I was a big practitioner of self-denial. I’d pack my emotions away in a box and leave it in one of the dusty corners in my mind. Like an unfrequented room, there it would lie and eventually be forgotten. At least I would hope.
After doing it for years, it seemed like the perfect formula. I’d dodge questions I did not want to answer, whether it came from others or myself. If it could hurt, cause some unpleasantness, sealed would it stay and the days would go on.
I could never have imagined how much the truth can set you free but that was exactly what it did when I stopped lying to myself. When I stopped pretending everything was or would be okay. Sometimes life has to hit you hard enough that you buckle at your knees and you realize how vulnerable you can be.
I learned so much more about myself once I stopped to see what I was feeling, why I felt that way and what I could do about it. Taking a gamble, I reached out to old friends, some who I lost connections with and regained contact. I made myself more vulnerable by explaining why I did what I did, what I went through and that I owed it to them, the people who meant a lot in my life, I owed them an explanation as to why I was so weird back then.
Some people said I didn’t owe anyone anything, but it helped me feel better. Like a reinforcement of my somewhat new self. I had been struggling more with who I thought I was as a person, about whether I was living in line with my values and I doubted who I was. I thought of whether it had been somewhat rash for me to don the hijab (some people do it during their golden years after all), if I had jumped into my new job too soon, if I had made the right decisions for myself. If I had taken on too much too soon as I also struggled with my faith.
For one, I went to Phuket for a company trip and this freak accident happened where a huge wooden partition fell on my head. I did not black out, but my lip was gashed, my elbow was bruised and everyone was asking if I was alright. They were deeply concerned and I kind of scurried away, not wanting to cause a scene. But as I got back to the hotel room, I lay there in the dark praying that I did not secretly have a concussion. I wondered if I would ever see Mr Grumpy and AK again. I was too scared to sleep and wondered if my recitations were out of true belief or if it was more to make myself feel better.
Another, work has a steep learning curve and coupled with a lack of direction and guidance, I wondered if I truly did chew off more than I could swallow. Now, I still wonder if I can create much impact or get some deliverables to the quality I want them to be. I still am struggling to deal and cope with the new change. As I was juggling different roles on top of cleaning the house and caring for AK, the physical exhaustion was nothing compared to the mental and emotional exhaustion. Wondering if I would survive what more thrive. Day by day, my anxieties racked up. The stress of it killed me more than the amount of energy and effort ever would.
Funnily, God planned it all perfectly.
I had different experiences where I was given the opportunity to submit to old behaviours and ways of thinking. Why not? It was tempting, was it not? Just to give in to the curiosity, if only for a while. Yet during those times, I did not. Not out of self-righteousness or being worried of other people’s perceptions (cos God knows I give less of a damn by the day), not because I was any less tempted, but it somehow just did not happen. And I was okay.
Once I realized I have become comfortable in my own skin, it was like an unexpected present. I don’t need to prove anything to anyone or do things that I do not want to do anymore. The road was long and painful, but I am a step closer.
Other people have said things like “Aren’t you worried? How can you think or act that way? Your faith must be stronger so you don’t feel this way. Don’t you think God would judge you if you have such thoughts?” I admit it had me feeling worse, as though the negative events were an unending chain because I was doing something wrong. In actuality, it wasn’t the case.
Sometimes sh*t does just happen. These are the tests, what people say are also tests. But does it really matter, what they say?
Isn’t it ironic though that when you stand up for yourself, people think you are rebelling but if you achieve something, you become better, they applaud you. You don’t have to give in to this glory-hunting, self-righteousness that’s like a disease in societies. People keep talking about how you should be, but less of what you can do to bring out your personal best.
I just had to sit and think about it, all the criticism and truly reflect and decide how I want to move forward in life. Otherwise, just think of what would help me stay as comfortable in my own skin moment by moment in that day or night. All I needed in that sense was to be honest and authentic with myself and share that self with others. To be genuine and not an asshole is a harder road to take, but there are moments that make it worth the struggle. To walk the talk whenever I could mattered more than caring about where others were in their own journeys. I also am going to care less about whether people like my writing or not. hahaha this is my blog after all.
My relationships and friendships, the work I do whether at home or at work, thrived. I should be grateful and feel blessed but happiness also lies within your locus of control. If you feel like things will always be shit, it likely will be. I just woke up one day and thought enough was enough, I should be happy at least sometimes through the emotional roller coasters. Funnily because I was so tired and numb from feeling sad and depressed and anxious, always wondering when the ax was going to fall. I wore myself out and that has made all the difference.
I mean I still have relapses into those hopeless states but at least the dark spells do not last as long. Being mindful helps you to at least be aware when you are not feeling okay and it helps you reach out. Like I know when I feel like shit and I would reach out to my support system unashamedly and they would help me through. I no longer feel guilty for leaning on people when I really need to and I can look into the mirror happily.
To not be afraid, to not be bound to what you think should be is liberating. If you spend life thinking things should always be a certain way, you would be disappointed and frustrated. It is easier to give in to negative emotions and to let them fester. But if you take a step back, think and care about your feelings, stay true to you then the days get easier. Rant if you have to, write it out, accept and embrace it all even if it is unfair and you will come a step closer to yourself.
Plant your own flowers along the beat down worn out path you tread upon. Do not deny yourself and let yourself be free.