I was listening to Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited, and wondered if anyone really wanted to know how it feels to be exiled, with ‘no direction home’, with no family, at one point not even one soul I could trust, and the weight of the world on my shoulders, as well as responsibility for two babies, their safety, and my own.
To be frank I was never much attached to ‘home’. I longed for a short while, for things to be as I knew them. I longed for familiar shops, food and people. I longed to speak English, not Japanese. All that soon went away. I did not have good memories of ‘home’. The place I grew up and spent my formative years was not home. It was the scene of my torture. I didn’t long for family, as I didn’t really have any that were reliably around for me. My ‘father’ was always abroad working and rarely saw me, and anyone else involved in caring for me as a child were beyond cruel to me. I was never attached to ‘home’, I had no family, and was always alone. I wanted to be away from everything and everyone. Nothing I was used to was kind or good or gentle or positive towards me. My childhood was utterly miserable.
It is one thing to not want to be in the country of your birth, and another to not be able to safely return to it. As soon as the Hague Convention and my husband’s abuse of me insured that I was not safe anywhere I could legally be, I learnt the true meaning of exile. Exile means never being safe in your surroundings. Never being welcome where you are. Being illegal by virtue of your very existence, by where your feet can safely be stood on the earth, is a very difficult thing to come to terms with. You can never relax. San Francisco has finally allowed me to relax somewhat. This now feels very much like ‘home’, and I am now cautiously optimistic that I am finally welcome and that there is a route to not being in exile, but being legal where my feet stand on the earth. I am now hopeful that I can finally ‘stand down’ and breathe a sigh of relief. We are not quite there yet, but there looks as if there might be that impossible route to some degree of safety.
It is almost amusing to me that now, at the end part of my life, I might finally have found relief, understanding and compassion, that I might now finally belong somewhere. My life’s work has been keeping my son safe. I have not always handled the situation with as much grace as I wished I could have. After all spending the last 24 or so years either being beaten, running from husband and unfair cruel laws that criminalized running for my life and that of my children, being homeless because I was running, living in a state beyond poverty in utter desperation, the last few years in San Francisco, thanks to people that helped me, have been wonderful, despite all the difficulties. These have been the best years of my life.
I now have (cautiously speaking) fixed the rent issues and can stay where we are. The stress I have been under has been immense. I knew if I could not fix the issue, then I would have to say goodbye to the Boy and that, quite frankly, was going to finally destroy me.
But back to how it feels…Well…when I first ran from Japan, with my oldest child, when she was just a baby I was in a terrible physical state. I was in a state of utter distress, not knowing where we would go, or what we would do. I had a very unwell premature baby, and was trying to recover from both brutal beatings and a very traumatic birth and emergency section where they failed to anesthetize me fully. I had been cut hip to hip, suffered from dangerously high blood pressure which had made my body swell up horrendously. I then had to, in that state, run for our lives. I was distraught, alone, with no support, no one to love me, or care about me. My so called ‘family’ were more concerned with berating me for ‘not being normal’, and sending me and my baby back to Japan. I was a human ping pong ball, being bounced back and forth to Japan, beaten and injured and having to learn how to survive. I had to beg for food, diapers and the necessities of living. I remember feeling outraged, protective and desperate to survive and defend my lovely little baby. I remember being pushed so far I thought I would just have a heart attack and expire. They were desperate days.
I only let myself feel in small amounts. I wished I had someone who loved me, who would help me, take the responsibility for the children on alongside me. I vowed to do anything so they would be ok. I did everything I could, and still it was not nearly enough, at least not in my eyes. I loved, and I loved them both absolutely. It felt as if the bottom was falling out of my soul, that I was turning in on myself with no respite or relief. It felt as if I was being asked to do the impossible, yet giving up was more impossible than carrying on. Failing was my constant companion, and yet I could not fail otherwise the two little people I loved the most in this wide expanse of Fate and cruelty would suffer and that I could not bear.
I was asked to do at least three impossible things before lunchtime, and yet I had to make them possible. I felt alone, unloved, unwanted, discarded, persecuted by husband and by the state, and yet still I had to find room to smile, to play, to live, love and enjoy life for the sake of my two children who needed me to be strong.
I lived a life inbetween moments. It was a life lived for those fragments which I made as good as I possibly could. I used to cry over the fact that I ceased to matter, that I had to justify not letting him kill me, that I had to justify staying with my own children, the only family I had ever had, considering my birth mother let me down wholly and I was abandoned by her community.
Now? Now I feel tired. I feel as if I have lived so many lives, crammed into this one stretch of time. I feel as if the world is hostile to anyone that Fate screws over, and that they blankly look in judgement of those who suffer and try to survive. The world asks “What makes you think you are worth survival?” The world seems to wish that anyone outside of the norm just ceases to exist, does the decent thing and just disappears. Well, fuck the world.
I am not bitter. I feel immense compassion, love and gentleness towards those that also suffer. I am not resentful – it was how it was, and at least I have my Boy, and he loves me and has never felt anything other than love for me. As for the rest…anyone who I feel threatened by, who does not seem able to understand what we have been through…I wish them well and move away fast. I cannot tolerate or withstand much more in the way of attacks.
How does it feel? I really don’t know. I have not yet begun to let myself feel much of anything, it is just all too sad.