As adult children of Asian refugees, I was praised for being so quiet. So compliant. So well mannered.
I did whatever my parents requested of me.
Whenever they felt powerless, they felt the need to remind me that they are my elders and I needed to comply with their wishes and requests. Anything from bringing them food to making sure I wore enough clothes on a wintry day.
These were well intentioned requests, but left me wondering… do I have any say in my body? My decisions? My life?
I grew up feeling so used to having my parents feeling entitled to controlling me, that I forgot that I have autonomy and control of my own body. That I can say “no” to anything that didn’t feel good in my body.
This realization of my right to claim my body, energy and time was a completely new insight for me. It still isn’t fully grasped yet but I’m working on it.
My new insights are:
My parents/authority figures can make requests and demand that I comply, but i don’t actually have to.
I can pause. Gather myself. Check in with my body.
And make decisions according to my body’s needs.
I grapple with this process of others owning me when I comes to parenting. I have parts of me that people please my kids and are very permissive with them. I feel immense guilt when I can’t give them what they request.
These guilty feelings are directly related to guilty feelings that I have towards my parents for disappointing them.
I know now that this is all interconnected and I can unpack this with my therapist. Do you struggle with this too? If so, how are you unpacking the guilt?