I am in competition with myself - not quite myself but the version of me that you all think I am. I feel so much pressure to live up to people's expectations. For better or worse, I look better than I actually am, in every single way. I've learned to smile through pain and dupe myself into achieving things and get all the external validation to prove that I am a worthy individual. I hate disappointing you but I have to work so hard just to be whoever you think I already am. It takes so much hard work and I want to make it look easy because I don't want your pity. I should get an Oscar for all the diversions and pretence I put up so you'll never guess the truth. It's tiring but I'm trying to be authentic. The thing about authenticity is that you have to be really self-aware and know what is going on so that you can express the truth. When you're duping yourself and you're not aware that you are duping yourself, how can you be truly authentic? The fact that I feel the pressure to compete is evidence that I am trying to be someone I'm not. This madness, I wonder, if all things considered, is actually a good thing. Irrationality drives people to do all sorts of brilliant things and if you weren't mad, you wouldn't have done. You know like those artists who turn heartbreak or depression into beautiful music or works of art? I would really like to transform this unhealthy competition into healthy competition. I would like to achieve things because I truly want to, not because I am afraid that you will look down on me.
I love this paragraph from Nicole LePera's book "How to Do the Work: Recognize Your Patterns, Heal from Your Past, and Create Your Self. It reminds me of Carol Dweck's idea of the growth mindset.
"Though there were aspects of my being that were outside my conscious control, that didn't necessarily mean that I was at the whim of my body. It did not mean that because I lived with unresolved trauma and struggled with inflammation and poor vagal tone, I could never change. In fact, just the opposite was true: if my body could learn dysregulated ways of coping, it could also learn healthy routes to recovering. Thanks to epigenetics, we know that our genes are not fixed; thanks to neuroplasticity, we know that the brain can form new pathways; thanks to the conscious mind, we know the power of our thoughts to effect change; thanks to polyvagal theory, we know that the nervous system affects all other systems of the body. As I started to shed layer after layer of ignorance about the connections among my mind, body, and soul, for the first time really witnessing myself, I began to comprehend the potential within to heal. We can unlearn and relearn as adults, even if we've endured significant trauma in our past. We can harness the power of our bodies to heal our minds and the power of our minds to heal our bodies."
Two months ago, I told myself, no more. I need a paradigm shift. Whatever I was doing, whatever I was experiencing, no more. There must be a better way. I had the money and the resources to find the best solutions tailor made for my circumstances. Any problem that can be resolved with money is not a real problem, isn't it? I do not ever want to live life inside a bubble again.
I am reminded of the Dutch trauma focus program that our EMDR trainer told us about. It's targeted for people with severe trauma and the program involves lots of EMDR (obviously), talk therapy and behavioural activation, i.e. running, swimming, yoga, and other sports, because as we all know, the body keeps the score. I was so intrigued by that program. As someone who aims for the moon and lands on the star, I want to steal some secrets from that program and apply it to my own. The program also reminds me of Run Hong Kong, an NGO that works with refugees and encourages them to run, swim, hike every week. My refugee client became one of the selected few participants and she told me how she had no time to be depressed since she's too busy exercising and learning new skills.
I have obviously done my fair share of interventions, programs and reading. Mindfulness was probably the most helpful for my dissociative symptoms. As my psychologist said, I hadn't master the skills that I was taught. I have learnt the different solutions but I have not resolutely master the skills. Life gets in the way and I've been travelling so much, I haven't had a routine in awhile. I have this app on my phone that tracks the habits that are good for me. I don't open that app for months at a time. I have the solutions but I have to practice it, don't I? Paradigm shift, but I've got to commit, don't I?
In times of crisis, the wise build bridges, while the foolish build barriers.
Yesterday, 8 November was a day of full moon. According to my birth chart, it was a significant alignment of stars and planets that will feel like an earthquake all in the name of promoting my self growth and development. True to prediction, the past few days I had disagreements and miscommunications with a date, really struggled with surviving the waters, got into a motorcycle accident and woke up vomiting in the middle of night probably due to bad food. I was feeling weak, vulnerable, anxious and triggered but I kept telling myself, it's okay, just give yourself more love. It's okay, you are the baddest bitch who can survive anything. It's okay, everything will be alright. I'm soothing myself with compassion and kind words.
I took my time to process my feelings. Spent time alone sitting with my thoughts and feelings. Spent time doing a bit of EMDR myself. Went to the cranial sacral therapy sessions and psychologist sessions that I had already booked in advance, that was actually lucky. Within 2 days, I'm back to normal. But I'm greedy and I want more. I want to be better than before these events. I don't want these triggers and anxieties to happen again and I'm impatient and I want to heal beyond the level of maturity/anxiety I had before. I want to be even more mature, I want to have less anxiety than before. My EMDR therapist reminded me - you have to go back to childhood. Process things that happened in childhood and created these false beliefs. The triggers today come from the past and comes from family. I cannot go far without going back. I have to go back to the crime scenes, including the almost drowning episode that caused me to stop swimming.
What to do? I guess I could take some time remembering past episodes where I felt like I was not good enough, that I had done something wrong, that I am not worth your love, that I must succeed and perform my ass off to get your approval.
I tried surfing for the first time in Padang Padang Beach last month when our friends had booked surfing instructors and offered us to join them, we're like sure. My friend didn't want me to go because I can't swim. She kept asking me if I was sure. I was like whatever let's try it.
Surfing is definitely not what I would go and learn because I don't swim. I doggy paddle. I do back stroke. I actually grew up by the swimming pool and started swimming lessons when I was 4 years old. At 6 years old, one day I was swimming with a floating board at the deep end of the pool, for whatever reason, my older sister snatched the board away from me and I sank. My helper freaked out and jumped in and the life guard jumped in and fished me out. I was okay, maybe drank a bit of water. I jumped back into the pool 5 minutes later but my helper freaked out and forbid me from swimming again. I think the episode traumatised her.
I didn't know how to be scared but because the adults around me were scared, I learned to be scared of water. The next time I remember swimming is in Canada probably when I was 7 years old. Somehow I didn't feel comfortable in water anymore. I haven't really swam properly with my head under water ever since.
Considering that I almost drowned before and don't know how to do a front crawl or any type of swimming that involves ducking my head under water, it was super dangerous for me to go out surfing where my feet cannot touch the ground. I had forgot what my starting point was. I sometimes forget who I am and the things that have happened to me. I dupe myself into thinking I'm competent in so many areas and I make decisions as if I was never held back. Gotta be more realistic, kiddo.
I don't remember when I wrote this. I think it was last year when I indeed completed an 8 week course over a weekend and I was reflecting on my behaviour.
I am an obsessive person. I can complete an 8 week course over a weekend, finish reading a book in a day, fall into a rabbit hole and drill into a subject until I'm satisfied. I like to go with my feelings. I am insatiably curious but I don't want to specialise, at least I tell people that. In reality, I want to specialise in many areas but do not want to be known for one thing so I keep my identity flexible. I like being free. I don't like routines and schedules. I admire Da Vinci and wished I could live long enough to try multiple professions. I am both empty and full of energy. The emptiness feels like a big blank space and provides me with the free capacity to take in new information easily. Like waves in an ocean, I get obsessed and it gets released, I get obsessed and it gets released. I don't like rules. I don't like confining myself to one reality. I just want to do what I want to do and I can change my mind at any time.