Day of Remembrance

I remembered the entry in my journal I wrote on my 29th birthday a few days after I moved back to DC and lived on the Gallaudet campus. The journal is the flip-top spiral notebook with a drawing of a young girl on it I just bought in Peru a week earlier. Feeling sentimental, I decided to track down the book and when I found it, I finally opened the pages for the first time after three years. It is the only entry in the book. I read and reread it, and I remembered that day very clearly like I was in a brightly lit studio, watching myself in the middle of a television show and no one could see me. I was marveled at how powerful the sensibilities of a memory that lasted only split-second long could do to a person.

The birthday wishes I wrote on the pages were not my true wishes, they were written out of fear and heartache. The words on pages began to fade away and didn’t matter anymore, the feelings of the desperation during that moment overwhelmed me, I just wanted to have everything to be normal again.

I was there in the bright Social Security Adm. office, with the framed print of newly elected Obama hanging above the ticket machine, reminding the poor and the disabled while they wait in a line for their number, It’s time for change. I stood by 29 years old me who spent my birthday waiting for my number to be called, because I was recovering from a bug I picked up in the flight from Peru just three days earlier, and I was seven months pregnant. I wrote in the book on that day because I only hoped for the best, or even better, for the normal life.

Today, I almost lost my nerve writing this blog post. Why? I already admitted in the past that I was a victim of the abusive relationship and spouse’s struggle with substance abuse, and it was not the most comfortable thing to do. Honestly, I’d rather swim in a stagnant pond than to share my fears and flaws with the world, but I wanted to share my vulnerability with you and others, to admit that I’m human and I struggle.

I had to get myself out of the victim mentality and tell myself I will use this experience to grow as a person. To show you the real me, I have to accept myself first. It took me more than year to finally accept myself as a single mother. I felt it was so wrong, that I should be already having a family by now, but was it wrong for me to feel that way? Perhaps you look at me as just somebody who’s trying to get your attention and fulfill the need of your validation and that I should just get over it and move on from my past.

I told myself the same often enough that the thought itself prevented me from doing what I truly wanted to do all along- to get it off my chest and give others the opportunity to read my stories, get inspired and liberate themselves from their ball and chain. My experiences are becoming just stories and no longer a part of me. When I tell my stories, I stop identifying myself with them. I separate myself from them. The stories stay on the paper. They stay in the past, where they belong. Telling them help me burn the pain that I suppressed for years and now they are ashes I rose from.

I knew by starting this blog, I have to build the courage to be OK with who I am and trust the process. Things did and didn’t turn out as I’d hoped, and I learned to come to terms with the state of things in my life and go with the flow. If they are not doing me any good, I’d have to move on. I have an intention why I ventured out in the first place and there’s a reason why it turned out good or bad. Doing something about it is better than feeling bitter about it, but doing nothing about it is worst of all. I still want to see my project comes to its fruition and I don’t know when, but as long as it finds its way to share with the world one day, I will be able to close that chapter for once and for all. Jean-Paul Sartre said, “Freedom is about what you do with it.”

P.S. Thank you to all my friends and family for your birthday wishes!

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I’m still here! Part two

When Rex and I returned home in Austin last July (thank you all for your sweet comments on the photos posted on my Facebook wall and Instagram!). I felt much better as a whole person. I could just drop the entire project and move on with my life, focus on Rex and go back to school and find a job, etc., but there’s something deep inside me that just flat out refuses let me give up.

I spent the entire month doing serious soul searching to find the answers to my questions about my film project. Why am I doing it? Will doing it and reliving those memories be good for me emotionally and mentally? Do I want to just shut him out and banish him from my memory forever? Does Renny deserve to have a movie about him? Indeed, he is center of the story, but it’s my story. It’s also the story of many other women and men who experienced or are experiencing the life with substance abuse and domestic violence. It’s easy to look down at drug addicts and dismiss them, but ask anybody who knows, addiction is a disease. It is a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde disease. I survived it, I may as well as use my film as the method of telling my story.

I know there are many more people out there who went through similar experiences, but sometimes I feel like I am the only one because I’m a full-time mother and I have to stay home most of time. I have to admit that I haven’t been to Al-Anon meetings. Renny encouraged me to attend one when he was attending NA meetings back then. I thought I could handle it. Man, I was wrong. I know I should have went to the meetings. I should also see a counselor, but I’m not comfortable with sharing my experiences through an interpreter. It doesn’t matter how good he or she is, I don’t like the fact that a third party is involved. I can’t always be sure all my information is conveyed 100% accurately to the counselor. It is already hard enough just talking about this on my blog post; I still have a harder time talking about this in person. I have to swallow my pride before I explain to somebody who asked. The shame is still inside me and I am trying to let it go. I saw this quote somewhere and it can’t be any truer. “There is no shame in making mistakes. All we must do is get over our pride and admit we were wrong.”

