expectations often pushed so early and so often on children.

If you are born a biological female, I don’t want you limited by the color pink or white Barbie’s or the phrases “you look so pretty today” or “boys pull your hair because they like you” or “don’t ask questions”.

I want you to hear the phrases “you can be anything you want to be” or “you are so curious and smart; I love it” or “you know you can say no”.

I want you to have full range of motion, to not wear constricting and form-fitting clothing, so that your perfect arms and legs can reach for the sky and plant themselves firmly on the ground, and in general, take up as much space as possible — so that when you are grown into your body, you are not held back by the very clothing you wear, or the voices inside your head telling you that you are not worth the space nor the time. You are free, you are worth the space, and you are worth the time. Don’t let anybody tell you any different. You’re my baby, and for as long as you live, I want you to feel empowered to pursue happiness in whatever form appeals to you.

If you are born a biological male, I don’t want you constrained by the color blue or plastic toy trucks or the phrase “don’t cry; it means you’re weak”. Right now, that is all I have for you, my unborn male child. It doesn’t mean that I love you any less, because you are also my baby — and I acknowledge that I just have less to say to you at this point in my life. And that is all I can do right now.

There are only three things I want you to be. I want you to be kind, I want you to be honest, and again, I want you to be self-aware. Be kind, honest, and self-aware.


Daily Post prompt: Focused

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Kelp, fish, and sand

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My headspace, as I listen to you.

Stream-of-consciousness post (ha-ha, pun intended).

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Dear you,

I am your captive audience. Sit down, talk to me, and I will make eye contact with you and put each of your words in my mouth and swish it around. After a couple seconds, I will finish processing it and tell you how it tastes — but only if you ask for my feedback. Otherwise, it will reside in the void of my brain.

People often tell me I’m a good listener. I imagine it’s not just because I sit there and nod like a bobble-head. Sure, that’s a contributing factor. But I understand that each person has a struggle that they are trying to communicate. Each sentence spoken is this person trying to cause stress on the universe, trying to get what they want. And I, in my solicitousness, am the first step to the universe obliging you.

The slight pauses, head tilts, and eye squinting are a story I read and memorize.

But, there’s something you should know about me. Please do not mistake my silence for powerlessness — because underneath my reflective surface are kelp, waving in a rhythm only I can establish; fish lurking, fleeting back and forth like synapses; and sand forever shifting, a restless foundation. My storm inside reflects the storm on your face, on your body, in your words. But I will remain still for you.

My silence is my authenticity. I am not going to tell you everything’s going to be okay, or ask if you’ve been enjoying this lovely weather we’ve been having. That is not what I wonder about you, and that is not what people who say these things wonder about you.

I wonder about you in intimate and devastating ways, like the blind silence of your mother’s belly as you were growing inside her.

I will be here for you, in the quietest of ways; to understand everything you are saying and give you a temporary home in my eyes, in my nods, in my smiles, during our time together.

All the deities in this world know I do not have the brain power or energy to do and remember everything.

If I give you my time, you are special to me. If I remember many things about you, you have been in my head every day for years.

It is such a wondrous thing, to sit in that little nook between two consciousnesses—yours and mine—and just let things be.

Sincerely,

me

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