Day 5.

Into my 5th day living out of home and my first time blogging on a Mac. I just had to change the keyboard configurations because it was programmed to follow a German keyboard where the ‘Z’ and ‘Y’ are in difference places and I ended up having to copy and paste the ‘@’ button because I couldn’t figure out where it was on the board. Thankfully, I very cleverly found that I could input an ‘English’ keyboard under Settings so all’s good now.

I’ve actually managed to impress myself quite a bit with how I’ve been able to fill my time at home since there’s a lull before I begin all my Chinese New Year baking. Just yesterday, I attempted to iron five of Flo’s work shirts. I was initially thinking I’m iron a few more but five was practice enough. They weren’t perfect but uhm…

Not too bad??

I joked with him after that we can always send out laundry down to the laundromat directly below our condo but they’ll iron for money whereas I iron because of love. Same same but different.

I’ve also realised what a noob I am in using cleaning agents and equipment but the learning process is proving to be quite fun. Of course, Mum and Dad get a bit of a laugh out of hearing about my little mishaps here and there but that’s how I learn right? Things like finding out only after I’d vacuumed the entire place, heaving at how strong the darn suction of the vacuum was, only to realise that there’s a dial I could have used to control the strength of the suction. Or spending 10 minutes trying to figure out how to get the spinning mop head onto the handle.

It’s all starting to sink in that this is all for real. At the beginning, it felt like a few days of consecutive sleepovers but now, the surrealism of it all is wearing off and I realise that this is going to be life as I know it now. I am thankful though, that Flo has been immensely supportive of me, and Mum and Dad continually try to help me wherever they can, slowly easing off so that I can swim independently of them.

The other night, I had quite a bit of a struggle after dinner with Florian. He had made me eat a bit more than I was mentally prepared for and that put me in a bit of a mood. He could tell I was upset and cuddled me to soothe me. And in my head, I knew that while I want to be well, I just couldn’t bear the thought of the journey in getting there. It took a while but Flo reminded me that he is always going to be here for me and that we will always find a solution to whatever obstacles before me; that no matter what, we will reach our goal of getting me well, starting a family together, and working at a life together.

Unlike with Mum and Dad, I couldn’t simply throw a strop and rant and rave. In a way, that’s good for me because instead, I reflected more at why I was reacting the way I did over an extra piece of food. It also showed me once more how blessed I am to be with Florian – a man who may not necessarily know the nitty gritties of ED, yet still exercises an immense level of patience and understanding towards me.

In a couple of hours time, he’s taking me somewhere for the weekend. A surprise! I still have little clue as to where we are going or what we’ll be doing. We’re due back Sunday evening so I’ll catch you all up on Monday now that I’ve figured out how to work with an iMac.

Also, just a snippet on something I did yesterday. I was tasked to do a fondant bicep as a cake topper for today and so, I got to work, not quite sure if I’d be able to execute it was well as I’d pictured in my head. I mean, a bicep and forearm are generally not too tricky to sculpt but the hand!? I hate having to draw fingers on hands and moulding it out of fondant was the part I was looking forward to least. Actually, make that the part I wasn’t looking forward to at all.

But… I did it anyway and I think it looks fairly decent. Still not as amazing as I imagined it would be but I’m satisfied. At least it’s something else I can add to my repetoir of fondant figurines!

Ok back to a bit more packing for the weekend and then maybe an episode of Drop Dead Diva while I wait for Flo to come home!! Have a good weekend every one! I can’t believe the first week of the year has already come and gone ūüėĪ

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Transition.

It’s officially Day 3 of living in our new home and so far, the transition has been pretty smooth. I hope it carries on this way and that Flo and I will always appreciate each other’s presence.

On the 2nd, I decided to surprise him at the airport as he was finally coming home after spending two weeks back in Hamburg with his family and friends for Christmas and New Year’s. Me being me, it was an ‘almost fail’. I’d tracked his arrival and knew his plane would be landing quite on time.

