Anger, grief, scars, but no apologies, and no gratitude | By Michelle Piper (Summer 2020 issue)
Don’t ever tell me to just “be grateful” for these words evoke a rage within so furiously overwhelming there will be no possible way to contain it.
These words; the key to a Pandora’s Box that if ever opened shall unleash a force so devastatingly destructive the world and all those who reside within it will be obliterated.
Until you’ve been exiled from birth to another country, sold, and raised into a world where you are reminded constantly that you have and never will belong. Until you’ve lived your life so far with the knowledge buried deep within that no-one ever wanted you, that you were a mistake from conception, abandoned by not one or two, but three out of four parents.
Until you’ve had your childhood innocence stolen, to be rendered powerless and broken, don’t EVER tell me to just “be grateful.”
Until your birth certificate states your name as 86c-1335, until you’ve had your language, your culture, your country of birth, and bloodline ripped from you like a dead organ, a cancerous growth that must be removed, but without consent or choice, without power or a voice.
Until you’ve been raped, broken and beaten down time and time again, had the words Gook, Chink, Nip, Jap, Chinga, slanty eyed slut, flat-nosed freak thrown at you for as long as you can remember; until you’ve been lost in the endless depths of the darkest abyss; a desolate barren wasteland where only excruciating loneliness, agonizing grief, and unbearable tidal waves of rage and all-consuming hopelessness are your only companions. Until you’ve been eyed like a piece of prime cattle and treated as such; experienced the sheer, absolute, humiliation and degrading act of being rendered completely powerless, DON’T EVER tell me to just “be grateful”.
Until you’re one of the largest export of babies out of one country (Korea) in history, had your life’s information contained on a mere few pages, only to find out it’s all a lie, that your birth father left as soon as he found out about you, your country sold you, fast-tracked your adoption overseas to become one of nearly 250,000 children sent overseas within four to six months of their birth.
Until you’ve accumulated a lifetime of phrases of “why didn’t your parents want you?”, “Get back on ya boat and go back where ya came from”, “We don’t need want more chingas here”, “You speak English really well” and “So your sister isn’t your REAL sister either?”
DON’T EVER TELL ME TO JUST “BE GRATEFUL”
Until you’ve seen the tortuous grief and despair in the eyes of those who DO love you as they helplessly watch as you slowly die; fading away before their eyes, until you’ve taken countless blades to your wrists, your throat, and watched as your life’s blood flows freely from your open wounds and not felt a damn thing; until you’ve swallowed hundreds of pills and lie feeling your heartbeat slow, your breathing become shallow, until you’ve felt what you know will be the last beat your heart ever completes, the last breath your lungs will ever take, to finally feel the peace you’ve been longing for your entire life only to have it torn away from you more times than should ever be possible.
DON’T EVER TELL ME TO JUST “BE GRATEFUL”
Until you’ve been consumed by a self-hatred so overwhelming you’d do ANYTHING to destroy it, until you’ve stared deep into the eyes of your little girl and witnessed all the hope, innocence and vitality you never had; to be so overcome with a terror so fierce that she should turn out anything like you that it literally leaves you breathless. To look at her and know with all your heart the brutal truth that she would be better off without you. That being alive will cause her more pain, confusion, and sadness than if you were dead.
Until you’ve had to try and find the words to explain the unmissable scars that run the length of your arms, arms that always seem to be bandaged, to try and explain why “Mummy’s ribs stick out”, why Mummy’s always sick, why she struggles to eat, to laugh, to smile. Until you’ve been haunted by the horror in your daughter’s eyes as she realizes your arms will be “ugly” and “scarred” forever.
Until you’ve seen the utter disgust, the repulsion in the eyes of those who’s eyes look upon your wounds; the judgement that crosses their face, the look that makes your blood boil with fury. If only they knew it’s them, and people like them who make up this so-called wonderful world, who are responsible for the grotesque entertainment your wrists provide.
Don’t EVER tell me to just “be grateful”
Don’t EVER think you have the right to judge me, to tell me what to do.
Until you’ve spent your entire life questioning your existence so extensively you’ve come to realise that after all the times you’ve died and been brought back you’re no “medical miracle,” simply God’s toy. His entertainment, constantly bringing you back to a life of nightmares and flash backs so real, so vivid, you’re left reliving each horror experience time and time again; a never ending cycle of silent movies set on repeat until it becomes all that you see, all that you know or feel.
Until you’ve gathered the courage to finally try and trace your “real” parents only to be told your father still doesn’t want you and your mother’s dead and has been for 10 years, to be denied the knowledge of any siblings, to never know what they looked like, to never know their stories, their family, YOUR family, to be told you have no right to know the dates of their birth, how your mother died, or where she’s even buried, to be told you are just as powerless and unimportant as the day you were born.
Don’t EVER tell me to just “be grateful.”
Until you’ve never known a moment of inner peace, a time, even a second when you weren’t scared or afraid. Until you’ve had all that you are or ever will be erased, until your heart’s been broken to the point of no return, until you have wounds that no amount of time will ever heal.
Until you’ve come to the devastating realisation that all you will ever be able to accomplish in this life is to barely keep yourself breathing, to only JUST survive…. Maybe.
Then don’t ever tell me to just “be grateful.”
Don’t ever tell me “everything happens for a reason.”
DON’T EVER TELL ME HOW TO LOOK, WHAT TO WEAR, HOW I SHOULD ACT, HOW MUCH TO EAT, HOW MUCH I SHOULD WEIGH.
Don’t EVER expect me to apologize for what I’ve had to do to survive.
You have NO idea what it takes to live this life, MY life.
You have no idea what it takes to be like this. To exist like this.
So don’t ever tell me to just “be grateful”
DON’T TELL ME A GOD DAMN THING.
Born in Busan, Korea, Michelle was raised in the beach town of Redhead New South Wales, Australia. After returning to Korea for the first time in 2019 she has since been working on creative arts and writing projects which are derived from her own adoption and life experiences. She has worked in Hospitality, Administration and Modelling over the years and is a mother to one daughter.