Thankful for good things

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Excited to announce that I’m finally blessed with a job 🙂 The news came in couple of days ago and I was surprised that I was even offered the job considering how unimpressed the director was with my resume and (lack of) experience. So yay! I’m starting the following week. Irony is that if I actually chose to do my internship in investment banking in London, I would be starting the same day. I got a job in an investment company.. which is even better.

I told T in my progress report that I am trying to keep myself busy. The truth is, no matter how I try to distract myself from thinking about being jobless, I still can’t help but think about my situation. I think being jobless is tough especially when your peers are already working, financially independent from parents and making future plans whilst you are still sitting around wondering when will the job come. That sitting around is probably the most helpless one can feel.

To make things worse, my brother who is an ass decides that the best way to put me down even more is to rub it in my face about his internship. I have been living in M for 3 years and yet no internship but he got it easily apparently. And as arrogant as he is, he boasted about how he has ‘job security’ after he finishes his (9 years) of bachelors degree and that he can choose to work in about any company he wants. He said it almost sneering at me, that he has job security rather than sitting around jobless. Talk about being an asshole. You know what.. It doesn’t bother me that he is still doing his bachelors for so long, in fact I would be supportive of him. But the fact that he is so arrogant AND condescending, makes me want to hurl insults at him. But I’m not him, so I won’t. It’s not my character to wish bad things on others so I let him behave however he wants because I’ll show him through being successful.

My mom was excited over his stupid testimonial and sorta shoved it in my face to read about how awesome he is. The sad part is that he wrote the testimonial and signed off by the boss. I know my mom is excited and proud for him but I wish she was more sensitive especially since I was jobless. The next day when I received news about this job, I called my sister first and immediately after that, she grabbed my phone to tell my sister about my brother instead. Thanks for stealing my thunder. The testimonial was then brought to show ‘oh so proudly’ to people. Like big deal cmon! I have testimonials too but why aren’t they shown to other people or at least, shove it in his face?

I received the call that I got the job the next day and it just changed everything. The best part is, I got another call the following day for another job offer too. It’s like things are looking up for me. The day after, a message came in asking if I’m interested to join in setting up an NGO in home country to raise money for underprivileged kids. Of course I jumped at this opportunity because this is something I’m passionate in. Honestly, everything seems too good to be true and that part of me feels like something bad will happen. Brene Brown’s book speak exactly about this. I’m taking a step back from worrying and just bask in this moment. Being thankful and praying that I’m able to contribute to the community through my work. 😀 I’m heading to M tomorrow and already looking forward to celebrate!

Confused

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I’ve been feeling that burden on my chest lately and I know the only way to get it off is to actually talk about it.

I told bestie that if there’s a label for my sexuality, I don’t know what it would be. I don’t identify as a bisexual because physically I’m not attracted to females. But I find that I am attracted to people’s personalities and characters regardless of the gender. And most of the time, they are females. That’s the part I am most confused because I have such intense feelings towards them and then start to question myself what does this person really mean to me. I become insanely jealous when I see her with someone else especially if she is hanging out or spending time with them. If she (this person in A) were to tell me to get a PR and live with her, I would have done so without thinking twice. Instead, she told me to follow my dreams and come back once I’m done.

I would have done but over the years she has chosen to not keep in contact with me. In fact, she disappeared from my radar. All of a sudden, I’m no longer in her contact list for those she is close to. She took a long time to reply my messages and when she did, it sounded as though she was obliged to reply. I hated it. I hated how I would keep refreshing the facebook page just to check if she replied. I spent 3 weeks waiting and when her message came in, it was written half heartedly. I decided that since this was going to be the response, then I didn’t want to drive myself crazy waiting and wondering when she will be replying. Or what she was doing.

Well it broke my heart that she chose not to reciprocate. I spent about 3 months crying and the next couple of months reminiscing about my time with her, with anyone who was willing to listen. Some nights I would wake up thinking I was in her room, only to find myself back at home. That was enough to make me break down.

