my small space

moments when thoughts overflow.

#MeToo

I’ve read pieces written by brave women who have chosen to share uncomfortable truths of their past, and I’ve thought about doing so myself. Yet, I hesitate. I’ve thought to myself, am I over-dramatising what happened? Are the things that happened to me even considered as sexual harassment?

But in questioning the qualifiers, am I not trivialising and denying myself the reality of feelings I had, and refusing to acknowledge those incidents? Trauma and degree of harm may be relative, and what I felt and experienced ought to be, and is relevant. In keeping silent, I may also become part of the problem, an indirect enabler of situations.

Growing up, I’ve been told as a little girl all the things I shouldn’t let people do to me, and they were focussed on inappropriate touches. Little did I know that sexual harassment was more than just the physical. Most of my uncomfortable experiences were verbal, and disturbing.

  • Standing by the crossing, waiting for lights to change. A lorry pauses and a man whistles while another asks me to join them. They continued their antics but I refused to react, and drove off laughing to themselves.
  • On my way to work in the morning, a man in his fifties on his bicycle almost knocked me over, didn’t apologise and proceeded to say I was very pretty and wanted to be friends with me. I declined and walked away, he was still asking for my number.
  • Six years back, a colleague I was never close to nor flirted with, once remarked, “Dressed so sexy today?” I ignored him from then on.
  • Five years ago, I was heading home when a man walked past me and I clearly heard him say, “Can I lick your pussy?” I was stunned and hurried back home.
  • Four years ago, I was on OkCupid and conversing with a few men to give online dating a go. After exchanging numbers and texting a guy about interests and all, suddenly a couple of erect penises showed up in the text conversation. He thought that they would make me interested in him romantically. I told him otherwise.
  • I received invitations to have a sexual affair with someone whom I had deemed as respectable. He is a doctor, who carries himself well and shares his life online, many of his photos featured his loving relationship with his girlfriend. None of the minor exchanges online prepared me for his overtures which I declined repeatedly and he eased off.
  • I went on a lunch date with a man who confessed that he was not single after the lunch. I was upset and cut communication with him after several phone calls. I deleted and blocked his number. A year after, he changed numbers and tried to make contact again. I deleted and blocked again.
  • Last year, on my way home, a car pulls up parallel and follows me as I walked. The window rolls down and some guy said something. I had my headphones on and didn’t react to it. The person continued to talk to me for some time, eventually the car of men drove off when I refused to react.
  • I changed my route home since that night, choosing to walk by the lit paths of neighbourhood shophouses. There is a group of older men who gather outside one of the shops to drink after closing hours. Every time I walk past them, they stop talking and I can feel their gaze following me until I was out of earshot. It’s been over a year, still happening, almost every evening.

There probably are more experiences which I’ve forgotten, thankfully so. My skin crawls every time I remember or recount these experiences. I feel unclean and struggle with the urge to scrub my skin. I remember them all too clear, and that is the degree to which they’ve left a mark. At times, I feel unsafe, even in my own neighbourhood. It’s a place I’ve called home for all my life. I’ve never done anything that asked for, and very much less, to provoke attention in these ways.

Do note. These were all verbal, textual forms of sexual harassment. If you were disturbed by them, just think of the degree of harm that physical sexual assaults can be. Sexual assaults that range from groping, molestation to rape. To some, this may be something never experienced; to others, it’s a daily reality that happens anywhere, anytime. It can and may have already happened to anyone around you. Women, men, your friends, family, colleagues. Everyday people. It can happen to anyone.

It’s easy to just tolerate everything that has happened, sweeping them aside as “normal, unthreatening, minor”. Be silent, stay silent. But the fact is, when we stay silent, the situation stays as is.

Nothing will change.

But this doesn’t and shouldn’t be the “norm”.

So stand up and call out on unacceptable behaviour. Educate and perpetuate acceptable forms of contact, touch and emphasise consent, comfort and communication. Listen to someone when they have something to tell you, an uncomfortable truth they’ve been keeping inside. Keep people around you safe, your loved ones and even strangers you come across in your everyday life. Honour and respect everyone. We all need that.

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listen

To the sound of my heartbeat.
Listen to every breath that escapes this physical flesh.
Into the depths, out from the soul.

The skin speaks truths I don’t often hear.
Every blemish, each ageless fold.
A story of deeper meanings, a need untold.

Cease those harried waves of covers.
Fabrics clothe fears, wrapping a gaping hole.
Free unspoken words, all hidden woes.

Tears follow the dance of each breath.
Worries wept their surrender, unleashing their hold.
Courage upon shoulders unburdened and whole.

Listen to the sound of my heartbeat.
Listen to every word formed through this physical flesh.
Into the light, out from the soul.

journal

Been spending time away offline, choosing to take long bus rides home and writing a lil about my days and thoughts in my journal at night, right before I sleep. Painting helps to ease my mind to highlight the lil joys of everyday.

markers

White flowers set in a pattern, what is it that I seek, where’s my guiding lantern?


