me too

trigger warning – description of sexual molestation.

i was molested in my early teenage years. my recollection of it is vague because it would happen while i slept. but sometimes i’d wake up, and those brief moments are imprinted. like a scar, burned into my memories. a dark corner i never want to visit. today, i want to shine the brightest light i can muster, directly at that corner. i want to know what is so disgustingly painful. dirty. shameful. that i have not been able to find the voice to share it in it’s absolute truth before. what a useless thing to carry around, shame. i have been on a quest to find my essence self. i write this in hope of releasing what has caged me for almost the entirety of my life.

the molestation took place in my home. my room. i was most likely 13-14, and my brother would have been 10-11. i can’t remember how often or how many times it happened. all i know for sure is that i can count 4 incidents. he would sneak into my room and touch me. my breasts. and then he’d lift my nightgown and move my underwear to look at my vagina. i don’t believe he ever touched my there. once i remember him reaching ejaculation because some of it landed on my leg. one night, i heard my door open. i must have intentionally moved around, causing him to hide under the bed and i called for my mum. and even then, even though i knew full well what was going on, i told her i thought there was something under my double decker bed. of course that must have sounded like the silliest thing coming from a 13/14 year old. one would think a 13/14 year old has outgrown the “monster under my bed” fear. but she checked, and found my brother. who said he wanted to scare me. and we left it at that. i don’t remember the order of those incidents. i’d like to think that was the end of it.

i now fully accept that his actions must have been out of curiosity. every teenager is curious. i have no idea why he chose to act on that curiosity with me, but i don’t hold that against him any more than i need to. i confronted him once in 2008, although my emotional and mental state was such a mess back then, i did not know how to address it in a mature, wholesome way. it was during a fight, because we used to fight terribly. i’d upset or annoy him and sometimes that would lead to him grabbing me by my hair and/or spitting at me. i blame the physical violence on my parent’s relationship. another corner for another day. so it was during one of those fights that i went to grab a knife. and i sat down across him and told him that if he didn’t come near me, i wouldn’t attack him. and then i demanded an apology for what he did to me. i’m sure he apologized. i don’t think i ever let him know before, that i knew. and i have not brought it up since. just that once. the way i remember it, my dad was sitting right there. i wish i could remember with certainty what his reaction was, because when i think of how my dad handled the situation, all i draw is a blank. could it be that he just ignored it? or did he not think much of it as i did not reveal details? should i have?

the thing with being molested when you’re young is. someone is touching you sexually. someone is touching you sexually in a way you have never experienced being touched before. it is something you are not in the slightest bit prepared for. perhaps if it were to happen in adulthood, one would have a clearer idea of what’s alright and what’s not. because when you are touched sexually not in a rough, rape type scenario, it’s not in itself an unpleasant feeling. especially when i had never been touched, never had a sexual experience. i gather part of the shame and darkness in the whole experience is because i liked it on some level. being touched. being aroused. i created a fantasy world where it was not my brother touching me. i was just being touched. the stories we tell ourselves stories to make things alright. maybe i even looked forward to it. being aroused. pretended to still be asleep. until it was too much to deal with anymore – the fact that it was my brother – making it all sorts of wrong – and i chose, i think, to put an end to it. i sealed that corner off for good. never to be visited. never wanting to feel that way again. because it was disgusting and wrong.

unfortunately though, all my natural normal sexual feelings got sealed in as well and the result of that was that being aroused always went hand in hand with feeling guilty. or shame. or dirty. so for the longest time, i never let anyone touch my breasts. and whenever anyone insisted to, it felt terrible. sometimes it made me want to cry. but no one ever understood why because for the longest time, even i didn’t understand why. i had done such a great job at pretending it didn’t affect me that i couldn’t see how it was spilling into all my experiences, affecting all my relationships. i always used the excuse that my breasts were for my babies and not for sexual pleasure. but the truth was that it brought me great pleasure, which then made me instantly feel all that disgust, effectively removing enjoyment from intimacy. despite being very active. i chose to focus on the guy and pleasing him, to avoid being pleased myself which caused all my energy to go towards serving instead of self loving.

