I wrote the article below when I was just about to enter my 30th birthday. It was never published because it was too personal. Reading this 15 years later, it reaffirms my decision to create this blog under a pseudonym.
Many things happened in those 15 years. Naturally. It's the epitome of living, right? Nothing unusual there. I call them a series of minor misfortunes or unexpected inconveniences that were within my capacity, competence, and to a certain level, comfort to handle.
I've always picked myself up, brushed off the dirt on my knees, put a bandage over them if necessary, and carried on. No biggie, albeit a bruised ego and minor scratches.
Last year was a good year and just when I started to wonder why the universe had been particularly kind to me while many others are suffering during the Covid-19 crisis, 2021 happens.
Yes, 2021 has been a particularly challenging year for me (frankly, a bitch if you ask me), which prompted me to conduct a life audit. (You're probably wondering what the fuck is a life audit. Check it out here.) I seem to do fairly well in five areas (health, finance, career, life goals, fun and social) but fail almost miserably in the remaining three (family, friends and spirituality). Truth be told, my poor performance in the area of human interaction did not surprise me.
Undeterred, I sought guidance from an online self-improvement course called "Be Your Own Life Coach" amongst others and became a recipient of endless "new-age" wisdoms and tips (often dispensed by enterprising millennials who know-it-all) on how to live "the good life" within six weeks or so. While the concept of an elevated being and the idea of a life audit are rather new, its secret to betterment is still based on one simple age-old formula; practice, practice, practice. Consistency is key, my friend.
In order for me to have better relationships with other mortal and immortal beings, I would have to make conscious efforts to identify who they are so that I can proceed to pursue various methods of bonding with them. Since bonding doesn't come naturally to me, I had to make a list of things to remind and hold me accountable in this pursuit - week, after week, after week. As if that wasn't commitment enough, I should meditate daily to ensure proper manifestation in real life, and recite verbal affirmations on what successful bonding would look like repeatedly, for safe measure.
Here's my list of things to do: email Annie once every quarterly, call Mom every Thursday, drop a text to Max, Chia Hwei, Hong Leng and Ramesh every month, start wishing happy birthday to my relatives in family group chats, compliment a friend I like on Facebook whenever possible, etc.
I haven't emailed Annie since Christmas last year. I can't bring myself to post anything remotely meaningful on Facebook since 2019. I have resolved to start wishing my cousins, uncles and aunties for their birthdays only next year (just to be fair to those whom I haven't wished earlier this year) but I have been calling Mom almost everyday for very good reasons. (Another story, another day.)
Despite all my good intentions, I concluded that I may live my remaining life as a solitary being. This becomes a reality with each passing day, but you know what? Fuck that! I am perfectly OK with it because I am an intelligent, savvy, independent, strong, fearless and curious woman. Instead of worrying about ageing alone and settling for anyone who can potentially lessen my loneliness, I shall prepare myself to age well and marvellously starting this year - with dignity, sophistication and pizzazz. That's right, you hear me, sista!
This blog marks a very exciting chapter of my life, a defining moment if you like. I will be combining new stories with collections of writings by my younger self. Combing through these past musings, I have seen growth and changes in my attitude and understanding of the world, but by and large, I am still who I am. I still believe we should do no harm to others especially animals, politicians are by far one of the worst species in the world, sex workers deserve as much respect as doctors, religions divide rather than unite, euthanasia should be a human right, and pssssst.....masturbation should be an important part of our mental health regime (the ultimate form of DIY if I may say so myself), etc.
Most amazingly, I no longer experience abandonment 15 years later. Yeah, baby!
Many online content teaches you how to age gracefully where their primary focus is on physical appearances. Here, I want to expand more than that - ageing is also about mindset, a productive and enjoyable process, a lifestyle and you can live this great phase even if you are on your own. So if you are single, afraid of being alone but wish you no longer give a fuck, I invite you to join this self-discovery journey with me.
Jom, it's time to DIY, ladies!
Have you ever wondered why things happen to you or someone else? Is there always an answer or does it leave you baffled, lost and confused? For me, sometimes the answer comes clearly. For instance, if I have a bad case of stomach burning, I would know that the answer lies on my insatiable appetite for cili padi. Often enough though, I am left trying to make sense of other bigger things such as why people are willing to betray, kill or harm others just for a few bucks. Any thoughts?
