Denizen

noun: denizen; plural noun: denizens

  1. FORMAL•HUMOROUS

    a person, animal, or plant that lives or is found in a particular place.

    "denizens of field and forest"

    synonyms:inhabitant, resident, townsman, townswoman, native, local


People often ask me where I’m from and I always find it difficult to answer.

Do they want to know where I come from based on how I look? Do they want to know where I was born? Or where I grew up? Perhaps they want to know where I have lived the longest? Maybe where I feel most at home?

I actually can not answer this with only one country because it’s a different answer for each question .

When I was younger I wished that my parents were different. I wished they were not Vietnamese, that they were not so strict and poor. I wanted to be Swedish, have more freedom and be able to buy toys and clothes. Instead we only ate Vietnamese food and spoke Vietnamese at home, I was not allowed to go out in the evenings and I mainly played with my brothers old Transformers.

My parents worked hard to make a better life for us and we were often left on our own while they worked long hours. Although I had friends and never experienced racism or prejudice, I always had a nagging feeling of unfulfillment. I was lonely, being the only and youngest girl with five older brothers, I longed for a sister, or perhaps even a present mother.

I’m the baby on my eldest brothers hip.

I’m the baby on my eldest brothers hip.

Early on in life I felt that I didn’t belong in my family. I always had a feeling of not being understood and that I could not be myself. There were expectations of how to behave, what I should study and what kind of man to marry.

I was definitely not a submissive person that wanted to please other people.

The drive for authenticity was strong and already at 15 I knew that I had to leave my family to live a fulfilled life where my soul could expand and elevate.

When I turned 18 I booked myself a one-way ticket to London.

I arrived on 31st August 1997, the day Princess Diana died.

People tell me how brave I must have been, to leave the safety of my family and home but it was purely down to soul survival for me. I knew that I couldn’t live the life I needed to live, had I stayed.

This was a time before mobile phones and my family had no means to contact me. My father was so heart- broken that he dis-owned me and did not speak to me for the next ten years.

It is only since having children that I have started to mend my relationship with my parents. It is not easy though as so much time has passed and on top of all the anger, resentment and hurt, we also have a language barrier.

I had not spoken Vietnamese for ten years and my parents Swedish is limited so it is difficult to have meaningful conversations.

I have spent over twenty years feeling guilty for following my desire for an authentic and purposeful life and it’s only since reading Alice Miller’s “ The Drama of The Gifted Child” that I no longer feel guilty.