I believe in the universe sending signs. Or hints to examine something coming to surface. Recently Daphne mentioned the concept of hugging the “inner child” to heal past trauma. And then I watched it happen in a documentary on toxic masculinity. Then yesterday, I watched it play out on Rocketman, Elton John’s biography. Not something I felt called to watch in the past but felt incredibly touching and emotional yesterday. Then this morning I was woken up by an intense dream moment. I was talking to Blaine Warbler (from Glee, probably from binge-watching glee last month). He was so sad, and I was apologizing for leaving him and not being there, and then in my dream my thoughts went back to 2006-2007 and how much pain I was in that I could not be there for him. Except that I was him too. I was both sides, both sets of emotions.
So I woke up. And felt as though something was calling for me to re-examine. No coincidence that it’s the full moon these few days? And I sat with it. Then it came to me, and it clicked. The moment in the movie yesterday, where he came face to face with his younger self – who had been un-loved and waiting to be hugged – and hugged himself. 3 signs from the universe and then this dream brings to surface the idea that perhaps despite all my inner work, that there is something I haven’t done. Something that I could. Something that would perhaps heal a hurting inner part of self.
So I go back to 2006-2007. The year my parents separated and my mom left the country. I swim in the emotions, to see what comes to surface. Which parts of the memory and experience remain after all these years. Did my parent’s arguing leave me traumatized? Not anything I can remember in specifics other than sitting on the stairs hidden, with ah ma listening in on their argument/s. Did I feel pain of my mom leaving? Not initially. I was in support of her leaving my dad and moving to her own place down the road. But the memory of that is muddled with the fact that my first boyfriend left me on the day that my mom left. Now, I have no recollection of the break up, other than a very factual memory bullet point of the break up happening as my mom left (which felt like it would have been traumatizing) but I have no idea which would have hurt more. What rises to the top and sits there as I sift through everything else that feels somewhat insignificant is the memory of my mom leaving to go to Australia mid 2007. Once again coinciding with another boyfriend leaving to head to NS, where we could not be in touch except over the weekends when he got his phone back.
Curious as to why both situations of my mom leaving coincided with separation from a partner. Could it be that I imprinted the feelings of being abandoned and alone onto my relationships and always saw it as me needing a partner when the truth was that perhaps I have always just needed my mom? Because up til 5 years ago, I never consciously felt it or brought it up. Her leaving. How much it changed my life entirely.
Mom leaving dad never felt like too much of a shift. Because she was right around the corner. Which for an 18 year old, is probably good enough. We’d see her every day for a while, between the time she finished work and when dad would come back (as we stayed on in the old family house with dad). And then I eventually moved out of the house and moved in with her. And then she left the country. And I didn’t see her until the end of 2009, where she visited for 2 weeks. And then again in 2010 when she made her annual short year end trip. And that was it. 2 weeks with mom. No home to go back to. By then, dad had moved to a new apartment and ah ma and ah kong were back in the old house which I would spend time at when I wasn’t in KL, but it didn’t feel like home anymore. Because as I have experienced with my own kids now, I am their home. It doesn’t matter where we are, as long as they have me, they are home.
So, going back to the dream moment that lingered on. It was vulnerable and heartfelt. And it felt like I was saying sorry. Sorry for abandoning you. I was in so much pain, all I wanted to do was not think about the pain that in the process of trying to remove all the things that would remind me of the pain, I removed you. To think of you was painful. To think of you was to face the reality of all the things that had been lost. I put up a wall. I put up a wall between me and anything that caused me to face that pain, drawing a line between past and present, not addressing anything that had happened. Not addressing anything that was happening. And you were on the other side of the line. I knew you were there, but I pushed you further and further away. I had to reinvent myself. A self that was not hurting, was not dying, not affected one bit by all the sadness. I tried to create a reality where I existed without you. You did not need to exist. You did not need to be addressed. You could just wait there, frozen in time, a fragment of the past. Visible but only in the rear view mirror. Visible only if I chose to look. And I never did.