I have gotten over her after 3 years.. and it was one of the toughest thing I had to deal with. I could get through some days without her on my mind. But most days, I imagined having conversations with her like we always would. Our conversations were usually light hearted because she said her work revolves around sadness and pain so it was what she needed at the end of the day. Other times, we would talk about something so deep and profound that it would move me. Note this, I am stubborn. For her to able to plant these seeds of change inside me, it has to be someone special.

See the thing is, I loved her very much. I would have done anything for her – moved across continent, packed my things and leave my family behind. If there’s a line between friends and more than friends, she would be on that line. I wouldn’t cross the line because I wasn’t seeking for any physical intimacy with her. But I wanted the emotional connection and intimacy which I crave for so badly. I felt like a knife was stuck in my rib cage because the throbbing pain wouldn’t go away. Sometimes my heart would beat so fast that I had to sit down from feeling faint. It’s a painful experience to sit through over someone who did not reciprocate back the feelings I had for her.

I said it to Bestie. And she said, she was not surprised at all that I am feeling confused. It was something she suspected all along but was waiting for me to open up. I just feel that penning these thoughts down actually clears my head too.

I will write more of this in the next few posts.

Not sure what my status is… with my T.

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I feel like therapy has ended permanently for me. My T did say to update my progress every 3 weeks but I feel like “How long will that last before she losses interest in me?“. I understand she has other commitments and patients and to some extent, I think it would have been easier if she had terminated the sessions entirely rather than having this 6 months period where I email/call her for updates. I’m supposed to email her tomorrow but part of me wonders what to say, because I have a litany of things that I want to tell her but at the same time, will she have time for it? Sometimes I do wonder if she thinks about me. Or that when she reads the book I gave her, she’ll get a light bulb moment where she finally understands what I had been talking about in therapy so far.

In any case, blogging (cum journaling for me) will continue as I use this medium to pen down my thoughts. I’m usually quiet in person but inside my head it’s pretty damn noisy haha. I think and talk a lot to myself actually. I have been looking around for another therapist in this country but subject to the situation at home. If things are fine, without dramas, then I will not start therapy yet but it is something I would definitely do in the future. If not, once I start working, I’ll save up for bi-weekly therapy sessions just to keep my sanity in check.

Right now, I want to focus on myself – on getting myself as fit as possible, reading as many books, exposing myself to current world events and maybe review what I studied in Undergrad. I want to try Thai Boxing and see if hitting people (in a legally accepted environment) is for me. I want to bake extra gooey dark chocolate cake that has a hint of coffee with caramel fudge frosting. I want to see the world, meet different types of people who will share with me their culture, food and language. Anything just so that I can shift my focus to something else.

Life update.. and some reflections

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I am starting to feel that being at home isn’t so bad after all. Well, it isn’t bad because my NM has been amazingly supportive and her mood is relatively stable since I came back. No dramas, no sudden outbursts, no rages. In fact, when I told her that I might cancel dinner plans with my friends (because she would be left home alone since my dad works late) to accompany her, I was surprised that she encouraged me to go ahead with it. This behaviour is something I have not seen for the past ..8 months? For now, I’m thanking God for it. Bask in the moment.. till she starts again. Or hopefully, she doesn’t at all.

When she was diagnosed with cancer, there was a sudden change in her attitude. It seemed as though she began to appreciate life and treated people around her better (us family mainly). I was guilty for being secretly happy for the cancer – not because I feel she deserved it – but that a health crisis was what it needed for NM to realise that life is too short to treat people badly. And then I wished that the cancer would go away so that she wouldn’t suffer. I don’t believe in wishing badly on others ..or that karma will bite his/her ass to feel the pain they have inflicted on them. My wish is that: 1) they realise their wrongdoings 2) Make amends

I guess people won’t change overnight and my NM surely won’t either. As I mentioned in previous posts is important that we are aware of how we react when NM goes into a rage, treats us badly, says hurtful things.. how do we stop ourselves from internalising the projections by NX. I can’t say that I have mastered handling my NM but at least, I have been aware of my thoughts and behaviour when NM starts to go into a rage mode. And that is important especially if you get anxiety attacks each time that happens.