Tea while waiting

Unbeknownst to me however, the plane that was also arriving from the same place was delayed, landing only about a half hour or less before his instead of an hour and a half earlier. This meant that two consecutive baggage belts were being occupied by Emirates and the flurry of passengers waiting for their luggages made it near impossible to spot Flo. To add to that, I became confused because I started wondering if perhaps¬†he’d taken the earlier flight and hadn’t informed me, even though his itinerary said he was on the later¬†one.

Anyway, when Flo texted to say that he’d arrived, I asked if he’s already got his luggage, to which he replied that he was queueing up at Duty Free waiting to pay for a bottle of Whiskey my parents had requested. So I thought, OK, that means he’s not out yet. So I nonchalently said that we’ll meet at home and that I was on the way there already, quietly confident that I would be able to see him once he came out. After what seemed like ages, I asked if he was on the way home because traffic was heavy – not true. He then texted back saying that he was just in line for a taxi and sure enough, I turned around and immediately spotted my favourite face there! Thank GOD I texted him at the right time! Otherwise I’d have had to follow behind him in another taxi and that would have been an epic fail.

It was a really lovely reunion and it felt good having him home. We exchanged Christmas presents…

I superlove my present because it was thoughtful and exquisitely beautiful, and not to mention, from my love! We went for a nice Japanese dinner and then spent the evening clearing out and reorganising our kitchen so I could put all my ingredients and equipment in. I did that first thing yesterday morning and now, everything has a home! I also vacuumed and mopped the floor, bought groceries to stock up our fridge and…

Made my first bake in the oven by whipping up a batch of Flo’s favourite cookies – The Rennekookies aka Dark Chocolate Cranberry Cookies. I packed some for him in a jar and also set aside a box to gift to Natasha and Jason who finally made it here from Canada – more about that later. I’m happy with the oven and the Oreo Cheesecake I baked after also turned out well so all’s good in the Rennetan camp.

Last night, Flo and I met up with Natasha and Jason who were in town from the 1st of Jan to this morning. Natasha and I met when she came over for an exchange while both of us were in Uni. She was reading my blog at the time and also had some issues related to eating so that put us on the same page.

When she returned to Montreal, we continued to keep in touch and she visited us about 4 years back bunking at our place for a week or so. We’ve continued to email each other regularly and finally, she made it back to Asia like, now! For two weeks. But she and her boyfriend Jason, were just in Singapore for a short hello before moving on to Malaysia where her maternal family are from.

Flo and I brought them out for dinner at Din Tai Fung for Xiao Long Baos. We realise that this is one place that almost every visitor from abroad have been inclined to love (not just like) because the soup dumplings are different from other dim sums and expertly made to not only look refined, but also taste consistently delicious.

We then took them up to Flo’s office on the 49th floor where we had an amazing view of the Singapore skyline around the Marina Bay area. It was quite a clear night so the view stretching from Gardens by the Bay, to Marina Bay Sands, over to the Singapore Flyer and across to the Fullerton Bay/Clifford Pier area was breathtaking.

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Natasha mentioned wanting to visit Gardens by the Bay so we went over to have a look see,  had a good ogle at the supertrees, before walking back to Marina Bay Sands and parting ways at the station.

It was a really good catch up with her, and it was nice meeting Jason as well after hearing so much about him through emails exchanged between us. It was lovely to see how well she’s doing and how happy she is with Jason. Sometimes, I can’t believe how many years have passed since we first met each other. Through all these years, we have continued to share our lives with each other in writing, confiding in each other about our fears and worries, and sharing triumphs and happy events pertaining to anything and everything.

Nat and Jason might stop over in Singapore before returning back to Canada although they’re not sure yet whether it will be for a couple hours or a day or more yet. If they transit here long enough to exit the airport, we’ll definitely make time to meet with them again.

Mkay, I’m heading off now because I decided I want to clean our bathrooms today. Nothing like giving the toilet a good scrub! Clean toilets = Happy Butts! ūüôā

02 -> 01

I’d like to think of today being 02.01 as being symbolic in how F and I will become one unit as we officially begin living together. I have pretty much moved all my things over – at least the things I will be needing, leaving the kitchen spacious once more for Mum and my room clearer than it’s ever been!