You, and everything that you represented were locked on the other side of the line that I had drawn and reinforced with brick walls between my current self and my past self, you.
I guess I spent all these years in pain, thinking I was waiting for an apology from mom. Because it was her who abandoned me. Mom left when I was 18, right as I was finishing school. And the thing is, I never had any plans beyond that except living life, finding love and making a family of my own. I did not expect to lose my home and my family and have to figure everything out on the fly. It was absolute fucking chaos. Madness that I dealt with for a decade before even getting to a place of starting my own family, and am still dealing with internally every day. Waiting for an apology, as though it would heal me. Magically. Excusing all this madness, all these feelings of abandonment and attachment anxiety, allowing it room to stay, telling myself the same old story.
But perhaps the only apology, the only embrace I need is my own. 3 times is a sign. 3 times in these few weeks has the concept of healing through embracing to the inner child come to light. Was it more importantly just me who abandoned me? The vulnerable, family oriented, home loving hermit who never wanted anything other than to make others happy by doing what I love, crafting. I needed the wholesomeness that came from having grounding. From belonging somewhere. Not the acceptance nor the numbness that came from being a binge drinking, loose and wild party animal.
Goddamn it took YEARS for me to even begin correcting the path I went down.
I feel, I am finally in my own skin now.
Recently, an acquaintance said to me “Your art brings people joy”. And it almost brought me to tears. Almost because I really am not a person who cries happy tears. But it felt like I was home. I am finally me. Doing what I love for reasons I live for without the unnecessary stress of having to worry about where I’m going to sleep tonight. Where I have to go next. No longer lost trying in every kind of way to be all the things I think everyone expects me to be in order to receive affection or acceptance. I am me. I am home.
And along with this journey, I am rediscovering the vulnerability and gentleness I lost. I spent so many years distorted, crazy, angry. Because when my family fell apart, no one showed me how to deal with the hard bits of life gracefully. All I was shown by my parents was vengeance and anger and ignorance, so that’s how I dealt with everything in life. I used to be a cutter. It began at 16, which is when I think my parents arguing got bad. Now I understand that the cutting was my way to deal with vulnerable feelings of not being in control, not being able to do anything about whatever situation I was in. And then around 2009, it mutated into anger along with the cutting. I stopped cutting some years into my current relationship because it did not lead to any comforting (which it did in the past), but the explosive anger remained and grew. The more frustrated I felt, the bigger the anger became. And then, after feeling fed up with breaking enough of my stuff, I looked up anger and why people behave this way.
And it finally made sense. That the acts of cutting and rage were due to my inability to just sit with my own vulnerability and feelings of hopelessness. Because I never ever dealt with them. Because the first and last time I looked them in the face was all those years ago, in 04-06 before severing them off along with the needy inner child who needed a family to support her.
I see you, inner child. I see you with your big squishy heart wanting to make everyone happy. Wanting everyone to feel accepted and loved and safe, in all of their pain and insanity. To be a safe space for people. The safe space you needed. I see you through all of my pain, just wanting to be safe again. I see you, wanting to fix everything, trying to fix what was broken. You never could fix it. And perhaps that was all meant to be, and nothing was meant to be fixed. And you can stop trying to fix everything now. And just feel. Just feel it all, it’s alright to feel it all and just sit with it. It’s alright to just have a cry when you need to. It’s alright to take some time to deal with things for yourself. It’s alright to retreat, to not put on a happy face. To not need to please anybody else. To not please me. To not play this game and put on a charade. It’s really really okay to just be sad when you are feeling sad. And it’s okay to feel safe again.
You can feel safe again now. No one is going to come and take this away from you. Stop worrying about the ten thousand ways this can be taken away from you. You and me, we got this. Whatever happens, whatever comes our way, we don’t ever have to feel unseen and invisible if we see ourself. It’s alright if no one sees us. We can just see ourself now, and be ourself. Unapologetically. Life is not the apocalypse waiting to happen. We are and really, have always been safe, within ourself.