Practise Gratitude – Trying to dare greatly

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In my attempt to lead this wholehearted lifestyle, I choose to leave my comfort zone and venture out where the uncertainty evokes anxiety inside. That letting down of my walls which have kept my ‘safe’ inside.  I need to break down these walls that have imprisoned me within. I find that my reservoir is filled with unspoken feelings for people who have been kind to me.

I think the culture we live in undervalues the expression of gratitude to others even if the good deed done for us seems minuscule. We take for granted that sometimes, people appreciate some positive feedback and that may be enough to motivate them to do more good. It is unfortunate that our energies are usually directed towards expressing our discontent to others. We can afford to spend that time writing long (negative) feedback about the waiter who did not serve us well, or the salesgirl who was unpleasant. However, do we put in the same time and effort to express gratitude when it comes to someone helping us out? Let’s start a new culture where we show appreciation to those who had been kind to us or if we are satisfied with something (and maybe constructive, not negative, feedback too if the situation requires it).

I find that whenever someone has treated or served me well, I am grateful but unable to express how I feel. Usually, I would silently pray that “God would reward him/her for his/her kindness” towards me. I always hold this belief that if we openly express our gratitude, not only will that person feel happy but you will too. In my culture, thanking and praising people openly.. is almost unheard of. Well, I rarely see this happening. We are always quick to criticise or complain when we are unsatisfied.

A few days ago, I was out with a close friend. I frequent this coffee place and have always enjoyed their iced mocha there. I told my friend that I have always wanted to say thank you to the barista but was afraid to do so. Somehow, we (or rather I because she is brave enough) managed to gather the courage to approach the barista to say how much we enjoyed the coffee and to keep it up. I have always wanted to do that but fear would get the best of me. When we eventually did, I wondered why I didn’t do it sooner. I felt at peace letting the person know because not expressing my feelings is like a weight on my chest. And I am sure the barista was beaming from ear to ear with the compliments.

I had been thinking about telling my T how I much appreciate her but each session especially towards the last few, I can’t seem to verbalise those words. Worst, I kept going back and forth about whether I should do it. Then I realised how this is daring greatly for me – getting out of my comfort zone to practise what I truly believe in and that is to practise gratitude. I sent her an email requesting for a short call (I was already heading back to my country) mentioning that I wanted to talk to her and she did not need to say anything. She replied an hour later with her office number. My palms were sweating when I was dialling. When she picked up, I explained that I am ‘into this practise of expressing gratitude’ so I wanted to tell her that I appreciate that she has been encouraging and supportive of me. I said that I wished I had more sessions with her. And then I said, I won’t say goodbye to you and instead, I am saying “I will see you later” and will find ways back to your couch lol. She asked, anything else? I said, I don’t know why I am lost for words when I am talking to her. She said, it’s ok, she understands what I want to say and then goes on to saying that she knows it must be difficult for me to come in for sessions and yet I was courageous enough despite it. She also said that she enjoys working with me and hope that I come back. We chatted a little bit about where I was and how I was going back. And then we ended the conversation because my line got cut off. She called again and and then we said our goodbyes. I honestly cannot express how grateful I am to her.

This will be a start for me to live authentically.. where I feel the need to express myself – not in writing any more – but verbally because I truly believe that verbalising my feelings is more heartfelt to the person than through writing (although I don’t think any less of that either). I admit that it is not going to be easy but I will try. One of my resolutions for this year!

