Author Archives: charissa

que sera sera

this time, 3 years ago, i had just welcomed earthside a beautiful, intense being that would forever change my life. being a mum has given me most reason to be my best self. forcing me to think about even the smallest of things i would have let slip by without a thought before. everything i am, the experience i curate for her up to the point she ventures off on her own, creates the memories and building blocks of her foundation. i strive so hard to be perfect, knowing full well that i can never be. this knowing that there is someone else – a pure, innocent being whom i have so much impact over is both amazing and terrifying. because at the same time i am trying to be my most free self, i am incredibly aware that i am sometimes not able to or should not make selfish decisions for just myself. it is confining. to not be able to choose me. to not know if choosing me is what will give my children the best version of myself. if those choices will be better than the ones i make out of the desire to give them the best life they can have. it’s confusing, to not know which door the “best life” is sitting behind. especially for someone who does as much thinking as i do. i try to think less. trust more. but it’s incredibly hard to not to think when it comes to the larger decisions in life. where we live. the lifestyle we choose. if the sacrifices made to achieve the life is worth the reward. if i should live for the present or the future. for myself or my children. i wish these things were easier…but don’t we all? i just don’t allow myself to run from the feelings, which leaves me overwhelmed by them sometimes. should i technically avoid dwelling on them? is a certain level of avoidance healthy? life sure was simpler when it was just me. but i love being a mum. and i love my children so much. they matter so so so so much. their experience, their emotions, their needs. so much it kills me to not be alright sometimes. to not be my best for them. to not have things figured out. to struggle. but i guess struggle is as much a part of life as joy is. and we take it all and try to make the best out of it. never really knowing all the ways things may play out. and what will be will be.

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pot of gold

it’s so much less likely for me to make time to write down the happy things nowadays. that’s because the reality of full time parenting means little to zero time to myself. even when i’m struggling and my thoughts won’t let go of me, i have to make do with an hour in the morning before bambina wakes up. happier times are obviously just spent as a family, in the present. which is why my writing has been erratic and unrefined. it has mutated from something i put a lot of thought into and proofread and correct into just an expression of the thoughts that run through my mind on the spot. but sometimes that’s good. because getting to feel and see my thoughts as the whole truth and nothing but the truth reflects back to me where my mind really is/goes. the pain/fear, the absurdities, my loops. there is no more pretending. and that’s the thing i find with parenting.

there is no longer any space left to pretend. it’s so very real. and the stress of not having any break to put things aside to deal with later can really get to a person. and get in the way of partnership. because the reality is when one has an ounce of personal space, the other is holding the fort down. and vice versa. doing something nice has gone from spending time together to tagging in so the other can tag out. which is an incredible adjustment from being single together. where there was once time for self and then the relationship. of course ideally, the child would be sent off to be taken care of for the day or weekend or to daycare/school for selfish reasons. and i don’t mean selfish in a bad way. everyone needs to selfishly look out for themselves sometimes. but ideal is not always reality. and reality isn’t always ideal.

the beauty is though, that as we journey on and begin to acknowledge the stresses, hardships and sacrifices we individually make/tolerate for each other and the family at large, it begins to feel very much more like teamwork. and in the most clearest of spaces, it feels as though we are one. and the oneness can’t be taken away, even when we are functioning separately. it sounds so obvious, like obviously both partners give their all because of love or the commitment that matter enough to make all these sacrifices. but it is incredibly easy to take things for granted, and not be grateful for all things large and small that we do for each other.

…and here comes bambina…

the truth is, selfishly, i have my expectations of what love should be. and what a relationship should feel like. but life gives you what you need to experience to grow into a better self. not what you want to feed your ego self. every step is an opportunity to go beyond expectation and preconceived notions of what love is into a space of true understanding of love.

and the truth is, as a couple, we are breaking through to that space. sometimes we get stuck and it feels as though i’m banging into a wall, which is what brings me here to sort out my thoughts. but then sometimes we find a way to take that wall down and it feels like a different, much better space than before.

recently, it feels as though we have truly broken through to a space of empowerment and love. the changes on both sides that have set in are monumental. and we have been able to deal with situations in a much more accepting and positive way. it feels “normal”, or more accurately wholesome, which we all know is not actually the norm. so really, it takes a great incredible amount of healing and unlearning to be wholesome. and boy, did it. but with every step we take in the right direction, it shows me that this is all i need. and all i ever asked for. and i am grateful. so today, i’ve made the time to write out some of the happy as well. i’d love to express so much more, but bambina being awake means a chatty toddler in my face and no personal space to form coherent thoughts so off i go.