and that’s how the story went until i began to face it. my psychedelic awakening as i crossed into adulthood forced me to come to terms with the fact that i was in need of healing in more ways than one. for the longest time it was incredibly hard to face the truth of what happened. i was angry at life for taking something away from me. why did it have to happen to me? why was i not entitled to blossom into my full self without being scarred by that trauma. i had to face the reality of how that one incident reached through the rest of my life into all my experiences and forgive life over and over again.  anytime i came across something in movies or the media that touched on the subject, capturing my attention in a way no regular person would have interest in, i used those opportunities to search a little deeper. to share more with my husband. to open up about it. until i was no longer angry. until i was no longer ashamed. until i reached a tipping point and it all finally clicked for me.

i can, allow myself to enjoy being aroused. it is not dirty, it is not wrong. there is no shame in a healthy sexual experience. i am not the abuse that happened to me. it happened, but it’s alright that it happened. all kinds of things happen in life that we have little to no control over. it does not define me. and it certainly does not need to linger into every sexual experience i have for the rest of my life. i can part ways with my confused, tormented child self. i can experience things the way i could have, had it not been made confusing.

would it have made a difference if i had spoken up about it at an earlier point in my life? or any point for that matter. what if i had told my parents when it happened? would it have helped heal me in time to allow me the freedom to experience myself? you see, it was my brother. my much loved baby brother. and even though for the longest time our relationship was strained, i have always loved him. i didn’t ask for those things to happen. i have always wanted our relationship to be undamaged. the way it could have been. and how could i speak of things without putting him in the role of the perpetrator? how could i heal myself without implicating him in what happened. i have forgiven him and i understand that sometimes we do things that we feel like doing without knowing the consequences. everybody does. how do we know what is right and wrong until we learn it? there is a line between unintended mistakes and evil and i don’t believe this was the latter.

but i acknowledge that to some extent it is easier for me to face, “easy” for me to express. as it is much less of a social stigma for me than it would be for him if people found out. the awareness of putting him in a place he might not want to be always kept me quiet. i didn’t want people to know of what he did, because what if he doesn’t want people to know? how would that affect him? and what would become of our relationship? it is still the one thing that keeps me from sharing. had it been anyone else, i could have done this a long time ago. what if it was someone else? i am tired of pretending and playing games with my memories.

there is a light bursting through the seams of my silence. i do not want to hold it in any longer and deny myself the lightness that comes with being transparent about the experiences we have. to put it all out there and say yes, this happened to me, and there is no shame. there is no shame because i am not ashamed of my story. this is me. all of me. and i love all of me. but for now, i share this quietly. despite the desire to be open and proud of it. because he is still my baby brother. because of that, i do not want to forcefully put him in that place. never. but it is also alright if it is meant to be that the truth finds its way to the light. i am not scared of the consequences anymore. it is not for me to concern myself with whether anyone else is able to handle the truth or not.

i shall do what i need to to heal myself. because i am allowed to heal myself and reclaim the me i would have been.

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the light at the end of the tunnel is not an illusion. the tunnel is.

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anxiety

for as long as i can remember, i’ve had this reoccurring nightmare. it took me quite a while to grasp and form into a picture that made sense. it is me – without a form – just an awareness – running on a sphere like object, also formless – at first i am just running along – but as it progresses, the realization that i am unable to get off starts to set in – and with that, fear – and the sphere is rolling faster – and i am running faster – under threat of disappearing under – and the more i think about it, the longer away the “end” feels like – until the end as a concept, has stretched so incredibly far that it ceases to exist – and the swelling panic of there being no end to this torture is so overwhelming that i freeze – and everything freezes – and if i’ve made it this far in the nightmare, i wake up.

 

that paralyzing fear, i now understand – is my anxiety.

 

breathe.

 

anxiety is this large rolling sphere that once you get on, you can’t seem to get off. stuck on that train of thought, on whatever you belief in to be real – fear and panic sets in. your heart beats faster, so much so that you can feel your heart pulsing in your chest and the blood rushing through your veins. you get nervous, uncomfortable – your senses are heightened. you are overstimulated. dizzy. light pierces through your eyes like you are a tiny bug on a gigantic operating table with all the lights on you. you heat up so much that you get cold. you hear every little sound, amplified a hundred times until there is so much pressure within you that it all goes silent. all the senses. and you freeze.

 

it is often paralyzing.

 

breathe.

 

anxiety is finding yourself stuck running, staring into the depths of infinity. it is believing in the worst and seeing absolutely no hope of another possible outcome and therefore no end towards the panic you are feeling. no exit. just the same thoughts increasing in pressure as they play on loop. looping over and over again. loop. because you’ve been through it so often your panic muscles know exactly what to do. loop. and the familiarity of all that fear puts you in that moment of most heightened anxiety within a split second of impact. loop. because anxiety is not really about the situation in front of you, but about anxiety itself. loop. and there’s no coming back because there’s no way out. loop. no exit. just the same thoughts increasing in pressure as they play on. loop.