Cultivating forgiveness

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There is a simple practise we can do to cultivate forgiveness. First we acknowledge what we feel – shame, revenge, embarrassment, remorse. Then we forgive ourselves for being human. Then, in the spirit of not wallowing in pain, we let go and make a fresh start. We don’t have to carry the burden with us anymore. We can acknowledge, forgive and start anew. If we practise this way, little by little we’ll learn to abide with the feeling of regret for having hurt ourselves and others. We will also learn self-forgiveness. Eventually, at our own speed, we’ll even find our capacity to forgive those who have done us harm. We will discover forgiveness as a natural expression of the open heart, an expression of our basic goodness. This potential is inherent in every moment. Each moment in an opportunity to make a fresh start.

-Pema Chodron

I was blown away when I read this paragraph. I have been grappling with this for the past month when my T asked me whether I can forgive my mother. I told her that it is difficult to forgive especially when I face it often. Moving on requires that you forgive and eventually let go of anger or any resentment towards the person. I am still at the stage of acknowledging the pain.

An article I came across last night, mentioned working through those feelings such as anger, sadness which was caused by the person (not necessarily needing to express those emotions towards them but perhaps through therapy or in a safe environment). It is only through acknowledging and expressing can you inspire forgiveness within yourself. I find this approach rather enlightening having to release those deepest feelings pent up for years, and finally setting yourself free from any emotional shackles. Sounds easy, but I can imagine the time it will take to reach forgiveness.

Session #10

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I realised that I am starting to warm up to my T. I think that me cursing in sessions more than I usually would outside of sessions, is an indication of feeling comfortable with someone? This is the real side of me that I am showing her, instead of being extra polite, layering my words etc.

I mentioned to her about feeling that ‘life is meaningless’ because all I do is household chores, follow my mother wherever she wants to go and take care of the kids (as I was saying in previous post that there’s nothing wrong if some people actually enjoy these things). She asked then, what would I consider a meaningful life then? I said that I would like to volunteer in an NGO but knowing how my mother would say that I’d be better off ‘volunteering’ my time at home, I have not proceeded to looking for an NGO to volunteer. If it was my choice, I would have signed up at an NGO in M to volunteer at a disaster struck area of the country. Actually, I do think that I need to do some self-reflection about what actually constitutes a ‘meaningful life’ to me. (What about you?)

At the moment, the only control I have is my exercise routine. I run during the weekends and on weekdays, I’ll alternate between the gym and doing my High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workout. There are ‘off days’ in between.

Our session then focused on how my job search had been. I told her that some of the jobs I applied would require me to relocate to a different country, and one of which is Japan. She asked about whether I will be able to cope living in a different country. I told her that initially it is difficult but somehow I will find something that I love and eventually be able to adapt to the place. I never thought that I would live in M as well because the culture of the country is actually quite different than mine – But I did and eventually love this place! So it’s really all about adapting to the different culture, assimilating but at the same time not losing your own culture.

We then went on to discuss about how my mother giving the silent treatment affects me. Silent treatment IS a form of psychological abuse in case some of you are not aware. My mother would shut me off for days and pretend I don’t exist. I would enter the room and immediately she would walk out. We went through the thought process – actions/consequences.

My Thought Process: “What can I do to make the situation better?”; “How do I get her to talk to me?”

Actions/Consequences: Increase anxiety, not being able to sleep, eat, fear. (I told her that I would not be able to sleep because I was trying to listen to footsteps outside my door, in case she barged in and start screaming at me)

Now that I am aware of the thought process and how it affects me, how can I react to the silent treatment so that in the future it will not reinforce this behaviour? She explained about the dynamics between ‘the abuser and the abused’. Why for example, in domestic abuse, the abused wife keeps getting abused by her husband? She reinforces his behaviour by remaining silent perhaps because she is dependent on him or due to other factors that requires her to remain in the relationship. Perhaps she gives in to him and apologise for her behaviour and thus accepts the abuse.

