When going through hardships, it’s easy to put ourselves in victim mode. What we are going through is really hard. We are often sad, angry, confused, and can feel very alone in our process. Sometimes, we have too much pride to tell people about our circumstances. “What will they think of me?” Sometimes we just don’t want to burden others with our problems. We think everyone else has their own issues, and we don’t want to bother them with ours. We tell ourselves, “they probably wouldn’t understand what I’m going through anyway.” We close ourselves off to our family and friends, leaving ourselves feeling isolated, helpless, depressed, and a victim.
The problem with this is that when we do this, especially as parents, we are not only hurting ourselves, but hurting those around us, as well. Those who depend on us, most importantly our children. As mothers (especially as Asian mothers), we are so used to putting ourselves at the very bottom of our care list; a lot of times, we probably don’t even make it there. We want to take care of everyone and everything first- our kids, our husbands, our parents, our homes. We give everyone else in our family full plates and then eat the leftover scraps. We think we are being loving, caring and selfless by doing this, when truthfully speaking, this kind of martyrdom mentality only makes us miserable. Truthfully speaking, we end up feeling unappreciated and taken advantage of.
We subconsciously have expectations from those we sacrifice for and when those expectations are not met, we build resentment and anger. However, we don’t say anything about it until it’s too late and then we’ve exploded at what seems to be “out of nowhere” and feelings get hurt, damage gets done, and we beat ourselves up for doing it. Either that or we numb our pains and discomfort through abusing food or other substances, spending way too much money on things we don’t need, or binge watching trashy TV. Because we don’t want to feel the discomfort.
We’ve been taught that talking about our hardships, especially something like a divorce, is shameful and we do not want to bring shame upon our family name. Add that to already feeling like a failure, it is completely understandable for a mom to feel like she should just bite her tongue, own her mistakes, be strong and carry on like nothing big in her life is happening. Except…something big is happening. And believe it or not, all these hard, sad, confusing, painful feelings you’re having (that you’ve “never had before,” right?) are completely normal and not unique.
Personally speaking, I am not the first woman in the history of time to get divorced. More specifically, I am not the first Korean woman in history to get divorced. I am not the first woman in history who has been in an emotionally, mentally, and financially abusive relationship and not have known it. I am not the first woman in history who has been a single mother. I am not the first woman in history to feel guilty for putting my children through pain and feel like my life is in shambles. My story is not unique. And the more I share my story with others and talk to women who have gone through similar situations, the more I understand this. The more I dive into my discomfort, the more I realize that others have gone through my experience, many times worse, and have come out the other side stronger, happier, wiser, and free.
Today, I feel all of those things- stronger, happier, wiser, and free. I have a new perspective on life. One that is so much more positive and filled with light. But I would never have been able to feel this had I not taken the first step: facing my fear.