Updated: Jun 29, 2020
| This is the 284th story of Our Life Logs |
I grew up in Taiwan, South Korea, and Hawaii, floating back and forth between the three places to see my father who was an influential politician in South Korea, as well as my mother and stepfather who were both successful in their areas of multinational business. My parents raised me with progressive values, or at least less traditional than most Asian families. I had the freedom to do what I wanted, when I wanted, and honestly, where I wanted! As I grew older, each of my parents urged me into the realm of social policy—and for good reason, noting their success—but my heart lay elsewhere.
My dream was to sing. Music was my escape from the responsibility of the wealth and legacy that was associated with my family. So, despite their attempts, I chose to live the life I wanted with no regrets. After receiving advice from two celebrities and a one-way ticket sent from a friend, I left a note behind to my family and flew to California.
Hollywood wasn’t what I had expected. It was both surreal and disappointing, but it was the place to be if I wanted to take my dream further. After months of being discouraged, I signed with an indie label and things began turning around. The passion inside me was burning! I spent the majority of my time recording in a studio, working at one of the hippest venues in town, and attending school part-time. I met many friends this way, eventually leading me to the man I would marry…
A prince on a white horse was never in my plans. I had been a princess in my early life and was more than ready to be the queen of my dreams. However, as my fate played out, I met whom I thought was “my prince” in 2002.
This guy, whom I called Oppa, was different. Little shorter than my taste, older in age, handsome, smart, with an unusually strong build for an Asian. In fact, because of our similarity in looks, people often thought we were siblings. Coincidentally, the last few digits of our social security numbers are even the same! I felt he was my soulmate. He did everything to charm me. I could sense the love from him.
Everybody saw us as a match made in heaven. My friend Na told me that she had a dream of Oppa, me, and a baby girl on the cover of a magazine, looking like a perfect little family. I laughed as she told me this, but I paused on the possibility that maybe this too was a sign that we were meant to be. Oppa’s sister-in-law also told me that she had a dream about two white lions and a baby cub in a cage. One of Oppa’s friends even wrote us a card that read, “It is written in the stars.”
I was immediately introduced to Oppa’s friends and family who adored me and whom I loved. Not having family in LA, I was thrilled to have a second home. Two years into our relationship, he slipped a huge diamond ring on my finger with a world of promises, and we were on our way to wedding bells and becoming young parents to a beautiful baby girl.
Our wedding was quickly orchestrated by my future mother-in-law. While this could have been a huge weight from my shoulders, I just felt like I was watching the most important day of my life from the sidelines. With a sudden life change and my hormones running wild, I started to clash with my in-laws’ orders. No matter what I said, no one would listen. This made me realize that there was no way back. The show had to go on: our invitations were out, my families from different parts of the world had booked the flights, and the wedding day was approaching…
So, we got married in 2004, and later that year our baby girl was born.
I planned to put music on hold and pick it right back up once we had our child, excited to venture into a new stage of life. However, as soon as life felt picture perfect, things suddenly shifted.
My older sister- and brother-in-law dreamed of having a baby, but they could not conceive. In Asian culture, it might come off inappropriate for the younger couple to have the child first, and my sister-in-law felt embarrassed. My mother-in-law was happy about our marriage and becoming a grandmother, but on the other hand, she made inappropriate comments about my sister-in-law’s situation. I didn’t quite understand it then. I mean, it’s not like we were living in retro days! Still, the guilt pressed upon me.
One day, as I was talking over the phone to my mother about my situation, she said that I should bear a child for my sister-in-law. Part of me thought she was crazy…but the other part, however small it was, did consider it. At that point, I would have done anything to keep the family happy. Luckily, we didn’t go down that route.
Being the youngest, it seemed they looked down upon me and thought they could boss me around. However, I didn’t let my guard down and stood up for myself. My sister-in-law would vent her misery and conflicts with our mother-in-law to me, but whenever everyone was in the same room when the conflict arose, she would hide and play innocent, while I would be the one to stand up and speak up. Gradually, I became the “bad” daughter-in-law. My close friends told me that it could’ve been because my sister-in-law was trying to cover her flaws of not being able to bear a grandchild.
Sometimes, people who claim to be your family can be the biggest obstacles in your life. Since childhood, I thought that speaking my mind was a strength. Now, it seemed that my strong-willed nature was just a one-way ticket to a family-wide argument. I felt suffocated as if I was being dragged to the deep ocean every time I had to see the in-laws, even though some of the extended family were considerate and kind.
At the same time, I began to feel so, so isolated. It was as if I was screaming at the top of my lungs but no one would listen—even my own husband. My macho hubby was turning into a mama’s boy, always siding with her. I couldn’t help but feel…lonely. I was hit with severe depression and scary thoughts started crossing my mind, but I kept my sanity for our daughter’s sake. I wanted the best for our baby, so I managed to nurse her for close to two years without taking any anti-depressants prescribed by the doctors. I wasn’t going to take any chance with our precious one.
Surprisingly, my life with Oppa went on. Before we knew it, 15 years had gone by. I tried to talk to him about counseling, therapy, and retreats at some point, but it seemed like he wasn’t hearing me. The strange thing was, although I was suggesting these things, I too wasn’t sure if this was the right solution for us.
Home didn’t feel like a home anymore. Our marriage life was falling apart. I saw how lost I was. I had drifted away from my sanity and God and it felt that I had come too far to turn things back around.
However, I had a wake-up call when my daughter found me crying. She reminded me that I needed to be strong and be happy again. This was the breaking point to making the most difficult decision of my life.
I began turning back to faith, and the more I sought, the more I found. One hand can’t clap by its own, I had to make a big change, and no one likes changes, because we are all comfortable with staying at familiar places. I decided to have one last serious talk with Oppa, but by then, he had fallen deep into his own choices of living, he wasn’t all there. To me, there was a stranger in the house.
Years of praying and trying to find a solution, I had come to the last resort. I presented the divorce papers. Oppa looked shocked, like an astonished frog. He told me it woke him up and that we should hold off on the divorce. We decided to separate, it gave me the impression that maybe we still had a slight chance. After all, I had imperfections as well, and this decision was heavy. Still, taking that last step was one of the most challenging things I had to do in my life.
Unfortunately, there was no real chance. In time, things started folding itself naturally. It felt unreal to find out that Oppa was moving on and that his mother was already looking for a new wife for him in Korea. Although I was discouraged, I was reminded of the good things. Regardless of what was said, I knew I had stood firm in my belief and I refused to go back into that abyss. The pain was real but a part of me felt great freedom and happiness—as if a thousand-pound load was off my shoulder. I was thankful to finally feel clear out of confusion and distress I had with my long dead-end marriage.
I learned through all this, sometimes you lose it all to gain more back, sometimes things must become tragic for you to be lifted. Oppa will always be the father of my child and I am learning to forgive myself and those who have hurt me. Forgiveness brings closure, and when closure is at peace, I believe there will be a brand-new chapter awaiting.
This is the story of Tia J.H
Residing in Sunny California, Tia, an island beauty, uses her diverse talents through performing to bring communities together. Coming from a fortunate background to hitting rock bottom in her marriage, she shares her story of forgiveness in pure happiness. She realized she was meant to use her talent to help people. Aside from her artistic pursuits, Tia works with the disabled and helps the unfortunate. In her free time, she hosts her journal page called “LifeStyles with Tia,” where she shares amazing stories along with her interests and much more official content to come.
This story first touched our hearts on October 19, 2018.
| Writer: Tia J.H | Editor: Colleen Walker |