Solitude, Silence and Sufficiency

What a bittersweet season this is. And one full of contradictions.

I am feeling melancholic, and yet I feel joy bubbling deep inside of me. 

There’s a sense of lethargy over things that I have tolerated that I do not want to tolerate anymore. At least for now. A sense of loneliness from the disconnection that I feel with people who are supposed to be close to me but:

Talk way more than they listen. Conversations with them leave me feeling like something is wanting, in contrast to feeling uplifted. I am often told I am a good listener, but I am not a martyr. So for this season I am not all ears to some people. By choice. 

Patronize. Giving unsolicited advice, or making remarks consisting of such rudimentary information that they are effectively saying:”I know better than you” – when I was just looking for an intelligent exchange of thoughts among equals. Maybe in their eyes I am not their equal. So I will not even try to be. 

Drain me while expecting me to lift them up with my enthusiasm and appetite for the unconventional. It is as if my adventures are entertainment for them, witnessing things that they would not have dared to attempt themselves, while they pour out their fears and pessimism to me not realizing that even positive people are not immune to negative energy. Or worse, tell me directly or indirectly that I am thinking too big. Planning to move to another country? “Did you just win the lottery?” Or trying to inject practicality into my aspiration towards the apparently impossible. 

So I am feeling disconnected from these people. It feels like…rejection. Although no one rejected me outright. And yet because of this disconnection the power of solitude becomes even more palpable. More glorious. More sufficient than ever. There is so much comfort in being lonely…feeling unheard and not understood, and then knowing that it is in such solitude and aloneness that I appreciate all the unequivocal loyalty that I know I have. Loyalty of God, of my parents, my family, my few lifelong friends. Of God. Who is surely speaking a whole lot to me in this season of seeking His face afresh and His word anew. 

So I am choosing to be silent. After I have expressed my displeasure. My tongue can be unbridled but I will know at the end of the day – if those friendships, relationships – are strong and true enough to withstand my honesty. 

I decided not to be “nice”. And it feels so good…because I am enough. And God is more than enough. 

This post is a response to today’s prompt:

<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/solitude/”>Solitude</a> and life. 

When Love Was Absent

You, my regret and my joy

I am sorry you partook in my pain

An unwitting recipient you were

Of my mess, my angst, the weakness that was me

Now that I have got me made right

You will partake in my strength

The grace I have come to know, really know

I will love you with all my heart

Take a break when it gets too much

But I will always bounce back

I will always be here

Because I can love you

Now that I love me, too.

 

Hate is the absence–not the opposite–of love. Those who know love can never hate, just like how having light exempts us from darkness.  

Dealing with Anger

I am known as a happy camper among my friends. And at a recent optimism test I took, I scored 95 out of 100. Years ago I remember a then-colleague asking me how I maintained the apparent joyful energy at work.

My personality type according to the Myers-Briggs test is INFP – and I am a dominant feeler. Which means I can feel something very strongly, including anger. So it may sound paradoxical that an apparently happy person like me can also exhibit a fiery temper–but it makes sense once you consider how that stems from my being a strong feeler. But that’s another point for another post, because as I cool down from an angsty episode this evening I think I have finally realized how I managed to stay happy. (In fact I am bouncing back now after almost starting an argument with my innocent close friends. Sorry girls. One of them even said, after I explained my odd behaviour, that it’s good I didn’t bottle things up, and that at least they were close enough to understand.)

My secret, I think, is this: I allow myself to explode. Without causing damage to property, and lives, of course. But I know I need to be mindful as to the possibility of damaging feelings.

I let myself walk around with a scowl on my face when forcing a straight or smiley one feels just too fake. Sometimes I drive up to my favourite place and let myself step a little more on the fuel pedal than usual, turn on my favourite rock music to high volume, and scream. Once another driver was blocking my way and instead of being polite (like I usually am on the road) I allowed myself the luxury of honking to my heart’s content. Not to be outdone that woman made some vigorous hand gestures towards me, so in my already fiery mood I gladly slipped into fight mode: sitting in my car, I stared directly at her for a few good seconds, flashed my right fist, and drove off laughing. So that worked.

And being a wordsmith, of course verbal expressions of anger is another avenue I use quite a lot. Words–they can be amazingly cathartic! But I have mellowed over the years, so giving offending parties a good piece of my mind is something I do only very selectively.

So I guess the conclusion I am coming to about dealing with anger is that…playing ‘nice’ and trying to bottle things up in the name of patience and tolerance does not necessarily work. We may just find ourselves walking around with accumulated unresolved anger weeks, months, and years later.

I would vote for, well, moderated outbursts and ventilation. I wonder how many of you agree or disagree with me–how would you deal with your anger?

What the Heart Really Wants

Umm
To be heard
When I speak
To be noticed
When I sigh
To be needed
When I give
To be caught
When I leap
To be loved
When I fall short
To be welcome
When I bring nothing
To be seen
When I smile
To be embraced
When I am tired
To be missed
When I am absent
To be cherished
When I am old
To be mourned
When I am gone
To be remembered
When I no longer am.

