Excerpt for Dearest Ciblis, YOU ARE UNWORTHY! by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

Dearest CibLis,


I got you, CibLis!

You can do this!

Stop being scared

Stop caring what others think…

Just be honest—

Show your true self

And your vulnerabilities…

Keep moving forward

This book is your

F O R W A R D!


  • J.M., your unwavering love is the true meaning of unconditional. You are a beautiful rainbow at the end of an almost never-ending, dark tunnel.


As I quietly reflect back on my life, my heart is heavy and filled with sorrow because I wished things could have turned out differently. If not changes in the things that took place, it would have been nice to have someone guide me through those dark times growing up as a Hmong female. As my eyes glanced over at my stationary and pen, I was determined to be there for myself. These letters were written to my little self, the younger me, to encourage her to push past the hate, the pain, staying strong, loving herself, and having faith. Most of all, to never lose sight of “hope.”

Little me, let me look back for you because looking back is not the way to go. I do hope that these letters reach you in a timely manner, preferably before you become a complete nut case like me. With God’s help, I pray that my guidance and advice will empower you and lessen the pain. I will continue to pray that you will be better off today than I was in the past.

  • With much love & happiness,



For as long as I can remember, you have wished upon countless starry nights that you were never conceived. Life, from the second you took your first breath, was a tragedy rather than a miracle. Your parents would beg to differ, but they have never taken the time to walk in your shoes. You have stared at death on many occasions. You have learned to accept that death is a part of life. Since you had no recollection of any early childhood memories in your birthplace of Laos or the refugee camp in Thailand, you had to rely on the stories told by your parents. Who else did you have to rely on, if not them? It made you sad to hear that you were sickly and skeleton-like. You were also described as an intolerable nuisance. Your father once painted a vivid and disturbing image in your mind. He told you that you cried a lot because bad spirits were haunting you, and he had no choice but to throw you into a big puddle of mud. He let you swim in it for a while. When he pulled you out, he put you in front of a mirror and you stared at yourself blankly. He believed that the bad spirits no longer recognized you under all the mud when you stopped crying indefinitely.

God let you survive and thrive for a reason. He has a purpose for your existence. As much as it pained you, listen attentively and let Him guide you through life

(Here’s an essay you wrote about your life…)


I hate my entire life and all the gory stories! I hate this miraculous life that was graciously given to me by my biological parents. Or, God. I never asked to be born, and I didn’t have a choice. No child ever has a choice! It would be nice if I were asked if I had any desire to be brought into this cruel world. It would also be nice to be able to choose my parents or the perfect family. I know that there's no such thing as a perfect family, but it would be nice to have one that's not too far from it. My family was on the extreme opposite side of perfection. Some would argue that my parents did the best they could with what they had. In my eyes, my parents didn't try hard enough. Life has been hard and unbearable. For example, they didn't even bother to learn how to drive. Imagine trying to run errands, shop for groceries or take nine children to dental or doctors’ appointments without a driver’s license. They never bothered to learn how to read, write, and speak English either. I was discouraged to speak English in the home, and they rarely spoke to me in Hmong unless they were directing or reprimanding me. They never tried to find what type of careers they were passionate about. Both of them became homemakers on public assistance. As a result, we were dirt poor. My mother was a nurturing, loving homemaker. My dad, on the other hand, was at his happiest when he became a servant to the General.


My upbringing has created a desperate yearning for my parents’ love. I still desire their affection and approval. I was scorned because I was born a girl, something I have no control over. I can only pretend to grasp what’s happening right in front of me. I pretend that it does not matter and that it does not hurt. I talk myself into believing that they did not mean the cruel words. As much as try to shake off all the negativity and void, I still find myself screwed up, alone and afraid every now and then.


  • I had been strong enough to untangle myself from my parents’ selfishness. Since the scars were so deep, I wished that I had completed the call to 911 and not have a care in the world what anyone will think of me. How different would my life have been?

