TW: emotional and physical abuse, trauma, violence

***

Dear America,

It’s been awhile, I know. I’ve been away from home for a long time.  Fifteen years, to be exact.

They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, but I’m not so sure. Living abroad has given me some distance. Some perspective.

I spent my childhood in your embrace, suckling on the milky white supremacy flowing from your bosom. You may have sustained me, but you also kept me dependent. You kept me strong enough to tell yourself you were doing a good job raising me. You kept me weak enough to keep me in my place.

As I grew older, I hated the way you held me up as a model child during family gatherings, bragging about my accomplishments and comparing me to my black and brown cousins.

            You used me to feel good about yourself.

Even now, I hate the way you put on a face of respectability when we are out in public together, pretending to be a happy family. In reality, you pat me on my back when I submit to your wishes but rage when I don’t comply. You don’t want a grown child with her own thoughts and feelings.

            You want a puppet.

You think I should be grateful. You think I’m being unfair. You feel like I’m attacking you.

Most narcissistic parents feel the same way.

You expect me to be invulnerable to pain, yet you yourself are so fragile.

I know I’m being raw, but I’m trying to tell you something here.

I want to have a relationship with you, America. I really do.

But I don’t know how to do that when I feel so unsafe and insecure in your presence. I don’t how to bring all of myself to you when you’ve rejected me time and time again.

What I want is to be fully loved and accepted as I am—all the contradictory and complex pieces of me—not just the parts that make you comfortable.

But it doesn’t seem like you’re ready to do that.

I don’t know if I can come home.

Yours?

Estranged

***

Dear America

You say you’re sorry. You say you didn’t mean it, that you’ll try harder next time.

I don’t know whether to believe you.

When it was good, it was really good. The exhilarating high of infatuation and intimacy.

I remember being so proud to belong to you. All those times we walked down the street together, with your arm possessively slung over my shoulder. You showered me with opportunity and expensive gifts. You opened doors for me. You intoxicated me with your compliments and attention. I thought you loved me.

Was it all a lie?

When it was bad, it was ugly. Violent. Deadly. The shaming of my body that you both eroticized and emasculated. The unexpected punches while walking down the street. The cruel beatings for looking at you the wrong way.

I have the scars to show for it.

I found the videos too. The ones where you’re acting out your sick fantasies and fears on others. Horrific images of handcuffed victims whom you violated and brutalized.

I’m shaking right now—from fury and from fear. You disgust me. You’ve broken my trust and you’ve broken my heart.

I’m scared to be in my own home.

Stop trying to appease me with your empty words, America. I don’t want anything from you right now.

        I just want you to take a good look at yourself.

Own your own shit. Open your eyes to the trauma of your birth—the abuse, the rape, the hate, and the violence that are part of your story. Stop running from the pain.

        Get help.

I’ve already packed my bags. 

Love/Hate,

Abused

***

Dear America,

You’re lashing out. You’re distressed.

“I hate you!” you say.

“Get out of my life!”  

“It’s his fault!”

I can see you’re having some big feelings.

Your brother asked you to stop hitting him, but you didn’t. He asked you not to take his Lambikin, but you took it anyway.

Now you’re upset because he won’t play with you. You’re mad because he wants his favorite toy back.

It’s tough to hear no, isn’t it? It’s hard when you don’t get your way, I know.

Come, let me hold you. Shh, it’s okay to feel frustrated.

You’re not ready for a hug, I see. You don’t want to be comforted right now.

I’m going to have to hold onto your arms. You don’t seem to be in control of them right now.  You’re hurting people and I can’t let you do that. We don’t do that in our home.

Oh America, America! How I want to gather you in my arms as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you won’t let me.

You push me away. You run off. You slam the door.

But I won’t give up on you.

I’m here. Arms open.

Come home…

Waiting,

Love


Created by: Iris Chen

About the Author: Iris Chen is a Chinese American blogger who writes about her adventures as a deconstructing tiger mother. An advocate for gentle parenting and unschooling, she currently lives with her husband and sons in China.

Photo Credit: Dương Trần Quốc on Unsplash

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