My Thanksgiving Nightmare
During my therapy session today, I told my therapist about something that happened during Thanksgiving. Long story short. Some privileged person said something racist to me, and I ended up apologizing for it.
A family member, let’s call her A, is a pretty and blonde white girl from an upper-middle-class family, about to graduate from one of the best universities in America with some of the highest tuition rates. She is going into banking and her parents covered her tuition. Most would consider her priviledged.
During Thanksgiving lunch, A told me she doesn’t like asian international students because they don’t speak English. The problem with that statement is that I am an international student.
I told her about my struggling with speaking English, and she ended up telling me that I was being racist by hinting at her being unsensitive. The night spiralled down to the worst nightmare. She had a one-on-one conversation with me, seemingly about to apologize, but instead, criticized my marriage, told me my husband did not want to marry me and I forced him into it, said my husband treated me poorly, and basically tried to shatter my marriage with her words. Even though the marriage portion did not hurt me since that is one of the only areas in my life I feel incredibly secure in, I ended up apologizing after her non-apology for the “hurt” that I caused her by joining her family and taking her family’s attention away from her, and making her feel like she walked on egg shells around me for having to censor her own humor and take out xenophobic jokes.
I am easily bullied/manipulated because I am groomed to be over-tolerant
See, this, is the biggest problem in my life. I feel like just because someone else is insecure, they can walk all over me, because I am so priviledged, and I should take the high way out.
But I have not been the most priviledged person. For most of my life I wanted to kill myself due to my parents’ narcissistic abuse. I only recovered in the past few years because of my new-fround financial independence. If it wasn’t for suicide hotlines I would not be here today. When I first got to America, my gpa was around 2.5/5. I struggled with having a thick accent and speaking English. I struggled with almost everything I did, sports, academics, appearance, body-image, social life, and cultural integratin. Yet I felt incredibly empathatic toward this girl who had everything, because I am groomed to take care of broken people.
Still, when she was sad, I somehow felt like I was significantly more priviledged than her. I confused my struggles with my trophies. When I was discriminated or ostricized, I saw it as I was fortunate to see the way people treat foreigners and racial minorities, and I felt like it made me a more empathetic individual. When I grew up in a financially struggling family in a poor neighbourhood, I felt that I was fortunate because I got to see how the working class are incredibly hard-working people, so when I get my yuppie job, I will always remember the streets that I come from and not forget to represent their interests. So I turned all my pain into what I thought was confidence, and I used it to justify the bullying by every single priviledged person, because the difficulties in my life made me more priviledged in a weird way, so I should accept their abuse! (no.)
So I let people walk all over me. I let the women at work skinny-shame me, because I thought they were just insecure, and every mean person is just a broken person, right? I let people criticize me for answering questions in class, for not just completely sink into the dust like how I was expected to do, because they are just afraid of foreign competition. I let people stare at me with distain in the grad school hallway, because I’m always well dressed and take the time to do my makeup, and why did I have to make them feel bad for trying so hard to look cute when just going to class? Jeez. I let people ask me questions like how old is your husband? What does he do? during interviews, and assume I’m some bimbo trophy wife who is good for nothing. I let people shame me for being priviledged, and then immediately turn around once they are in a more priviledged position than me, and suddenly take on a winner-takes-all attitude.
In my fucked-up survivor logic, I thought those who are more powerful than me and misusing their power, just needed a huge to melt the ice in their heart. But in reality, allowing their abuse won’t make them better people, it won’t make them kinder, or happier. It will only enable to abuser, and continue the cycle of abuse. Once the abuser is even stronger, they can move on to hurt more people, in stronger ways. Toxic empathy allows you to donate both of your lungs for free to a terrist who will then destroy the world.
“Every person who hurt you is just hurt inside” only normalizes abuse
Every abusive person, share one trait, and that is being abusive. Every single person was hurt at some point, by someone, for something. Being hurt does not allow one to become abusive, and lots of hurt people become fabulous, helpful, compassionate people. If we allow hurt people to be abusive, then every single person could be abusive, and abuse should always be allowed, every, single, fucking, time.
So why did I allow it? Because as a kid, it was somehow okay, for my mother to put me down, to blame me for everything that went wrong in her life, to force me to have the same preferences as her, because she was so hurt. She spent hours victimizing herself over the things that went wrong in her life, and as a child, I was hopelessly in need of my mother’s love, so it was really not an option to disagree with her pain, to stop her from abusing me, because then I will be a child without affection, or even the basic materials I needed to survive.
But now I am an adult. And I want to say no to abuse, every, single, time.