i’ve been having a pretty terrible, horrible, no good, very bad couple of days. or months. i’m not sure how one would really quantify the sheer amount of terrible that’s come to pass in my life this year.
honestly, if someone had told me what i was going to go through this year on the eve of 2016, i would have laughed it off and said that it was impossible to have that much bad luck. guess i jinxed myself.
that being said, this is not the worst pit i’ve fallen into in my life and i’m sure it won’t be the last. i keep trying to not get pulled down by my own sadness or my own struggles and often, i find the best way to do that is to read the news.
that sounds ridiculous given the state of everything in this country, but it’s given me a really strange sense of perspective. it feels like everything in my life is spiraling further and further away from me but reading what other people have to live with and live through sets my empathy into overdrive. it always reminds me that no matter how bad i think i have it, someone else is always going to have it worse. self pity solves nothing.
i recognize that i am currently on the receiving end of a lot of misfortune and freak accidents. none of this is particularly permanent, it just hurts more than i expected. part of this is my own fault, for constantly taking on more than i should. but a majority of it is out of my control. and that’s not always a terrible thing– in fact, there are a lot of things that happened outside of my control that led to me have a more privileged position in life.
for starters, i was born here. until this election, i didn’t realize what a blessing it was. my parents were immigrants who became citizens years ago. listening to them talk quietly about back up measures they’ve set in place in case there’s something to repeal their citizenship is arguably the most quiet form of anguish i’ve ever known. i’ve taken to closing my room door and quietly sitting on the other side, listening to the visitors we always get around this time of year. people i have known my whole life as family or family friends ,suddenly, have this terribly heavy label hanging over their heads every where they go: undocumented. illegal.
sometimes, i sit on my floor and cry quietly while listening to the pain and the ache in their voices as they try to be brave about it.
“let him deport me. let him try.”
“i’ll go, if i have to. i’ll leave everything, if i have to.”
“over my dead body. nothing can make me go back.”
being born in america– in new york city, no less– is arguably one of luckiest things that ever happened to me. and this massive, huge thing was entirely out of my control. it has influenced me in every way imaginable. from the way that i speak, to the way i live my life, to my politics and the way i see the world– none of it would have been the same if i had to earn my citizenship. and i try to be mindful of that every day. no matter what my problems may currently be, at least i am not always worried about my legal status here. that’s something to always be grateful for, despite the other issues i’m dealing with.
the more i think about it, the more i keep coming back to a prayer that my grandmother always had for my mom and the rest of her children.
may my children always have more than what they need; enough for themselves and always with extra to share.
when my mother told me about this, she laughed mirthlessly.
“she always wanted me to have extra to share and now i’ve spent my life always giving, giving and being taken advantage of because people can’t draw the line between being kind and being taken for granted. do you know what my prayer for you and your brother is? that you always have enough for yourselves and your families. nothing more and nothing less.”
to some extent, this prayer for us has held. i’ve never been for want of anything. even at our poorest, my mother always made sure my brother and i were well taken care of. and yet, i’ve never been able to shake this conversation that we had. i believe in the power of words, particularly in the power of prayer. whenever i’ve been truly rocked to my core, as i have been by so many things this year, i always find myself closing my eyes to pray. and i can’t help but wonder if my mother has only ever taken my grandmother’s prayer at face value.
my mother had more than enough strength to bring herself, my father and his entire family to this country. and without that, i wouldn’t have been born here. extra to share isn’t always a terrible thing. i think about this prayer from my grandmother’s perspective often and can only imagine that when she spoke these words, she wanted her kids to have a surplus to share with one another– so the community they created in this country was never left wanting. and that’s exactly what happened. i grew up in an incredibly communal family where raising a child really did take a village of people, who weren’t always connected by blood. and i loved having that.
i was so blessed to grow up with that. i am blessed to still have it in my life. it was this community that really formed who i am, instilled the diligent work ethic i have and ensured that i completed my academic studies. this isn’t to say that these things aren’t due to my own perseverance and my love of learning– but it would be a lie to say that it was all done on my own. i feel like i need to give credit where it’s due.
all this to say that, i’m a lot luckier than i give myself credit for.
it’s easy to look at everything that happened this year, to me and my family in particular, and whine and moan about it. i won’t lie and say that this post didn’t start out this way. i went into a long rant about how unfair my life is at the moment and how i didn’t deserve it. and then i reread it and realized that yeah, shit gets tough sometimes but ultimately, i don’t have it the worst in the world. i need to shake off this bout of self pity i’ve been having and i need to stop drinking into my sadness.
my sorrows may last for the night, but joy always comes in the morning.