Don’t want to write this!
I woke up today feeling distraught and unsettled. Why did I wake up to another story of another Asian being attacked because of Covid 19?
Disheartening. Discouraged. Outraged. Provoked.
I don’t want to write about “it”. I’m scared. I don’t want to write this. But here I am. I mean, typing and seeing these words on the computer screen is causing some tremendous pain in my heart. It’s hard to even write without feeling all riled up to the core.
I’m hating the memories it’s stirring up but I’m going to do it anyway.
Ok, here I go
What does it feel like to be bullied as a kid? It sucks. It’s painful and it ruins you. It’s even more painful when you are bullied for being a different race.
It doesn’t matter how you want to discount the fact that your race shouldn’t be the cause of people hating you for no good reason. But it’s reality.
Before the bullying started, I knew who I was. A kid who liked to play with Barbie Dolls and legos. A kid who liked to make bubbles in the sink. A kid who said “please and thank you.”
A kid who just wanted to believe that she wasn’t different.
When you are a kid, you want to believe that your world is an awesome place – until someone tells you that you don’t belong in that world.
Steve – you changed my life
So the story begins like this – walking home from school one day, minding my business, this kid decided to change my world. He was my age (9) and his name was Steve. We were in fourth grade.
He was mean and ruthless.
Everyday after school, he would just wait until I walked through the park and his routine would start. He did what every typical bully has done to all targets – taunt, used racial slurs and physical force. His routine was to make a running start towards me, knock me to the ground and let out this evil laugh.
The name calling always – let’s see,- starts with a “c” and ends in a “k”. It’s a derogatory name for “Chinese”. Anyway, you get it. (I just can’t put it in this post. I hate that word to the core.)
I would go home feeling so pissed off and cried “why God are you letting this happen to me? What did I do wrong? Just make it stop.”
But it didn’t stop. It seemed like forever before it stopped.
I think the bullying lasted the whole school year. I was ecstatic for summer break to start. No more Steve!
Brush up on your racial slurs
Another time, as I was riding my bike to the park, a man driving his truck, stops in the middle of the street and yells to me, “Go back to your country, you gook.” First of all, I’m not a gook. Geez, brush up on your racial slurs.
Secondly, if I can go back, I would in a heartbeat, Mr. Racist a#&*!.
Everyone wants to be a bully!
I had to endure it from all ends. The neighbor girls would taunt and tease. They would start with pulling their eyes back and chant “Chinese, Japanese, dirty knees, look at these.” I especially hated when they said “Ah so” and pretended to speak “Chinese” in a derogatory way.
I hated that so much.
What could I do but tell them to “Knock it off.” “Shut-up.” Learned how to say sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never hurt me.
Whatever. That was such a lie. Names like that … did hurt. It hurt a lot.
But it didn’t matter. I was different to them. Funny that a person’s physical feature would have induced such hate in someone?
They didn’t know me.
Really, they didn’t KNOW ME !
I just didn’t get it.
What if I can…
Anyway, I would often play out these scenarios in my head of how I would handle these racist bullies.
I would have this great come back, pull my best Bruce Lee move and kick them in the nuts or do a round house kick to their head.
But my scenarios never played out. As the racial bullying continued, I kind of froze because it was so what? Frightening? Frustrating? Helpless feeling? I don’t even know. I guess I just felt helpless.
Like, what can I do? How can I fight back?
So, I grew to be overly-sensitive. In short, I also grew up feeling unworthy. For the longest time, I didn’t really feel confident in my skin. I always felt out of place, like I never could be good enough.
That made me into a loner. It was so much “easier” to be a loner because it meant that I didn’t have to deal with anyone’s judgement, didn’t have to deal with unacceptance.
Basically, just didn’t have to deal.
Yep, it was lonely but at that point in my life, I would rather have had the loneliness than the pain of knowing someone didn’t like me because of my slanty eyes and broad nose.
Being bullied changed me
To say that being bullied made me feel powerless and defeated – definitely true. It’s the worse feeling in the world, especially for a kid. Because that feeling defies all the ideals that you have in your heart and soul – that people should be accepting and kind.
