my small space

moments when thoughts overflow.

weight

16 years ago, numbers started to matter more than just the grades I received in school in my teenage years.

Although 51kg was well within the healthy weight range for my height (1.64m), I somehow developed a preoccupation with being over 50kg in my teenage years. It weighed on my mind constantly and whenever I saw the leaner girls in school, I felt ashamed of my weight, of my waistline and felt close to zero confidence in how I looked and how I was as a girl.

Where did that all come from?

I could blame it on the prevalence of skinny models that media sells, but ultimately, it was me that decided to consume what was sold, I chose to take in those social considerations as my own rulebook to judge myself by. I was envious of the lean cute petite Japanese models in the magazine.

Fresh out of polytechnic and working a desk job, the sedentary lifestyle got my weight up to 54kg. That was and still is a healthy number but I recall looking at the number on the weighing scale, that needle pointing to a haunting figure. I decided to do something about it then, and it’s been over 6 years since I started to watch my diet.

I wanted to look good, I wanted to be attractive.

I am vain.

I wanted men to look at me, desire me and love me. (Hello, deluded self haha!)

I dieted, cutting heavy carbs out of my daily meals, consuming lesser sugars, fried food and everything that media and the common men labeled as ‘bad’. I started working out, doing home exercises and going on long walks. I watched everything constantly, my weight, my waistline, my tummy, my food, the amount I ate and how I looked, how I appeared to other people. I also started to invest in makeup and clothes styling, so that I’ll feel better about myself.

It didn’t work out the way I thought it would though. (You guys probably saw this coming from miles away reading the above.)

With added work stress and the conditioned habit of watching what and how much I ate, I not only dropped below 50kg… I even went to a low of 45kg. I was getting compliments and attention, I ventured into relationships, and even dove into online dating. As expected, in retrospect, my stunted growth as a person led me into relationships and conversations that didn’t develop further. They often ended after a few texts, or after a handful of months.

As each chapter closed, all I ever saw was my own shortcomings and how I failed all the men I dated. I didn’t really like myself back then; my confidence was fragile, my self esteem non-existent. I was deemed attractive but it all felt so empty, a hollow image with no substance. Underweight, unhappy and unloved by my very own self, I often thought what was wrong with me, why was I taking my image so seriously?

Why, oh why?

My family was constantly telling me to eat more, my friends reassured me that I looked just fine and that I ought to just eat more cake. But I’d be looking into the mirror, lifting my top and thinking to myself, I’m not skinny enough. I’m not good enough. I’m not pretty. I’m not beautiful.

The list of baseless self-limiting beliefs, self-sabotaging thought patterns and behaviours can go on and on; I have issues, of course, but I never really saw them for what they were until recent years. I looked to the root of my negative feelings, the thoughts behind them and what could have sparked all those endlessly self-defeating cycles of worthlessness.

For years, a couple of decades, I was angry, sad and depressed. I deluded myself with one single simple thought: I am not loved.

But that was, and is not true at all.

I have family, I have friends and they’ve been nothing but supportive, caring people who wished then and always, that I would see more in myself than I ever did with my false paradigm. My worth as a person, as a human, is not based on my weight or how I looked; my being is validated not by how superficially attractive I am. My worth is in how much I can love; how much more loving I can be towards the world and life.

So I began to turn around my thoughts and feelings, switching out bad habits slowly and turning it all from dark to bask in the light and love of all the goodness that was and has always been in my life. (The number of cliched lines and ‘positive vibes only’ words I’m using is making me cringe a little but please bear with me.)

I have only begun to eat and enjoy food in recent years; exercising so that I can eat more and keep fit, instead of trying to hit a lower weight. Now, I weigh 48kg and I’d like to keep it steady but healthy. It’s still hard to entirely not care about what I eat, how I look or the number on the weighing scale.

But I’m making progress on all of those and learning to love myself more wholesomely through conscious food choices and not severe deprivation. I’m putting more weight into the things and issues that matter more than mere numbers on scale. I’m working on self-improvement and doing more of the things I love that bring me joy that wasn’t based on hitting a new low. I’m eating better and I’m enjoying what life has to offer.

Today, I can enjoy what I ate and not feel guilty. Today, I love myself. And that’s good enough. I’m good enough.

fall

It’s been a while since this last happened to me and I don’t miss it at all.