a moment

flight or flight. it’s something i’ve been aware of conceptually for quite some time now. but recently i watched a documentary on stress and how the fight or flight response is only part of what is called the general adaptation syndrome, which exists in 3 stages. the alarm reaction stage where your fight or flight response is triggered. the resistance stage. and the exhaustion stage.

the first stage is pretty straightforward. it is one’s response to stress that triggers a series of physiological events. increased heart rate, release of cortisol and adrenaline etc. the second stage is what got me. after the initial shock of an event, the body begins to repair itself by entering a recovery phase. but some stressful situations continue for extended periods of time. if you don’t resolve the stress and your body remains on high alert, it eventually adapts and learns how to live with a higher stress level. in this stage, the body goes through changes that you’re unaware of in an attempt to cope with stress.

your body continues to secrete the stress hormone and your blood pressure remains elevated. you may think you’re managing stress well, but your body’s physical response tells a different story. if the resistance stage continues for too long of a period without pauses to offset the effects of stress, this can lead to the exhaustion stage (we’re all familiar with exhaustion)

it got me because what if i have spent more time in the resistance stage than i care to imagine. because taking a moment to allow it all to sink in, it is clear as day that the fight or flight mode has been activated for the majority of my life. amplified intensely by the departure of my mother and loss of home at 17.

it’s pretty easy to work out how my mum leaving and losing my safe space sent me spiraling into the abyss. the past 13 years are sufficiently fresh in the memory of my obsessive mind for me to analyse where being in a constant state of threat and exhaustion from stress would have caused me to behave in erratic, extreme and irrational ways (labelled as crazy by the outside world). i now know that i was trying to replace the safety i felt with my mum by searching for a relationship (not good), a person who would love me and accept me and give me a home. desperation, which caused a whole series of unintelligent decisions that have caused some serious ptsd.

going further back, i know my schooling years were filled with constant trauma, fear and triggers. i was always smart enough, but as i could never quite figure out how to get my homework done or be interested in the things that did not interest me, showing up for school day in and day out was my personal hell. knowing that at some point (or multiple points) throughout the day, i’d be asked to hand in my book. something i could not do, because of obvious reasons stated above. i believe i spent a few years in a state of constant fear and fatigue until i could no longer take it and decided to protect myself by attempting to not care (which was then labelled as rebellion and misbehavior).

but setting that aside, my struggle existed beyond homework and studying. i struggled socially as well. every morning/afternoon before school was filled with anxiety. as was every recess. not knowing if the few people i felt were my friends would be around for me to sit with. or if they were going to be there by themselves rather than in a group i did not feel a part of. having to sit alone. not that spending time with myself was ever a problem. i love my alone time. but sitting alone when i was surrounded by peers, the feeling of rejection or not being fun or cool or anything of value for anyone to want to come sit with me. the bell ringing was something i looked forward to, signaling an end to all the uncertainty of what i was supposed to do and knowing i could count on the consistency and comfort of having a fixed place in class…….but of course that was only temporary because of the homework issue above.

mhmm. just a roundabout of torture.

i believe being mixed race at a time where there were about 3 of us in total, meant that i never felt like i fit in anywhere. not with the chinese. not with the indians. and being mixed in a way where my mum was not really chinese and my dad was certainly not indian meant that for the most part, i had no identity. because i truly did not identify with anything. i do know that being mixed race is a very real struggle for most mixed people and we deal with identity issues throughout our lives. but that alone is not it. because i saw my mixed race peers thrive. as being mixed was not something that was looked down on. in fact, it was always a rather cool thing. and in all honesty, i don’t think i was ever invisible. i think i could have been just a regular accepted kid if i didn’t keep getting the better of myself.  if my anxiety and fears and discomfort didn’t keep getting in the way, causing me to act in all kinds of stupid ways, which only made things worse.

so then, i have to go back even further. which is where i struggle to know what i’m piecing together. because i don’t remember much prior to being 10. memories exist in small clips. there are happy ones, but there are also equally traumatic ones. relating to school and piano. i suppose that’s all normal. except that i was not a normal child. i highly excelled in the departments that i did (music, piano, certain subjects) and was top of the class and performed musical recitals. but i also spent half a year in primary 1 standing by the side of the door crying, refusing to enter. i was terrified. i remember on multiple occasions begging my mum to let me not go to school.

