About janetoryl

A Singaporean, born and bred in the city with a heart for the wild jungles, mountains and oceans. I write so I can think better. Its very nice to cross paths with you, thanks for reading :) ig: janetoryl


I arrived at the airport of Milan, ready to depart for Singapore but was denied entry on the flight because I wasn’t vaccinated in a VTL country, so they wouldn’t let me on a VTL flight.

I didn’t intend to come home so soon but because of some administrative events, I had to schedule to come home earlier. Leaving Marco in Italy is sad, but knowing that when we reunite, it’ll be in my home country makes me excited. I’ll get to show him My Singapore.

The journey home wasn’t super smooth, it involved alot of hiccups, having to spend money for extra tests and flights, a 12 hour wait in Milan airport and another 12 hour journey back home on a flight.

As I went through the entire journey, I kept track of how I was feeling. How do I feel to be going back home again? This time, feeling so different? This time, feeling like a different person?

I’m no longer the Jane I used to be, but I’m also acutely aware that I’m in a transformation process – like a caterpillar spinning in a cocoon. I can feel the process happening and I’m aware of this change.

I’m excited honestly. I think in healing inner child wounds, I’m really allowing myself to dream and create like never before, to break down past thought processes, to break through and vibrate to higher frequencies.

To let go of judgment and fear of being judged.

Because this is real life, and humans are one big boggling mess.

None of us are ever acutely aware and in control of our lives and how we behave in them.

We make mistakes, we cry, we hurt, we suffer, we lose, we forgive, we mess up, and the cycle repeats.

We lose friends, we gain friends, we break up with family, we reunite.

Everything is always in balance though – the entire universe is.

What we take one day, we will have to give back on another.

How we behave one day, will always reflect in turn, onto us.

The words we speak to people, will one day be spoken to us.

And the way we hurt people, will always come back to haunt us.

This entire covid situation has been a great chance for lessons. It has forced us to quieten down, to reflect, to rethink and to act differently.

Is there a need for over-consumption? Do governments know what they’re doing? Do societies know? How are laws formed? Do children have future-ready jobs? What does the future look like – can anyone know?

In every great revolution in time, there exists two types of people – one kind who learn from their past and move on to be better, the other who hang onto their egos and insist on their old ways.

Which type of people will we choose to be?

I Could Never Hate Him – Part 1

In preparation for an article I was writing, I had interviewed 9 divorced women – each with their own tale to tell. While writing the article, I thought of every single one of them and would hold them in my thoughts while I grieved for them. This is a series of fictional stories, inspired by their lives and strength.

Any resemblance to real persons or other real-life entities is purely coincidental. All characters and other entities appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, dead or alive, or other real-life entities, past or present, is purely coincidental.

Singapore, 2021

Bee Leng’s heart is pumping as she approaches The Trumps, a condominium in Singapore where her daughter is living in. Sarah, her only daughter, just gave birth to a son, and they are all gathering to celebrate his first birthday.

As she approaches the lift to go to the 9th floor, her palms start sweating and she can feel cold sweat trickle down the back of her neck.

It’s been 5 years since she last saw Him and she can’t help but feel anxious about this reunion. When Sarah gave birth to her sweet son, Ben, it was during the first covid pandemic lockdown and people couldn’t do visitations at the hospital. She felt relieved then, knowing she could avoid an awkward situation of bumping into Him.

But when Sarah called her last week to invite her to today’s celebration, she couldn’t make up any excuses. After all, if Sarah is fine with Him being around, after all that he did to them, why should Bee Leng not be?

After putting down the phone, she immediately made an appointment with Karl, her hair dresser. “Karl, I have to meet Paul next week, can you schedule me in tomorrow or the day after please? She asks.

“Oh my goodness. Paul? Like THE Paul?” Karl, who has been her hair dresser the last 10 years is a dear friend who has been there for her through it all. “I’m fully packed the next two days but honey, I got you. Come by at 8pm tomorrow, we will fix you right up. “

It’s a week later, and Bee Leng is ready. Dressed in a white suit, new curly locks and fresh lipstick, Bee Leng takes a deep breath….. and presses the door bell of unit 09-324.

She deliberately arrived an hour late because she wanted to let him see her. She wanted him to take notice of her when she first walked in.

