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.
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.
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.
It was kinda crazy to see my article published on Zula because I’ve enjoyed watching their videos. I never knew they did articles too but in our interview, the writer specifically asked me to talk about my therapy experience.
I wondered why, and then I remembered that many of us in Singapore still think that going to therapy is a shameful thing.
Just to clock in an update, I’ve definitely become much clear-minded after just a few months of therapy. When recovering from gaslighting and narcissistic abuse, it’s very common that the target walks away from a relationship not understanding why whatever happened, happened the way they did. A narcissist knows what they’re doing. They know that they’re manipulating you. They sieve out your insecurities and use it against you, and when they can’t get what they want, they either attack you into submission/ silence or they devalue and discard you.
I’ve written about the anger stage where I was in, and there was so much anger with myself that I had to process through. Then came a bout of depression – inability to enjoy life, lack of appetite, feeling disconnected, inability to focus on conversations and tasks etc etc. I only went through mild depression so I’m glad it didn’t get worse than that, although I’ve also been learning that the recovery journey will be full of ups/downs and triggers.
What are triggers?
A trigger is any word, person, event, or experience that touches off an immediate emotional reaction. It’s like being startled by a noise: The noise is the trigger; the startle is the response.
Our reactions to our emotional triggers are often excessive, lasting longer than what makes sense for the event. It’s as if we’re still jumping at the sound of that slammed door hours later.
Not all triggers are negative. They can also stimulate joy or happy memories, like when we smell a flower that reminds us of a place we love or see a photograph of an event where we felt happy. Still, we usually use “trigger” to describe negative stimuli — those that set off sadness, anger, or fear, as well as hurt, shame, and despair.
Now that I have been building up genuine love and confidence in myself, I can feel a huge difference in the way I respond to triggers. After being heavily traumatized last year, every trigger could invoke a big reaction in me. Every trigger would send me into weeks of despair. I would struggle with eating, sleeping, focusing on conversations and I would drown myself in work or exercise to neglect my pain.
Now, thanks to therapy, I’ve learnt that triggers are signposts that tell us something about ourselves.
Not all strong emotional responses are trigger reactions. If you receive news about the sudden death of a friend or relative, it is sane and sensitive to react with shock and grief. Your body experiences an automatic change in heart rate, breathing, pulse, brain synapses. This is not something to be avoided, nor is it healthy to try to control it.
A psychotherapist lists nine categories of triggers:
Certain triggers happened recently that tested me and thanks to Marco, a good therapist (Rella) and a close circle of good friends and family members, I recovered fairly easily. It wasn’t without a few days of feeling super down / lousy / angry / sad. But once I sat with my inner child and let her cry it out, I began to feel much better.
This is not to say that I didn’t feel the urge to react, but the difference is that I took a step back, asked myself difficult questions, and then decided what the best course of action was. I responded instead of reacted.
Why would triggers remind us of our trauma?
For the last 18 months, so many traumatic events happened and each time they hit me like a tsunami. Now that I’ve started learning how to re-parent my inner child through therapy, events hit me more like waves. They don’t topple me over, but break against me and fall gently away. After a process of acknowledgement and confiding in my circle of trust of course. Like my mum says, ” If your anchor is firmly placed, no matter how hard the storm is, your boat will survive it.”
Rella did a few exercises with me during our therapy session and asked me some questions to also help me recognize that my inner child was the one who needed to be soothed as well.
This inner child inside me went through certain traumatic events as a child too and never learnt how to deal with them.
To help me figure out what my inner child went through, she asked me a few questions and got me to jot them down.
What was going on around the 5 year old Jane?
Were you bullied as a child?
What happened? How did the bullying happen?
What did Jane do before the episode, during the episode and after the episode?
How did Jane feel?
Is there any emotion that seems to scream out to Jane now?
Who do you need understanding from?
What does being understood means to you?
As much as I love and thank my parents for an awesome life and childhood, I must admit that when I first read this, I wholeheartedly agreed that my parents only knew how to raise me from their own level of awareness at that time.
It’s the same with grown adults anyway – They only know how to treat you from their level of awareness. We don’t quarrel with 5-year-olds and blame them for throwing tantrums. They don’t know any better. They’re reacting to emotions they feel inside but can’t express properly. A parent’s job would then be to educate them and help them through with this process.