Flo lands back in Singapore at approximately 1440hours and I plan to pick him up from the airport. I don’t think he expects it so it’ll be a fun surprise. I feel like a whole ball of various emotions moving into this new phase and I pray that it will be a smooth-sailing transition for me. Of course, to call a transition smooth-sailing for me may be¬†a little of an exaggeration given all the changes that are waiting in the next few weeks and months to pounce at us, but I hope the new environment will also be impetus for me to push forward in recovery. In other words, to get myself ‘unstuck’ in the true sense of the word.

Last night, I read this article on how Ritualistic Eating Behaviours (REBs) can be sabotaging recovery. I think that this is something I fell into in ‘recovery’ many times before. And so, in the real essence of the word ‘recovery’, I have never truly recovered. From wanting to eat the same foods that help me feel safe day in and day out, to eating at the same places that have menus I am familiar and comfortable with when there is a need to eat out. I tend to have a preference to eat certain foods first and in a certain order, and I hate the thought of finishing all my food because I don’t like the idea of having eating what a ‘normal’ person would likely eat. It’s all about control at the end of the day, at least from my point of view as I reflect on the pattern of my eating habits.

Mum has suggested returning back to counselling or even more drastically, to readmit myself back into hospital. Perhaps it is out of stubbornness than I am reluctant to do either but to me, I feel that I know myself a lot better than that. I know the process¬†that being in hospital will put me through and in terms of counselling, I still don’t quite feel that there is anyone in Singapore that is specialised or truly understands eating disorders in its entirety. I know of psychologists and psychiatrists who have expertise in this field but they aren’t cheap. Furthermore, I know that if I have this reluctance in me to make change, then all the professional help I get will make little difference to my current status. And that if I want to turn my life around, I can do it with the support I already have.

Yes, I have a lot to prove but I am determined to pull through and for once, finally recover in the true sense of the word. I cannot continue engaging in REBs that will in turn entrench me into another form of ED and I want to be able to enjoy dessert without second thoughts, share a waffle slathered in chocolate with Florian when he asks, have a scoop of ice-cream to treat myself after a good workout. I want to be able to cultivate good eating habits that I can in turn pass on to my children, to have a well-balanced lifestyle that they can emulate, and to develop an all-rounded sense of well being that they will never have to fall back onto destructive behaviour in order to feel validated.

It will take time and a lot of hard work. And I have no reason not to do it.

Goodbye Sweet ’16.

Apparently a lot of people have been saying that 2016 has been a ‘shitty’ year. I can’t say that it’s been a bad year for me. In fact, I think I’ve quite enjoyed it on the whole.

As with every other year, I have learned more about myself as a person, and I have also developed new friendships with people that I hope to take into the New Year. And of course, I have met a wonderful man whose beauty shines through both inside and out. I have written a post not long about about my 2016 in a nutshell so I won’t recap on all that again. Instead, I want to look forward, into the new year.

Now, I’m not usually one for resolutions. Sure, I’ve made a few here and there anyway, but more often than not, I forget what they are no more than a week into the year. Sometimes I think I’m the human version of Dory. Maybe not quite so bad, thank God, but near enough.

Anyway,¬†a few friends and relatives may have gathered that I will be moving away from home come 2017. It is a huge step for me but one that I have mulled over for a while already. It’s still rather surreal seeing that a few months ago, it was simply a plan. And now that it’s coming true, it still feels like a dream.

Teething Marks!

I have lived in this condo belonging to Mum and Dad ever since I was a few months old. We still have the coffee table in our living room with my teething marks on, and if you crawl underneath, you’ll find scribbles of my brother’s and my drawings from when we were still tiny enough to fit below. Sure, we’ve renovated our place once in the 29 years we’ve been here, but it is filled with memories of my childhood, every inch of it.

And even our surrounding area holds the ghosts of my youth –¬†the swimming pool where I learned to swim and still swim in; the compound downstairs where my neighbours and I would gather at 5pm every weekday afternoon to cycle, or play badminton, or catch; the¬†trees the boys would climb to catch chameleons while I watched and writhed in disgust… I still have a couple of neighbours living in my block that I have grown up with, and the familiar faces of the aunties and uncles, cleaners, and security guards never fail to make me feel that this is home.

So why move?

