My birth mom sent me to Canada for a better life and education. Because I was only four, there was no way of understanding that. All I understood was that I wasn’t going to see her. At an age that required nurturing and love, what I received instead was confusion. Instead of family, there were strangers. Instead of love, there was anger and hate. Rather than gaining self-confidence, I learned that I was unworthy and became deeply insecure and fearful. This, coupled with my growing understanding that I looked different too. This sense of not fitting in, of not belonging, stayed with me everywhere I went -- even more so after visiting the Philippines 10 years later. Who I thought I was didn’t seem to fit the description anywhere. I began feeling that I was simply an outsider in every community I discovered and it didn’t help that I was constantly reminded of my differences.
I’ve been told I’m not a “real” Filipinx because I only speak Bisaya and not Tagalog or I’m too brown and Asian to be in this store. I’ve been told I look too young to be a boss, too young-looking to be a Mom, too pretty to be taken seriously, too nice for selfish reasons, too big to be on camera, too flat-faced and big lipped. I’ve been told to stop being so much of a girl, that I’m too sensitive, too creative, too quiet, too wild, too stupid-- and the list goes on. Rather than shrugging these comments off, I took them personally, further damaging my self-esteem. I believed that I couldn’t have too many talents, too many interests - that I absolutely must pick one thing or I won’t be good at anything. I believed I had to fit into a box and if I didn’t I would be deemed weird or unsuccessful. I believed something was wrong with me.
Because of this, I tried for years, exhausting myself trying to be just the right “something” for so many people, so many situations and so many relationships, including my marriage. I spent so much of my energy trying to be x, y, z for someone other than myself and when my whole world came crashing down and I found myself a divorced, single Mom, I knew I had been doing it all wrong. I knew things had to change and as I cradled my one year old, I promised myself I would love me first, from now on. I would love all the darkest parts of myself. I would love me unconditionally. I would love my wounded inner child. I would take care of myself and my needs first. I would explore myself creatively and not care about what anyone else thought. And for the first time in a long time, I felt free...
In honor of #WomxnsHistoryMonth2017, my friend @itzannemarieeee has created a digital space for Womxn identifying / Femme Filipinx diaspora folks to reclaim the phrase #WalangHiya, which has been traditionally used to shame Filipinxs
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