However, conscious parenting is not a luxury that many parents of the older generation could enjoy – including mine. But i have to say that I’m so proud that even in their 50s and 60s, my parents are constantly learning. They’re constantly listening to what my brother and I share with them, and they’re always learning to become better parents.
When as children, we go through trauma and are not taught how to deal with it, these traumatic events (whether big or small) will then leave untreated wounds on us, manifesting into insecurities, communication problems, identify confusion, feelings of low self-worth or even personality disorders (like narcissism).
Certain events that happen to us adults can make us feel the same as when we felt them as children. Our reactions to these said events are then based on how we used to feel as children. “They’re behaving like children” – is something we’ve all heard when we want to describe dealing with people sometimes. That’s because they ARE. But it’s not that they’re being childish or that they aren’t mature in other aspects, it’s mostly because their childhood trauma is still carried in them.
During our therapy session, Rella taught me some self-affirmations that helped me to redeem myself from the triggers. She also helped me to see why my bullies did what they did, and to figure out their intent. Once I realized that what they really wanted deep down was something I could never give to them, my anger faded and I began to calm down. The sweatiness in my palms went away, I immediately started feeling hungry and also sleepy (I hadn’t eaten or slept properly since the triggers).
What happened during therapy was that I sat with my 5 year old self and learned how to calm her down.
I identified the emotions that were triggered in me and I acknowledged them.
Rella taught me how to just sit with myself, find where my trauma is held in my body, and use a ‘tapping’ method as a form of release.
What I’ve also learnt the most from this incident, is to remember to see ourselves through our loved ones’ perspectives. If they truly love and care for us, they will tell you as it is and not hide the truth from us.
My support system immediately got into action and wanted to protect me from making mistakes I would regret. They helped me realize that I was reacting to a trigger, and not responding in a way I would later on be proud of.
Your tribe is a reflection of who you are. If you want to be better, keep better company around.
People who tell us what we want to hear and not what we should hear, are not thinking for us.
I’m thankful for all of you who constantly inspire me to be better. I don’t need to feel like the bigger person, but I can always strive to become a better person.
“Yes of course, if you spent the same amount of energy loving people who deserve you instead of people who don’t, man……life would be more beautiful that way”
To me, I also recognized that he was telling me “Hey, instead of getting upset by people in your past, why not try to be present with me?”
One time, we had a quarrel. And at the end of it, when we were making up, he told me “I just want you to know that you can trust me.”
I didn’t understand it then. But recently, certain wisdom has reached me so I can understand his words better.
He meant to tell me that with him, I never have to doubt I’m in a safe space. He meant to tell me that I can be completely myself with him.
For the longest time, whenever a trigger occurred, I would always crawl back into my shell like a hermit. There, I would stay until I’d feel better enough to enter society again. There, I’d rest my mind until I felt decent enough to respond to people with respect. When Marco and I first started dating, I couldn’t trust him. Not didn’t want to, but I physically couldn’t. I couldn’t and still don’t really trust myself.
What Marco wanted me to know was that he was now here in my life, fully committed to loving me.
After we talked about the some triggers, I spoke with my friend Rella who’s also a therapist. I told her “It’s happened again.”
She walked me through some questions to help me find answers within myself.
At the end of the session, she gave me a little tip “ Marco is someone you can feel safe with, so don’t run away from him”
Her wise words immediately shed so much light on what he’d been trying to tell me before.
We decided to go to the beach, to get some movement into the body and move through whatever triggers I was/am processing.
At the beach, the most spectacular sunset greeted us. The sea was calm, a couple of nudists were swimming, the water was nice and warm and beauty surrounded us in folds.
It was hard for me to feel sad or angry in that moment. Beauty and appreciation for life just overwhelmed me.
Marco and I stood hip to hip and it was just so nice being held and to be seen by him.
I thanked him for what he did earlier, and told him that I finally understood what he had told me once.
“I understand now what you mean when you asked me to trust you. You’re telling me that I don’t have to carry my load all alone anymore. That you’re now here to help take some of that load off me.”
“Yes, exactly. I’m here.” (And a bunch of other mushy stuff ending with a solid kiss 😉)
I could understand what people meant when they said “To love is to forgive”
At the end of the day, I know my truth now. I know who I am. And I know why I am the way I am. I see my flaws and my strengths clearly. And I need no one to approve or to tell me that I’m courageous. I know I am. I’m proud of myself for choosing to be brave instead of a coward.
