[First world problems ahead. Proceed with caution.]
My never-ending journey of decluttering made a new turn today. I realised all these years, I’ve accumulated all this stuff due to my unfortunate inability to fall in love with things. What? Inability? Did I not mean overwhelming ability?
The simple truth is I never really knew what I loved. You know those “friendship books” that used to get passed around in school – the ones where you’re supposed to write about yourself, your likes and dislikes and favourite everything’s? Those always used to induce a minor anxiety attack in my poor little mind. An identity crisis – is probably over the top. But I never really had strong feelings about what I liked or didn’t like until much later on in life.
Which brings me to my epiphany; I accumulate things I mildly like, in hopes to find something I absolutely adore and love. It’s true, I kept looking (and buying) wallets, until I found out that I loved black patent leather prints. I have a long and a short in the same pattern, and that’s been the end of my wallet journey. I also collected perfumes until I found one that I truly adored, never spent money on a different scent until the line was discontinued (*sobs*). Same goes with the concealer I’ve been using for years and the comfy pants I’m glad they continued to stock. Once I find what I truly adore, my need to look for new [insert item category] dies.
So fine. Perhaps I need to keep looking for more things I absolutely love. But how is this the cause of my clutter? Again, as with most of my problems, it stems from fear.
Fear of not being able to figure out what I love; fear of getting further away from figuring myself out… I hoard all the things I’ve tried and liked, just so I know which direction I should be heading in. I’m afraid if I throw things out, I’ll forget, and end up wasting time and money.
I also foolishly, irrationally fear the very slight possibility that I may be in love with something I once had. What if I remember something I threw away, and realised I actually loved that oversized furry jumper or that polka dot scarf? Fear of regret. Even though I don’t subscribe to the notion of falling in love slowly – I either love it or I don’t. Always been that way, whether it’s things or people. So this fear has no basis and really has no place in my life.
I also hold on to possessions because it took me so long to figure out what I liked; it’s as if my identity somehow depended on these things. I am much wiser than the little girl who yearned to know what her favourite colour is, but childhood dispositions are difficult to eliminate. Even though I can now proudly say I don’t have a favourite colour, I’m still tempted to try on the latest trending colour each season… Just in case I’ve been wrong all these years, and was just waiting for that colour to show up.
I’ve rid myself of the teenager habit of taking random quizzes to figure out who I am. I am now comfortable with defining myself as fluid; I am not bound by what I’ve said in the past, what I say now, or what I might become in the future.
In fact I am so motivated to grow and change; I aim to be a different person than I was a year ago. If I define myself as liking apples, I’m not afraid to turn around and say – actually, I’m into pears now. People change, and I hope, the changes I notice are always because I am closer to the truth, closer to the real me.
I guess the task now, is to kick the old habit of holding on to things that don’t bring me excitement, fulfilment, or joy. Especially not in response to the fear of not finding a better one. After all, gotta clear out space to allow for new additions. Wish me luck!
P.S. yes, there is a part of me that want to relate this to the boys I keep holding onto in my life….. But let me just make it clear, each time I hold on, I do love them. I don’t pick one up and continue to shop for a new one. It’s just that unfortunately one way or another they stopped fitting me, so I had to let them go. Now if only I can find one that will continue to fit as I grow…….
When it boils down to being brutally honest with myself…. I don’t think I’ve fully recovered from the hurt of being abandoned/dumped suddenly. As much as I try to be brave and “love as though you’ve never been hurt”, the fear is there, the pain, still echoes. I see it of course, and every time, I ignore the fear as I plummet head first into the next love… Yet at the back of my mind I fear; and this fear of sudden abandonment, makes me want to tune up my sensitivity to any ‘signs’ that might warn me. This time, imma see it coming! Not gonna be blindsided again – says the little girl inside who is sick of being surprised in a bad way.
It’s hard to not take it personally when the one you love decides this is the end of the road – without any consultation or discussion. They made this decision on their own, claiming it all had nothing to do with me! From ex-girlfriends returning, to needing time to ‘find himself’, to figuring out they need a religious girl… Apparently the issue was never to do with me or our relationship. After a while I’ve come to understand this was true. It really had nothing to do with me. And sure, I’ve moved on. But the fear of relationships suddenly going down the drain remains.