A recent thing which I am still trying to make sense of is why I suffer from abandonment despite being surrounded by a supportive family, caring friends and of course, in a partnership with someone I love. For most, the term abandonment means the feeling of being unwanted; much like a child who was given up for adoption due to an unwanted pregnancy, or a pet dog being dumped by its master because it has lost its appeal.
Abandonment doesn’t always have to be so tragic or dramatic. It can still happen when you are feeling depressed, lonely, upset or hurt and there is nobody to turn to so you are left to deal with those painful emotions on your own. This can become unbearable when the person you rely on most for support, chooses to ignore you instead. This kind of abandonment can leave a person so emotionally scarred that it destructs one’s self-worth and confidence. I had been on this road many times before.
What I am trying to make sense of is this: why do we need someone else to pull us up when we are down? If we trip and fall on our knees or face, a normal reflex would be to pick ourselves up, scruff off the dirt and walk on, secretly hoping that no one has seen our split moment of vulnerability. We don’t get all upset and cry for days on end. So why can’t we apply the same nonchalance when we falter emotionally? Why can’t a girl whose heart has been broken by her boyfriend pick herself up and just move on as if nothing tragic has really happened?
Are we that emotionally handicapped that we cannot pull ourselves up from an emotional trip?
During my moments of abandonment from my partner, I often do not want to turn to anyone else for support, not because my family or friends suck but mainly because of my cultural upbringing that I should not wash dirty laundry in public. It is highly uncomfortable (not to mention humiliating) for me to reveal my relationship problems to my family or friends. It reveals my vulnerability (and also I hate pointing fingers at someone I love in public for fear of the prejudice my partner might suffer as a result of me sharing our private life publicly).
Once, I tried to seek help by registering in an online abandonment support group based in the United States of America. I sent an email under a nickname revealing all my personal trauma and emotional distress to a best-selling author specialising in abandonment, hoping that someone out there would be able to provide the comfort and support I needed so much. As it turned out, my email was never answered. Instead, I was sent an advertisement for a new book by the author. I was also invited to attend a convention on abandonment in America! I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry out in exasperation. At the end of this experience, I was left feeling even more abandoned after realizing how some of these online support services are simply profit-making gimmicks.
It then came to a crucial point when I decided that I must resort to self-help. Like any DIYs, self-help is not easy because it means I am completely left to my own devices. Repairing something which is broken or damaged is a pretty damn scary task because we are left with two possible outcomes; we either fix it or we break it even more. We are often convinced that it will be the latter.
During this period, I am learning to accept the fact that I can be own worst enemy or I can be my own best friend. By choosing the latter, I find out that I can rationalise and comfort myself as a best friend would.
I also learn that sometimes when I feel abandoned, I need to spend time alone with myself. Call me a nut case it you want, but I start to develop an ability to talk to myself as if I am a second person. I would put on a piece of music which stirs my heart and have a lengthy conversation with myself, mostly trashing out why I am feeling the way I am, reaffirming my strengths, clarifying my goals and figuring how I can achieve them. I then conclude that my goal in life is not to cease to exist when I lose someone or something. There are so many other possibilities of things I can be and are within my reach, so why should I let anything or anyone stop me? Plus, this problem that I am facing is not a matter of life and death in the greater scheme of things. Slowly, this helps to put things into perspective and provide me with the confidence and strength to pull myself up again.
We can continue to choose to always rely on someone else to help fix our problems or we can sometimes choose the hard way of learning to do it ourselves. The latter seems unappealing and scary but throughout the process, we will learn to equip ourselves with knowledge, strength and courage to fix our own problems. That translates to independence and freedom, and nothing matters more than that as I grow older.
If you feel comfortable talking to someone about your problems, by all means, do it! But, if you don’t, you still have someone else who would always listen - YOURSELF.
28 November 2006
Disclaimer: I am not advocating for my readers to stop seeking help when faced with difficulties and challenges in life. Asking for help takes courage and is often an important step towards healing. So by all means, go for it! This article applies to those who are not comfortable speaking to others (like me) or when help is not always available to you when you need it most.