I hate moments like these. I’m sitting there comfortably and and feeling cozy with my love for humanity in one hand and hope in another. The world feels warm and despite everything, I just kind of know that everything is going to be alright one way or another. God will make it right in the end. I feel I can kind of relax, let down my guard and be at peace for a little while. Suddenly, it dawns on me like a winter wind on a spring day.
I still carry so much anger. Sometimes, it even borders on rage. During those times, I write it down in one form or another. Usually, it takes the form of a poem and boy, have I written some doosies; slammy type poems full of vulgarity and raw rage. I call them my rage poems and not very many people have seen them. Most of the time, I can put the bitterness between the lines, making it so subtle that it’s barely detectable except by those who know me best. I’ve learned though, that there are times when I need to just let it loose on paper as it is, undisguised and unbridled. Sometimes it’s only then, after it’s out that I can begin to deal with it and try to understand it. Even understanding where it comes from doesn’t necessarily make it go away. I guess it’s just more focused so that it’s not lashing out everywhere and at everyone around me.
With such a diverse circle of friends, it’s easy to find myself thinking of things from a new perspective. Each one of my friends is a tiny universe of diversity within themselves, complex and unique though they may share similarities here and there. Recently, many of us have been talking about racism and white privilege. Reading other posts and talking things over with friends opened closets that had been pretty much remained locked and barred. I learned long ago where most of my baggage stems from and that is as many of you know, my adoption. Even though I know better, in my mind that is where I began. All that might have went before feels like it belonged to someone else.
When I was a child, I was angry but with whom, I wasn’t sure. I hid that anger most of the time but inevitably it would come lashing out usually at my mother in the form of rebellion. In later years, I came to understand much of it but before that time I could aim my anger at anything. I was angry at my birth mother for abandoning me even though I had no idea about the circumstances of my adoption. I blamed America for the destruction of my birth family and my home. I was angry at my father for his part in the stealing of my birthright. I was angry at white people and their society for just about everything else. It’s been a hard road dealing with so much rage and bitterness and yes, I still carry it with me. It’s as much a part of me as my genetics but as I’ve said before, I try to channel it into productive things. Sometimes, I succeed but there are times when I still fail even though I understand it much more than I did as a child.
Somewhere along the line and I’m still not sure where or how, I learned to see past the anger and the rage to something much deeper. The cause of it all seemed so simple that at first, I didn’t believe my own heart even though it screamed the truth. Deep within my being, hidden beneath all my protective walls of righteous anger, resentment and bitterness was a bleeding wound. It had never healed. Even after all these years, I was still hurting. I was hurt that my birth mother left me, hurt that I was never accepted even by the other minorities; not good enough even for the only other Vietnamese kid in town. I know I can’t place all blame on or use the negative experiences from my adoption as an excuse for everything. Still, I couldn’t deny the truth that deep down inside, I was still a wounded child, alienated, alone and in pain.
Why am I rambling on about this yet again? I guess all this talk of racism reminded me of my life and made me think of it in personal terms. It made me wonder if we really accomplish anything if we don’t also address each other’s pain as well as things like racism, prejudice and crimes of the past. Perhaps only when people can honestly acknowledge that they’ve hurt each other can the healing really begin. When people can truly understand how and why they’ve hurt each other, then you know there is compassion. That is something we so need now and so sorely lack. In order to do that, we have to get past the rage and anger. Sometimes that means allowing others to vent for a while; to be honest with themselves and with everyone else. It doesn’t have to mean an all-out cross bashing. There has to be some element of sympathy on both sides or it doesn’t work.
I was raised as a white kid. It surprises some when I point out the negatives of that. They think I’ve had it easy. There was no desperate boat ride, no long line through immigration and no adjustment period. I grew up in a white, middle class suburb and was handed the American dream on a silver platter. I don’t deny that I’ve had it pretty easy compared to some. My life wasn’t all misery but there are times when I wish I’d experienced that. There are times I would give anything to have memories of my parents’ struggle to get us to freedom, the shouts of relief and joy at landing on American soil, to understand my heritage and to share in it. The grass is always greener. True, I was raised under the white umbrella; but it didn’t shelter me from everything; the chill of isolation, the storms of racism and bigotry. There were days when I’d come home shivering, soaked to my core and chilled to the bone.