I see now that this fear may always live in the back of my mind. Yet I refuse to let it rule me. I am still fearless when it comes to giving my all. I will present my heart with all the soft squishy parts, vulnerable at your disposal.
That is my answer to fear – I acknowledge the risks, and I will gladly suffer the consequences if shit happens. As battered and wounded as she is, my heart only grows stronger and more resilient each time. I know deep down that without risks, I will never have the type of love I know I need.
So don’t fear for me dear friends. It might be difficult to watch me fall again and again… I know you care, and that, is part of why I’ll always bounce back. : )
Growing takes a lot out of a person. It can be painful to strip away what was and have it replaced with what will be. It may be draining to conjure excess energy to create new pathways and connections. Yet there is no other way to live but to keep on growing.
As much as I’d like to stay in my comfort zone and pretend I never have to grow up; the higher powers have made sure I don’t grow complacent. Thank you for the challenges ahead, I’ll face them head on with all the pain, effort, and emotions they may command. I know I have much to learn, and I’ll come out the other side, better, stronger, wiser, with more to give.
P.S. “I will” I wrote. Every few moments my nerves and my loud brain still overwhelm me with the heaviness of finally having to deal with “grown-up” stuff… Let me try to persuade myself to go into denial for three more months while I travel and finally release the fear of being completely on my own… Shhh…
P.P.S. Am I being too cryptic again? My brother is moving overseas next month. Indefinitely. :'(
A repeated message: so much of what we do, or don’t do, is driven by our fears, rather than desires.
And hence the need to revisit my fears again and again. I want to keep figuring out the patterns and the root causes so that I may eliminate the fears that dictate my choices. I want my decisions to be based on a place of love, not fear. So here’s one I still need to overcome.
This Friday night, amidst deafening music and a crowd in search of something to fill their emptiness, I allowed myself to reminiscence in my previous relationships. Somewhere down memory lane, I discovered a common theme in these ‘failed’ relationships*. An all-too-familiar feeling of disappointment. Being disappointed by someone close is a difficult emotion to swallow. Being disappointed repeatedly, then slowly starts to create a black-hole that can’t be filled, and it sucks the hope and trust out of a relationship. Inevitably, someone who constantly disappoints, becomes draining to deal with. I got myself stuck in cycles of false-hope, disappointment, burying emotions, and hoping for change, which is of course, false-hope. And in-between these spirals, I developed a fear for that heavy hollowness which drowned out my positivity.
That fear, drove me to take control as much as I can. That fear, took away the trust I had in my ex-boyfriends. I’m not talking about trust in the fidelity sense. I’m talking about the trust that they will make good decisions for the relationship. The trust that they will think enough, see, observe and reflect enough, and most importantly, do enough.
As much as I could, I lowered my expectations so as to avoid disappointment. I convinced myself I didn’t need someone to look out for me, I didn’t need anyone to lean on, and I didn’t even want these things. And where I couldn’t give up what I wanted, I did everything in my power to make it happen. I learnt to
demand suggest things to do, to ask for what I wanted, and withdrew myself when I can foresee cloudy-with-a-chance-of-disappointment. If I wanted to do something for my birthday, I asked that day to be kept free for me – a month before the actual day to avoid being disappointed. I learnt to line up options that were all acceptable. I learnt to make backup plans in case of a let-down. I learnt to operate out of fear of disappointment, never realising how this lack of trust was probably more damaging and toxic than anything they could have done forgotten to do.
Now, I can easily psycho-analyse this fear to my childhood and upbringing. How disappointed I had been when I didn’t have my parents to emotionally be there for me to lean on. How their liberal parenting actually left me feeling stranded and alone to make decisions I was not ready to make for my young self. How I had learnt to not depend on them for emotional support, how I was forced to be strong, how desperate I felt to have to take care of myself and then some.
But I am not going to play that game. I believe parents can only be responsible for so long – and they did their best. I am very lucky to have parents that just want me to be happy, and I love them for all that they are. As adults we are responsible to recondition whatever we’ve received at a young age, and use that as the starting point for growth. So regardless of how it happened, this is where I am. I still dread and fear being disappointed.