To her surprise, it is neither Sarah nor her husband, Amos, who opens the door. The first thing that greeted Bee Leng’s senses was the overwhelming smell of perfume that Coco drenched herself in. “Bee Leng, it’s youuuuuu” Coco squealed and hugged her. She doesn’t resist it because she has no time to but she feels bile rising up her throat as her face is forcibly buried into Coco’s hair. Bee Leng resists the urge to push her away and instead, immediately places herself at an arm’s length away from this bundle of energy.

Coco is the woman Bee Leng’s ex-husband, Paul, married after he left their marriage. His announcement to leave her and Sarah had come so suddenly. “I’m just not in love with you anymore.” He had told her. That one-line had determined her fate for the last five years. That one-line still haunts her from time to time, creeping in her dreams, day and night.

“Paul and I weren’t sure if you were coming but I told him you wouldn’t miss it for the world. Didn’t I say she would come, baby?” Coco says to her husband, as she ushers Bee Leng by her elbow, into a living room that wasn’t hers, right infront of Paul.

Bee Leng stands up straight, and looks up at Paul. She notices more than a few white strands at his temple, and realizes his neck has gone a little saggy. He looks like he’s aged 10 years even though it’s only been 5. He’s smiling at her, and it’s genuine. He’s happy to see her. 28 years of marriage with him…..she always knew how he felt even before he said anything. She knew before, when he had looked at her, trying to find the words to say “I’m leaving you”. She knows now that he isn’t lying when he says to her, “Hey Bee Leng, it’s really good to see you”.

For a man who’s nearly 60, Paul looks as ragged as a 70-year-old old man. But it was never his looks she fell for – it was his kind heart, soft temperament, and tenderness that she loved. Not anymore. Not since she decided to let him go, just six months ago.

So many things have changed…..since six months ago.

“Mum! Come meet your grandson,” Sarah had noticed the awkward silence between her divorced parents and decided to break it.

It’s only then that Bee Leng is able to take stock of her surroundings and shifts her attention to her beautiful grandson. She takes him in her arms and smells his forehead, and she whispers to him, “Ben my darling, you’re so precious…..so so precious.”

Holding new life in her arms takes her back to when she first held Sarah in hers, 25 years ago. When her water broke, she was alone in the apartment. It was 3 p.m. and she knew he was in a meeting with some big clients so she decided to call upon her neighbor, Sofia, instead.

They had moved into this neighborhood just a year ago, 50 miles away from San Francisco, where Paul had accepted a new job as the CFO of a mid-size company that sold IT components. Paul had said that the new neighborhood would be better than living in the city – the house would be bigger and the environment safer for their baby girl. Soon after, they made fast friends with their neighbor, a single mother with 2 children of her own. Sofia and Bee Leng became best of friends.

“Sofia! Sofia!” Bee Leng knocked frantically on her neighbor’s door. Sofia works from home and she was bound to be in at this time.

The two of them rushed to the hospital, and within five hours, Bee Leng held Sarah in her arms. It was just the two of them in that birthing suite when Sarah was born – all 10 fingers and toes, with a full head of hair and big bright eyes. The minute Bee Leng held Sarah close to her chest, she was convinced that Sarah would save her. She wasn’t even sure what kind of saving she needed, but she knew – that her daughter had saved her life.

Paul came in when Bee Leng was fast asleep – by then it was already 10p.m.

“I’m sorry, I had my cellphone turned off. I only found out when I saw all the missed calls on my phone. I’m so sorry.” He had said.

Bee Leng forgave him. She was sure then, that the three of them would live happily ever after forever. She had been so sure then.

“By the way….since everyone is here….we wanted to announce something,” Coco says.

Bee Leng looks up while cradling her grandson and her gut lurched into a tight knot. The little bump on Coco’s stomach didn’t go unnoticed when she first wrangled Bee Leng into an embrace.

Coco grabs a hold of Paul’s hand, waits for everyone to look at her, then glances back at Paul again, who, at this point, looks a little embarrassed and hesitant. Before he could say anything however, his 35-year-old wife squeals and says, “WE’RE PREGNANT!”

Bee Leng doesn’t startle at this fact but merely observes the looks on the rest of the people’s faces. Sarah and Amos look like deer caught in headlights. Bee Leng’s sister, Anita and her son, Bryan look confused. But the funniest look came from Paul’s own mother, Mary, an 85-year-old woman who has always adored Bee Leng and vehemently rejected the idea of her son leaving their marriage, only to marry someone nearly half his age barely a year later.

Mary didn’t hold back at all and scowled at this announcement. By now, Paul’s face has turned bright red and he polishes off his glass of whisky, leaving Coco to excitedly share details of her pregnancy with Sarah and Amos.