 

you frantically search for a way out as you spin in circles around yourself. a safe space. a space that is not “this”, whatever “this” is.

 

breathe.

 

anxiety is irrational fears made rational by the mind – taking control over your every being – in the absence of a safe space. and this lack of safe space can be caused by a multitude of experiences which lead to emotions of broken trust and lack of safety. some schools of thought belief the behavioral pattern of anxiety stems from trauma incurred in the formative years of childhood. if a caregiver did not consistently or sufficiently meet your needs for love, affection, approval, care, touch or worse, abused you. and if you find yourself a child, teen or adult – in a situation without someone to go to whom you trust – someone who understands what you’re going through and knows how to be there for you – you freeze. you freeze yourself in, and the world out.

 

breathe.

 

you freeze while you desperately look for the exit. a door for you to open to find sanity waiting with open arms. a door that you have forgotten how to find. because you’re distracted and pulled in all kinds of directions by all your senses. the exit, that is breath.

 

stop.

 

breathe.

 

close your eyes. feel that blood rushing. acknowledge your heart beating fast. breathe. deep inhale. with a slow exhale – ask yourself, what’s the worst that could happen. what are you afraid of? breathe. answer those questions, walk down that path. look your fear in the eye and then move past it. breathe…into the space beyond fear. see that there is more. visualize that space. feel it. hold it in your heart. breathe. acknowledge your thoughts. your fears. recognise them as your creation. embrace yourself. your trauma. everything that has lead you up to this point. do not resist it. breathe. know that your trauma is not your fault. acknowledge your pain. let it go. forgive yourself for what you judge yourself for. forgive the reactions. the emotions, panic, irrationality, frustration, anger, violence to come out of the anxiety. forgive yourself. breathe. you are not your trauma. you are the you beneath it all. remind yourself of who you are.

 

breathe.

 

you are love. you are light. you are peace. you are tranquility. you are the sound of the ocean and the breeze blowing through the sky. you are the sunrise and the sunset. the moon, the stars and the galaxy. you are whole. breathe. let go of everything that you cling onto. let go of the defense mechanisms you built over many long years to protect yourself. all the fear. all the paranoia. you are safe. you are alright. breathe. feel your heartbeat stabilize. the pressure start to fade. reality coming back. you are calm. now you can reassess the situation.

 

don’t stop breathing.

 

always remember to breathe. it is the exit door that exists within us that no one can take away. breathe into it. breathe through it.
one breath at a time.

 

i willfully use my anxiety to heal myself. every episode an opportunity to strengthen the muscles of acceptance and inner peace.

 

i visualize my anxiety washing away like grains of sand on the beach with each passing wave.

 

the waves have washed away my nightmare too.

making peace

the time has finally come – for you to face that big one. that major relationship that left an impact so devastating you thought it could never be sent to the folder where past experiences you’ve sorted through and moved on from reside.

you went to poke the beast. you always do. always in hope that the in between was enough time for the beast to transform into something else. something able to look you in the eyes and rise above together. because sometimes you are that beast. and all you need is time and bit of understanding to be ready to heal. some people say don’t bother. but that’s not who you are. you always try. it isn’t always the smartest thing, but you choose to anyways. until the chapter is over.

what transpired took you by surprise. because you thought you had an idea of how things might go either way. but once again, you overlooked all of reality to exist in your fantasy world where everyone wants to make peace. boy were you wrong. goddamn were you wrong.

it genuinely shocks you. you don’t know why. it really shouldn’t. but you really did not expect such a reaction. it sucks. you’d like for it not to, but it does. it’s sad that some things private and personal that you were or had divulged in a space you once considered safe could be used in such a way, twisted beyond recognition. violated. soiled. but you know the truth. and no one can take the truth away from you. 

it makes you think of the past and your journey. of all the years spent wandering about hurt, trying to find love. of all the loneliness. that dark cold loneliness you couldn’t run from no matter how much you tried. always right behind you. lurking in the silent corners of your mind.

you remember the family you once had. a lifetime ago (or so it seems), when you were safe and cherished and things were simple. you feel the inner panic of gradually losing that stable ground. the chaos that ensued as you tried to survive and the constant anxiety of having to – that only made you more needy and codependent.

