Looking Back

I tell myself as much as possible to stay in the moment but at times like this when I get up in the morning and look at myself in the mirror, I can’t help but reminisce and still feel taken aback by just how much has changed over the last year and in particular the last few months. I suppose I’m still coming to terms with it. I don’t think there’s much of another option really, as what you resists persists (or so they say – whoever they is). But as always, I try to look at the beauty amidst all the chaos. Here’s a photo of me just a year ago celebrating a friend’s birthday at the Venetian in Macau, and another taken one during our regular ladies nights out.maca.png

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I remember feeling on top of the world after having come out of a physically abusive relationship and having taken back control of my life. I had built upon my self-worth, confidence, went full on with pursuing my passions at the time, fell in love, reconnected with all my old friends whom I had avoided during the darker days and just really blossomed into who I thought I always wanted to be. I got my fire back. I got my drive. I truly thought to myself that these were the best moments of my life. But it wasn’t to last – as things do. Everything’s temporary, I have to remind myself. Not to sound down but that just goes to say that all the bad is as well. Such is life. Anyway, as I was saying, I felt invincible. I loved myself. And looking back now, I slowly see how everything just came to a head. I took on too much. I threw myself into school and work, leaving not a moment of time to myself. If I wasn’t spending hours on trying to perfect an essay or channeling all my energy into work, I was out socializing until the wee hours of the morning partying and just having a good ol’ time. Occasionally, I’d go straight from a night out to work – get back at five and straight out the door to journey out to start work. I had so much energy and a belief in myself that it didn’t affect me or my work. In fact, I felt pretty impressed with myself. Each day would be packed. I was never left with a moment where I thought to myself – I have nothing to do. Eventually, however, it became a vicious cycle. I didn’t know how to relax. I had to always be doing something. I started to feel anxious, the panic attacks returned. The perfectionist in me felt the pressure to just maintain everything at its best. To say I neglected myself would be an understatement. Of course, as is within these circumstances, it came to a head because it just wasn’t sustainable for both my mental or physical health. Of course the added pressure of the tension at home and my own stubbornness when it came to reaching out to friends or my then boyfriend (who at the time I felt couldn’t be there for me anyway given many issues and circumstances – vague here I know but that’s another story in itself and one I’d rather leave behind me), I eventually broke down under the pressure of it all on me. Growing up in the family that I did, I had always felt that I had to do everything on my own. That I could do it, and that I should be able to handle it. I couldn’t, however. And eventually, I sought further methods to escape how I felt (which is ironic considering I was already escaping dealing with the trauma my previous relationship had left on me , as well as the loneliness I felt in the emotional and physical distance of my relationship at the time by scheduling every second of my time), and made a huge mistake. Now I’m not too proud of myself for what I did or feel comfortable discussing it. I’ve made my peace with and understand why I did what I did. All that’s necessary to mention is that I violated my values, one core to my identity and this destroyed me. I couldn’t accept what I had done and even though I know I’m not the only one to blame, as I tend to – I took everything upon myself and I just…crashed…to put it mildly. A string of panic attacks followed, I lost sleep tossing and turning with guilt and regret, I cried over and over until just no more tears would come. I ended my relationship. I stopped school for a term. This is how I started on therapy, to begin with. But somehow, from somewhere, I found strength within myself. And I picked myself up and really worked towards change. I worked to find myself all over again. How did I get so lost? I thought to myself. As a child, I recall feeling so connected with the world. I would spend my days running across fields with kids in the village I grew up in, my own time on the beach with a good book, climbing up and down the rocks along the river until it led up to the small waterfall we’d occasionally have a dip in. I wanted to explore every inch of that village and felt I did.  I was happy to just be with nature despite the occasional bouts of loneliness that came with being put in a local school where I was still learning to speak the language. I was different person then, of course. Incredibly shy, withdrawn, and a bit of a loner until it slightly improved when it came to high school where the medium of instruction was taught in English. There, I made friends for life though I still didn’t yet break out of my shell yet until I started to work. Wow, this entry is all over the place but that’s free writing for you. I go where my thoughts go though I should probably backtrack now. Right. I picked myself up again. Engaged myself in new hobbies – zumba and kung fu were the favorites. Spent a lot of time exposing myself to new experiences and new people – particularly travelers who I enjoyed showing around Hong Kong, spent a lot of time back in nature at the beach and on hikes trying to connect myself. Got into meditation, regularly attended the Plum Village we had here in Hong Kong, traveled and spent a few weeks with my childhood friend in San Diego …and eventually everything fell back into place again. And I was stronger. I felt fearless.  I was happy to embrace the unexpected, enjoyed the spontaneous and really learned  to chill. No longer would I set myself up to such high expectations, it wasn’t worth it. Nothing that costs you your peace is. I made my peace a priority. Again, I was happy and proud of myself for having got myself out of that hole. Came back to school to be greeted with a scholarship I found I’d won, was with a nice guy who treated me impeccably. I was happy and at peace.

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(Me celebrating CNY in Plum Village HK)

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(Me in San Diego)

But then just two months later, it all came crashing down again. And I lost it. I almost lost myself. And I mean that in a sense more than simply in terms of a loss of identity. Explained it a bit in one of my previous posts – think the words journey through hell were in the title of that one. I don’t really want to relive it right now. It’s still very raw and recent. To put it simply, I relapsed, triggered by a very stressful situation I wasn’t yet ready to handle at the time. Medication was no longer an option, but a necessity. Intensive CBT treatment is now needed for me to overcome this. I can’t even consider being in a relationship at this time. Phew. Taking a deep breath now. Yup, really don’t want to relive it. I’m still having to deal with the residue (can I say that?) right now. Basically, it got worse. Far worse than I could have ever imagined and I’m still trying to regain mental stability and feel safe in my head again. Because if I’m not my thoughts – then who am I? It’s confusing. I’ll dedicate myself another post on this next time. Messy entry, but hey, at least I’m keeping up with the assignments for my CBT (regularly journalling is a part of it and I’ll admit it’s rather therapeutic). I think I’ll stop here. Abrupt, I know. But I think that’s enough for today. I need to recharge. On my way to college at the moment, still adjusting to being back. Always have to take deep breaths when I think about it. Anyway, good luck to me. I can do this. One day at a time, one step at a time. At least I have hope now, thanks to my family, a team of medical professionals, my lecturers, friends, the church, and especially God (who I just recently accepted back into my life after having drifted away for many years – but again another story on its own). I’ll get myself back. And I’ll return stronger than ever. I have to.

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