Mid-way through the work day, I was overcome by an immense intense sensation. Of wanting to curl up in a foetal position on the floor and sinking into oblivion, into non-existence. I dearly wanted to, for the lack of a better word, ‘die‘.

It’s scary, isn’t it? To have someone write and spell it out this way. But if one were to want to not-exist, it merely sounds like one wishes to court death and not be known to the world, to not feel or be no longer in this plane of existence. (Whatever existence means.) Does that sound like I was harbouring suicidal thoughts at that moment? Well, not exactly.

Disclaimer: I was, and am not looking for a means of self-harm in order to gain attention or affection, nor am I writing these very words to obtain either from you, the reader. I am merely putting into words what I experienced and my current thoughts on that episode that happened earlier today.

It was crippling. I couldn’t continue doing work for a while and all motivation was lost. I was staring at the screen for a long time. My mind and hands knew what they had to do, but I was unable to summon the will to move my thoughts and fingers. At this point, you’re probably trying to pinpoint possible causes, so let me lay it out for you.

I wasn’t under duress or a load of unmanageable stress; I had utmost confidence that I could deliver to the projected deadlines and get it all under my thumb. I am not worried about my family, friends or any of my relationships or parts of life and living. I know that I am loved and in turn, I can love; my days filled with joyous, gracious and precious little moments. I am in all ways, doing very well in fact. So how did I end up feeling like life wasn’t ‘worth it‘ anymore?

Beats me. Really.

One moment, I was happy and getting things done. The next, all emotions were suspending and I just felt nothing. The absence of purpose and attachment to that present moment was such a departure from the second before that my body reacted physically, viscerally. I teared up and cried.

Oh she’ll feel better now that she has released all that negative emotion!” is probably what you’re thinking. Nope. I just went into a state of numbness and unfeeling.

Oh cheer up, surely it isn’t that bad? Lighten up, keep hanging in there, go look at something cute, hilarious or amazing. You’ll feel better!

Things that would usually make me happy and smile, don’t have the same effect once I was in that state. Laughter is tough to figure out, my sense of humour gone. It was almost as if my internal circuits refuse to connect, forgetting its conditioned learning about the unique ways and things that make me tick. All buttons gone, nothing to push.

Think about something you’re looking forward to, the long weekend, future trips, your favourite foods.” No bueno, doesn’t work that way. When the emotions attached to an event are suspended, the sensation of anticipation is wiped clean too.

I get that people feel scared, and helpless when faced with a situation in which they can’t do anything to alleviate someone else’s experience and quality of life. But platitudes, feel empty and as much as I do appreciate their intention, it falls flat when I am unable to properly, genuinely reciprocate by instantly being chirpy and positive again.

I feel bad too, that my own words lack that conviction when replying the goodness of people. It just loops back into the nullified emotions that can’t be willed or buoyed above sea level so that I’m not drowning a pool of ‘no‘s that keep pulling me down.

It’s easier to think than to get all those thoughts in my head expressed. Out loud. A loud. My tongue feels leadened. My lips sewn shut. Words don’t leave my breath, they die deep in me. I just want to run away and shut off from the world, from society and having to form and shape everything in words and sounds. I don’t want to speak. I don’t want to think. I don’t want to do. I don’t want to be.

When ‘death‘ isn’t a path to be sought actively and passionately (as deemed by societal standards), the only way out was to focus on the present and simply, take it a step at a time and remember self-care and self-compassion. I told myself mentally and had to keep reminding myself of the next thing to do. Basically, I can’t (and have no reason to) die so I can only keep living.

Okay, get out from your seat. Stand up. Breathe. Get your bag. Walk to the station. No, do not collapse in the street yearning for an end to this all. Get into the train. One more step and you’ll be home. Eat. Take a bite. Chew. Breathe.

Sounds stupid doesn’t it? But those were the exact words I told myself 3 hours ago. Everything drained me and felt like a chore, a tedious task. I wished (then) that I could simply close my eyes and not be able to open them again or awaken again. But that’s not happening, I’ve not completely shed all my bonds to this life yet. So I talk myself into doing things that kept me functioning. One baby step at a time.

I walked. Ate. Showered. Thought about life. What it meant to keep living. What it meant to discard life. How people conform to live in society and its many constructs that fail in their manner of assuming everyone is the same, wants the same and the irony of my own assumptions about all these assumptions. The inclusivity and exclusivity, the pointlessness and all forms of meaning making to assemble a semblance of point and purpose.