I told her that in my case I am unsure because so far, I usually give in and will try to talk to her. However, I did read an article about how if I draw my boundaries and let it known to her, then perhaps it will stop. For example, if she was cursing and swearing at me, I could tell her that “We will only talk again when you calm down and stop swearing”. I have not tried that yet but honestly sounds.. kinda scary.

So how about silent treatment then? I still have not figured out how to get around this. She asked me this question: Why do you feel bad or need to apologise when you have not done anything wrong? I said that I don’t apologise (anymore) but will try to talk to her to ease the situation. So then she asked me, why do you need to talk to her? Why can’t you keep silent as well?. 

The first thing that came to my mind was: I want her to know that I exist. So you prefer that she lashes out at you as compared to the silent treatment? I said, ironically yes. I prefer that she lashes out at me than to give me the silent treatment. Isn’t it contradicting that you prefer to be verbally abused than the silent treatment? I said, yes because then I know that she acknowledges my existence.

And then, it was the ‘aha moment!’ which my T pointed out. Actually I think, you just want her acceptance. You want her to accept you for who you are.. so, silent treatment feels worse because then you feel like you do not exist. [Something along that line] I told her that I usually don’t give a shit when people don’t like me for who I am. She said, of course, but this is your mother. There is nothing wrong in wanting to be accepted by your mother. Love and acceptance is part of feeling belonged in the family. 

It shocked me to the core because it is true that I do want her to accept me for who I am. There is always something wrong with me – I’m too fat, stupid, ugly, ‘black face and skin’ (I’m of mixed parentage so my siblings and mother are fair skinned). Nothing I do ever pleases her. And I remember at a young age trying to change myself just so that she can accept me. That usually means letting her dress me up (looking like a total dork), cut my hair till it was extremely short (and later she worries that I am a lesbian). I am in my late twenties and yet still trying to get her acceptance.

She went on about how all these are how she probably see herself and then project them to me. Deep in the core, she is hurt but because her defense mechanism is so strong, she want others to become miserable with her too. We talked a little bit about the hurtful comments and sarcasm that she made. I mentioned about how my mother would warn me about “going to a different country as one person and coming back as two”. If you didn’t understand that, it simply means to come back as an unwed mother. I angrily told my T that I am afraid of people touching me, so how is it that I would go from that to even having sex! My mother would also scare me about how in M, people get killed and raped and I used to actually live in fear, always looking over my shoulders.

The main thing is to be aware of my mother’s projections on me. She still sees me as a child whom she can control and keep under her thumb. What she doesn’t realise is that, I am an adult who has my own personality, likes/dislikes and it is difficult for her to come to terms with that. My T told me that being aware of her projections will stop me from internalizing them and that is crucial. For example, my mother is afraid of something and then she projects it on me so that I feel that fear too and internalise it as my own.

The last part – I was actually trying to squeeze some time. Initially, I wanted to discuss with her about why I feel bad/guilty about everything but somehow we ended up discussing something else. I raised this up to her and she said, maybe we can process it through phone/email. It was something she noticed about me but did not want to touch until I was aware and ready for the next stage.

A bit disappointed to be honest that she is not available for another appointment before I leave but at least, we covered a lot in this session. I am very grateful for that session because I was not even expecting a session with her since I thought I would be in M for just a couple of days.

I think I will try to process on me feeling bad/guilty in future posts as a way to rationalise my thoughts rather than keeping it pent up.

I hope that for those of you who are dealing with an N in your life and considering therapy, I suggest that you should seek one. If not, I hope that you find my posts somewhat useful to you which is why I am openly sharing the content of my therapy sessions here.

Being back again – for a short while.

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It was rather unexpected that I had to return to M immediately to clear some bureaucracy issues. It was very sudden and within 2 days, I was already making my way back here. I can’t say how glad I return but part of me still feel restless.. like I am not doing enough.. Or that I have to do something but I just cannot figure out what it is.

