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My Journey to Self-Connection and Acceptance

I came from a small country in South-East Asia where gender discrimination and violence against women are ongoing concerns. Social norms, beliefs and customs all are highly dominated by the idea of patriarchy, which also creates mental barriers for women to get their autonomy. Misinterpretation of religion is used to oppress women in the name of honor. Furthermore, religion can be misused to blame them for abuse and violence and to hide the failure of the justice system. Blissfully, I have supportive parents and a brother who never considered me as only a daughter who was there until she got married and spent the rest of her life with in-laws. At my parents’ house, I have a space forever where I belong, and I am loved. In my academic life, I learned formulas of math, English and science as many of you do. However, I was completely unaware of the experience of abuse, toxic relationships, dangerous personality, mental health issues and trauma. When my family arranged my marriage, I immediately “trusted” my so-called husband.

I thought that the mantra exchanged our hearts between us! Overpowered by human giver syndrome, I placed his needs and dreams at first by demolishing mine. I raised questions about my married life when I came to Canada and joined different programs. My morning started with gas lighting, verbal abuse and criticism about my parents whom I love most. I lost my connection to myself, and I was unable to accept myself as if I was the most unknown person to me. When facilitators in one of the newcomers’ programs asked me about my strengths, I could not say one. I had self-doubt, loss of self-esteem, forgetfulness, headache, distraction, high blood pressure and decision fatigue. Looking in the mirror, I could not recognize myself as someone who had grown up with love and care. Isolated from my support system, facing challenges in a new country, rules and regulations for immigrants, financial uncertainty and being less informed about the resources made me indecisive about leaving the relationship. Gradually, I realize that a relationship does not build in heaven nor by only chanting mantra, it builds by continuous work of two persons who have similar human values, ethics and compatibility. To me, being in an abusive relationship is not a sign of loyalty. Rather it snatched my opportunity to get the best and for other people to face the consequences of their actions. Once I knew what Gabor Mate says, “trauma is not bad things that happen to you. What happens inside you as a result of what happens to you”. My religion gives too much importance on the woman’s marital status, which I lost now. Being separated, I am out of the flow, but I am connected to myself. Now when I look in the mirror, I see my best friend for whom I have respect, love and care. I see someone who works on her past and makes an effort to have a better present. My experience is the reason to come to social work, and I am curious how beautifully I can rebuild my life and help others in their journey.

Here are some lists of resources

  Six Pillars of Self Esteem by Nathaniel Branden
  Art of Communication by Thich Nhat Hanh

TedTalk and Podcast
  The Power of Vulnerability by Brenè Brown
  How To Stop The Negative Patterns In Your Relationship And Rebuild Trust
  The Six Red Flags You Need to Avoid in a Relationship

CFS Saskatoon
  Rapid Access Counseling Services – 1-306-244-7773
  Counseling and Programs for Women Experienced Intimate Partner Violence – 1-306-244-0127

Practicum Student at CFS Saskatoon
Student from University of Regina