How do I say this in a way that you will hear me? Hear me pleading for the Hmong women who didn’t know better and could only do the best they could to love you. How can I say it in a way that doesn’t coddle and cushion what you did and have no interest to care for? Because I want to speak for her, who binned by society’s dead ends, cannot say so herself.
I want to speak this for her who has kept her silence in the name of your household since the youth she never had. I want to speak this for the mother, still up in the night, packing the bags of her husband to depart in the morning, well-knowing he may return with another bride. I want to speak this for the wife, living the last moments as husband-and-only-wife before the morning ‘she’ arrives. I want to speak this for the woman who couldn’t bear him any sons, who will now watch a woman who can. And I want to speak for the woman, who bore him plenty but will now watch a woman whose young, slim body hasn’t.
And perhaps, I want to even speak this for the woman who believes second best is better than nothing at all. The one who knows it could be her one day too, but to live for this moment as it’s not.
I want to speak this for the women whose breaking hearts I’ve been hearing. For the mothers, the sisters, the daughters. For the women who may have no home when morning comes. Children who won’t have a father to just call their own. The ones whose pleas go unheard, forced to pick up their lives with strength they don’t yet have, but cornered to make. The ones who have been broken just trying to love, and the ones who broke being loved.
For at least the duration of my words, please rest a piece of your broken heart on mine.
To the Men Who Broke the Woman Who Just Loved Loving You:
What more could they do?
Could you please just stop, just pause for this moment being until a clear mind overcomes you?
May you please, please just know:
That even while the thought of her betraying you is something you wouldn’t dare dream of, the pain you brought her, is what could take a lifetime to heal. A lifetime of experiencing death while being alive.
Her leaving you would be the most despicable crime, but you leaving her, is leaving her with all the scars in all the places she’s only embraced you with.
May you please, please remember:
That it frustrates you to have to explain yourself another minute. But the years and decades of her lifetime she invested in you is still seen as the greatest purpose of her life.
It inconveniences you to have to use any muscle in your brain to think of a gift, but with her, a stop to the store is never complete without a favorite snack, drink, or new clothing for you.
Nothing is ever thought of or bought in anything but two.
Sometimes two, might even just all be for you.
Mind that, to keep up with you, she spends all day doing just as much or more than you. To be with you, she will defy all odds, including the exhaustion tugging at her eyes. To feed you, she will give you the last bite saying she’s full. To clothe you, she won’t buy her own. To love you, she won’t even know how to for herself. And to care for you, naturally she may start to look like someone who doesn’t for themselves.
During those times, I hope you will not look away. During those times, I hope you will not discard her for a soul who has not yet gone through the transformation of giving their youth away to love you. During that time, I hope you will see and remember the wrinkles that only laughed and cried for you. During that time, I hope you will feel the heart that truly only beats for you. During that time, I hope you will caress the stretch-marks that bore new life for you. During that time, I hope you will love the being that only breathed knowing to love you. The being that lives to see you laugh, the being that can carry on through your storms merely feeding off the memories of your sunshine days.
I swear in this lifetime, she will only know you. Love couldn’t happen with anyone else, because it only happened for her because it’s you.
I know what many will say. But I ask for just a moment for the silenced to have their moment. “She did it to herself. She chose to stay. She can just leave then. She can go find a non-Hmong man”—Am I supposed to condemn her for only knowing to love and giving her life to do so? Am I supposed to blame her for only dreaming of your happiness because that is all she ever knew, born into this society that is structured to benefit you? Am I supposed to shame her for trying to keep the father of her children in a society that will eat her alive for not having one? Am I supposed to punish her for the pureness and dedication in her that the bride price of our standards actually pay for?
Even I, myself, is stuck on what words to plea with. What answers to ask for. I am not sure. Because although self-love and independence is glamorized, there may be a generation that cannot afford to do so. One that would need the stripping of their entire life to understand how to do so.
So to You, I ask you, please don’t break the woman who just loved loving you.