To many of you who wrote to me about your experiences: Thank you for sharing with me. I’d like to reach out to other people like you. Your letters help me building my confidence to make my film project happen. I also want to get in touch with the advocates too. If you know of any good support groups in the Austin area, please share in the comment space below. Catherine, my awesome producer and friend, and I are planning something really cool. We’ll make the announcement in a week or two. Last, but not least, please Like on our Facebook page and follow our blog! Thanks so much!

I’m still here! Part one

The storm is over. The ocean’s merciless waves gave away to the smooth horizon of still water. The sky is clear of dark massive clouds that hovered over like shadows. Everything is quiet. Perhaps too quiet, but definitely peaceful, a complete opposite of what happened last autumn.

It’s funny how I used this metaphor to describe my life right now because fishing is one of Renny’s favorite things to do. Last October was the last time we did something together with our son as a whole family. We went fishing at Matagorda, a small and quaint fishing town just off the Gulf of Mexico. It was Rex’s first time playing on the beach and Renny caught a flounder.

Last March I visited Renny at the Travis County Jail after four months of silence. It was painful seeing him behind the thick glass window. He seemed fragile; he broke down crying and apologizing, but there was nothing I could do for him anymore. There was a little left inside me that missed him, but I had to leave him there. Last April, I wasn’t home when the judge sentenced him to the state prison in Huntsville, around seventy miles north of Houston. I wasn’t even in Texas when he rode in the inmates’s bus to his home for next several years or so.

Renny and I still write to each other. It was hard reading his letters. His words frustrated and angered me and I replied with ugly words. The letters became more civilized as time went on and we understood each other better. Of course, too much damage had been done and we will never go back to the way it was in the beginning of our relationship.

I got many opportunities to travel this year, hence the reason why I haven’t been keeping up with my blog. I know a lot of you who read my blog in the beginning are curious about what’s been happening to me in the last six months. I had to put a hold on my film project because my wounds were still fresh, but my desire to see it on the big movie theater screen is still strong.

In my travels, I met a lot of awesome people and when they asked, it was hard for me, but I told them my stories. They were impressed by how positive I sounded when I recounted the dark and frightening moments, but they didn’t know that these moments still sometimes sneak up on me unexpectedly and I become scared for a few seconds. I became resentful toward Renny for that reason. But I learned on my journey that letting go is the best thing to do.

It’s on

This is it. My biggest fear and challenge is standing right in front of me, staring me straight in the eyes like a bull staring at the matador’s red waving cape. As the bull charges, I’m officially entering the blogosphere as a blogger about something very personal to me. I believe what I am going to do will be the hardest thing for me to do in my entire life, but I believe it will accelerate my personal and spiritual growth. With that said, I can’t wait to see how the whole thing unfolds and what kind of impact it will have on me, people who are close to me, those who know me, and everyone else who decide to follow me.

I’m a generally reserved and private person, so for me to reveal to you my heavy and personal stuff is a HUGE deal to me. I mean, I’m face to face with my biggest fear and challenge in the combat right now, but my need to tell this story is way greater than all fears I have put together. So that fact, along with Catherine and Beatrice- my producer and my sister respectively, who also are wonderful supporters and champion confidantes- encourage me to build the courage to share my story with you the rest of world.

The story is long and most of it will be told in the documentary. To sum up, as I’m typing these words, Renny, my husband, is currently at the Travis County Correctional Complex for various drug-related charges. When I first met him at our friends’ wedding in Temecula, California in July 2009, he was in his fifth year of sobriety and a man with great intentions and even greater dreams. His biggest dream was to create a documentary that exposes the truth about the severity of drug addictions among the Deaf people and the lack of available resources and services that serve the Deaf and American Sign Language user population.

We worked together day and night on the documentary. We even had a production team. Then, one night Renny relapsed and everything changed. My life as I knew it ended. During the entire course of his relapses which lasted one year, I tightly grasped my faith that everything will work out in the end. Well, we can’t predict the future, can we?

Last Thanksgiving, I had an epiphany. We worked so many hours and had so much good footage and it was left to waste because it was supposed to be Renny’s story and now, he’s in jail. I realized I experienced everything just as much as he did. Pretty much the only thing that I didn’t do was smoke the crack. This story could still be told, but through my own eyes. I iChatted with Cat, my producer, about my idea and she completely supported it.

I just returned to Austin, Texas, from a month-long stay at my parents’ in Ohio. When I was there, I went to Cat’s house in Toronto, Ontario, Canada (wow that’s a fingerful as I’m typing this blog on my iPhone). It was a very productive week. We looked over the footage and worked on the storyline and strategized different ways to raise fund in order to shoot more interviews and scenes and, especially, for the postproduction aspect.

My wish for 2012 is to embrace this journey in which I believe will heal me.