17th April 2024
Blogs Opinion Sitges Lifestyle

From a robbery to healing: my journey in Sitges as a Chinese woman

I wanted to write a piece to celebrate my two-year anniversary in Sitges. It’s hard to start, though, because so many things have happened since I arrived. I see the events as ‘moments’.

Moment No.1 – A Robbery

A few months ago, on a rainy, cloudy day, I wrote down this line in my journal before heading out. ‘There is a famine going on in my body.’

I was wearing a T-shirt full of cupcakes. I was looking for poetry. I was feeling stressed financially in the midst of the pandemic.

I ordered a toast and a tea at a sea-front café, when a young man with a paper cup came to beg for something. I offered him half of my toast, but he didn’t want any. He left. I rested my tiny little purse on the table, just like a careless tourist would do.

Later on, I left and walked by the big church to return home. As I was passing through, I stopped by to listen to the birds, with my eyes closed. I don’t usually do this; I don’t usually get toast for breakfast, either.

Gently, my purse was lifted from the back of my hand. A man started to run.

I realised what was happening. ‘Help! Motherfucker! Help!’ I started to chase him, in my Crocs sandals. There were not many people on the street on a Monday morning. The first person, an older lady with a bamboo stick who saw us, wasn’t able to do anything. Then I changed to yell in Spanish ‘Ayuda! Ayuda!’ as I chased him.

Then magically, a couple, seeing the man running towards them, used their shoulders to bump into the man, who fell down and tossed the purse on the ground before fleeing the scene.

I burst into tears as the woman handed me the purse back and comforted me. The man went to chase the guy, who eventually got away. They then accompanied me to talk to the police nearby. The robber was wearing a black mask. He looked like a common local resident to me.

I got everything back. I got help from angels. That couple was from Vic.

There was a famine going on in my body that morning, which attracted a robbery. But as always, the universe was taking care of me. I was so proud of myself for loudly yelling for help, with articulation and determination. I wasn’t going to just let him take my stuff, especially not the purse that belonged to my mom before she gifted it to me.

Inspired by this couple, I began to actively provide community service, to honour their help. I gave people my singing bowl healing sessions, psychodrama and coaching … that’s another story on its own. I wanted poetry; I got poetry. There was a famine going on in my body, but I’m ok now.

Moment No.2 – Volleyball

I love playing volleyball on Fragata beach. However, it had not been an easy journey. My level was quite low to start with, and it led to plenty of shame-triggering moments. I didn’t quite know the balance between being assertive and being diplomatic, to try to join them and play. My Spanish wasn’t good enough for me to chat with some of the local players who don’t speak much English. Not many people really wanted to play with me because I simply didn’t play well enough.

At moments, wounds from my past would get triggered, on the theme of inclusion. It’s not the game itself that’s attractive to me; it’s the social aspect as well. When I was a kid, I was bullied and excluded a lot, in various schools that I transferred to. I had extremely low self-worth and social anxiety. Therefore, playing volleyball with those guys felt like a nice challenge for me, to face my discomfort and fear.

I kept showing up to the court. I got tanned. I got better. I got help. Some of those people began to coach me while we played; some of my friends helped me and guided me when they could … as a result, I’m playing so much better now, and people do acknowledge my progress. They become more and more inclusive and supportive. I understand that nobody really wanted to actively exclude me, either. It’s just human nature to want to play with better players. Me, too. It’s the fighter in the arena that counts, not the inner critic from our past.

Moment No.3 – The Sharing Circle

I started to feel miserable about the second or third month after I arrived in Sitges. I was feeling some level of culture shock because I expected here to be like ‘the west’ … like my experience in the United States. It’s not. It’s very different. I was feeling triggered here and there at my graduate school in acting, coming from a sales and marketing background. I didn’t have the professional training that most of my colleagues had.

I remember crying on the shoulder of my Tinder date in Barcelona on a Sunday, not wanting to take the train to come back to Sitges. The tears came from the same spot where the 7-year old me would detest going back to my boarding school, where I was bullied quite badly.

I was not happy. I had EMDR therapy sessions for a few weeks, then I stopped because they were quite expensive. Then I felt the impulse to start a Sharing Circle. I’m a life coach and professional workshop facilitator, after all.

