Immigrant

It’s amazing what your mind can suppress for 32 or 33 years… That one moment you are thinking about the Oscars and in the next moment you see your 10 or 11 year-old self curled into a ball on the floor, sobbing and pleading for your parents to take you back.  And then you don’t remember just one incident, but multiple…. always the same.. on the floor in a ball crying… telling them you miss your friends and you miss your family and you just hate it here in America.  But it’s not really just about your friends or family that you miss….that’s just the lie you’re telling your parents…. it’s about wanting to be able to just once walk around without feeling like you wish you could just disappear; that you could be invisible… it’s about dreading going to bed yet again, only to have to wake up and face going to school, where all day you will try not to draw any attention to yourself whatsoever, never knowing when you’re going to be hissed at, called a terrorist, or spit on.

That’s what I remembered on my run this morning.  I made the very stupid mistake of going on Facebook before my run, and seeing all this completely opposing and ridiculous commentary about the movie “The Salesman” from Iran winning best foreign film, and the decision of the director to not accept his award in person, and I was flabbergasted at some of the negative and hateful things I read.  Then I’m running and thinking about how I am just f%cking tired of politics in the last few months… so f%cking tired of going back and forth between thinking about what I can do to make a difference one minute and then just wanting to live my life the next minute, and then suddenly I see a little girl curled up on the floor.  How did I make myself forget all that?

I see my parents, who gave up everything they had and started their life over so that their 3 daughters could have a better life, looking at their daughter and genuinely not knowing what to do.  I seem to remember a conversation with my mom at some point when I was a little older when she told me that they actually contemplated going back because of me.  I’m pretty sure that conversation happened… I’m not sure.  And now I get tearful on my run, not because of myself or that little girl, but because of my parents… because of the genuine hell that I put them through when they had already given up everything for us.  And if there is a God, which I’m not sure if there is one or not, I thank him for helping me forget those scenes from my life for so many years until I got to the point when I could finally for the most part figure out who the hell I am and be comfortable with myself and what I have to say before giving me those memories back.  Then I’m wondering why didn’t my older sister and I ever talk about any of this shit together??  We NEVER talked about it.  Are you getting bullied?  Do you wish we could go back?  What do you miss most?  Are you f%cking ok????  And I know that she must have been going through her own thing… she must have dealt with it her own way…. I binged and purged and cried and eventually literally ran away … she dealt in other ways.

And as I’m running, I’m also debating in my head with whether I come home and write this shit down and put it out in the world or just let it go…. I tell myself that people should hear real stories behind real people that they know, and then on the other hand I tell myself but I’m just so f%cking tired.  I just want to live my life and go on my runs and go to work and take care of my beautiful children and drink my wine and go to yoga and have fun and just be done with all this crap.  One second I want to be a political activist, and the next second I think enough… enough… I have been through enough… I just want to live my life and let other people fight the fight…. I just in the last couple of years finally got to the point when every thing seemed great, and in the last couple of months, I have seen and heard so much hate that I just don’t know what to do anymore and have I mentioned that I’m so fucking tired… And let me just say that it’s not just hate against Muslims or Iranians that is breaking my heart… I’m seeing hate against everyone… I have seen the most horrific anti-semitic hate right here in Los Angeles that it makes me want to throw up.

Here are some final thoughts…. there is a difference between people and government… some of the hateful commentary I read may have been ok if directed at the government of Iran, but please understand that the people of Iran do not equal the government of Iran… Just like I hate Trump and most of the government but I love the majority of the actual American people… I love America… There is no country I’d rather live in.  It’s taken me 30 years to get to a point in my life where I can be comfortable with who I am… I can write all this and put it out there without being afraid… But I’ve also realized that I have spent 30 years trying to prove to everyone around me that I am just like them… that I am just one of them… that you and I are the same…but we are not.  Never has it been more clear to me than today that being an immigrant has effected every single decision I’ve made in some way… that no matter how much I’ve tried to suppress my experience, being an immigrant has shaped who I am today… and it will therefore continue to impact every decision I make.

***I am hitting publish before I have a chance to change my mind or revise this or try to make it perfect, because I need to jump in the shower, go to the grocery store and do my other errands, and then get my beautiful kids from school.  There is no need to call me.  I am ok, which is exactly why I can put this out there.  Love to all.