  • The police officer (i.e. a relative with the same clan name) had done his job and filed a police report when my parents called him directly to come to look for me after I escaped and fled with the high school boy to Wisconsin.

  • My teachers took notice of my strange behavior in class and pulled me aside and talked to me. My head was down on my desk for the entire period in Chemistry class and never did he reprimand me or send me to the Principal’s office.

  • My second sister took my hand when I reached out to her. She was the only person that I had enough strength and courage to ask. She replied, “I can’t help you. I’ll get in trouble.”

  • I was born a prince, not a girl. My mind, body, and heart would have had fewer scars. And, all my scars would have been my own doing.


Ultimately I am not my parents’ child

For their words and actions speak otherwise

A million times I have failed them

A million times I feared this moment

A moment where my innocence faintly slips into darkness

As this chain wraps around me ever so tightly

With every beat of my heart

With every fiber of my being

No one sees my pain or acknowledges my cries

A girl I was born

I can imagine being my parents’ son

The never-ending joy and pride

Not my fault I had one different chromosome


This topic hurts to the core. Forced marriages still exist in the Hmong culture; however, it should be banned. When you were younger, you would gaze at beautiful, white weddings in magazines until you got lost in the fantasy. As an observant Hmong-American, you soon lost interest in the traditional Hmong values and customs. You dreaded the inequality. You hated being a girl in your very own race. You would rather assimilate into the new culture than be held to the old-fashioned, sexist culture that you know too well and hate. It made you sad that girls were good for only two things: a servant that attended to all the cooking and cleaning in the home and a bride price. Back in Laos, a bride price consisted of silver bars and/or livestock (e.g., cow or pig), but cash has become far more valuable in America. When a daughter marries her groom, her parents will expect a bride price, which covers the wedding, the bride’s head and the price of her mother’s milk and food (or, as we say in Hmong, nqe mis nqe hno).


CibLis, get up. Get up right now. Your father wants to talk to you.” There was a sense of urgency in my mother’s soft whispers. As I slowly woke up to her tug on my shoulder, I could not believe that I had fallen asleep so quickly. I remember laying down just a few minutes ago, but it has been almost a good two hours since I got home from school. I hinted to my mother that I still feel exhausted. Besides, tomorrow is test day and I have so much homework to complete, not to mention exams. Half of my face was moist from slobber. I wiped it quickly before I was finally able to force myself to sit upright at the edge of my twin size bed. My mother expected me to be all ears. As I gave a big yawn and smeared the rest of the drool off of my mouth, my mother repeated herself, “Your father wants to talk to you. Now go clean yourself up!”

Lazily and unenthused, I got up anyways. Why not? I’ve already been disturbed from my deep sleep. I dragged my feet to the bathroom and tidied up. As I stared at myself in the mirror, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I looked like a zombie, who has been deprived of sleep. Deprived of everything, actually. I washed my wrinkled face and tied my messy hair into a ponytail. My mind raced, “What the hell is this meeting about anyway? Why has my father let my mother come to fetch me? Why couldn’t my father just come into my room and talk to me himself if it was that important? Why can’t this wait until the weekend?” The only answer I could come up was that my father has finally realized that he loves me. I know it’s not true, but I desperately wanted to believe that maybe he wanted to apologize for never being there for me. Maybe he wanted to tell how proud he was of me and tell me he’s sorry for never encouraging me like he does his sons. I loved the sound of these positive thoughts, but I doubt they will ever become a reality. No such words will ever reach my ears. It was nice to play pretend though, even if it’s just for a few seconds.

