Coming to reality

Having seen how Singapore dealt with the covid virus made me so proud to be Singaporean. We took immediate measures, we were constantly communicated with, our schools and offices were never closed, our borders kept fairly open, and yet we contained the numbers quickly, swiftly and this is all due to the many people behind the scenes and in the forefront, putting their jobs first, their lives at risk, all because…. They can. Not because they must, but because they choose to. Same goes to every one else in the world who’s choosing to sacrifice a part of their comfort, alot of their time, to risk their health and help others.

I’m in England now, and unfortunately, things here aren’t the same. The government doesn’t seem as clear as to what they should do, and people here struggle to decide how to react. Do they go about their daily lives? Are things really that serious yet? Wouldn’t the government have said something by now if England really was in a dire situation? There is alot of uncertainty, and each day brings more news. People start pointing fingers and blaming.

It’s when things start to crack that we realize there were foundational problems. England is now facing the harsh reality that they had bigger problems even before Covid hit them. Singapore, on the other hand, was always ready for a crisis like this.

A divorce is the same, really. Its uncommon to talk about the possibility of one until it happens. Everything explodes and the “truth” shocks people around them. The story becomes sensationalised and people start asking how it could have happened. “but D and Jane were the perfect couple!” “they looked so sweet together”

Our marriage, though brief and short, was indeed sweet and memorable. I don’t want to talk specifics about how we messed it up, and how we could have done better, I don’t think that would be helpful. But I want to speak into the process of grief, one that comes from many sources, through death, illness, unemployment, the turn of a tide in many forms, mine now, the loss of a marriage.

I hadn’t really understood why I wanted to write this blog. Until a friend called me one day, and we talked for over 2 hours. He asked me how I was, and I shared candidly about what happened, how I’ve been doing now and my plans for the future. To my surprise, he started getting angry at me.

He couldn’t understand why I wasn’t more angry. I listened, to his words, and in between them, realized this emotion wasn’t about me. I asked him a simple question “have you been hurt like that before?” and he went silent for a few moments. I could hear his hesitation to be vulnerable, it wasn’t because he hadn’t processed his thoughts before, his story was at the tip of his tongue, it was clear that he had narrated this to himself many times before, and had been tormented by his own thoughts for a while now.

In his silence, he was just contemplating if he should now bring down that wall. It showed that his wound hadn’t healed, and that just a light tap on the surface still brought fresh pain.

He shared that yes, a few years ago, he felt the same abandonment that I did, an abrupt end to a relationship that he thought would lead to marriage. He experienced the same helplessness, not being able to change anything, feeling as if he didn’t have a choice to make, but was just handed one. He kept wondering what went wrong, and replayed again and again, the entire relationship. The beginning, the end, and all the bits in between. Even till now, he can’t understand the why and the how. He gave power to his pain and hid it, buried it deep down. He lashed out, started sending her nasty messages, calling her friends to get her to reconsider, going to clubs to meet new girls…. You know the drill. He forced himself to forget the pain, to move on, and found himself another girlfriend a month after the break up. That relationship went on for 2 years but ultimately broke down because he was shallow inside, empty. The sad thing is that a baby was born during these 2 years, and now they share parenting duties, unable to be together because he feels too stifled and suffocated to be with another partner.

2 years on and his pain still haunts him. His anger still brews inside of him, and he hangs on to a hope that justice would prevail, that he would be told the “truth”, that somehow the injustice done to him would be paid for. He allowed his own pain to manifest in another form, and now a child has to grow up with parents who don’t even know how to love each other, yet alone love her. He feels his guilt and his shame, and he’s afraid that now is too late to realize, he should have forgiven himself a long time ago. He should have long realized that Love is not about ownership, but about freely giving, not taking. He should have stopped blaming himself for a relationship that ended just because it wasn’t on his terms. He was waiting for someone to tell him, that no one can ever truly control another person’s actions. That all of us decide for ourselves, how we behave and are ultimately responsible for the consequences that come along with our actions.

Through his pain, he started crying. And I wished in that moment, I could give him a hug to tell him to cry harder. Cry out the pain and the agony, the frustration and the helplessness. Sadly, most men need these affirmations so much more than women.

I’m sure alot of us can relate to the emotions he feels, or that I feel, and even D who would feel the same I’m sure, once he’s able to process his emotions.

I don’t have the answers. But I know one thing. We have to go through Pain and Grief, and not around it. It’s not helpful to just find an outlet to numb the emotions just because they are overwhelming.

We have to let go of expectations from people around us. We have to stop caring so much about what society thinks. We have to give ourselves more self care, be more in tuned with who we are and what we feel. We have to be more honest! Especially with the people who love the most. Especially with ourselves. We have to realize that we are our greatest critics, and that at the end of the day, we often hold ourselves prisoners, when all we have to do is learn to forgive, let go and embrace positive parts. It’s also extremely important to stay true to yourself and not react unnecessarily.

Healing an emotional wound is so very similar to a physical one. The deeper the cut, the longer it takes to heal. Your body goes through the pain for a while, you get used to certain movements that would cause it to hurt more and so you readjust and adapt. You train your body to get stronger in other aspects so that its able to support the injury better. The same goes with healing an emotional wound. You address it, you focus more on loving yourself and achieving a deep sense of respect and peace, and you slowly wait for the wound to scab, and then heal. A scar will probably form at first and over time the scar will still be there, but after a while it will fade. You’ll forget that it was there, but once in a while stumble upon it, remember what the pain felt like but no longer feel it anymore. That’s the true kind of healing that I want.

I hope more people choose not to run away from grief. It’s terrifying. And at times it requires us to welcome unbearable truths about ourselves. It might make us feel disgusted with our mistakes, and force us to wonder how the hell we ever made those decisions. It could also teach us to realise we are only human and that we all have lessons worth learning. I hope we learn to share more about our struggles. Grab a friend and a bottle of wine, sit for 2 or 3 hours and spill it all out. Sometimes friends can be our best therapists.

If we could all choose to either judge/be judged or love/be loved, wouldn’t we choose the latter if we only knew that’s all anyone ever really wants?

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