I digress.

I feel slightly better now. Emotions still lacking their bite and presence, but it’s fine.

I’m okay.

habits

It’s really easy to lapse back into bad habits and my worst one is probably talking back sarcastically at my mother. I don’t know when it all started but I probably developed this really caustic way of communicating with her as a defence mechanism when I was way younger. It’s something I really want to work on and set into place starting right now: to be more mindful and aware of how I speak. It ails me to carry negative thoughts and speak out of turn reactively. Gotta grow out of it, it’s about time. I’m too old to still be that rebellious teen.

buoyant

The closer I get to people, the more stark the differences appear to be. Yet the closer I get to all my dear ones, the less the differences matter.

Beholding their visual physicality, aural being, all those smells, tastes and textures labels them as ‘other’, a being outside of us; our ideas and actions delineate the edges of our individual selves, demarcating where I start and where they end. Going against this clear boundary in the dimensions that we experience daily, only occurs in moments of connection that can hardly be mapped with the tools we have for measurements.

Conversing with them about their lives, how challenges are unraveling and unnerving them and how the time just seems to stop for them when there is so much weighing heavy on their minds and heart. Catching up with them about their days, how they come across lovable and joyous moments, and how time just stretches and curves, like the smiles on their faces when they recollect precious seconds of memories.

Through them, other lives are lived; through them, other ways of being, growing and existing are possible. To insist, persist and expect them to be as I am, to think, feel, do, speak and eat as I do is an exercise in selfish futility. They will think things and even accomplish acts that are beyond my thought processes to carry out, causing me anguish through its seeming inconsiderations or inconvenience.

Yet if I thought hard about it, it boils right down to expecting someone that isn’t me, to behave and live like me. If other people are the many versions of me that could have been, currently are and will always be, then holding that consistent connection with them is a way to experience life wholly in its many and one form. To seek communion, completion  between individuals is perhaps to always be open to them; compassionate, forgiving, supporting and loving.

But that of course is easier said than done.

behind

Fingers and thumbs tap an impatient dance;
ready to create, ready to fence.
Relational bonds, an ephemeral sensation.
Hearts on dial, feelings on-hand;
much held in a single palm span.
A finger swipe, a single tap,
memories gone with little contact.
Used to be, words meant everything,
occupying space more than mere bytes.
Used to be, texts kept happiness in check,
yet reeked of insecurities and fights.
Used to be, used to, used.
The thread disappears, an exorcism of sorts;
wisps of attachment swept into naught.
Fingers and thumbs tap an impatient dance;
ready to smile, ready to tense.

doubt

Question everything.

Including the values you were brought up with, of their rationality, application and consequences. Some days you never know when you start seeing the link between Confucianism, filial piety, narcissism, social shaming, pride, mental disorders and personal developmental issues.

something

I’ve not written for a while.

Perhaps it’s because I’ve channeled all my expressive energy elsewhere to create visuals, rather than using verbal and textual forms for mark-making. There’s been a subtle, yet discernible change in my life. I’m no longer who I was a month ago, a husk of a human during that last stretch of time before the year ended.

Some days, it amazes me just how light life feels when I refuse to give in to the emotional pulls of trauma. To just open my eyes to observe what is being projected at me, and nullify it with indifference. Rejecting to be part of a power play, refusing to undermine my existence and repudiating false self-limiting beliefs.

I found a renewed love for myself, for life and the laughter of dear ones beside me ever since I made that conscious consistent decision to reject all ploys of reactive guilt-tripping and emotional blackmail.

Everything in my life flowed and flew, my heart soared and my mind sung. There was so much joy to be felt after the release from shackles locked for far too long. My steps were light, my days filled with so much to experience. I was and still am grateful. For such to have been, for much that’s yet to come.

I constantly felt that I was at the precipice of something wonderful. That maybe the time has truly come, where the string of my choices made before led to such a consequent plentiful sensation. That it will continue to lead me to amazement and marvel. Waves of knowing gathered slowly and I felt a bewildering anticipation. One evening, it manifested.

And I found love.

One that came along unexpectedly, or maybe not. Perhaps it was fated, my destiny to behold him with new eyes informed by the old. With a shift, all I saw in him was love, light, knowledge and so much ahead.

It feels infinite being with him.

It feels right.