it makes you think of all the people that crossed your path. those who were good for you. those that were bad. the handful you needed and hurt in the effort of finding your lost self. the stupid choices you made because you were so adamant on not giving a fuck that you chose not to even when you should have. even when you knew as sure as the sun is bright that you were walking into disaster.

you mentally hug your past self. you know how much she needs that compassion and strength with all the pain there was and all the pain to come. you feel melancholic, but more intensely at peace. because you know everything that’s happened has gotten you here. and even though you didn’t get here unscratched, you are so happy here. so very incredibly happy.

only you and you alone know how much effort it’s taken to free yourself from past trauma. to look yourself in the soul and come to terms with the choices you made and the things that happened for you.

and you know now – everything that happens, happens for you and not to you. never to you. and this just so happened to be the journey you needed to take towards self discovery, self worth and self love. because only through learning to love yourself could you then begin to love others the way you’ve always wanted to, with compassion and acceptance. to then create a family based on that truth, for the best odds at maintaining a loving space for your children to always count on.

to save them from what you went through.

you have always known the trigger point of everything falling apart. you set out to do different. it has always been that steady beacon of light. even when you lost your mind, you very much still had your sight. and you never gave in. you never let anything blacken your heart so much you couldn’t live with yourself. you just kept getting back up and moving forward, you warrior. you got here. you did it.

it took as much strength to power through the earlier pain as it did to be vulnerable and truthful in the healing process later on. you have by now forgiven yourself. and with this chapter coming to an end, you feel the remainder of sadness and pain of a time before start to fade as well.

so steady, as if it has been waiting to be set free. you hold on to it for just a little bit longer. a reminder of what made you YOU. a reminder that contained in that darkness was your greatest potential for light.

shift

the first quarter of 2017 was truly transformative, culminating in the momentous yet somewhat insignificant chopping of my 4 year old dreads. a decision made over a quick 5 minute before-bed conversation with my other half and carried out by yours truly with the aid of my trusty favourite pair of scissors the morning after. akin to the process of metamorphosis except that it felt way past due, in all honesty – hence the feeling of insignificance i suppose. i was already a butterfly, still walking around in the shell of my old caterpillar self.

i felt the need to break free creeping up on me for months – almost trying to avoid the reality that the luscious rebellious unkempt dreads i once attached to self as part of my identity no longer felt like me. i can’t say what finally came over me that fine night when the energies of change swept me off my feet and propelled me forward into this new reality. it happened so swiftly.

MAY.

we will always remember may of 2017. just days after what will be from this day forth be referred to as “the haircut”, we embarked on the emotional journey of saying goodbye to a parent as my husband’s father was unexpectedly hospitalized and given the end life prognosis. earth-shattering. but as we crossed paths with others over the following week, it became increasingly clear that the intense energy of may was felt across the board. this had indeed been a time of change and what else could we do but take everything in with a deep breath and exhale into the new.

which really got me thinking – being that i love me some good introspection – about the soil i had prepared to plant my seeds of change and the harvest that now awaits me in my garden of personal growth.

i cannot deny that the absence of weight i now feel on my head mirrors what i have been feeling on the inside. the first quarter of 2017 brought about a wave of self worth through self love and acceptance. and through that, a lightness that never existed within my perfectionist human mind.

if feels as though the journey of motherhood gave me all the motivation i needed to constantly be a better self, bringing forth and forcing me to address my accumulated human trauma and dig past through to my childlike essence self – the very essence i witness everyday in my daughter – and at long last with the warm embrace of life, there has been a breakthrough.

i love that we chose to move to taiping where we live a quiet, wholesome family life with little to no distractions (or entertainment) to pull us away from what truly matters. healing. being content. being present. we aren’t there yet, and i cannot say for certain if there is even a there to begin with. but with each passing day, we get closer to understanding what it means to be free.

and sometimes when i get a moment of peace to myself amidst the wonder and bewilderment that is parenting, it almost feels as if i am free floating and free flowing in a vast open space. dancing to the passing energies. just being.

formuLIE

it’s been almost a year of breastfeeding for us, and in this time i have come to realise how incredibly simple breastfeeding can be and how out of touch with our own nature we have become. 

sure, women and most other mammals have been breastfeeding since the beginning of our existence. it should be instinct. but breastfeeding as a human at a time where everyone wants convenience poses and entirely different challenge.