I’m not at the stage yet where I fully trust and have real confidence in myself. But I am definitely starting to love myself properly. It helps to see myself from Marco’s perspective. It helps that someone else can see me and love me.
It also helps that he doesn’t defend me to anyone. He lets me do that for myself. He doesn’t need to speak up for me. He trusts me enough to know that I’m growing in my own journey. He doesn’t want to mark me as his territory and control all I say or do, he just wants to love me – all of me.
I should just let him. Its nice to finally be properly loved by someone.
My fist has been so tightly bound to hold on to whatever small amount of knowledge I thought was right. I’m gripping onto this “truth” so tightly, my thumb firmly clasping onto all 4 fingers, commanding them not to be at ease. I’m holding my fist so tightly that my nails have dug into my skin and it’s bleeding. But still, it seems so hard for me to unclench my first.
“LET GO” I’m screaming at myself. LET GO AND OPEN UP YOUR PALM, SO YOU CAN OPEN UP YOUR MIND.
If you’ve watched Harry Potter, and you remember the part where Harry started seeing things from Voldemort’s POV, then you’ll completely understand the reference I’m using here.
If you haven’t watched Harry Potter before, here’s a quick summary:
The “good guy” in this story is Harry and his friends, the “bad guy” is Voldemort. When Voldemort wanted to kill Harry (as a baby), his mother protected him and her love for Harry created such a strong defense that the killing curse Voldemort cast onto her rebounded and struck himself instead (sounds interesting enough to make you watch the movies now???? I hope so but sorry this is kind of a spoiler)
Unfortunately, Voldemort had pre-empted this happening before and had previously split his soul into several pieces. When the curse rebounded and hit him, it split his soul apart again, and part of it went into the closest living thing around – Harry.
The piece of soul existed in Harry ever since and branded his forehead with a lighting bolt scar.
At one point in his adolescence, Harry started hearing voices in his head and seeing things from Voldemort’s perspective. He could feel what Voldemort felt and started second-guessing himself. Was he bad? How does he know who he really is if he can’t control his thoughts and emotions?
Why am I talking about this?
When I started reading up about narcissism, I felt like Harry. But more importantly, I felt like we could all be Harry at some point.
Something happened to us (out of our control) and perhaps seeded in us the potential to be dark. The traumatic event or events that happened to us cast wounds onto us. Wounds that would teach us all of us have light and dark inside us. We don’t grow up to be good or bad people, but people who do good or bad things.
Other than actual disorders (not developed but existed from birth), all of us had to learn how to cope with recovering from trauma. Some of us live with more darkness and some of us live with more brightness, depending on whether we had people to teach us, love us and show us how to manage the two competing forces that both reside in us.
“how to scientifically prove someone is a narcissist????” – was the first thing I typed in the google search bar.
As I read on and on and on about narcissism, I realized that there wasn’t much use in trying to decide if I am a narcissist, he is a narcissist or they are narcissists.
The reason I latched onto the topic of narcissism was because I was trying to find answers I wanted to hear, not answers I already know but am finding it hard to accept.
Finding out about narcissism was like finding out a brain tumor. The brain tumor was easier to blame than accepting that the person you once loved and loved you so much is suddenly giving up on you. The brain tumor is easier to blame than accepting that things happened because you had a part to play in it too. The brain tumor is the scapegoat for things and even takes away blame from your perpetrator.
“Oh!! THAT’S WHY they did this, THAT’S WHY this happened.”
When certain things happen to us, they happened out of our control. Death of a family member, a partner deciding to leave a marriage, a truck driver running over a child, a company going bankrupt and the management deciding to fire you even though you’ve given the last 10 years of your life to it.
These things all happened OUT OF OUR CONTROL. And that’s when trauma happens. Trauma recovery is trying to find meaning to the things that happened to us. “But why me? Why my loved one? Why us?
The WHY haunts us for such a long time, until we’re able to unlearn many things that we built our lives upon and relearn many things that this lesson wanted to teach us.
People who don’t seem to struggle with the WHY as much are usually people who’ve already understood and accepted the wisdom behind things.
It’s cliché but I’ve really started to understand that all of what happened with my ex happened because I needed to learn certain hard lessons. I don’t believe that God or some higher being planned and executed a plan for me to go through hardship. But I do believe that I can choose to look at things in this perspective. Faith is not based on facts anyway; faith is built upon choice. We choose to believe things, and I choose to believe that life knew I was due for a reality check.