……was it the immense pressure to be great and knowing i could not that stressed me out? i don’t have recollection of my parents pushing me, but the feeling of needing to be special is embedded within me. as is the feeling of needing to be liked. it makes sense as far as thinking of my dad goes. because even though my memories are mostly of my mum, my dad is such a strong personality with VERY strong opinions and i feel as though the pressure to be special and liked came from him.

sometimes my mind is unable to shut off. because i believe the fight or flight has been triggered. even when i don’t want it to be. like, in the middle of the night. awake, unable to sleep despite trying to breathe it out. it happens less and less (partially thanks to the physical exhaustion of parenthood) but it happens nonetheless. the reason for trying to work all these things out is that i’d really like to know what is triggering this response. because i feel it trickle into my daily life. and i don’t know if the things i try to “fix” are a necessary job that needs to get done or an unnecessary obsession of looking for what’s broken that doesn’t need to be. where is the line?

i feel sufficiently happy with life, as in i have a home. i have a home that i love. my life has a direction and purpose. i am financially stable enough, more than i could have possibly imagined (considering i’m as good at work as i was with homework). i can pursue just about any creative outlet i seek. i am a mum. i love being a mum. i adore my daughter and can’t wait for the baby that’s on the way. i love being married and having stability in my relationship. i know all these things, and i do not pick them apart.

it is the finer details that gets to me. i believe i am still affected by the desire to be accepted and liked. something that is still touch and go because people’s emotions fluctuate. in some relationships i feel secure. in others i am uncertain. and in a few (the ones that remain present because i do not feel i have a say in), i do not. in my marriage, i feel uncertain. because while i know my husband loves me and is dedicated to our marriage 100%, he has his own struggles that make it a struggle for me to feel his love or presence fairly often. i believe this triggers my fight or flight.

and in those occasions, where perhaps i need to calm myself down to recover, i don’t feel i have set myself up well enough to do that. crafting is my go-to space. i have gotten good at breathing frustration away so i no longer escalate into a space of insanity. i could do with some yoga, which i struggle with in terms of discipline. but i feel as though a big one is the lack of social support of having friends and family to count on or go to. which refers to an absence of my mum, whom i still feel safest with. and an absence of friends (partially due to being in an faraway place, partially due to my inability to connect, partially due to not being like minded). emotional support that indirectly helps to sustain at times of chronic stress and crisis. like parenting. or having relationship struggles.

where/whom do i turn to? can i reduce the fight or flight being triggered? how do i get over this feeling of not having the connection i need? do i continue to seek it from a partner? in which case my husband does not fill that part of my cup. if i accept that my relationship is fine for what it is, where do i fill that part of my cup? should the changes be made internally or externally? removal or filling? a bit of both? i AM doing both. why does it keep going back to that space of alertness, trying to figure out what’s wrong. why does it wake me from my sleep and not let me go back? i feel as though i AM putting in the work to work through it instead of just numb it with distractions (although that does happen). should i just let it be? stop thinking? will that change the feelings? will it ever go away? or am i already built this way for good. that i have to keep facing the triggers. that all i can do is go through this loop again, until i have let all my thoughts run free, so i can be free. if even for just a moment.

running

in all honest observation, there are so many things currently running through my mind it’s keeping me from sleep. i’m not entirely sure if it’s that part of my cycle, or that there is something larger i am running from. or trying to figure out. as it is my nature to “figure things out”, sometimes it’s incredibly impossible to ignore the processes in my mind.

tonight i’ve worked something out. that this feeling of needing or wanting “love”. or better pinpointed as affection/attraction has little to do with being dissatisfied in my marriage and more to do with my yearning to do that dance. my addiction to the high it brings. because the excitement it brings is real. and while i know that an addiction is an addiction – aren’t we all addicted? to drugs, smoking, caffeine, drinking, gaming, the internet, success, money, luxury, sex, power.

the only difference is that everything else can be done to some moderate extent while still maintaining a happy marriage. can be and actually accomplished being two very different things.

what if, i will always want that high? and the deeper question, will monogamy leave me forever yearning? not able to have it in the slightest bit, because while a part of me craves the sensation, the stronger part of me is determined to have the picture perfect marriage with a picture perfect family. to not ruin that with things like inconsistency, separation and discontentment.

is the determination to make things work a byproduct of family trauma? or is it a necessary part of making any marriage work? is forever necessary? is forever natural? what if it isn’t, to some of us at least. yes, there are people happily married til death do they part. but there are so many unhappily married people as well. would things not be better off for some if the lines of what marriage is, were not drawn so absolutely?

not that i am unhappy. or by any means have a bad marriage. i have one of the better ones. it’s taken a while to get here, and at this point i’ve worked out that there is nothing “wrong” with my partner. nothing at all. he is just who he is. it is me that yearns for more. for something that no longer has any space in my life. and that yearning is not something that he could ever fulfill not by his fault, but by the very nature of the yearning. i’ve managed to very successfully keep it at bay for the entirety of our relationship (which is honestly more than i can say in regards to most of my previous relationships), but do i have to do it forever with this nagging yearning? is that what it will always be? is that the only way it can be?