a generation ago, our mothers were made to believe that formula was better than breast milk. a generation sold on the convenience and comfort that modern day life had to offer. bombarded by advertisements paid for by the very corporations who had everything to gain with no other reliable or available source of information, how could we blame them?

fortunately things have changed since then and for those of us who want to be educated now, there is an entire world wide web of information for us to tap into at our fingertips. but in large part, the damage has been done.

i’ve been told a whole ton of different stories where it comes to unsuccessful breastfeeding. low supply, fussing baby, painful latching, rejection of direct latching and the list goes on. but all i hear is the same issue of inadequate education on the true journey that is breastfeeding and a preference for convenience with formula as an opt out. the easy albeit expensive alternative.

i understand. when ella was admitted for jaundice and had to undergo phototheraphy, after latching for half an hour and falling asleep, i put her back down for light where she woke up and started crying. wanting to calm her down (or shut her up), the nurse asked if i minded her giving ella some formula. worried about my child and not wanting her to be crying in the nicu, i said okay.

at this point, my milk had not kicked in yet. it sometimes takes a few days. especially for first time mothers. but no one had informed me. all babies do at that stage is latch latch latch. nonstop – to bring in the milk. but no one was informing me.

no information from the nurses and doctors. the people we look to for advice when we find ourselves in those situations. only formula. and then we turn to the people around us for help. if we’re lucky, someone has the necessary information on what to do. if not, we find ourselves surrounded by people telling us to supplement. confinement ladies, mothers or friends that believe formula is alright. 

for any mother who has just gone through the process of childbirth after a long pregnancy, who is emotionally and physically drained and in need of care, who is willing and needing to trust her caregivers – such misinformation at this critical time is dangerous. it causes a lot of mistakes with feeding and supplementing with formula because why not, right? formula is accessible, reliable, measurable, less stressful and healthy.

except that it is not. healthy, that is.

formula is inferior to breast milk. contains all sorts of additives, preservatives and sugars. destroys the natural gut flora and should only be used as an absolute last resort when needed – as opposed to starvation. after direct latching, expressed breast milk and donor breast milk. 

formula is sold as a necessity. but it is not. formula is promoted as a healthy option. but it is not.

breast is best. always.

but you can’t go up to a mother or friend and start giving them directions on what to do. you can’t tell them what’s better or healthier or natural. you just have to stand back and watch silently, because no one wants to be told. because no one is asking. we know plenty of situations where women receive a ton of unsolicited advice from a know-it-all relative. no one wants to be that jackass.

so we keep our mouths shut. i keep my mouth shut. and let everyone journey their own journey. 

but what if someone would rather know if there’s something more they could do. if they’re making the healthy choice. if what they’re going through is normal. 

what if i just put it out here, in case someone stumbles upon this and could use the help.  

breastfeeding is not just an act of feeding one’s youngling. breastfeeding is communication between mother and child. after delivery (especially for first time mothers), milk may take a couple of days to kick in. this is normal. don’t supplement. a baby is expected to lose a percentage of their weight in the first week before they begin to gain weight and can go without milk for those few days without issue. as milk kicks in, baby is given a good dose of colostrum – which provides all the essential antibodies for a newborn.

how much milk a mother produces is a matter of demand. more demand = more supply. in the early days, baby may want to latch all throughout the day. you may wonder why baby is constantly hungry or cranky. if you are making enough milk. the solution is to offer boob when baby stirs. even if it seems like all your time is spent with a baby on your breast. this is normal. don’t supplement. the frequency of feeding will reduce as as baby’s tummy grows.

then just as you think you’ve gotten into a routine and know what baby needs, baby will go through a growth spurt which causes baby to need much more milk and seem unsettled. for a day or two, it may feel like you have a newborn again. this too, is normal. don’t supplement. just offer baby the breast as much as needed once again. repeat until no longer breastfeeding. 

babies should be breastfed for at least 6 months where they do not need water or anything else other than breastmilk, but continue to benefit from breastmilk and the bonding associated to breastfeeding for years. in times of sickness, a mother’s body makes antibodies to be delivered to the child through breastmilk. after 1 year shall you decide to stop breastfeeding, your child no longer needs milk – not formula, not cow’s milk – and can adequately receive all needed nutrients from a good diet. 

you don’t ever have to buy into the formulie. save yourself the money. nature has already given us all we need for the best chance of survival. 

when in doubt – always trust nature. 

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