What have I learnt then? You may ask
I was reading an old email my ex sent, and he was sharing his thoughts with me regarding one of the fights we had. He wanted to explain a little more about why his actions were this way, and out of all the things he said, I realized that he DID indeed tell me his inner truth before. He did try to be vulnerable with me.
“ What I think the root cause is, deep down I’m afraid that I’m not the right one for u. I constantly am disappointing u in the little things and I really think I’m afraid that I disappoint (you further) “
As I read this, I felt so sorry. Sorry to him that I couldn’t understand him better. Sorry that I wasn’t yet mature enough to see past my own insecurities, see past my own issues and love him the way he needed to be loved.
In trying to find proof that he may be a narcissist and proof that I could have been one too, I realize what I was trying to do, was make up for the fact that I felt guilty for giving up on us.
At the end of the day, we both gave up.
A very wise follower said to me the other day “Be prepared for the triggers that will come from re-living and re-visiting all these past events. I hope soon, you will be ready to leave them in the past where they belong, start making new memories and enjoy your present”
She didn’t say “Time will heal.” Or “ You just have to move on”
She just wanted me to realize that every time I visit an old wound, I don’t just get angry at him, I get angry at myself too.
She hasn’t been the only wise person to share some lessons with me via social media. So many of you have been sending me little nuggets of wisdom – wisdom that I’m so grateful for. I read them over and over again sometimes, just to learn something new each other I interact with others.
What I’ve learnt from these last few weeks, is that we always have a choice to respond to things. We also have a choice to let go of things (once it becomes easier to).
I want to let go. And I’ve set my intention to genuinely do it.
To let go of my anger for myself. To let go of the perfectionistic standards I’ve set for myself. To let go of people’s perceptions of me.
To realize that working on myself and ensuring I become better as a person is the best way to honor life. To realize that light and dark both exist in me. But that it’s always up to me to choose.
I’ve been awake for 3 hours, doing ALOT of heavy research on narcissism – What it is, How to spot narcissists, How to deal with them and What we can do to avoid developing narcissism.
I’m in Trogir, a small town about 30 minutes away from Split, a big city in Croatia. It’s summer now, the weather is amazing, we are 10 steps away from the beach. I’m sitting near the jacuzzi that my friends and I have been enjoying for the last 2 nights and typing furiously away. I’ve lost count of the number of types I typed the word “narcissism”.
I’m almost done with my blog post, and something doesn’t feel right. No matter how accurate I try to make my writing (including many good references and making my NUS degree worthwhile), something in my gut doesn’t feel right.
I feel the need to call myself out. And instead of posting, I googled “Why not to call someone out”
Within the next 5 minutes, I find my answer to that feeling and I realize that my intention for writing that blogpost was laced with maliciousness. I didn’t just want to write an informative post about Narcissism, I wanted to call my ex out. I wanted the world to know the trauma I experienced through revealing nitty gritty details that I slipped in into that blogpost for “context”. The truth is, I wanted social justice. I wanted people to think badly of him – because of all my hurt and pain. The one thing I keep asking myself is, would I do this as my best self?
Going through trauma and trying to recover from it drops you in the deep end of the depression pool. It’s sometimes almost impossible to see things from another perspective when all you can feel, think, and remember are the things that were done to hurt you. And sometimes, that depression clouds your mind and renders you vulnerable and blocks your better judgment.
A friend of mine had my back the other day and gently asked me to consider not painting my ex in such a bad light. He highlighted that “the repeated references to your ex-husband (is) rather unnecessary…..your posts are shaping people’s impressions of him and that’s rather unfair and even vicious. ”
I started defending myself and saying that i didn’t wish to protect his reputation anymore. I started using my trauma as an excuse and painting myself as a “hero” that wanted to highlight narcissism so that people would understand more about it and realize where narcissistic tendencies are developed.
” I’ve been traumatized to the extent where I don’t care what people think of me. I just want to self express. And although some people might think I’m being vicious, he has every right to defend himself if he ever feels the need to. I would rather publicly call him out than allow him to continue sending me messages privately. ”
I started creating a logical train of thought so that I could get my friend on my side and empathize with me instead. ” Do you think it would help if I showed more context?”