Bee Leng smiles to herself, and walks over to the balcony where Paul is standing on, looking out into the distance.

“So…I guess congratulations are in order?” Bee Leng hears her calm voice speaking to Paul.

“I….don’t even know what to say. I never thought I’d be a father again, at this age.” Paul says , looking slightly bewildered.

The sun is setting now, and clouds are scattered across the sky, light orange hues lining them. It has been 5 years since Paul and Bee Leng stood, side by side, neither of them angry nor shouting at each other. The atmosphere between them now holds only understanding and comfort – a world of difference compared to back then, when they were filing for a divorce. Things had gotten really messy – but in the end, Bee Leng had walked away with what she deserved.

“How are you – Bee Leng?” Paul finally asks, afraid to look up at her as he asks this.

“I wasn’t good for a long time, I have to admit. But I’m much better now, Paul. I can finally say I’m much better now.” She turns directly to him and waits until he summons enough courage to gaze back into her eyes.

Her eyes hold kindness and forgiveness, they look right through him, as they always did. The truth is too much for him to bear, and he peels his eyes away from hers.

An hour and half later, everyone is gathered around the cake and it’s time to take photographs. After Sarah and Amos take a family picture with Ben in their arms, Sarah requests for one with her parents. Paul and Bee Leng look at each other, and go to stand beside their daughter.

As Bryan counts to 3, Bee Leng feels Paul’s arm around her waist and doesn’t pull away. His touch feels familiar and yet completely foreign.

At the end of the night, everyone says their farewell and Bee Leng can’t help but notice Paul’s gaze at her. He’s been stealing glances at her the whole night and Bee Leng doesn’t think he wanted them to go unnoticed. He wanted her to know. He wanted her to feel his unwavering attention on her.

As she gets into a Grab car and sets off for home, Bee Leng can’t help but feel stirring in her heart. “What is this feeling?” She asks herself.

“Be still, my heart.” She whispers to herself.

We Don’t Have To Stay Loyal To Anxiety – But We Can Befriend It

It took some time to realise this, but I was in a constant state of anxiety for more than a year.

I remember not being able to sleep, getting startled by noises easily, being more sensitive towards temperature changes, and in general, not being able to focus on conversations or tasks as well.

I didn’t know it then, but I was on a persistant fight/flight mode. I was in shock. My reality had shattered into pieces and my mind was trying to protect me.

Shock from certain traumatic incidents that happened. Incidents that triggered a lot of feelings from events that happened years and years ago.

It was only after working with my therapist that I found out I was dealing with anxiety, depression and that my triggers are linked with emotional neglect (when I was a child), betrayal, and a fear of abandonment.

Anxiety puts us in fight/flight modes whenever we get triggered. Triggers can come really randomly – opening Spotify and seeing a playlist your ex used to make for you, a brand of cereal you used to buy together, or the name of a person.

I’ve learnt through therapy, that when we experience anxiety, the first thing our minds try to do is put us in a survival state – some people freeze up while others will go on fight mode and start attacking others.

Our minds, in order to protect ourselves, will try to control the situation and think of different scenarios that might happen – and how we can defend ourselves in them.

But what anxiety doesn’t do, is show us reality.

The easiest way to beat anxiety, is to use various methods to come back to the present, and realize that we’re in a safe place.

While reading the book ‘ The wisdom of a broken heart” by Susan Piver, I learned one method to help bring myself back to center: Take deep breaths, scan your surroundings and name 5 things that would include your different senses. For eg: There is a palm tree outside my window and it’s slightly swaying in the wind; Someone is having a barbeque outside and the smell of food is great etc. After this, take deep breaths again and note 3 things in your surroundings you’ve never noticed before. Take your time to slowly scan your surroundings. It can be for eg: The fridge has a magnet that’s chipped, someone has left a pair of socks on the floor etc. This exercise would immediately bring you back to reality and help you see that the big scary thoughts that are happening in our minds are just created by us – they’re not actually happening. It could be a horror story unfolding in our minds, and our bodies might be reacting in response to our thoughts (heightened senses, inability to focus or perform tasks, chest pains etc) but in reality – nothing is actually happening: we’re safe.

The reason why we immediately think of worst case scenarios is because we’re basing on past experiences and we fear that it would happen again.

While working with Rella, she taught me a few ways to help me beat anxiety. One would be to breathe in through my left nostril, and the other, to rub my palms together creating heat and place them over my eyes.

