I’d like to introduce myself, if we haven’t met yet. My name is Angela Tam. I am Chinese American, born to two Chinese Vietnamese immigrant parents raised in the concrete jungles of NYC (Sunnyside, Queens, to be exact). It is on the unceded territory of the Lenape (Lenapehoking) people. I graduated with a Bachelors degree in Sociology and Communications, which was sorely disappointing for my very practical Asian parents, and decided to pursue my “calling” as a missionary to Asia (another disappointing revelation to my parents). Although I no longer identify as an evangelical Christian, and recognize the harm that colonial mindset of evangelizing “non Christian” groups, I recognize that this will always be a part of my story. Eventually, I got married at the young age of 24 (ah! I was such a baby!) and soon after, decided to enroll in a masters level counseling program. A lot of folx go into their career for very personal reasons. For me, it was to study more about my family dysfunctions. It was an attempt to gain insight about how I can prevent my intergenerational trauma from affecting future generations in my family. Little did I know, going to grad school would not help me with my inner work. I had to pursue inner healing on my own. Grad school provided great insight, but insight only goes so far, when my bones are so familiar with trauma.
Learning about healing trauma is different than actually doing the work to deal with the trauma. That’s why just reading books or social media posts about healing isn’t going to heal anyone, including myself. I was so disappointed to find out that I couldn’t just read about trauma and be healed! I am a big people pleaser in recovery and was raised as a sensitive caregiver in my family. My parents had a very volatile relationship and I was forced to pick sides: I picked my mom’s side. I was my mother’s main confidant and learned that I needed to not have any boundaries or limits in order to be in relationship with her.
My dad and I didn’t have a relationship. He was very patriarchal and believed that women were to be under male submission and girls are of not worth in the greater family system other than being helpful to males. I am the only child, so there was immense pressure to be the first in my family to live the American dream. To pursue a financially stable job. To live a fulfilled life. To make something from nothing. This was never made explicit, but I deeply felt like I needed to prove that my sacrifices would be worth something. My home life was filled with a lot of stress and my parents didn’t really provide me with the mentoring that I needed to “make it” in school or create social connections with friends. I became a very socially anxious child, who became a socially anxious teen, and then a socially anxious young adult. Even to this day, I struggle with social anxiety.
I ended up pursuing Counseling school thinking that it was what I needed to do and it certainly makes me happy, but I know now that it doesn’t completely define me.
Then something happened that would change everything….
I had my first child.
I found myself in a very dark place during the post partum period. I found myself questioning everything—my faith, my friends and my relationship to myself.
I ended up asking myself, for the very first time….
“Angela…. This is so bad… what do I need to do to start taking care of myself? What do I really want?”
I knew that I needed to take some time to re-evaluate my priorities. To sit with myself and really go back to the basics of prioritizing deep sleep, delicious food and simple connections with friends.
I needed to also dive into my inner work and work with my own therapist to help me make sense of my inner darkness.
I believe my body was telling me that I had unresolved matters to attend to. I really respect and admire the darkness. I understand now, that it was telling me to befriend it. To move closer to the darkness and not to be afraid of it.
I started a private counseling practice in 2013 and this biz has allowed me to work with folx who have similar identities….
Folx who are:
Asian American/Canadian and 1.5, 2nd, 3rd generation
Adult children of Asian Immigrant parents
Struggling with big life transitions and have huge struggles with making decisions
Trying to do better than their ancestors or parents and heal their intergenerational trauma
This is just scratching the surface.
If any of this resonates with you, I would invite you to book a call with me to see if working with me 1:1 is something that feels good to you during this time.
I look forward to hearing from you!