My friend very kindly started empathizing with me and said “I do think as you write more, in time to come people will form a bigger and clearer picture. Perhaps I said what I said and feel what I feel because your story is “still developing”
There. I had gotten my vote of sympathy. I had gotten my friend’s ‘approval’ and I could now write my post without guilt.
But no. This guilt is the reason I am calling myself out. Then i wanted to find out more about WHY I always turn to social media to feel supported.
Yet the most potent critiques of call-out culture come from those who feel it is an excuse for crude vigilante justice – “zealotry … fueled by people working out their psychological wounds”, as the New York Times columnist David Brooks called it earlier this year. A “trial by fire” method of responding to any alleged violation of propriety, writes the Atlantic’s Conor Friedersdorf.
Very often, when bad things happen to us – we turn to sources of justice.
The very first system we turn to is the legal one. We sue a person, we report them to the police, we turn to a unified legal system to get legal justice.
But what happens what the harm caused to us is not regulated by the law? What happens what the damage done to us is psychological, emotional, mental but not physical? What can we do when there’s no way to bring someone to legal justice and the only way to feel validated is through getting social justice?
That’s why the internet provides such a good source of ‘getting revenge’. By calling someone out, we turn our supporters against them. By calling my ex out as a narcissist, what I was doing was use very reductionist methods to rationalize his mistakes and paint myself as a victim.
This hit home
When we rationalize our own mistakes, “we tend to give ourselves really high context”, she says. “We think, well I was going through something, and there were certain norms at the time, I was following everybody else,” but when someone offends us we’re less willing to see what contributed to their behavior, aside from inherent badness.
I’ve clarified before in my previous post, that I don’t think my ex is a bad person. In fact, I wanted to highlight narcissism as a developed personality disorder and explain why my ex became (an alleged) narcissist.
I wanted to use his case (and mine) to shed light on narcissism and our roles to play, either to avoid breeding narcissism in others or realize we can stop narcissistic tendencies from developing in us.
However, I also need to delve deeper into my OTHER intent. To stand up for myself and demand for social justice.
My ex has sent me multiple messages, emails and I have all the evidence I need to prove my allegations of him. In a response to my jabs at him on social media, he (and his mistress turned wife) have on multiple occasions threatened to sue me (on very baseless things). And I have to admit that a part of me did feel very justified for painting him in bad light.
The way my writing sent him into such a fight/flight mode is already evidence of him feeling a certain way.
A frequently cited problem with call-outs is that it’s all too easy to get carried away and overpunish people, turning alleged perpetrators of upsetting acts into victims themselves. “What can often start out as well-intentioned and necessary criticism far too quickly devolves into brutish displays of virtual tar-and-feathering,” writes the activist and writer Ruby Hamad.
I have to do better. I have to recognize when I’m being bullied and when I am slowly becoming the bully.
There are many reasons why he did what he did, and many reasons why I did what I did. By justifying both his and my mistakes, I am invading into his right to self-expression.
Just because I wanted to empathize and use rationalization to justify his behavior doesn’t mean it’s the best way to do things.
Perhaps a better way to deal with this is to realize the cause for his actions is NONE OF MY BUSINESS. I don’t need to justify my emotions based on WHY he became this way.
I don’t need to gather around a group of people and victimize myself so that I feel better.
Why? Because it wouldn’t. No amount of guilt-shaming him will help me in this long road of recovery. For all I know, he might be on path of recovery too, and what better way to show kindness than to leave him be, focus on my own problems and healing?
I conducted a poll once, just to see what people’s responses would be. “Should I indulge in the call-out culture and call out my ex?”
Many of us are emotionally driven into decisions and of course, the majority said “fuck him!!!” “Do whatever it takes to heal” “Since he didn’t care about you, why should you spare a thought for him?”
If I had any reason to call him out, it was only for self-serving reasons.
The fact remains that if I truly did care and love him once, and if I have the ability to CHOOSE my actions well (as opposed to making uncontrolled ones), I should call myself out now and realize that calling him out for anything isn’t going to help him.
By shoving him into a corner and leaving him nowhere to turn to, I’m doing the exact opposite of what I would want someone do with me.
If I were to put myself in his shoes, I would hope that someone can privately talk to me instead of calling me out in public, where the impression of me is then seared into everyone’s minds already.
I KNOW that I have every right to call him out on things. I could even argue that he doesn’t deserve my empathy. But the main reason I would issue an apology to him is because calling him out was never NECESSARY.