And the truth is – they are not.
Deep inside my psyche, the bullying caused this inadvertent shame. (I am cringing right now.) It just brings the whole reality into play that bullying destroys the acceptance of self.
Yes, bullying caused me to deny myself.
I remember wanting to have white skin, blonde hair and blue eyes. I wanted my name to be “Christina” because it sounded so “white.” When I drew pictures, I always drew girls with doe eyes.
Seriously, I don’t recall ever drawing Asian girls. They didn’t have “pretty eyes.”
Mom and Dad …. Never mind
I never told my parents about the bullying. I believed that they would have felt as helpless as I did. Plus, I just didn’t want to worry them. They had enough to deal with in their lives.
Being bullied made me feel out of touch
Did I grow up jaded? Yep.
Did I grow up defensive? Hell yes.
Did I grow up feeling out of touch with my peers? Yep.
Maybe growing up will help
Throughout my childhood and into my teens, I hoped that, “maybe when I’m older, these feelings will go away.”
For instance, when I started at the University, I was assigned to a dorm. It was exciting but I felt out of touch. I couldn’t relate to the Caucasian gals in my dorm. It wasn’t their fault. It was my inferiority complex.
I still had these unresolved feelings that stemmed from my encounters with good ol’ Steve, the neighbor girls and that man in the truck.
So for the next 4 years, I hung out with the international students at my University. It’s ironic because I was already so “Americanized” yet I felt the most comfortable with people from Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, Korea, India – you name it.
With them, I felt like I belonged. It’s funny because in a way, I was an outsider to them. I was this Americanized Chinese girl who spoke Cantonese with an American accent (according to my Hong Kong buddy, Bell) and cracked sarcastic jokes that they didn’t get.
Go figure, right?
Work place bullies
Unfortunately, bullying didn’t just affect me.
Just recently, my Dad opened up to me about something that happened to him years ago. I don’t recall how this conversation came up but he said that years ago, he had faced work place bullying. It almost made him quit his job.
Hearing his story made me tear up. It also made me angry because I never want my Dad to go through that kind of treatment, ever.
I have written about his experience more in-depth in another post. You can read about it here.
Being bullied – blessing in disguise?
Maybe being bullied was a blessing in disguise for me. I like to think it shaped me to be a more empathetic person.
Cheer for the underdog and judge not by appearance but by character.
Who did I marry?
Ironically, I married a Caucasian man. When we spoke for the first time over the phone, I said, “Hey, I’m Asian by the way. Do you have a problem with that?”
He said, “No.” The rest is history.
Thought to self – Hmmm, when I look at my choice of men, was my psyche playing games with me?
Married someone outside my race because I longed to be accepted? Nah, I just thought he was hot.
The melting pot
Going forward, diversity is taught in schools and we are more racially diversified. We have bi-racial couples who produce bi-racial kids. A very beautiful mix, for sure!
It’s definitely a melting pot.
No more bullying?
In terms of bullying, nothing blatant has happened to me for a long time – meaning, I don’t get called those names anymore.
But racist bullying is still out there.
The subtle disregard.
The indifferent snub.
The stupid jokes like, “do you prefer cat or dog?”
Subtle, but it still exists.
Anyway, I’m okay in my own skin these days. I have a heart and soul that’s still intact, able to believe in the goodness of people. My faith has sustained me and has helped my heart heal. Thank you Jesus!
I’d also like to think that maybe, just maybe I’m more mature after all these years, as well. I would like to think that those who bully, are the one’s who are hurting the most.
Maybe bullies are the one’s who feel unworthy.
Maybe bullies are the one’s out of touch.
I guess those are my answers to why people are bullies.
I’ve moved on
For the most part, I don’t harbor anymore ill feelings to those who bullied me. I mean, it’s over and done with. But as I am writing this, I wonder if these people are any different now.
Are they kinder?
Do they remember how crappy they were as kids?
Have they changed?
Steve, are you reading this?
Hmm, I’ll never know.
Deep breath …. Click “Publish.” Here we go……