the thing is, in making the commitment to accept that there is within me an addiction that i should not and will not give in to, it makes me expect similar in return. for my partner to quit the things that he wants, that i personally do not want as part of our life. to make and agreement and stick to it. but if my determination leads to expectation, how is that healthy? i’ve recently come to find the freedom and joy in allowing him the space to be his own person and experience what he wants. and i actually find it fair, and not disturbing within myself to allow him to do just that. of course, i’ve always been inclined to wanting others to do what makes them happy, but i’ve always struggled with accepting it probably because here i am, sacrificing all sorts of things to “make things work”.

what if i should not actually be sacrificing myself out of the fear that if i don’t, my relationship would not work? what if there is love that allows me to just be who i am?

i have always been an anxious preoccupied, insecure person. it has lead to all types of extreme behavior in my relationships and life. initially, i had no awareness of it whatsoever. i was just being me. but then i started becoming aware of the crazy and wondered why i had to be that way. i spent many years working on understanding myself. on letting my walls down. on facing myself. on seeing my trauma and the behavior that came from it that created the me i was being. then i began to set myself free. and i cannot say that i am not still filled with fears and anxiety, but i am able to recognize the cues and push through them with self love instead of ego. and i am with each passing day, more aware and more secure.

i have always chosen relationships out of fear. i have chosen people who are avoidant, unavailable, unable to love. because my personality type was comfortable in the seat of the pursuer. comfortable with feeling rejected and not good enough because that’s how i felt about myself. because that’s the way i was built, just as my mother was. i was unconsciously repeating her patterns. and the secure people who tried to love me, i rejected or ran from out of fear of destroying a relationship worth having because i was such a mess.

there is that fear, and it is so real. of actually having something worth having, and not being good enough for it. of failing. of being the one at fault for failure.

but what if i don’t want to choose out of fear anymore? what if there is love that allows me to be me. love that accepts me just as i am, just as i choose to be. love that does not have to be this or that. relationship or self. because that’s what someone like me feels, like some part of me is incorrect and has no place in a relationship because it will cause destruction. but if it’s truly a part of me, and truly a secure love, i shouldn’t fear destruction.

what if now i no longer fear myself, i yearn to experience the secure love i have run from all my life? what if i no longer want to be kept at arm’s length, chasing, sacrificing, pursuing. feeling unfulfilled.

what if i am not looking for a love that removes my desires and yearning to experience what i want in life, but a love that goes beyond that? to set free instead of set boundaries. because as i am learning and choosing to let go, to accept people for who they are, to love them as they are – there is a desire to be loved the same in return.

is that wrong? does choosing a reality i convince myself is the only option there is out of a fear of the unknown right? standing here staring at the other path feels like facing death. but in facing where the fear comes from, i remove it. because beyond death is more life. beyond loss is more love. beyond pain is healing. so – why fear, right?

thirty

today i turn 30. looking at my life in hindsight, there are so many things i could have done differently. disasters i could have avoided. pain i could have opted out of. but i have to say, i truly did not know better. i am so thankful that life allowed me to discover the truth and heal. that i need not be the trauma i carried. nor the belief system i had formed out of it.

love has been the theme of my life. needing love. giving love. acquiring love. losing love. trying to hold on to love. not feeling loved. sacrificing all of myself for love. destroying love. and it is this dance with love that led me to questioning who i was, who i had become and who i could be.

i have discovered that in life, there is love and there is fear. all of our actions come from one or the other. acting out of fear is not love. something i did a lot, not knowing the difference. love cannot be held on to. it can only be given, genuinely. love is not a tool for control or power. it cannot demand obedience or sacrifice in return. that is fear. love can only receive what is willing to be given.

the most important person to learn to love is self. all that we experience in life is what we need to experience to show us ourselves. the external world is merely a perception based on our internal landscape. as within, so without. which is why to fix anything, it is most important to first fix self. to love self. to know i am worthy. as i am. to be a sovereign being, not in need of anyone else’s approval or validation. to just be me – for myself. and only from that space, materialize the rest of life.

love has become a very different thing to me over the past decade. and it is all the lessons and pain that brought me to where i am. that returned me to me. pain is a very necessary part of love and growth and i have no intention of avoiding it. in fact, disasters and all, i wouldn’t change a thing about life, because there has been so much good to come out of it. it truly is better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all.

i love where i am now. i love who i am. i am grateful for how things continue to play out, even when it is unplanned or unexpected. life continues to show me that everything happens for a divine reason, and it is all love if only i can continue to trust and surrender to this ride i am on.

i have to say, it feels pretty damn good to be 30 today.

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