It served no purpose other than to victimize myself and put him in a bad light.
Having said this, I am publicly apologizing for my actions and vowing (to myself) to be better. To do better. To practice what I preach.
I want to show people that our actions have consequences, and that if we have it in us to rise higher, to transform and to become even more empathetic – we should.
I’m not apologizing because he deserves it. To clarify, I do not think he deserves any kindness or empathy from me. But I’m apologizing because I did myself wrong.
I’m betraying my own conscience and turning my back on what I truly think I should be doing.
At the end of the day, we all do “selfish” things to protect ourselves.
Sometimes the cliche phrases only make more sense when you’ve processed through all of your emotions and thoughts.
Do I feel that by calling my ex out, I can help him in any way? No.
Does calling him out make me feel better? No
So why continue then? Instead, I want to focus on my intention of helping others through figuring myself out.
Helping others has never been a very core goal in my life. My goal in life is to enjoy it. Life is precious and a gift and I want to enjoy every second of it. But i’ve also learnt that I really enjoy helping people see things from a different perspective. Not a better one – just a different one.
The interesting thing about acknowledging and learning new perspectives is that it helps lend insight into who you are more.
The reason we react positively or negatively towards something, the reason why we feel more guilt towards certain actions, the reason we have developed certain traits (whether good or bad) is all because of conditioning (big topic for next time)
The good thing about conditioning? You can re-condition and unlearn things you don’t like about yourself. You can self-regulate and vibrate to higher frequencies.
You can CHOOSE to grow.
Special shout out to the few of you who have been my sounding board the past few months. Some of you are close friends, some family and some strangers that I have never met, but have had very deep and personal conversations with me.
To this group of you, I thank you for your energy and your time. I thank you for seeing me and letting me see you. I thank you for the constant push for vulnerability and for giving me the courage to express in a safe space.
I read back on my entries a lot. And many times, I can’t help but think that the way I think of my ex is the exact way he thinks of me too.
When I wrote ‘hurt people hurt’, it was when i imagined him reacting to certain things I’ve done, causing him to unload his negative emotions on me.
The keyword is ‘imagine’ because now that I’ve learnt more about narcissism, I’m starting to believe that because of his personality disorder, he just simply does not have the same level of empathy as others. Either that, or he’s just so vicious that he doesn’t care how his actions have impacted others. I don’t quite believe he has a mean streak, he’s really a very nice person.
But narcissism – as I have been discovering while doing research – can exist in all of us. So what makes him a greater narcissist than I am? Or what puts him on a more extreme end of the spectrum? Why do I even consider myself to be on the spectrum? Am I one myself? Does recovering from narcissistic abuse make you develop narcissism within yourself too? Can you get rid of narcissistic traits and how?! These are thoughts that have recently plagued my mind.
The fact is, we both did regretful things to each other. I can’t speak for him, but I know exactly I’m regretful for, and for those actions I’ve apologized to him and made peace within myself for it. To clarify, what I’m recovering from in general, is his actions after our separation that really threw me off. I couldn’t understand why his actions never matched up to what he told me. I couldn’t understand why his behavior and attitude towards me flipped 180 degrees after a certain event happened. It wasn’t after the separation that his behavior changed, but after this said incident. I couldn’t understand how someone could be so mean to their ex wife. After all, he did once love me enough that we got married. The trauma is even more heavily weighed down by “but what did I do? why do I deserve such angry treatment from him?”
I made my peace with our separation after many conversations with him, and during that period of time, his behavior towards me was still very reasonable and very “him”. He was very kind to help me through certain questions I had, and he never once told me to back off and stop contacting him.
Yet after the incident, he flipped. 180 degrees. I never saw it coming. He became a completely different person – and his behavior and actions that followed triggered me into a downward spiral of depression, rage, anxiety and an overall feeling of “what the fuck is going on?!”
For 11 months after our separation, I never felt the need for therapy. I went for it just because my mother paid for my first round of therapy, but I always felt emotionally healthy and strong.
After this “flipping” incident however, my psyche changed. The darkness in me grew slowly at first, and then all at once I experienced depression and rage like never before. It was as if a dam had been destroyed, and all of the wound-up memories, emotions, thoughts just came rushing out. Except it doesn’t stop when you want it to, and it attacks whenever it wants, without any room for negotiation.