Are you
Any different
From me?

My Little Sis and I

My sister is ten years younger than me. And I do not know what’s with the family and community that apple-to-apple comparison seems to be the automatic response the moment they are faced with sisters. Especially in my case where our age gap is so big.

It’s silly and destructive. We may have been borne of the same parents, but we are unique individuals in our own right.

Being the eldest, it is quite natural for me to have some active pursuits growing up — and poor little sis sometimes found herself having the same expectations placed on her. (Not by our parents, thankfully, they know better than that). But by nosy people around us, people who shoot off comments from their mouths the way old dogs suffering from incontinence fart ever so freely.

Little sis has been growing up and I am proud of her and see completely no reason for her to be like me.

We look different. I inherit strong features from dad’s side of family who have some Thai heritage. She inherits mom’s delicate features and resembles my brother more. At brother’s wedding, my sister was mistaken for the bride’s sister! Apparently little sis’s fair skin and sweet features make her look more Korean than Malaysian. (Our sister in law is Korean).

We both enjoy writing but my sister’s style is completely different from mine. I will never be able to emulate her catchy titles that use contrasting words so cleverly, not to mention her refreshingly candid voice. Even our cooking styles are different. When little sis began experimenting at the stove I was amazed how she made fried vegetables look almost like a complete meal with gravy from the juices and generous chunks of deftly cut carrots, pumpkin, capsicums and what have you.

And while I get lost easily, she has a superb sense of direction.

So there, the contrast that is us–the reason why no two sisters (or any two individuals, for that matter) should be compared. If anything, the ten-year gap simply means I serve as an example for her — good practices to emulate and mistakes to avoid.

While, of course, growing and spreading her own wings, making a difference in ways that only she could.

Freedom to Love

“Freedom is the ability to pause.” – source unknown

Damn amygdala
And the failure that was me
To stop the primitive in its track.

Too many perceived attacks
Caused me to react
And hearts – including my own
To bleed, and crack.

My claims of love
Empty lip service
How could I love
And let my words
Pour out in torrents
Like a heavy nasty rain
Bringing forth a flood of sadness
I get drowned myself
In the end.

If a hug could tell you, and you, and you, and you
How sorry I am
It would be tight, long, moist with remorse
Resigned to damages done
And an unchangeable past
It would be warm with some strange comfort
That the villain of old…has awakened
I hope she hasn’t taken too much toll.

Those who hurt, hurt others
So they say
I had those inner landmines removed
The amygdala no longer reigns supreme
I seek freedom from me
Now I bow to choice
And it tells me to simply pause.

When I am at a standstill
That’s when I see you
And remember to love you
Despite me and you and everything in between.

Love Myself First

I want to
Put my arms around you
Hug away the pain
Deflect the confusion
So that
Away from my embrace
You are strong
Happy, fearless

I want to
Listen without judgment
Walk a mile in your shoes
Experience your journey
Feel all that you feel
Answer all your questions
Till you don’t
Feel so alone

I want to
Let my strength
Rub off on you
So you walk on
With your head held high
And a heart full of might

I want to
But I fail…because
On life’s trail
Barely enough
Is the strength
For my fallible self

Sorry I failed you
But let me first
Love myself
So then I can be to you
All that you need me to be.

“Love your neighbour as yourself.” Mark 12:31

When Mom and Dad Weren’t Around

20140810-212411.jpgToday I went over to my parents’ place to collect some things. They happened to be out so the house was empty.

Empty–and yet so full of their presence, and all the things that were ‘them’. The sound of the running water from the pond, which my dad enthusiastically maintains, with the fishes swimming inside that all of us enjoy just watching.

Dad’s golf set, often carelessly left leaning against the shoe cupboard. Mom’s books on the coffee table in the living area. Framed family photographs–including the one of mom’s Masters’ graduation. Both their laptops, always on the dining table! Vintage items like a radio and charcoal iron that Dad insists are highly prized collectibles, his various golf trophies and the framed Hole-in-One cert from that many many years ago. And newspapers strewn all over.

I took in all that and got a little sentimental. Especially when I opened the fridge and saw the remnants of the herbal concoction from last night — made for me by mom to remedy my persistent cough. And when I saw the stylish reversible sling bag that dad gave me.

This was home–and in the quiet it suddenly felt full of love. They were all over the place–signs of how much they love me, my brother, and my sister.

And I realized one day this house would be permanently empty when the day comes that they are no longer around for good, when the cycle of life runs its course as it will for all of us.

I resolved to be more appreciative, less difficult. I felt sorry for all the times I complained about what they did which I did not agree with. Even on things about my upbringing.

Well mom and dad, I am sorry, especially mom. For all the things I said you did wrong, there were far more that you have done right. And most importantly, those things were your very best.

Happy Birthday in advance and I love you both!