winter in the fortress


i’m so spent.

it’s been an exhausting four months here:

  • having my two week settling in destroyed by recruiter’s mistake.
  • draining labor dispute and plea bargain with recruiter.
  • landing a teaching position with no dedicated classroom, broken equipment, and poor support.
  • traveling to my birthplace and finding nothing twice.
  • going on tv twice
  • being in the magazine article
  • being the subject of the documentary, all 30+ hours it took
  • my new role as adoption gone wrong poster child
  • the grind of commuting to my korean lessons
  • the inability to concentrate on korean lessons
  • the fight with holt
  • the impossible task ahead of me, searching for kim sook ja

but the worst part is the isolation.

  • i only hear english.  i therefore, can’t practice or learn korean.
  • all my colleagues have their own lives.
  • i haven’t the money or energy after all of the above to party with the young foreigners
  • my struggles on-line get buried because i don’t cry loud enough
  • foreigners always forget who i am because i blend in with all the other koreans, and i’ve given up trying
  • i can’t have a functional conversation in korean with anyone korean who can’t speak english
  • i’ve no prospects for company, and i can just totally forget about romance at my age.  even the korean women my age can’t find it, and i especially can’t find it because of the two previous reasons.
  • i only have this stupid computer and this stupid blog and these four walls and a pile of heavy subject matter to work through that would make grown men tremble.

what the hell was i thinking, coming here?  in my city of 600,000 on the edge of the almost 12 million people of seoul, i am totally alone all the time.

why must i be the fighter for social justice?  why must i be the translator of this pain?  why have i never been free to just enjoy myself?  why have i always been so exquisitely lonely? why has it ALWAYS been so crushingly intense?

i’d just like the freedom to be weak for a minute.  i’m just a simple girl who wants a simple life and someone to love me, that’s all.

please, God, if you’re out there.  please allow me that.

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5 thoughts on “winter in the fortress

  1. (((((((girl 4708)))))

    If I came to Korea, you would be the first person I would want to see!

    You dont always have to be strong or the social injustice fighter! You are allowed to have as many weak moments as you need!

    I think I understand where you are….sometimes you want to crumble, but there is no one to catch you, because everyone thinks of you as the strong one.

    I am here to tell you….you do have friends out there and YOU are more important than you fighting the good fight for adoptees.

    More than anything, I want your prayers answered…whatever it may be, because you matter most!

  2. I feel much the same way as you on several of the points you made above. Most of my day was spent in Seoul, and seeing all the people out together – friends, couples, families – just reinforced how alone I am here. Also, after taking a Korean test last week, I’ve felt very hopeless about picking up very much of the language.

    I am in awe at how much strength you have to not only put up with those issues, but also the ones related to your school and Holt. Mind if I give you a call some time this week?

  3. Ahh, thanks for all the supportive comments…

    It’s still crushingly lonely here. I mean, a vow of silence would be a piece of cake for me, as I never speak to anyone. I can’t even play music, which I used to always do, because it interrupts the thoughts in my head and I need those thoughts because there’s so much work to do.

    That’s the thing I didn’t expect – THERE’S SO MUCH WORK HERE. I’ve seen the complexities of other cultures and counted on some culture shock – but as I unpeel this onion, the root of the problems is so many layers underground it’s unfathomable. It’s so much more complex here in Asia than it was in the Caribbean. The defeatist mindset is so much more entrenched. There is no outlet for anger here. There is only self-flagellation and burden, shame and guilt, obligation and resignation and suicide.

    And I am a product of all of the above.

    Something is fundamentally flawed in me, that I can’t just sit and watch it all go to hell. I am CURSED with the need to fix things. To not fix what I see needs fixing causes such psychic distress that I am rendered paralyzed. To fix things is at the expense of everything and anything regenerative. Everything goes out and nothing comes in.

    In some weird way, I think this is my destiny. I think every horror I’ve experienced has all been my curriculum vitae towards doing this work. I think this work requires all ones energy until, like an insect, you expire, having served your purpose.

    I was in the car of Kee Jung Kwon, director of the Korean Unwed Mother’s Support Network, getting a lift to the subway station, and I asked her if she was a social worker by day. “No, I am not a social worker. I guess my job is advocacy. This is my full time job.” We talked about Dr. Boas and his mission to provide real choices for unwed moms. “Dr. Boas doesn’t want to just help unwed moms,” she said. “No. He wants to CHANGE SOCIETY.” she laughed nervously. “That’s all!”

    Someone else took Jane Jeong Trenka to task on her blog’s about page, admonishing her for living in the past and not moving forward and that living in the present would be the only way she could find healing. But it’s not about the past and our traumas. It’s about the future. It’s nasty, gut-wrenching, impossible work. But somebody’s got to do it.

    The only thing balancing in my life was caring for my two children, who had no agenda or mission. Maybe I need to get a pet…

    Oh and Paul, you don’t need an appointment to call.

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