The first thing I did when I knew I had to come back, was to make an appointment with my T. I feel as though, this trip would be incomplete if I did not have a session with her. I appreciate how her door is always open for me ..whenever I am in town that is. She still wants me to update her about my progress every 2-3 weeks and that is something I look forward to. I will write about the session in the next post.

Things are starting to look like I will be staying in my hometown. The night before I left, I went out with my parents to get me a new phone and phone contract. I see the phone contract as a surety or most likely that I would be based back home. Before, I kept postponing it because I was hopeful for job opportunities in other countries. I am still hopeful though, that something might arise and I would have to relocate to another country.

Anyway, after my session with my T yesterday, I felt a bit reluctant to tell Bestie that I went for another session. I realised that whenever the topic about therapy arises, she would immediately change to a different topic. It’s getting a bit frustrating because she is the only one who knows some of the issues that I am dealing with. I feel like I could only open up to her because of all people, she being a psychologist, I thought would understand. Now that each time I really need to get something off my chest about therapy, I would talk to her but she would avoid it. I just don’t get it. I know she has mentioned before that she wants to see a therapist too, to deal with her childhood issues, but can’t she at least let me process my thoughts? I’m not even discussing about my childhood trauma – that I leave for when I see my T – but more trivial issues. I mean, whenever she needs to talk about her ex-bf, I said that she can process her thoughts with me (even though honestly, I am quite sick of listening about him but for her sake, I let her). I am not the sort who believes that ‘since I have done that for you, you need to do the same things for me too’. I’m not that calculative. Friendship may be about reciprocity but I don’t expect it will always be on the same level of giving back to each other. I’ve always known this about her but I thought she would have realised it by now. Oh well, I can’t always expect other people to think like me, don’t I?

So plans for the rest of this week: More relaxing, meet up with friends and trying to find a job ASAP!

Oh, last thing. Since I am a food lover, you can expect more pictures of food here 😀

Rosemary Chicken and Wild Mushroom pizza. One of the best pizzas I have tasted! Chunky pieces of chicken..and the pizza crust was not too thick nor thin either.

Rosemary Chicken and Wild Mushroom pizza. One of the best pizzas I have tasted! Chunky pieces of chicken..and the pizza crust was not too thick nor thin either.

Spicy tomato smoked duck pasta.  They served a generous serving of thick slices of smoked duck. I thought the heat from spicy tomato sauce was to my palette but according to my friend, she found it very spicy.

Spicy tomato smoked duck pasta. They served a generous serving of thick slices of smoked duck. I thought the heat from spicy tomato sauce was to my palette but according to my friend, she found it very spicy.

Back home and staying positive

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I did something different today.. especially when there is an opportunity to be out alone 🙂 The quaint cafe nearby serves single origin coffee which to my surprise, I don’t really enjoy that much now considering I used to brew Ethiopian coffee beans every morning. Do you know how lovely that coffee beans roasting smells emanating the whole house especially on winter mornings? It was my daily pick me up then before heading out. If there is one thing on my bucket list would be to learn how to make good coffee.

By the way, the Thai Milk Tea cake was pretty average although it looked yum. The Milk tea didn’t exactly stand out. The Iced Mocha wasn’t that great either although I could taste the coffee. I miss good coffee in M and A!

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Thai milk tea cake and Iced Mocha

I came back home a few days ago feeling despondent about the future. What the heck am I going to do for the next few months if I’m jobless? I hate the thought of not doing anything intellectually stimulating (except for reading). It must have been pms because I was suddenly feeling like this life is meaningless if all I’m going to do is to sit at home, do some housework and help take care of the kids. I don’t think it’s anything wrong if anyone actually enjoys these – but, I am the sort who needs to be up and about to change the world (haha! Too ambitious I know).

I just need to refocus right now – pick up new skills (I’m thinking baking!), learn a language, volunteer, try a new sport.. Staying positive is also one of them. I’ve been feeling shitty about not getting a job which pretty much suck because I can’t do the things that I want to do.

What are your New Years’ resolution that you are working on?