It feels humbling and gratifying to be away for a while and realising I don’t miss things all that much; remembering all the phases I’ve been through and all the things I’ve lost interest in. 

I used to post little things about my life on social media platforms, the food I ate, things I saw and the people I hung out with. Then came the selfies and ootds, mixed with flatlays and highly curated creations. From spontaneous to contrived; hardly personal and I’ve begun to keep my private life locked away.

Social media tires me out with every point of engagement and lately, I’ve been withdrawing back to other parts of my life and questioning the various roles and priorities things hold in it.

Maybe I’m having a mid-life crisis, and depression’s taking over an inch at a time; so many things seem inconsequential but the totality of their weight hangs heavy on my mind.

exhaustion

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Lately, I’ve been feeling fatigued.

There’s an underlying sense of irrational irritation at my day job, where I feel like I’m simply a pair of hands taking directives to execute and produce designs. There’s no sense of ownership and pride in what I do, and sometimes… I even dislike what I’m producing.

There has always been this tug of war, a balancing act between what is both visually pleasing and answers to the targeted viewer’s needs and also, the clients’ requests. Sometimes the eventual design created is at odds with what it was intended for. That strikes to me as being supremely high-handed and beats the whole purpose of even designing it. I can really empathise with why some people get out of a full-time employee role and switch over to being their own bosses running their own businesses.

Somehow, that resonates with real life out of work as well. With so many people trying to influence and affect the way we’re living, just how do we really figure out what we’re meant to do and be doing it well?

The larger the office population gets, the larger my need to maintain a semblance of distance. Maybe I’m just sensitive, maybe I just really dislike being around people and feeling drained at the end of the day; whatever the case, I think I can understand why some people loathe the whole open work spaces concept.

There are a lot more factors at work that make me uneasy and upset, but work is work after all. Liking and enjoying work is an option, not compulsory at all. I’ve got stability and security in one hand, and fulfilment and freedom in another. I want it all, but now’s not the time. So, I’m simply pushing down resentment until the day I want to get off this ship.

How long more to go?

lately

I was thinking while having my dinner one Sunday night, when a line of thought became the following:

Sometimes we say “I can’t” when we really mean “I don’t want to.

I can’t lose weight/be productive/become fit/be amazing/be happy/be loved/find happiness/do this and that/etc. etc.

What do we mean we “can’t“? Of course we can!

There’s nothing stopping us but our own conditioned thought and action patterns. They’re not hard facts, they’re changeable. It’s a matter of how much we want to. If we can’t, maybe deep inside, our inner voice just doesn’t want to, perhaps out of fear or a plethora of irrational reasons.

If we’re inclined to see only the negatives of any situation, then we’re just going to compound upon it ever single bad thing that we want to believe in vehemently, in order to bitch about; the pity part calls for attention to be validated. That just feeds into a negative loop, and we won’t grow beyond that easily.

I once came across this video of a lady talking about her fitness journey and how she struggled with her sugar addiction. Instead of demonising it, she chose to cope with that by telling herself,”I can eat this cookie, but I don’t want to.

If we reframe the context to empower ourselves mindfully instead of putting up mere resistance, being stubborn and strong-headed. We can sprinkle the positivity, liberally, to squish the negative inner voice.

I can be amazing. I want to be amazing!
I can conquer this minor task at work, and I want to!
I can lose weight, be healthy and fit. I want that!
I can be happy. I want to be happy!
I can be loved! I am loving and worthy of being loved, and I want to love!

The next step is to question: what can we do to be that amazing self? What are the reinforcing actions and thought habits that have to be cultivated to get there? Instead of thinking of it as a future goal, we can further impress upon ourselves that we already have arrived and so then, how can we behave, think and live in that state of actualisation?

Can we?

Yes, we definitely can. 🙂

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hello

Just last week, I decided to take the plunge and do something that’s been on my mind for a while now. A new chapter in my life… 🌼 I’ve started a society6 account!

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www.society6.com/jazhmine

I’ve put aside drawing and painting for a few weeks too many, while setting up my society6 account. The percentage cut I get ain’t all that much but I made 2 sales in my first week, so that’s something and I’m grateful for that 🌸

I’ve had it on my mind for years now, to market my own art and sharing it with everyone else and it just amazes me every time I see my art on the simulated merchandise samples. It’s surreal and I hope that the lovely customers who bought my art will love the pieces too.

It isn’t easy doing that on the side, to edit, upload and promote in what little time I carve out for it before and after my day job. I’ll keep going at it, because it’s important to me. 🌼

I’ve been neglecting my wordpress blog for far too long, this place may go into a new direction, now that I’ve expanded upon the platforms I’m creating on. So here’s hoping I’ll be able to keep up posting more of my thoughts and feelings here and to share a little more of my life.

Cheers and have a good weekend! 🙂