Emerging from the Darkest Shade

Next Saturday I am taking my family back to my hometown for a wedding.

I was pre-occupied by different feelings except excitement each time I was going back to my hometown.  I have tried to justify why I am flying long way there every other year, but I kept failing to identify any reasons.

As an ordinary child, I was gown up in a family which couldn’t bear any tiny mistakes during the period that I put my curiosity ahead to explore the world around me.  Any imperfects could trigger criticizing even condemn.  Those mental abuses as well as physical ones killed all of my desires to take risks to experience anything new.  Occasionally I achieved something outstanding at school and was eager to share with my parents with a hope to hear any affirmative words from their months.  Instead their words were always bringing my spirit down several grade levels by showing how bad I had been doing in other areas or how much better other kids had been doing in the same areas.

Even worse those evil words a lot of times rushed out of my parents’ month in public.  They seemly considered a great pleasure to press me down in front of others, especially in front of my friends from school or neighborhood.  The ending results, I completely lost my confidence to maintain any friendship in elementary school, middle school and high school.  Not being able to effectively communicate with others put me in a isolated, depressed mental state for a very long time.  During my high school and college years, I suffered frequently swing moods and often cried alone without knowing any reasons.  Due to extremely low confidence, I even couldn’t stand up for myself when any conflicts happened between me and others.

However the Chinese tradition sets up a solid protection around the parents and the elders, as a result, any unpleasant characteristics with a child were attributed to her own “misbehaviors”.  Then my isolation from society, swing mood and depressed mental state became other excuses for my parents to further criticize or satire me.  In their mind, I was just their properties, and regardless what they were doing on me I had to carry on “filial piety” while they were getting older.

Years later I gradually understood that my parents couldn’t form role model for me and my two younger sisters by achieving anything meaningful in their own lives, so they had to constantly drive me down to the ground in order to show their relative “superbness” and to gain control on my life.  I was tormented by these demons and was consumed by their needs to control.

I believed that I wasn’t alone to suffer through this kind of “growing pain” inside the darkness of the traditions, and had to obey under the rules of “Filial piety”.  However it was just their controlling desires that had already driven their children far away from them.  For me I have never had any deep communications with my parents, setting alone any mutual caring or respect.  I often felt uncomfortable or even weird to simply speaking with them, needless to say to share any happiness and sadness in my life and career with them.

Since I am not able to forget anything they did or they said to me while I was young, then I am not able to forgive!

The rough start in life with those agonizing occurrences had casted the darkest shade on my lonely soul which I carried throughout my time at China.  The later interactions with men caused more injuries in my heart.  My low confidence-induced cowardliness gave those men an impression that they could belittle me as much as they liked without my fighting back.  I finally attacked back after my limited was broken and by chance I discovered the wretched fact associated with those seemly “superior” men.  The discovery gave me some opportunities to “revenge”, which slightly “raised” my confidence level, but eventually it turned to be a loss – loss situation.

I wanted to blame my parents that they failed to provide me with the foundation to be a successful human being: the self – esteem.  They also failed to give me the capability to offer people – in – need the encouragements and comforts by at least speaking kind words.

I struggled beneath the burning dirt and I almost lost the hope to emerge for a brand new start.  Finally around twenty years ago the God brought me someone kind and successful who led me to this new world, meanwhile his compliments and encouragements overwrote the malicious comments from those losers.

Then I strived hard to re-build my confidence from ground zero!

During the first few years after I landed at US, every morning I forced myself look at my reflection in mirror and speak loudly to myself “you are beautiful, you are smart,” before I went out to face the world.

I learned to use kind words to congratulate people for their achievements no matter how small those progresses might be, and to bring the hope to the people with issues no matter how serious those problems might be.  I was so proud when one of my friends told me that she felt so much better every time after she talked to me and felt my optimistic attitude.

I have chosen friends with the similar standards of life as mine, and surrounded myself with positive spirit and warm heart, which finally let me find my true soulmate and build a family together.

I remember to offer bright smiles and greetings to those bus drivers, janitors and others whenever I see them and regardless of their occupations.  I believe that passing roses to others leaves fragrance on my own hands, and passing kindness to others brightens my own day!

I also constantly tell my children that they are the most precious parts in my life.  I encourage them to experience unknowns and tell them any mistakes / wrongdoings just one step closer to success.

But most important thing I have learned was to treat myself well before I could offer any hands to others.

The wedding ceremony at my hometown offers me a showcase.  There will be a huge gathering of old acquaintances and relatives, some of whom created hardships in my past.  I have planned a gentle “revenging” action by looking radiant and happy, accompanied by a successful husband and strikingly beautiful children.  By treating them with a certain degree of politeness, I want to present them with an image of calmness and generosity.

Without any words I would like to tell them and the entire world that after 20 years I have overcome the darkest shade left from my young age and completely changed myself, of cause, toward something much better!


34 thoughts on “Emerging from the Darkest Shade

  1. Your story was very painful to read. But hearing how you overcame that hurt and learned to forgive and going back to show those who hurt you how happy you are despite them. It is an inspiring story.


  2. I used to be treated the same way when I was a child. Even when I looked nice, my mother would see a scuff on my shoe. When I graduated from college, I heard, “you think you are better than me, because you sit behind a desk all day and I work in a warehouse”. I believe that since I became ill, Mom and I got closer. We actually ironed out our “issues” which were actually just “assumptions” that led to misunderstandings…But I’m babbling…LOL thank you for writing this.


  3. Yan~ I had a very similar experience growing up, and was bullied quite a bit at my small town school. What I have learned recently, with a good 30 years of distance, is that the people and events that I found so profoundly harmful were of little significance to the one(s) who participated! Things I have carried so long and tried to rise above and “prove them wrong” are things that they had never given a second thought to. I decided then, that I had “proved” enough…they never seemed to notice that either. It has been very freeing to me. Peace to you!


  4. This is a very beautiful post Yan. Thank you for your honesty. This attitude of parents towards children is not just confined to China, maybe somewhat of a generational thing. i had a similar childhood, always complaints and teasing and criticism, never anything positive. I prefer not to think about it. We realise what was wrong with our own childhoods and treat our children much better, much different.
    And yet i still find something so quintessentially Chinese in your words and attitudes. the humbleness, the willingness to smile at janitors and everybody, and the phrase “passing roses to leave fragrance on others hands” .. what a beautiful expression, it sounds Chinese. maybe it isn’t. maybe it’s just you.
    Your family and friends in your hometown will no doubt envy you, and no doubt your parents would be proud of you, even if they can’t say it.
    I’m glad you go back every second year. That is important to do, for you, and for your children.
    Sorry for such a long reply. Your post really moved me.
    thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

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