Amongst the many things I learned from Rella – one of them stood out. That my mind has been so used to feeling anxious that even if I’m ready to let go of it, it might not want to let go of me. Our minds want to stay loyal to feeling anxious, because it’s a place of comfort and familiarity.

That’s why, we could be feeling perfectly fine and happy sometimes, and then immediately enter a state of anxiety whenever we meet with triggers.

Rella said, “Ask yourself, are you ready to let go of anxiety? Are you ready to embrace the change that comes after”

I liken it to trying cliff jumping for the first time. Your feet is inching towards the edge, step by step, and you can feel the back of your hairs rise, a trickle of cold sweat down your neck. The longer you stay at the top, looking 10 feet down into the water, the harder it will be to jump. Yet, you just have to embrace the unknown of what will happen after you jump into the water. Even if you’ve already seen 20 people jump before, and you know you’ll be fine, trust can only come after you’ve jumped yourself.

So the point is – trust the process. Sometimes it just takes that second of being illogical, of being reckless and fearless, to help you overcome a challenge.

“Describe your anxiety in a way you would like to, so that you wouldn’t be afraid of it, but want to befriend it” Rella tells me

“Are you ready to go on an adventure, anxiety?”

“Are you ready to explore this city, anxiety?

“Are you ready to learn more with me, anxiety?”

Maybe the point is not to eliminate anxiety completely, because I do believe it’s a great signpost that teaches us things about ourselves. But maybe the point is to befriend it, to not be scared of it, and to be able to stay calm when it becomes overwhelming.

Maybe the point is not to beat anxiety, but to conquer the debilitating effects of anxiety when it hits us.

Either way, I’m learning alot through therapy and books now, and I feel that it carries through in my conversations with family and friends. It also helps me to find my voice and strength and not be afraid to stand up for myself when the need arises.

Life is worthwhile 🙂 And it’s great to finally be enjoying the life I’ve been living, and not just be alternating between extreme highs and lows. Self-awareness truly elevates us to a different frequency, one that can help us love life better, and in turn, love others well.

Someone has to break the cycle first

I now understand why people say forgiveness is for yourself, and not for your perpetrator.

I think that forgiveness is really the key to getting over trauma. The power of love is always greater than hate. And love can create what hate can only destroy.

I had a dream the other day.

That he and I met. And in that dream, he looked the same as when I first met him. I could only remember how kind, loving and genuine he felt. In my dream, we spoke very openly about how everything ended up so nastily. He finally told me about all his grievances and I spoke very openly about how hurt I was too, after everything that had happened.

In my dream, we forgave each other. We decided to put everything in the past and just wished each other well. In that moment, I felt such power in that act of love. That act of generosity. There was so much light, in that one act of connecting and empathizing with each other.

I woke up, and felt a little sad. That reality isn’t such the case. But that feeling of love stayed with me. And i want it.

So i’m working towards fully forgiving him, just as I ask for forgiveness for ever hurting him too.

Forgiveness doesn’t mean we have to forget. But it does mean that we look beyond, and recognize that everyone makes mistakes. Forgiving someone else, is also one step further to forgiving yourself.

I want to get to a point, where I can one day look him in the eye and truly wish him all my best. And all my love.

Because at one point in my life, I genuinely did love him a lot. Enough to be this hurt. And maybe his actions were the consequence of being hurt. Maybe by me, maybe by his past. Maybe he has so many welled up insecurities. Maybe he was so badly hurt in his childhood, that he’s not even aware of how they have manifested into his current adulthood.

I choose to forgive.

If I died one day

If I died one day, earlier than I meant to

I hope that people knew how much I respected life

I hope they knew how much I loved them

I hope I told them enough, how much they meant to me

It’s not that I didn’t enjoy life. Its that I did. But like walking along the path of zingaro, I sometimes feel like life doesn’t get any better than this.

What is our purpose in life?

For many, it is to have children, to grow love within families, and to achieve many things

For me, my only purpose is to love life and enjoy it, to realize that life is a gift. And that relationships should be enjoyable. I sometimes know that I’m still depressed but I don’t like the connotation that comes with it.

My grandmother was medically diagnosed as bipolar and I saw how her life was managed by medicines and therapy.

Why do we try to suppress one’s emotions?

Last week I told my mum that I supported people who committed suicides. It’s not that I want people to kill themselves. But that I understood them. I understand what it feels like when you just feel numb towards life.

It’s not that I hate life. I love it. Its just that I sometimes don’t see a point in it. You know?

