Something that I struggle with is being kind to myself. Being kind to myself not just in the way of looking after myself at the most basic level – taking showers, combing my hair, putting on light make-up… but more on an emotional level.
I can exercise a whole lot of compassion and empathy to the people around me, strangers even, but I find it so difficult to practise those things towards myself, which in essence, is highly important.
During my sessions with Adaline, the general trend is that I hold a lot of blame against myself based on my past. I seem unable to forgive myself in the full sense of the word. And that holds me back from being able to enjoy the blessings that I have now in their entirety. Many times as I sat with A, I would wonder to myself what she meant by not forgiving myself. I didn’t think I was holding on to my ghosts. Or even if I did, I didn’t think they could affect my present.
I shared a few posts back about my current struggle with amenorrhea – the last piece of the puzzle in my otherwise pretty awesome life. Through that sharing, I was recommended by a friend to see a homeopathic doctor here in Singapore and since I’m very much open to alternative, natural medicine, I figured why not? So I went. And I was prescribed a remedy although I was also told that it might take a few cycles to work seeing that my natural period has been MIA for so many donkey years.
Last week, I went for a follow up and through my hour or so with Dr. LL, it hit me that yes, I do hold a lot of self-blame from my past that affects how I view myself when certain circumstances arise more presently. A recent incident involving a cafe I bake for left me feeling so useless and so stupid. It wasn’t a huge mess-up, but in my mind, my carelessness was borne out of mindlessness and I kept beating myself up throughout the day.
As I traced back these negative feelings, I realised that they appear to have been borne from the incredibly stupid situations I allowed myself to get into when I was younger. I wouldn’t describe myself as being promiscuous back in the day, but I didn’t value myself enough and at times, opted to trust people I shouldn’t have instead of be wary of their motives. Those decisions sometimes found me in positions of vulnerability and rather than scream for help, I would let them do the deed and be off. I always felt that it was my fault for allowing those situations to arise even if unknowingly, and to sound the alarm would have left me feeling humiliated.
As much as I would rather not use the word, I have to acknowledge that to some extent, I allowed myself to be raped? Ugh. That heavy heavy word. At the same time, I cannot say that I was because it wasn’t like I was manhandled and physically forced into doing it. But I didn’t want it; I said no, but then in fear that they might do something worse, I would bite my lip and let it happen so that I could get away unscathed.
Only now, I realise that I wasn’t entirely unscathed. How could I have been so dumb? So useless?! I spent the following years sometimes wondering if I might have caught something from someone and not dare check myself out – almost as if not knowing meant that I was in the clear. (I did get checked in the end and thank God I am clear!) I wondered how I could allow them in when they might have made their rounds with all kinds of other women. I see now how sacred my body is, I wish I thought so back then.
Even if I let these events go, I still find it difficult to let go of the turbulent initial years that Mum and Dad had to go through when I first developed ED. The terribly tantrums, the heartbreak as they could only watch me wither away, the fight to stay strong for me and for their relationship, the fear that they might wake up to find me gone, to hold on to faith and be hopeful that I would be alright…
I hold on to all this unforgiveness and I allow myself to believe that my amenorrhea is punishment for all the things I’ve done wrong in my life. I know that our God is a forgiving God. And while I know He has forgiven me, I can’t help but continue to hold everything against myself. I feel unworthy, I feel like I’m not good enough, I feel so tarnished. The human mind only understands punishment as penance, and so, I cannot begin to fully comprehend the depth of God’s grace in letting my past go.
Which brings us all the way back to the concept of being kind to ourselves. Behind the smiles of those around us, is sometimes a soul that is lost, sad, and still in the dark.
We make assumptions based on what our eyes can see, because our hearts are blind to the hurt of others. Oftentimes, it is so much easier to pretend that everything is well, so much so that even I forget that my disability to move forward is because of what haunts me. I try to erase my past in my memory, but my heart cannot do the same and so it remains heavy-laden, at least until I unpack those painful memories and deal with them.
A couple weeks back I finally made my way to the hairdresser’s only to be told off for not taking care of my hair – at all. Apparently, it takes 3 days to damage your hair, and years to repair it. Similarly, all it takes is one bad incident to scar us, and indefinite lengths of time to heal. I’ve since gone out and bought good shampoo and conditioner for my hair and it feels like it’s getting a lot healthier. In the same vein, I guess I have to start showing myself compassion, love and forgiveness, not just sometimes, but every time in order to grow further.
A few weekends ago, Flo and I also visited Boh Bonsai and brought home a beautiful bonsai. The beauty of this tree is that even in a pot that stunts its growth, it continues to thrive. We can prune it any which way and we can wire its branches to alter the way it grows to change its structure. As long as it is given sunshine and water, as long as we look after it well, it might even be able to see our great-great-grandchildren whom we’ll likely not be able to meet in this lifetime.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that we’re all given one life to live and there are so many factors that can affect the way we grow, but in the end, it is really our choice to do with it what we will. And just because our life may not turn out one way, an alternate path can see us flourish just as well, or even more so, than the first one we had in mind. And if that alternate path doesn’t work out, there will be others for us to take, others that we can grab by the horns and turn into a wonderful, wonderful life. But to do that, we have to be kind to ourselves – to forgive ourselves and let go of our past in order to allow our future to unfold.