I posted on Facebook groups to look for a co-facilitator. Then I met Shane. We co-shaped the group, co-created the guidelines for participation … we made mistakes as we learned and we made good for people as well. It ended up being a voluntary social gathering where we shared our ‘here and now’, and the ups and downs in our week. It’s not a therapy group because we were simply serving as facilitators, however, each time, it was somewhat therapeutic for me.

Every Monday night, we gathered. It was entirely free. We were committed. Serendipitously, I met so many important friends and connections from it. It completely changed my experience of Sitges. It taught me that if I want or need something, create it! Serve it! Give it!

Then the Sharing Circle stopped as the pandemic developed. However, to this day, I’m still so grateful for that experience. Thank you, my wonderful co-facilitator Shane, and everybody who has come to the circle.

Because of the friendship that I felt from the community, I had less pressure to fit in and be friends with everyone in my class. I ended up having an amazing time at my programme, with those lovely souls that I miss a lot, including my Peruvian bro, José.

Moment No.4: My One-Woman Shows

I did quite a bit of theatre last year. Each time, it was a defoliating experience. My main base was at Sun Bow, an art lounge that was run by Jamil, a writer from Syria. I also collaborated with the Gay Sitges Link for the Sant Jordi festival and Sitges Queer Art festival.

Mulan’s Inner Dick. Bird. Totals of My Life. Waiting for Derek. Behaviour Art and Eye Gazing. Piano and Poetry. I had these shows, all improvised either entirely or partially. Musical, naked, and raw.

For one of them, I purchased a strap-on about five minutes before the show was due to start, and wore it in my performance. For another one, I cut my hair, live. And in another one, I cried to the audience whilst blindfold. I grew and healed from these shows. I must have. I was such a shy kid with speech issues and self-esteem problems. 

Moment No.5: Returning to my Origin and Becoming a Healer

Last May, I bought a flight to move back to China because I was inspired by the Taoist notion: return to origin. However, due to the pandemic, the flight was cancelled. Starting to date somebody, I felt the motivation to try to stay. I was able to get a visa related to my studies, before the deadline of applying for one.

I began my Guang Healing Project, where I organised healing and self-expression related events … which involved: Lotus Root soup, NüShu Cards, Reiki, Singing Bowl sessions, Kirtan on the beach, Write like a witch, and also, my Zoom Psychodrama Camp collaborating with a therapist in Taipei.

Because of the person that I’m dating, I discovered in his book that my last name means ‘healing’ in Chinese.

Last weekend, I was invited to a horse-accompanied retreat to do my Guang healing session. It was brilliant. I provided value to people, being exactly who I am, doing exactly what I’m called to do. In Sitges, I fully embodied my healing artist identity.

Moment No.6: Now

I’m turning 29 this month. I’m graduating from the year one of my psychodrama training from the University of Barcelona. I’m finishing the second phase of my coaching training that started years ago. I’m beginning to be able to converse in Spanish.

I just got turned down from a learning and development job at a video game company that I was very interested in. The HR manager says that I don’t have the in-house L&D experience that they are looking for. I feel a tad sad from it, but yeah, I’m wild like that and I didn’t grow in-house.

I have been doing creative writing for clients online as a freelancer. I have been doing self-expression and acting coaching for clients here and there. I did a mini crowd-funding for my Healing Art Book. Now I need to deliver the product. I’m feeling lost, as always. I’m feeling tremendous gratitude as well. I think of the possibility of getting a PhD, but I’m afraid of losing my identity as an artist. I also question if I could get funding or not.

I would love to write a comedy show. I would love to be a role model for minority people, whatever it means. I would love to step into my power and influence others in a positive way. I think that I’m doing that already, but something is missing. I’m set out to figure it out. The next moment is yet to come, and I’m in flow, in the now.

Yoky Yu was born in Xi’an, China, before the family moved to Shanghai when she was 11 years old. She describes herself as a ‘therapeutic life coach and healer’. She is currently studying Psychodrama Therapy at the University of Barcelona after an MA in Acting from the Institute of the Arts Barcelona in Sitges. You can follow Yoky on Instagram at @Yoky_Yu

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