About Paria

Runner, mother, pediatrician, blogger

16 comments on “Immigrant

  1. Learning about your family’s experience immigrating to this country and the sacrifice you and your parents made impacted my life in many ways, Paria. I was blessed with meeting Parimah a pivotal point in my life where I was really becoming an adult and growing into the person I am today – shortly after 9/11 and during a frightening time in our nation’s history for reasons than one. I am a better person because of the Hassouri’s – a more open minded, compassionate person. Keep sharing your story – you never know how many others you are reaching who may not otherwise have had the opportunity to learn another perspective than their own.

    • Thank you Shana… for saying the sweetest things about my family, and also for giving me the reassurance that stories like mine, no matter how hard to admit and put out there, may impact others and give them a different point of view so that we can all hopefully understand each other better.

  2. I love every ounce of your beautiful self. You are an amazing human being who I admire even if it’s from afar most of the time. Thankful for your parents who brought you here so many years ago because without them I would have never been given the gift of your friendship making my own life even that much more meaningful.

  3. I’m with you on the level of frustration and tiredness. I’ve never read so much daily news before 45. I’ve always donated to charities and organizations closes to my heart, but these days, I’m making weekly donations here and there. Even my volunteering has ramped up after being in a lull for several months.

    I commented before in one of your posts, or maybe I emailed you, that it’s only recently that I learned the lesson we all have stories. The stories I tell myself that everyone’s life must be perfect, oh to be so and so, etc are all falsehoods. I should’ve shared more, asked more, reached out more.

    I have been sharing some stories from my younger days, and not so younger days, with my friends of the racial and gender discrimination that I have experienced – molded me, cracked me, broken me – that have shaped my perspective, changed my perspective, opened me.

    Keep sharing your stories. You matter. I matter. Everyone matters.

    The chorus from Leonard Cohen’s Anthem that I love:

    Ring the bells (ring the bells) that still can ring
    Forget your perfect offering
    There is a crack in everything (there is a crack in everything)
    That’s how the light gets in

    • First, I texted the quote “There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in” to Jake on his birthday, thanking him for helping me through the light through my cracks. Second and way more important, you and I will need to have a better chance of sitting face to face and one and one and having an all-out-ugly-cry session together.. I will call you about why at this particular time, I can’t get away for this one-on-one session.

  4. Thank you for opening up in such a vulnerable way. Even with the sadness and the anger that is attached to this I found it very beautiful because it really showed who you are.
    This really touched me and makes me miss you even more. See you in April. X

    • I got my “Go L#ve Yourself” shirt in the mail today… perfect timing. I need to take a little time to go love myself while I let other people fight the fight before I go down a dangerous rabbit hole that has been looming over me the last couple of months… I wrote this because I get it… I get all the people that should be so outraged right now but don’t show that they are because they need to protect themselves.

  5. This is such a beautiful post, brought tears to my eyes. I have been feeling so exhausted too of late and swinging from ‘what to do’, ‘where to donate?’ and reading and discussing the news voraciously to avoiding it completely while being filled with anger and disgust. I was planning to go to Morrocco or Spain for vacation, but in the end I have felt afraid to leave the country for fear of being questioned or bothered by border patrol upon return (despite my US passport but because it states ‘Birthplace: Shiraz, Iran’) and was advised by some family not to travel to Arab countries. Regarding shorter inter-US trips, I have felt so emotionally exhausted to plan anything so drove to Gs country home in rural western CT and into the woods. When I saw a neighbors’ sign down the street from where I am staying stating ‘Hillary for Prison!’ (two signs actually) next to an American flag, I ruminated for 8h how to respond (initial thoughts including graffiti and my own protest signs next to their signs to stealing and burning their signs, then to more buddhisatva ways to respond like peaceful discussion, putting peace and dog stickers or pink hats on their signs)…In the end I did not know how to respond. I stayed in Nature, and started doing daily yoga practice at a nearby studio. And slowly my heart opened and I am reminded of what I feel to be true. We are all the same, we are all connected. Any difference is an illusion and we are all caught in a trance of stories, unfortunately often with a negativity bias. I realize that the only way to respond to hatred and ignorance is with love, wisdom, and compassion, but that must start at home with self compassion. There is no birth, no death, only being or ‘inter-being’, to borrow Thich Nhat Hanh’s words. To borrow Lenny Shapiro’s words, ‘race’ is a word created only to create mischief. There is no I and thou. I will be sending you much loving kindness, my dearest Paria.

    • Thank you for this… it is a blog post in itself… we are all so damn tired…and we are all the same… I feel like I have been a “yo-yo heart diet”… opening it up only to have it broken again and again… And I need to actively for a little while step away from all the things that break it before I can open it fully to help anyone else…

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