I want to let that go. I want to surrender myself and be vulnerable. I want to have hope in the people I choose to be close with. I want to trust that they will make good decisions.
Perhaps this is why ‘The Shack’ appealed to me so much. As foreign as Christianity is to me, that faith, in how everything will be taken care of by the divine; that unquestionable trust in how everything happens for a reason; THAT, is where I want to be. Not just with life, but with people. It is easy to be cynical and say “the only thing you can trust in is that people can’t be trusted”. Yet I don’t want easy. I want to make my heart available, I want to be open to disappointment.
I know I’ve been made resilient for a reason. I refuse to let this fear of disappointment take away the joy of complete trust. I refuse to remain jaded. So I surrender my heart once again. This time, I know I’ll be taken care of.
*‘failed’ relationships, only in the sense that they didn’t work out. I would’t normally label my past relationships because I’ve grown and learnt so much from all of them. I’m very grateful to have been through them, and I will not be the person I am today without my experiences. Everything was beautiful.
Yes we all know I lack patience. But somewhere along today’s discussion of what I want to do and what I need to
not do; I caught a glimpse of why that is (thank you Mochi!).
It comes back to fear.
The fear of losing control. I have no patience in “waiting”, because it means doing nothing. And I am terribly afraid of not being able to affect the outcome of what I want. I don’t know how to let go of the predetermined schedule in my head that dictates when and how things are supposed to happen. Why would I not do everything in my power to sway the results in my favour and just do nothing? I’m so scared of just waiting!
There’s also the fear of missing out. I’m afraid that if what I want doesn’t happen right now, it won’t happen at all. Which I guess is a lack of trust and faith in the future that stems from fear. I’m scared that something seemingly obtainable will disappear with time. Yet if ‘possibility’ is all in my mind – why should it matter?
How do I overcome these fears and find patience? How do I let go of the desire to control?
Through gratitude, suggested the oracle cards. Savor each moment, rather than hinge our happiness on some future goals.
Indeed, I have a lot to appreciate right now in my life. Slowing down will allow a much fuller, deeper experience of each step on this journey… Waiting is poetic if I see it through hope, taste each moment, and bathe in gratitude.
And so, life is beautiful and full of love again. This time, I will have patience on my side.
Growing up, I was a very picky and annoyingly fussy eater. I had many aversions, the most severe of which was towards ginger. Now that posed a lot of problems for me as an Asian kid… Especially when we have seafood. Practically EVERY SINGLE SEAFOOD DISH in Chinese food has ginger in it.
Mum used to try to hide it, take the ginger out before putting it on the table. But she never fooled me! Nop. Even if that one tiny slice of ginger is invisible, it had done its damage to the dish and now “ruined” in my stubborn little mind. I would spit the food out and outright refuse to take another bite of the dish… Oh the wonderful seafood I must have missed out on!
This ‘sensitivity’ continued for years, decades, even after I’ve grown to love garlic and onion and all the other things I used to avoid as a kid. I still frowned at the sight of ginger slices in any dish and sneered upon all ginger-flavoured foods including ginger beer and gingerbread. The thought of having to put ginger in my own cooking was always a struggle… Until recently.
For some strange unknown reason, 2014 keeps bringing breakthroughs. One day, I just decided I’m no longer gonna let this ginger aversion define me. I began using ginger in my soups, roasts and stir-fries. I even put sliced ginger in my thermos drink bottle (along with goji, red dates and ginseng). Mum has been nagging me for years on the basis of chinese medicine, how ginger warms the body, is great for neutralising the ‘cold’ in our energy system etc etc. Well, mum, I’m gonna conduct an experiment on myself to see if it’s true. I will drink this concoction of “things that are good for you” daily and put ginger in as many dishes as realistic… And we shall wait and see if my circulation magically improves!
Even if nothing happens… I’m kinda just proud to have eliminated a daunting fear that’s terrorised my childhood dining experience. Liberating.
So here it goes. A deeper incision, digging into the flesh of my emotions to investigate what lurks underneath…