It’s like riding a roller coaster again and again and again. You already know when the highs and lows are coming. It’s predictable.

Idk if I could ever raise children in this world. I’ve met some people who have shown me that having children is so difficult. It’s such a huge responsibility. The world is also not that fantastic in the first place, is it?

Most people are selfish. Most just want to put themselves first.

Sometimes I definitely feel tired of trying to find meaning in life. Or some sort of purpose I suppose.

But every day is a new fight. And every day has been rewarding.

So, I guess. We shall see. 🙂 until then, I’m happy to have known many people in my life. And I’m glad that life has been generous to me.

Fuck la Janeeeeee. STOP WORRYING

URLKGA;SLDKJFALKDSJ is the mood that can appropriately describe how I feel today.

Never heard of the word before? Just check the non-existent dictionary in my mind. It’s full of words that adequately sum up how I feel whenever the English language fails at this task.


Today I don’t even feel like I can write proper sentences. What am I feeling? Anxiety? Fear? Mild anxiety? 7/10 anxiety? 0.09/100 confidence?

A while ago, Ed asked me on IG “have u thought of freelance writing before?” he didn’t know I had emailed in to RICE applying to freelance write just a day before.

A week later, I received an email from RICE telling me to submit some pitches to them.

Today, I held my first few interviews for the first ever article I’m going to write for RICE.

It’s unreal. I think these are the moments that sometimes fly over people’s minds. I should be celebrating. But all I feel is anxiety.

It feels like I’m a ballerina who worked all her life to be the lead in the Nutcracker and she’s finally been chosen. But instead of celebrating, all she can think about is how she needs to perform well and not fall flat on her face during the performance.

These moments can be both crippling and terrorizing.

Instead, I am choosing to embrace these two rather scary emotions, and I’m telling myself, “SO BE IT”

Even if I fall flat on my face, so be it.

I’ve got to start from somewhere.

Just as I was looking for some uplifting message from the ‘universe’ today, I chanced upon Annette Lee’s old blog, particularly this post

She talks about how being an amateur is the way to go because

They (Beginners) take chances, experiment, and follow their whims. Sometimes, in the process of doing things in an unprofessional way, they make new discoveries

I particularly like this reminder that “In the beginner’s mind, there are many possibilities. In the expert mind’s there are few” (said by the monk Shunryu Suzuki)

If you’re wondering who Annette is, she’s a Singaporean singer-songwriter who I follow on IG. I love her work because she’s so true to herself and no matter what work she puts out, she exudes this confidence in her that I’m envious of

I’ve never been comfortable infront of the camera and i always feel awkward in videos. My medium of storytelling has always been writing.

Back to the today’s main rant

I managed to interview three different women today for the article I’m writing and each of them shared so candidly with me about their lives.

Suddenly, after hearing their stories, I feel paralyzed by fear that I won’t be able to write an article that would do them justice.

As the day comes to an end, I find myself worrying about alot of things as well.

Will I be able to write something of value? Will people find my article irrelevant? Will my article even be read by people?

For how long can I keep up this imposter life? Who the fuck is Jane the digital nomad? Will I be able to help the startup I’m working for get off its feet and receive funding? Will more people start buying our courses and will the teachers I’ve helped to recruit be able to get the secondary income they so need?

The list of worries go on and on, almost as if I’d been hiding them in an invisible wardrobe and locked them inside with an invisible lock.

I try to distract myself by burying my mind in a book, a memoir called The Only Girl In The World and fuck me….this memoir is so depressing I cannot read more than 10 pages.

I open up Tiktok and scroll through videos and I want to laugh. I desperately want to find something interesting enough or funny enough. Nothing.

I open up IG and I close it again in a few minutes.


I walk to my laptop and I look outside at the pool. Then I momentarily remind myself.

That I’m in a situation 100% better than I was a year before, a month before, even a week before.



So I started writing.

And It’s helping.

Does anyone feel this way too sometimes???? Or does someone feel like slapping the fuck out of me to wake me up from this impossible cycle of overthinking and overworrying.

If I buy a package of 10 slaps can you add 2 free slaps please?

Does it work like acupoint massage therapies? The more I bludgeon my mind, the more I agonize my soul, the more “release” I’ll feel?