There’s no doubt that my parents loved me, and I know that they didn’t know how to show or express it in words. This was how I rationalized everything in order to survive in my parents’ world. They could have thrown me away during the midnight escape as we fled the war zone in Laos during the Vietnam War. My constant cries must have caused a lot of stress. I took a deep breath as I continued to drag my feet along the brown carpeted hallway to my parents’ bedroom. As I gently pushed the door open, they were sitting on their bed waiting for my arrival. I made myself comfortable on my old twin size bed. My father’s face and eyes hinted that a very serious matter has come up. My mother sat there quietly with her eyes glued to the ground, waiting patiently for my father to start. As I listened, my eyes widened in disbelief. I could not believe my ears! “How could he make such a request of me?”

It came out of nowhere! Like a freshwater fish drowning in saltwater, I was in shock. All sorts of emotions rushed through me. Motionless, I became paralyzed. With just my eyes blinking, I turned towards my mother for words of comfort. I was not surprised by my mother’s blank and unsupportive stare. I knew she was in on this, always following my father’s footsteps. Her eyes finally met mine for a whole five seconds and then I lost her forever. My heart sank, and I couldn’t believe what my ears were hearing as my mind raced to try to process every word from my dad’s mouth. Apparently, I had failed to see this coming. My heart was aching, but I kept hoping that she would back me up just for once. This would be the only battle that I would want my mother to help fight. The only one, I promise! As always, she remained the loyal, passive and subservient wife. I felt trapped and cornered. I felt as if the only way I could come out of this meeting alive was to obey.

“How could this be? This is my life that they are tampering with! It’s so unfair!” I screamed inside. Again, I tried to make eye contact with my mother, but her eyes still refused to meet mine. She remained stoic and allowed my father to say what needed to be said. My mother was only in the room to give my father moral support. Disappointed, I knew that I had to say something. I had to voice my feelings even though the chances of them listening were slim to none. I knew they would not be satisfied until I agreed to their arrangement, but I still had to show them that I am not going down without a fight and that they were not going to get their way easily. Finding the right words was extremely difficult. Even when I felt cornered, I still didn’t want to offend them. I didn’t want to come off as an unappreciative brat since this arrangement was considered a gift of love. Sobbing and in rage, I hesitantly blurted out, “Why? Why me?”

My heart jumped out of my chest and my mind raced faster than ever. My goodness, gracious! I was only a junior in high school. I was only sixteen, not quite seventeen until August. I still had my entire life ahead of me. I believed that I have a beautiful, happy life waiting for me. I wanted to be a doctor of some type, and this request will make my dreams and goals impossible. My father replied, “I am choosing your spouse because I want the best for you. I want you to be happy. He is family, and I know he will love you.” I was disrespectfully screaming (in my mind, of course), “No way! He is my first cousin and he is two times my age! He works at a slaughterhouse for crying out loud! I don’t think that he can ever help me reach my dreams! Besides, he’s like a brother and this is so like incest even though you may not see it that way!” I desperately wanted to let my parents have it, but that’s not how I was raised. I not only hated them, I hated myself! I despised them so much right now I wished they would just vanish into thin air! This was the exact moment when I believed that I could live without them. I respectfully questioned them again, “But you never chose my three older sisters’ husbands, why me?”

My heart knew that my parents feared that no one would ever find me attractive enough, which makes me non-marriage material. And now that I’m approaching closer and closer to the “over the hill” age of eighteen and since I have no intention of cutting the cord voluntarily, they took things into their own hands. My three sisters got the memo and rushed out of the house when they were fifteen, which became the norm in our household. I disregarded the memo and wanted to hang around longer, making me the black sheep. This was my parents’ way of saying that they didn’t’ want an old maid living in their home. Not only would I be a disgrace or a total disappointment, I would cause them public humiliation. My father had a sincere response, “Well, look at your sisters’ lives. They have lived such a hard life with their spouses and we don’t want the same for you. That’s why your mother and I have decided to arrange your marriage and pick your spouse.” Before arguing back, I agreed that all three of them have had a bittersweet life with their husband of choice. They have had to endure physical and verbal abuse, and it was unfortunate and sad. They were in a marriage where the man controlled and demanded, while they passively obeyed. However, I imagined my life completely different from theirs. I hope that I would have a healthier and happier life with someone I choose to marry in the future.