Since i’ve been doing some reading about how narcissistic tendencies are formed, I’ve decided to write about them so I can log my lessons down better.
Just reading and understanding more about narcissism has been SO SO helpful. Because it helps me realize that his anger is not about me. It was never personal. My trauma just made me feel like that because I already had insecurities that had long existed even before I met him.
A friend once said “Just get over yourself, not everything he said is because of you, he might be experiencing his own set of troubles and you’re just collateral damage.”
I need friends like that to wake me the fuck up sometimes.
Anyway, just wanted to log that this week was a really great week 🙂
Things i wanna be grateful for:
A great job, with good bosses who trust and give me freedom to build an awesome team
A family who’s supportive of my decisions to leave SG for a while and carve out my own life
My body that has endured so much stress and anxiety and still allows me to work/play hard
Friends from all over who are always checking in and giving emotional support
New friends from Croatia who have been so incredibly awesome and such great people to bond with
Living in croatia at the best time of the year – where summer season means beaches, bbq parties and lots of walks in the parks
Last but definitely not least – Marco. For being my light in this world. For seeing me, holding me and loving me the way I’ve always wanted to be loved.
I admit it. I’m struggling to forgive. I’m hanging on by a thread not to shout to the world and tell everyone what they did to me. I’m fighting daily battles. I want to forgive.
But what about the things they did? What about the things he said to me? And the lies?
What about the way they treated me?
On the surface, they pretend so much to be the good guys and they portray such a good side of themselves. But does anyone know what they did to me? Will anyone ever know why I feel this pain? Does anyone know about the betrayal? About the lies?
Stab after stab after stab. I just let it happen. I didn’t fight back. Punch after punch after punch after punch. Even after I was down, they kept on coming.
I know I want to forgive him. But what if I don’t want to? What if i just want social justice?
What if I’m tired of trying to be the good person?
What if I just want revenge? What if I refuse to help them maintain their reputation?
Why do I have to be the one who suffers in silence? Why do they get to send me messages privately that torture me till this day? While they move on with their lives and happily forget about the consequences to their actions.
Leaving all of the consequences for me to bear.
If you’re feeling this way today, Just know that i’m there with you. I’m the kind of idiot who would feel so much of everyone’s pain, that even after being bullied and pushed down so much, I would still only want happiness for my perpetrators.
If you’re struggling with your trauma recovery and you’re wondering why the hell you’re being so kind when it’s not appreciated……Today I hold you in my heart and today I keep you in my thoughts.
The recovery road is way harder than I thought it would be. The ascend was great but now the descend is a long and grueling battle that I fight alone. Alone but not lonely, alone so I don’t push my pain around onto my loved ones. Alone so I can keep the harshest of emotions to myself, and only spread higher frequencies to people around me.
Alone so i protect people, even those who don’t deserve it.
Let me just start by saying that there are true victims out there, who really do deserve to get justice legally, mentally, emotionally and everythingly. But this post is not about them. It’s just a way to look at things so we can stop trying to find comfort in getting justice.
So my divorce has been going rather smoothly so far, I would say. There have been a few hiccups but thankfully, not as much drama as I’ve seen in other people’s divorces.
We didn’t have kids, and we weren’t together for a long time, so the only thing we really had to split was the house.
Still, the divorce hasn’t been happening without its fair share of ‘blame and shame’.
In trying to deal with things as peacefully as I can, I’ve also been thinking about the many friends and readers I know, who are trying to deal with their own divorces.
I know that divorce is shit. Some more shitty than others. All kinds of divorces involve one thing for sure though – victimizing and dealing with trauma.
There are some people who have had very peaceful divorces, but most of us have not been as lucky.
In many scenarios, someone is usually the one “left behind”. One partner usually was the one who decided to walk out, while the other one is left to deal with the shock, pain, hurt and trauma that naturally comes with such actions. It can sometimes heavily trigger abandonment issues, or can lead to someone having abandonment issues later on.
I myself, wasn’t the one who walked out BUT. I have to admit that I definitely acknowledge giving up on the marriage prematurely. As I’d written about before, I was the one who told my partner we should experiment on dating other people, so that we could decide (for the second time) if we still wanted to stay married, or cut our losses short while we could.