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Get Angry

Get angry. Get angry when you have every right to be. If you feel the rage start as a tingle, light that spark up and let it burn. Let it burn and feel the blood rush to your face. Feel that pulse coursing through your veins, carrying oxygen that will feed the fire. Let your blood boil. Feel your lips quiver and watch your pupils dilate. Stand in front of the mirror and just watch yourself get livid. Tell yourself “Let it fucking lit the roof up” and feel the heat rise to the top of your head. Put a song on and celebrate this anger. Celebrate because you are finally seeing your worth. Celebrate the fact that today you are realizing how much time and effort you have wasted on people who don’t deserve you. Feel your anger and harness it. Harness it into a power that you can use for good. A power that you can channel into a purpose that deserves your love and attention. Let nobody else ever waste a single second of your time.

Get angry.

Because it’s about damn time.

It’s okay to weed people out

I remember when I was younger, that I wanted to be friends with everyone. I didn’t have much attention from my parents while I was growing up, not because they didn’t want to take care of me, but because they had to work.

Although my parents made sure we spent quality time together during the weekends, I was mostly left alone to my own devices on the weekdays.

I loved my friends. I loved making new ones too. I had an attachment to my friends to satisfy a craving due to loneliness. Many people seek comforts from different things because of loneliness – food, alcohol, movies, art, pets, porn, or even a stamp collection.

In seeking to remedy my loneliness through keeping many friends around, I became a people pleaser as well. I would overly compromise on my needs in order to please my friends.

At the start of my secondary school life, I once asked a girl to slap me whenever she found me annoying. I had such a deep desire to please her because she had shown brief interest in me before becoming bored and moving on. I wanted so much to win over her affection.

Of course, over the course of 2 decades, I have learnt that I cannot possibly please everyone. But beyond that, I’ve also learnt that its not necessary to do so. My sickness of feeling lonely has long been cured by having closer relationships with my family, a tight knit group of friends I can always count on, and realizing that friends are found everywhere and anywhere.

Still, I had some left-over people pleasing tendencies in the form of keeping toxic people in my life. I always thought that friendships have to last forever. Why? Because I want to stay loyal to them. I often think that friendships can endure all time as long as two people make the effort and put in the work to iron out differences.

But over the last two years, especially while grieving and dealing with loss, I’ve learnt an even greater lesson. That self love begins with realizing how sacred our time and energy is. Self love is a powerful technique that if mastered, can effectively keep loneliness at bay most of the time, barring any isolated situations.

Recognizing our self worth means realizing that as much we want people to respect us, we also have to first respect ourselves to set healthy boundaries.

It’s truly okay for us to weed certain people out of lives, simply because they carry energy that doesn’t help uplift us in lives. Sometimes, these people can be friends, colleagues, relatives but other times, these people could have been our best friends or even our parents.

I know that weeding out best friends or parents can feel like the most difficult thing to do and I personally haven’t needed to do that. But I recently cleared my life of certain people who didn’t really matter anyway, and it felt really cathartic. I suppose that’s what the art of Marie kondo is all about.

Weeding people out of our lives can be a heavy and difficult topic. So what can we do?

For a start, it would help to consider a few things.

1. Have we communicated our feelings with these people? How have they responded and do we find them reasonable? Have we also taken accountability for our own actions towards them if we did them wrong?

2. Have we created a safe space with them so we can clarify misunderstandings with them? Have they chosen to respond reasonably or not?

3. Were their wrongdoings so unforgiveable that we cannot move past them? Or would an apology and actions that follow help to make us feel better?

4. Have these people tried to change and have they also chosen to be vulnerable with us?

5. Would weeding these people out bring us more or less joy or are they absolutely necessary to keep in our lives?

Perhaps something to consider would also be to keep a distance from people while we consider weeding them out. Sometimes, all we need is a little distance from them while we sort out our emotions. I’ve learnt the hard way, that I often say or do things on impulse whenever I’m emotionally charged.

So we can always choose to step out of a situation, pause and process our thoughts first.

It’s more likely that we find peace in our decisions when we make them with a calm mind rather than with an erratic one.

Regularly weeding not just people but bad habits in our lives is really useful so that we protect our energy and our minds from unwanted negativity.

If we weed out the truly toxic things in our lives, we surface from these situations feeling much lighter and happier after a while. Of course, at the start it might feel weird because we’re not used to such “aggressive” tactics. But give it a while, and you’ll see that decluttering your mental and emotional spaces was worthwhile.

What is Love?

My grandma was sold as a baby for 12 Singapore dollars. Back in the 1920s, that was decent money.

Her adopted parents were rather well-to-do and adopted two other children as well. However, when she was 19 years old, my great-grandfather passed away abruptly. After crying for a week and crumbling with grief, my great-grandmother passed away as well.