Refusing to let my father do to me as he pleased, I plead with him. I told my parents that I want to attend college after I finish high school. I expressed my desire to experience college life as a single woman. I expressed my need to experience life to its fullest before settling down. I revealed my dreams of going to medical school and becoming a surgeon of some type. I hinted that I had no desire to just be a wife and mother. I was so relieved and proud of myself that I have laid it all out there. Never before was I able to do this, but this evening was different. I don’t know if my parents were surprised, shocked or disappointed, but my father had an answer to my every plea. My mother finally reached out and tried to hold my hands, but I pulled back. She mumbled, “You can still go to college. He will help you reach your goals.” I felt like shouting now! Did they not hear the part that I wanted to experience college life as a single woman? Why do I need a man to help me reach my goals? I told myself that I might as well die if my parents continue to press the issue. I am good as dead; I felt doomed. My parents made the arrangement and now they were not just suggesting, they were demanding that I accept the proposal. My father interjected, “It will bring the family closer. He will love you the way you want to be loved.” I refused to believe that my father knows how I want to be loved when he doesn’t even know how my mother wants to be loved!

I have been hurt before, but this was the very last blow to my heart! What have I ever done to them to deserve such pain and heartbreak? Other than fact that I was born a girl instead of a son. In full rage, I stood up and shouted, “NO! I will not marry him! I do not love him! I will not do it! I will not!” As I stormed out and slammed the door with all my might, my dreams slowly lost all its meaning.


She locked her bedroom door and made sure the attached door to her daughter’s room was locked. She sat down on her bed and took a deep breath. As she secretly smiled with a sigh of relief, she pulled a huge thirty-five large bills out of her pant pocket. As she started to count it again, she thought, “It’s finally done! I never thought I could do it!” Payday has always been a sweet reward for her, but this time her heart was heavy. It has been five years since she’s seen so much cash. The last three weddings were quite different compared to this one. She worried about her stubborn daughter and took matters into her own hands. As she stared at the cash, she was still in a state of disbelief that she managed to haggle so much money for a worthless daughter. She wondered, “How much would she be worth if I had waited until she hit the “over the hill” age of 18? Or, after she had graduated from college with her Bachelor’s? Or, when she’s a successful doctor?” She knew all the answers to these questions, but she preferred to shake off all the guilt. She tried to convince herself that it didn’t matter anymore and that what has been done cannot be undone. She can now live with herself. She no longer has to convince her daughter that marriage was the only way to happiness. She hated worrying about her daughter’s single life at age 18 and the public shame she would have to endure. She hated her daughter’s dreams of going to college and medical school. She became annoyed when the thoughts of the uphill battle between her and her daughter lingered back into her mind. As soon as she realized that her daughter is forever gone, she remembered that she still has a six-year-old daughter.


Almost every teenager will go through this stage where they question themselves, their existence and whether or not God is real. “Who am I? Why am I here? Is God real?” It is quite normal. You are not weird. Just remember one thing: God is real, and He created you in His image. Do not be like me where I turned my back on Him for over two decades. Always hold Him close to your heart during good and bad times. He is the only one that can help you defeat the evils of this world. Always remember that you will not survive this cruel world without Him. Seriously, you won’t!

Be strong and never let anyone tell you who you ought to be! Stay close to God—do not resent Him as I did. This will cut the pain to a minimum. Instead of twenty-something years of pain, hate, depression, and anxiety, maybe you will just need five year tops to rebuild yourself. Keep up with the therapy sessions. Seek out professional help and gather yourself around good people. Stay away from takers, who only want things from you. Steer clear from people, who enjoy pulling you down in order to build their self-worth. Avoid men in general until you are healed. You don’t want to move from one man to the next seeking love and acceptance when you are still self-destructive and self-loathing.

(This was your only escape…)

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