July 6, 2020
Word of the Week: Disillusionment
This past month has been especially dark for me. Some might call it depression. I call it waking up to oppression. Waking up to the ways I’ve internalized oppression and to other people’s ignorance of oppression. Only after many difficult conversations about race did I realize how much of my life I had been silenced, not connecting the dots between not being listened to and being a WOC.
I actually didn’t identify as a WOC until recently. See, Asian-Americans don’t really talk about race. That’s been part of our own experience with colonization. We’ve assimilated to American culture and tried to be as white as possible, to blend in the background, work hard, ask for nothing and hope no one noticed we were different.
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In many ways, that survival strategy worked, in that, as a 3rd generation biracial Chinese-American, I all but forgot about my Chinese roots. Except my experience through the world is not the same as someone who is white. However, it wasn’t until the uprisings, the much-needed revolution, and having more intentional conversations about race and oppression that I saw with fresh eyes the subtle—and not-so-subtle—ways I’ve been treated as “less than,” been taken advantage of, been quieted and patronized throughout my life.
It was as if all of a sudden, the suffering of my lineage, of our people, that had been lingering, dormant, in my body, in my cellular memory, awakened. As if generations of cultural amnesia was wearing off, thawing, exposing things I didn’t want to see, memories I didn’t want to remember.
Like I was saying, it was dark.
I cycled through many layers of sadness, disillusionment, anger, grief, helplessness and disgust. Emotions that are difficult for me to feel, even more so to express. As I began to voice my pain, I was met with criticism, belittling and even more gaslighting. Nothing is stranger—infuriating, really—than being gaslit while trying to express the ways in which you’ve been gaslit. Do you know what I mean? It’s disorienting AF.
All this to say, things are extra messy right now. Systems are dismantling. Bodies are remembering. Relationships are severing. People are fed up. It is a time of truth-telling. And I’ll tell you what, the truth isn’t pretty. Waking up is never as light and rainbow-y as I think it will be.
My friend texted me the other day: “You know shit is real when you start feeling like a caterpillar obliterated and reforming into a new being.”
If you feel like an obliterated caterpillar, know that I’m right there with you. Know that you won’t feel like this forever. Know that your beautiful butterfly wings are on their way.
Ask Yourself: How can I love myself during this period of awakening?
Weekly Mantra: I have the right to fully exist.
When in Doubt, Jam It Out!
Halo by Beyoncé (Be sure to follow the Spotify playlist called “Jam it Out with Elizabeth” to stay up-to-date with the weekly jams 🎵)
Things I Think You’ll Love:
If you’re looking for a new TV show, check out Taste The Nation with Padma Lakshmi on Hulu. Andrew and I just watched Episode 5: “What Is Chop Suey Anyway?” where Padma gives a great overview of Chinese cuisine in America, a little history lesson of racism against Chinese and interviews everyone from Ali Wong to millennial chefs to urban farmers.
Click here to access your subscriber-exclusive July journal guide! Bring it to your next (virtual) book club, girls night in, or weekend getaway. Post a pic and tag @heyelizabethsu so we can cheer you on!
P.S. Who wants a free copy of one of my fave books Brave Enough by Cheryl Strayed? Head to our IG @heyelizabethsu tomorrow to enter the giveaway! I hope to see you there for the party!
Be kind to yourself this week, sweet caterpillar!
[Featured Image Credit: Instagram @goodhumansonly]