I have discussed this with Mum and Dad, and I can assure you that if I could, I would love to live here until I’m 40, 50, 60 years old. It’s where I am most comfortable, it is a place of routine, a place where I need not worry about a thing. And in a way, I feel that it is exactly this reason that keeps me trapped in this cycle of ED. Under the wings of my parents, I know that I can continue to exist in the way I have been because it’s the easier choice – it’s safe. And being safe is exactly where the ED wants me to be. Not to be safe from destruction. But to be safe to destroy.

Beneath this desire to remain in my comfort zone and live pretty much in the cave of my own mind, I still have hopes for a future. I still want the same things I did before I developed ED. I still want to be with a man who loves me, and that I love; to build a family with him; to be a wife and mother. And it is in that hope that I am choosing to pry myself out of this hole I have made so snug for myself and move on towards change.

I am aware that there is no guarantee that I will beat ED by moving away. The illness isn’t something that stays in one place. It will move with me. But what I do know is a change in environment can help refresh the mind and teach me that I¬†need to grow up, wake up, and¬†take responsibility for myself and my health. Yes, I will have the support of F, who has been immensely supportive and patient, but at the same time, I know that I walk on a tighter rope with him because a man can only take so much, while the love of a parent will never diminish come what may.

It is not that Mum and Dad fully agree with my decision. Being Asian, cohabiting is still frowned upon, but they are supportive simply in the hopes that it will help me move forward and get healthier. I am immensely grateful to them for keeping an open mind and for helping me make trips up and down to our new place without complaint.

The year ahead, while exciting, will definitely be challenging for me as I adapt to a new home, with living with someone other than my parents, with working in a smaller kitchen, with changing my eating habits and breaking out of my comfort zone. And while ‘Flight‘ is my automatic response to anything that scares me, I choose ‘Fight‘ this time and pray for the best. Because for once in my life, I feel that as far away as my physical and mental health is from being optimal, I am so very, very close to the reality of my hopes and desires.

I have been binge-watching Drop Dead Diva on Netflix. I have caught snippets of it on TV from time to time but never bothered to sit down and watch a full episode… until a few days ago. And in Season 1 Ep 10 I believe, a psychic client of Grayson tells Jane towards¬†the end¬†of the episode that “The best way to get unstuck is to give yourself a kick in the ass“.

Moving into 2017, I have but¬†one resolution. One that sounds so simple but in the greater scheme of things will amount to a huge one. And that is to get ‘unstuck‘. So from tomorrow onwards, I guess I will be blogging about this new chapter of my life unfolding with F as we set up home together, my challenges as I face food battles – both¬†victories and defeats (hopefully more of the former), and from time to time, our travels!!

I’m eager to see what I’ll be typing here exactly this time next year! For now, may your 2017 be a blessed one, filled with all things beautiful, and surrounded by those who love you. Laugh lots, Love much, Hope heaps. And know that even through our toughest of fights, God will see us through! ūüôā

Cristina.

Two evenings ago, I browsed through Netflix in search of something to watch. For some reason, I was pulled towards the Documentaries section. I enjoy watching documentaries but usually, I get distracted by the film and comedy TV series sections where I don’t have to think too deeply and topics brushed upon are generally less serious, at least the ones I tend to watch.

So when I hit upon Cristina and scanned through the synopsis, I wasn’t quite sure about whether I really wanted to watch it seeing that it was about cancer. I wasn’t in the mood for anything too depressing but it was a mere 37 min watch so I figured why not? I can always hit the ‘pause’ or ‘stop’ button and switch to something else.

After watching this short film, I felt this silence in me as a flurry of thoughts whirled in my head.

Why?

Why was Cristina struck with cancer. Not once but twice.
Why did she suffer?
Why did she die?

She seemed the epitome of life and love. She was young, doing well in her career as a script manager in Hollywood. She had met the love of her life and they married even after he found out about her first diagnosis. She fought cancer once and won. She was so optimistic. Her future, so bright!

How?

How did she get cancer?
How does cancer choose its victims?
How did it not die the second time around?

She mentions having lived a well balanced, healthy life. She didn’t smoke, hardly drank, didn’t do drugs, ate well, exercised. And still! It ate away her muscles and reduced her strong body into skin and bones. She fought on with positivity, light-hearted banter with her army of supporters, and tried to hold on to statistics that suggested she may have a chance to live 5-10 years with what she had.

