To heal through my breakup, I did a variety of research; to dismantle my experience and understand a world outside mine. One of them, was to learn of heartbreaks other than mine, to see amazing people survive out of these dark times. Dark times that were even darker than mine; because someone will always have it worse. I found my way to befriending Hmong women of all ages, of all stories. Stories that were always sad and pitiful, until after my heartbreak, were now heart-shattering, gut-wrenching, and real. So painfully real. Although my words won’t do them justice, may I please write this one for them.
This one is for the women who have been left out to dry after devoting decades of their youth to one man; his household, their children, and his name, who abandoned them for a fresher flower. This one is for the young girls who were married even younger, but had no choice but to escape an abusive home with their small children; braving their hearts to start over with the new responsibilities peers their age don’t have. This one is for the women, discarded because of what their bodies couldn’t produce, even though it was as much as a heartache for them, if not more, as it would be for the household that saw them as no use.
This one is for the fucking amazing, strong ass Hmong women, who were resilient beyond their years, evolved through one disastrous moment of their life being completely flipped. Because they had only one of two choices: to stop and miserably die here, or to be the one to save themselves and survive.
These kick ass women, are in our homes, are the harvesters to our fresh flea market veggies, are the crafters of our cross-stitching paj ntaub. They are our mothers, our sisters, our aunts, our friends, and our children. They are everywhere, and they exist. A whole, hell of a lot. And so do their stories.
My heart aches with these women. I am these women, and these women are me.
Amazing woman, please know that I see you. I see the angel in you. I see how she hurts and burns a little in her own body.
I see how they have crafted you into something that you do not mean to be in the midst of your own pain.
You only love and love, give and give, and your generosity and unconditional love knows no end, even when it is not asked for or wanted. You become dried of only being taken from, your body can barely produce warm, full tears. Yet, you still love. That’s all you know.
You only mean well, and you love to your fullest, in the life you are given. But after so much of your time, that life is taken and pulled from right underneath you, and what can you do? You panic. You hurt. Beyond what a sound could make, beyond what your body could rage, beyond what your mind could process, beyond any word could describe; you are dying.
You watch your halo ripped off of you and given to another. Another that must be a reflection of everything you are not. Someone younger, prettier, livelier. But, you know. She is not you. She has not done all that you have done. And you die. You die because you see the way she is watching you to die, to save herself. And you see the man you have lived and died for, with clouded eyes, rest his eyes on her with gentleness, and with you, a cold glare.
As if you had done something wrong. You are driven out of this home you have built, in this person you have nurtured with every ounce of your body. And the door is closed shut as you are left out in the cold. Never has the world been so cold. The world you warmed with your love and light.
The more you scream, you will be accused as crazy.
The more you cry, you will not be heard.
The more you say, the more it is your fault.
The more you do, the more you drive away.
The less you do, the quieter it gets.
The harder you hold on, the more you burn.
I see you Angel. Fighting for what you’ve loved with all you are. I see you Angel. Just wanting to be heard that you are hurt and begging for mercy. I see you Angel. Hurting for the you of younger days until today, replaying all that you’ve given and done with the purest of intentions, the deepest wishes of happiness for the other. I see you Angel. Burning such an extremity of a hole in your heart. I see you. Trapped in a hell and expected to maintain an Angel, for being abandoned is your fault and holding on is selfish. The love you gave, was never “asked” for and you did it yourself they say. I see you Angel. Just trying to ask the one you love to love you too. Asking them to see you too. Not someone new, but you. After all this time.
And it only comes out in rages. In earth-shattering cries. In panics.
And as your last resort, you lash out in anger in hopes that he will see your pain, but instead are now plastered as a monster. I see beneath all that is your innocent heart, breaking.
I see you grasping for the world that once was. Trying to understand everything. Trying to find strength to live past this moment. Trying to look for savior. Trying to have your pain ease and just go away.
But we, Angels have learned. That no one is coming for us. We are our savior. And perhaps that is our gift. We no longer need the hell-turned heaven of man to be our best Angels.
Because the fire we hold, only burns us.
So we are reborn in our own death; we learn to let go, we learn to make peace, we learn to find power in our silence, we learn the freedom in walking away, we learn the possibilities in adaptability.
Love ourselves, Angels. Let us create a heaven together; one that only we have been able to transcend to; one that only requires the love and belief in ourselves. Look at the history we have created, the armor we have silently formed that only gets stronger and stronger for our daughters and granddaughters to come.
When we have nothing left to fear, there is nothing to stop us. When we have been pushed to the end of the world, we can create a new one. We hold a huge hand in carrying our people this far through our generations of war, and I must say: it is through our resiliency, bravery, quick adaptability, and strength to always carry on.
Angels, my Hmong Women, we are Warriors.