In one week, my grandmother buried two parents. Overnight, she became a parent to both of her younger siblings.

It’s not a surprise that she would develop a fear of abandonment and a fear of being alone.

This fear has been passed down through the generations – from my grandmother to my mother and from my mother to me.

For the entirety of my life, my grandparents fought.

My grandma was always jealous of the women my grandpa flirted with. As much I love him, he was a huge flirt, and he had a big gambling problem back in the day. My grandmother’s fear of him cheating and splurging all his money away was very valid.

If my grandma was born in our current age, she might have never stayed married to my grandfather. For 60 years, she endured his yelling at her. For 60 years, she endured the lack of affection from him. She had to learn how to love herself – and love herself she did.

When my grandma was still alive, she was full of love. Full of love for the world, for people around her and full of appreciation for life.

After her parents died, she learned how to earn money fast through setting up businesses. She rented a shophouse in Tiong bahru and started two businesses – one to teach others how to sew, the other how to do floristry. She also bought a payphone and placed it outside of her shophouse, where there was a lot of foot traffic. She learnt that her small investment would reap her passive income through people making calls while standing outside her shop.

My grandmother was so strong. But alas, she was born in a time when divorce was not a socially acceptable option. It still isn’t, even now, but back then, she didn’t know that she never needed a man. She just loved my grandfather so much.

I know that he loved her too, and perhaps if he had ever gone for therapy, he would have learned to love her better.

Now that she’s gone, he has begun to mourn for her loss and through his grief – reflect on his past actions and behavior towards her.

The way that my grandmother chose to be with a man who didn’t know how to treat her well is the way my mother chose to stay with my father too.

This time however, they’ve entered a different era.

When they first got married, my father was a different man, compared to the person he is now.

He was cold, aloof, indifferent, and kept his thoughts to himself a lot. My mother would beg for him to be vulnerable to her. She waited patiently for so many years. It was a risk that my mother had taken. She took a huge chance on him. She knew that he loved her; she just needed him to love her the way she deserved to.

I saw for myself – the change in my dad’s temperament. I saw how different he became over the years.

Through rounds and rounds of couples counseling and therapy sessions, my parents’ dynamics changed. My father learned how to express his emotions to my mother in a safe space. He learned that it was okay to be vulnerable. He unlearned and relearned the different love languages, and how to be patient with my mother.

My mother too, learned how to love my father the way he needed to be loved.

Still, I had already absorbed the dynamics between them at a young age.

At 5 years old, I had already falsely believed that to love is to accept each other’s flaws unconditionally. I had already been conditioned to believe that you never walk out on each other, no matter how much you’re suffering in a marriage.

I saw it happen in many relationships and marriages around me too.

For years, I questioned the meaning of love. What IS love?

Because I inherited these beliefs of love, I ended up falling in love with a man who neither knew how to love himself nor me. He didn’t know how to accept my love for him as well. I loved him so much. But there came a point in our marriage where I saw that I had married a man like my grandfather and father. Even though it wasn’t my choice to end the marriage, I’m so glad it did. Because it released me from being the 3rd generation of women accepting men who don’t know how to love them properly. I would have been the next generation to pass down this inaccurate ideals of love (at least to me). If we had had children together, how would my children have turned out? How could I have educated them on what love is, when we didn’t even understand or demonstrate what love should be?

Now, I feel that love is not dependent on the duration of a relationship. Of any relationship – be it a romantic or non-romantic one.

We can’t wish for everything to last. We don’t have to.

Love is found everywhere, in all ways and in all things. Love can mean different things to different people, based on their personal journeys and experiences.

To me, love means being vulnerable with each other, it means being committed to choosing each other and growing together.

Now, I feel that nothing we want in love needs to last forever. If it does, it’s because the parties in the relationship both put in effort and commitment for that to happen. If it doesn’t, it’s because both parties somehow grow apart rather than together.

The sooner we let go of the expectation that relationships must last forever, the sooner we realize that love does endure all time.

It exists in our memories, it exists in our interactions with people, however short of long, it exists through generations.

Love is everywhere, especially when we know how to carry love for ourselves.

A work of fiction: Sleep Angie, sleep

It’s 7.48am and Angie is walking home from the hospital, where she works as a nurse. Today is the 8th day in a row that she’s been assigned the graveyard shift but she doesn’t mind it. It’s quieter and she likes watching her patients sleep and find rest, while she watches over them to take care of their every need.