A few things she said hit me in all its truth. She said something like how the closer you are to death; the more alive you feel. I guess for me, that holds a lot of water in that in an ironic way, the ‘sicker’ and closer to death I am, the more creative, the more ‘awake’ I feel. It’s almost as though everything gets clearer in its lucidity. Perhaps it is this notion that life should be a balance of everything, and¬†upsetting the balance by¬†going towards the extremes heightens our awareness of emotions and¬†experiences.

As Cristina reflected on her illness, she said that she had experienced real, true, pure love with her husband, Bruce. Through the film, it was apparent their love for each other and the bond they shared. She shared that she would rather have had this love than to live a long life and never found a love like this one.

She also said that perhaps her life, as short as it looked to be, might be a reminder to people that the only guarantee in life is RIGHT NOW because yesterday is gone, and tomorrow is never really there. To have ‘right now’ is a gift that we should all embrace.

For many of us, it should be a wake up call to live. LIVE. To be alive. It reminds me of something I once said during recovery – that we only have this life to live, and we have the rest of eternity to be dead. So why? Why do I let myself slip ever closer to the edge of death when there is so much more to live for? Why do I hang on to destruction instead of trying to build myself up into something more? Why do I feel the need to be in control when I know that control is in essence me losing control?

There are people who have no choice in the illnesses that strike them, that they have to fight through. And something that I remember thinking before is the fact that as much as ED is a psychological illness, it is also an illness that I can master over. As Dr. L once reminded me, my stubborness can also be seen as determination. If my mind is strong enough to pull me down into the deathly pits of ED, it can sure as hell pull me back up into the splendor of life in all its beauty and once in a while, its repulsion as well. It has done so more than a few times, and it can do it again.

But as F reminded me yesterday, it’s not about talk but about action. And I need to start acting as much as I am currently experience mental inertia. ūüė¶

Another Christmas Survived.

This year, Mum decided to have our annual Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve since it happened to fall on a Saturday this year. Also, F says that in Germany, they usually celebrate Christmas on the Eve so technically, we had our festivities on the right day depending on where you’re from.

Mum’s Herb Butter Turkey

It’s always quite stressful for me whenever Christmas dinner comes round and I find myself anxious and constantly thinking about the amount of food being prepared and the number of people who may scrutinise what I eat, or how much I eat. All the more so because a lot of my cousins are now overseas on holiday or to study so instead of having 20-30 people as we did in previous years, we only had about 10 of us last night. This meant that we could all squeeze around the dining table and eat together for the first time.

I felt quite pressured into having to eat the food Mum prepared even though all I wanted to do was to fall back onto my comfort foods, my ‘safe’ foods. Of course, my parents understand and said that if I wanted to, by all means go ahead¬†and not have what they were all having. Which would have been weird. And I didn’t want to draw even more attention to myself through what I was eating. So I had what everyone else was having – the roast vegetables, fresh salad, and I tried a bit of the roast beef and Mum’s homemade turkey courtesy of Jamie Oliver. I did however, pan sear some of my own seafood because I know I wouldn’t have had enough protein otherwise.

I guess at the end of the day, my family couldn’t care less what I ate, or didn’t eat, as long as I was with them, enjoying their company while they enjoyed mine. Sometimes, I tend to think that people are looking at me through a magnifying glass when in reality, the only person doing that is me. And I say I survived this Christmas because I know that I probably didn’t push away that little voice of negativity in my head quite as much as I should have – could have?


Anyway, dinner aside, I really enjoyed catching up with the family and seeing them. It also made me feel a little sentimental in knowing that in a matter of a week, so many things will change. I’ve cleared pretty much all my shelves in my room and it now looks so forlorn. This home has always been ours since I was born and has been a mainstay to me growing up all the way to now. Even when we lived overseas, we always had this place to come back to on holidays. The ghost of me will soon inhibit my room and I will move on to create more new memories somewhere new.