Clearly, after that ‘experiment’, he decided that he had found someone better and far more suitable for him. They got engaged and are probably going to get married sooner or later. Did it sting? Hell yes. Am I sour about them getting married? C’mon…..let’s be serious. This is a guy I once loved so much I said yes to marrying him. OF COURSE I had a lot of sourness left in heart. It’s a lot to deal with – watching who you thought was the love of your life decide to leave the marriage and propose to someone else instead. I would be a robot not to feel anything, or it would have meant I didn’t really love him. Which I did.
Could it have been me instead of him? YES. 99% YES. If I had happened to meet someone I felt so instantly connected to, I don’t think I can guarantee not leaving the marriage as well.
The root problem of our marriage was that we weren’t compatible. We got married based on utterly false expectations of each other.
Do I blame him for leaving? I definitely did. But I’ve made my peace with it over the last 1.5 years. Do I give them my blessing? I don’t need to. We’re no longer in each others’ lives and I don’t need to do anything I don’t feel is necessary – including being hateful towards them.
All I wanted to do is to focus on my own pain and heal from that.
Now that the pain has dulled down, I can then move on to the reason we separated in the first place – which is because we weren’t suitable or compatible for each other in the first place. I can then now, start a new chapter in my life and enjoy the fresh new lease of happiness given to me.
Easier said than done? OOOOOOFFFF Don’t get me started. The number of times I had to stop myself from checking in on how my ex and his current gf are doing……………..is very high.
Recently, a friend of mine asked me. “How do you deal with the arguments that follow? How do you negotiate the divorce terms? How do you move on??”
My dear…………I can’t tell you I have answers to all of these questions. But I would say this. That hurt people hurt. Repeat that 10000 times.
People who are genuinely happy….…..do not treat other people with venom and anger. I myself, am very guilty of this. I have definitely lashed out on innocent victims when they just happened to be in the vicinity while I was raging on about my own matters. That’s why………I prioritize so much on mending myself. Because I don’t want to be part of an ugly cycle of anger and hurt.
I find it so so sad when people start behaving out of character because of their own hurt. They’re so overwhelmed with bitterness and unhappiness that it causes them to react in such ugly and hurtful ways. Either that, or it’s just because they’re too weak to be good, so they’d rather be bad. But NEVER, let them trick you into thinking their behavior is based on what you did. As long as you know your conscience is clear, know that they are actively choosing to be like this. You’re not responsible for “fixing” their pain. You’re not responsible for them hurting you.
I have done it before – but I don’t ever want to treat someone else with disrespect again. And that’s what i would tell people to remember too. When something happens, pause…………take a moment, and instead of reacting, respond. Respond like your best self would. This doesn’t mean you have to be kind and compassionate all the time. Just don’t respond with unnecessary anger because anger can cause you to do or say things you’ll eventually regret.
Know when you’ve been bullied, but at some point, stop victimizing yourself. Stop spending your energy on blaming them and asking for justice. That’s never going to happen. Instead, leave them be and focus on your own “karma”.
I don’t know if I really believe in Karma, because I don’t know enough of it. But I do believe in the cycle of energy giving and receiving.
When you treat people right, the right people will come into your lives, the wrong people will leave. When you treat people wrong, the wrong people will stay and the right people will leave. Who’s to say who is right or wrong for you? YOU. YOU get to decide who’s right or wrong for you. There is no universal benchmark to decide for everyone. Only you will know.
At the end of the day………………….we all just want to find peace within ourselves, to forgive. Forgive them, forgive ourselves and make more room for love to fill us instead.
I’ve definitely felt a change happening recently, where I feel more space being made in my heart. Enough that I can feel compassion and forgiveness again. This healing shit is such a marathon…………..but there have been sooooo many little lessons along the way, that I wouldn’t trade my sorrows for anything else.
Sometimes when I start reflecting on things, I start feeling incredibly shameful of my own actions towards people. Even though I’ve apologized to them before, it still feels shameful because our words and actions can never be taken back. And we can’t control whether or not it caused ‘permanent damage’ to other people. Words and actions HURT.
We’ve all been hurt before, in one way or another, so we KNOW this. Now that we’re aware……………can we try to hold ourselves back from unnecessarily adding onto someone else’s load? Can we find it within ourselves to realize that we can either choose to back off and get out of the battle, or we can choose to fight till death and deal with the consequences later.
Everything that has happened or will happen in future, is a lesson. And this is what I want most. To learn, to grow, to level up, to exceed, to be alive. The lessons don’t end, it’s us who choose to stop learning.