As she walks, she holds her bag close to her and although it’s summer, she’s wearing a thick jacket and stockings. Inside, she wears a long sleeved black top underneath her tight-fitting uniform. Never again would she wear anything without sleeves. Never again would she allow her neckline to be exposed. She never knew this part of her body would be the thing that attracted him the very most.

Her palms are sweaty but she keeps her right hand in her sling bag, her fingers clutching tightly around the pocket knife. She can never be too careful. He might appear anytime, anywhere.

Walking along the street from the hospital to her home would take an hour, but she welcomes the exercise. It fact, the only time she’s able to find peace is when she’s walking.

Angie walks everywhere. She never takes the bus, the car, the plane, not even a bicycle.

If she cannot walk to where she’s going, she will not go.

As she’s about to cross the bridge where he first raped her, she mentally prepares for the nausea that always hits hard.

“Ready?” She asks Anni, one of her imaginary friends that Angie’s mind created in order to protect her. To no one else but her, Anni has been walking alongside Angie since the first incident.

They arrive at the start of the bridge, a bridge that Angie has taken countless of times since she was a child. It’s the bridge that separates town from her neighborhood. She crosses it everyday when she goes to work.

“Can we count backwards this time?” Anni says in her cheerful voice.

They count backwards from 318 as they walk across the bridge. Angie can feel her heart pounding. From her chest to her back, a sharp pain increases in intensity as she inches closer to the exact spot where he first defiled her. Where he first decided to ruin her life forever.

’56, 55, 54…….53′

At step 53, Angie looks at Anni, takes a quick breath and slowly lets it go as they pass 52, 51, 50, all the way to 1.

They made it again. And no one will ever know what a feat they’ve accomplished, just by being able to cross a site of trauma without going into complete panic.

No one will ever know what Angie carries with her. She can never tell anyone. She can never name her perpetrator. Because who would believe her?

He’s a respectable business man in town who owns 2 hotels, 3 restaurants and is the supplier for all of the medicine to the hospital she works in. Everyone in Berat (Albania) knows who he is. From the burek stall owner to the mayor, Miro is the local town hero.

She tried to make a police report against him, after he had raped her a second time – this time in the supply closet on the top floor. The police dismissed her and said that she was “the 5th girl who’s claimed to be raped” by him. “It’s just not possible, look at his hot wife, why would he want to even touch someone like you?”

The second time it happened, he had found out about her work schedule and attacked her while she was doing her rounds. With his strong hand clasping her mouth shut, she couldn’t scream. She couldn’t fight him. She was helpless against him – in all ways.

After Angie got home, her mother, Gloria, heard her opening the door softly, the hinges creaking because of the rust.

As Angie brought a cup of water to her mother’s bedside, Gloria grabbed her wrist and sat her down on the bed, next to her. Gloria is blind and her blindness heightens all her other senses. She could feel that something wasn’t right. She could feel her daughter’s agony, even though Angie hasn’t spoken a word.

“What happened, my love?” Gloria asks.

“Nothing mama, I’m just tired.” Angie’s been avoiding Gloria’s questions for a while now, 7 months and 2 days to be exact.

In silence they sit, Gloria holding Angie’s hands and putting them on her lap.

Gloria knew of course, that something had happened. Something had changed in Angie. This was her child. She would always know if something is wrong but she knew better than to push Angie to talk.

“Okay then, turn around sweetie. Let me brush your hair.”

Angie turned around, her back facing her mama, and let her close as she felt the brush comb through her long black hair. With every stroke, Angie feels her eyes getting heavier and heavier. She lets her head tilt up and down naturally as her mother combs through her hair. She knows that this is how her mother cares for her. And she lets her. Because it’s easier than telling her what happened.

Before long, her mother stops and Angie blinks open her eyes again, her face staring back at her in the mirror on the wall. The mirror that her mother used before her blindness set in.

Every time Angie looks at herself in the mirror, she doesn’t recognize the person staring back. Who is she? Where has the light in her eyes gone to? Where is the healthy glow that once used to radiate from her skin?

Before the self-interrogation continued in her mind, Angie stands up from the bed abruptly, and kisses her mother on the cheek.

As she lay on her bed, ready to go to sleep, the flashbacks begin. They go on for what seems like an endless of time but her fatigue takes over and plunges her into her dreams.

There, she’s free. There, she’s finally able to live a life she wants. In her dreams, there are no men. Only happy children singing and dancing. For the next precious 5 hours before she has to wake up for her day job as a waitress, Angie sleeps.

Sleep Angie, sleep.