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The other day, Mum reminded me that no matter what, this is still my home and I can come back to it any time. I know that. But I also know that change is part of life and for that, I am thankful that God has blessed me with F. Because home will soon be with him. And I’m looking forward to the beginning of that new journey, not only in growing as a person, but also with him.

Echoes.

I was quite saddened last night when I read an IG post by an old college friend. She was with her boyfriend whom she married over a year ago for a total of 9¬†years, only to find after¬†they got married that he wasn’t who she thought him to be. As a result, their relationship in the last year has dissolved despite efforts on her side to try and work things out. To know that 2016 was a difficult year for her broke my heart even though we have lost touch mostly over the last 10 years, only keeping track of each others’ lives through Facebook and Instagram.

Not yet 30.

I heard that marriages are highly susceptible to breaking down when a couple reaches their late-20s and early-30s; that the adult brain fully matures around our mid to late-20s which also explains part of this phenomenon as each party realises they want different things out of life. Of course, I hope with all my heart that all my friends, my acquaintances from school days, will never have to go through any of this heartache Рthat the blissful smiles on their faces when they are with their partners will never be wiped off. And yet, I know that there will be couples I know of whose relationship might be tested -some will get through them, others might not.

When I read about my friend’s sharing, something echoed in my head saying¬†“That could have been me”. I know that F hates when I talk about how my ex used to treat me, and I don’t understand why I allowed myself to fall into that kind of control and emotional abuse either. The irony of it all is knowing that I let myself be put through all that, all the while denying the fact that that was what J was doing. Even today, I find it tough to point it out as emotional abuse, and I know that when J once read this blog after we had broken up, he flared up and told me that what I was writing was completely false. Perhaps it’s all subjective.

Anyway, I don’t know yet whether I want to share the details of that relationship. Sometimes I think it’s over so there’s little need to harp on it, but I remember so much of how it made me feel and I hope for no one to ever have to be able to go through those feelings of inadequacy; being made to feel as if everything is always her/his fault; being made to feel so small. Maybe¬†one day.

I guess that echo that came to me was also because at one point in time, J and I had applied for a flat. We got it and we paid for the first downpayment of $1k each. We were to commit another $18k altogether within 3 months of confirming the flat but that was the period when things became most rocky and it subsequently made me think a whole lot about the possible future ahead with him. The thing is, in Singapore, once your flat is up, you have to marry within 6 months of receiving the keys. And one evening, on our regular walk around our neighbourhood, Mum said to me that with things being the way they were, at least I always had them to run to. But if one day, J were to decide to return to his hometown, Kuala Lumpur, then who would I have? Where will I be able to go? I will have no one to protect me.

She was right.

And walking away from him was the best decision of my life. Within a week, aunties at church were commenting that I looked a lot happier and livelier even without knowing the issues I had been trying to tackle.

I realise now that it isn’t stupidity that made me stay with J those couple of years. Rather, it was being under the control of a master manipulator. I am smart. He just happens to be even smarter. And all that time, when I look back now, is covered in a shroud of haze as I let myself become a shadow of who I was before J. I thank God though, that somehow I had enough rationality left in me, as well as¬†the guidance and advice of my friends and family, to see how destructive the relationship was becoming, and to have the strength and dignity to move on.

The phrase “That could have been me” flip-flopped repeatedly in my head throughout today and has since morphed into “That could be me” in the event that I were to one day marry. I guess that’s the jump we take. There is no guarantee in life – only two people in love who want to make that union between them work, is what holds¬†a marriage together. If one lets go, that is it. It’s scary how easily that bond can break, but also amazing in how unbreakable¬†that bond can become with layers of love, compassion, forgiveness and sacrifice built upon it.

Of course, I do not know that nitty-gritties of what happened in my friend’s marriage and a multitude of factors can contribute to any relationship breaking up. I hope the New Year brings to her renewed hope, renewed joy, and a bounty of blessings as she lets go of the burdens of the year gone by¬†– this is my wish for all those newly single. As¬†for those in relationships, I hope that you will appreciate each others’ qualities as well as little¬†idiosyncracies; that 2017 will open you both to new experiences and memories together. But please also remember that there is no shame in walking away from a relationship that stunts your growth as a person, or threatens to break your spirit.

We all deserve better.

We are all made for more.