Friday, December 27, 2013

Enjoying the equanimity post-Christmas

Merry Christmas everyone! I hope everyone gets to spend the holidays with family and loved ones. Santa granted my wish and I got to spend a traditional Swedish Christmas with my significant other and his relatives. I was so happy to be surrounded by dogs. My poor s.o. who's totally not a dog person had to endure an entire evening struggling to shove away a massive dog trying multiple times to French kiss him on the mouth, lol. He might have skipped the family dinner altogether (due to the dogs) if it weren't for me. I feel very loved :D

I gave my s.o. the space he needed the past couple of days and thoroughly enjoyed spending 2 days on my own doing nothing (well, a little bit of shopping :D). I slept for long hours each day. It's kind of scary how much rest I need. I don't know how other people do it working 100hrs/week and raising 3 children or something ridiculous like that. If I had a job like that I'd be a terrible employee, and if I were a mom of three I would have a nervous breakdown every other month I think.

I think part of the reason is that my family is so obsessive about child-rearing as well as pet-rearing. My s.o.'s relatives do spoil their dogs (eg. they get walked 3-4 times every day), but they don't obsess about them. Same with kids. When dogs and kids are around, they take care of them, but the focus is still on the adults. This way, kids are relatively calm. Dogs snuggle againsts guests and we the guests have the option to push them away or let them kiss us (I give them my chin and they happily lick on that :D). In a few days when I go home, I know I will be going to gatherings where the adults attention will obsessively focus on the baby in the family, and the young children ages 7-35 will be regarded as invisible (children have ears only and no mouths/voices). Conversations will be interrupted by requests for pictures with and of the baby. I know that my cousin will avoid eye contacts with me and keep her eyes on her phone or on her dog most of the time. The human interaction/connection process is badly broken back at home. But maybe, just maybe I'll be able to survive going in equipped with this knowledge. Previously I didn't understand and was sad people paid so little attention to me. Now I know, and will try my best to do the least harm to them. I can't perform exactly as they want me to perform (my mother always wants me to play a role and talk from a script that she never sent me but expects me to know anyways, just because I'm Chinese or something like that). I'm really bad at not being offensive, but I will try harder this time.

I will enjoy that last couple of days of peace and equanimity I have here in Sweden. Hope I get some time to myself when I return home to Asia. Hope dad and everyone else are healthy and happy, and can give me some space.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Feeling grateful

Compare to last year around December time, right now I feel so much more settled and at peace. I am grateful for the quietness around the house (roommate has gone home for Christmas holidays).  I feel very blessed with so much abundance. I got a slight raise at work. Two projects I started a year ago are both at a final stage where I feel like I'm in control and satisfactory about the progress (a very rare occurrence for me).  This winter season has been quite warm compared to last winter, so I don't feel like I'm freezing in my bones, which makes me happy. For the first time in my life, I have a companion who seems to enjoy my company. The past year I went through a long phase where I would start panicking whenever I couldn't see him for more than a week. I imagined he must have gotten tired of hanging out with me and was planning to gradually decrease the frequency that we saw each other. Luckily it was just an overreaction on my end. I am super grateful to have a person who appreciates me, keeps me company, and cares about me enough to put up with my long-winded rants at this point in my life.

It's taken me my whole life to get to this stage. Who knows how long this security and stableness will last, but right at this moment, I'm really happy where I am (physically and mentally).

I hope I can maintain this mental strength and be more assertive when I go home in 1 week. It will be difficult but I have to be more assertive in declining offers I do not want and insist that I be in control of my own vacation. Anyways, I look forward to really enjoying this coming week where I get to relax, do what I want, try out lots of online yoga, cook, bake, and hang out with my bestie companion :) Maybe brave the Boxing Day shopping as well.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Looking back at the past year

As I look back at my blog posts this past year, I have been struggling a lot mentally, despite my best efforts to grow out of my negativity. For me, the toughest part doing this whole personal growth thing, was that I kept reaching home to friends and family for empathy and support, only to be given   implications to "grow up" and "be more independent" and to take responsibilities for myself.

And with this "tough love", I have indeed grown much stronger emotionally. I have realized this is what made me move to Europe in the first place -- the fact I have very weak emotional and social support back home. It is a huge personal failure on my part. I have false assumed that once a good friend, always a good friend; that family should automatically be supportive and care about my well-being. I guess I was never a very good friend for my peers. With family, I guess all my uncles/aunts and cousins have enough family problems of their own that I end up as the least dysfunctional family member whining the loudest. I've been pretty retarded not realizing how much effort my cousins have put in to erect a false image that they are leading normal, happy lives. I seek them out for help, naïvely assuming that the image (stable careers, responsible husbands, happy kids, vibrant social life) is not in congruence with their inner psyche. Everyone else is desperately trying to suppress their emotional baggage, burying them as deeply as possible, while I on the other hand, have been aggressively digging through all my emotional crap, showing everyone and asking them to identify the contents for me. This hit a lot of nerves and that's why I've received a lot of cold, unsympathetic responses.

I'm not trying to say I am better than my extended family. I'm saying I just now figured out that I have been asking the wrong people for help... I'm asking people who have more garbage than me to help take up some of my junk. Of course they would refuse.. I would refuse too if my plates are totally full. This whole time I had thought that it was all about me... that they dislike me because I'm bratty, spoiled, immature, not lovable, etc.

I am lucky that my chosen field of study allows me to move to another continent at my will. Just like I did in India, while immersed in a totally foreign culture, I get to examine which of my values were culturally ingrained, do not serve me and can be let go, as opposed to values that are universal to human kind (or simply unique to this particular culture I'm immersed in) and should be treasured. I get to interact with people with other types of problem upbringings and see how they manage to partly function professionally. This sounds kind of horrible, but it's reality that most people in the world carry trauma. Some are more damaged than others. Some are less good at hiding their trouble than others. As much as I like to complain about my roommate and some of my co-workers, I see they are still able to master some aspects of their work lives, solving problems I'm not so good at solving, dealing with issues that I try to avoid/suppress myself, presenting themselves confidently in certain situations that require it.

All in all, 2013 was psychologically a very challenging year for me, but a lot of growth and maturity happened. I learned that I shouldn't depend on my family any more. It's good in that I will take more mental responsibility for myself from now on. The sad part is that this could only happen when I put up more physical and mental distance between myself and my family. The hard truth is that my extended family have never in their lives felt close to me. I'm the one who had been clinging on to them the whole time, the way my mother had been clinging onto me emotionally the past several years. It's a good thing I'm sorting out all my mental garbage just in time for a new year to come. 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Need to be stronger mentally

Came home to a stuffed bag of recyclables, empty pizza boxes, a fridge full of expired food items (and no, I do not live with a guy). I never imagined I would be sharing an apartment with a messy roommate in my 30s. My bf does not like to make plans more than two weeks ahead; my roommate serves as prime example of how not to live life (working weekends on her own initiative while complaining about how much she hates her job/life -- once you have completed your higher education you should have the option to choose a job you like, or at least try out several jobs and pick the one that bothers you the least).

They say you should surround yourself with role models and people who are better than you, and that is precisely what I have done for years. My social circle consisted mainly of people who have better personalities, are better cooks, more disciplined, more self-confident, more good-natured, more athletic, more inspiring, more caring, more compassionate, more organized, more charming, more patient, more intelligent, but at the same time are tolerant of having me as their friend. My nature is not competitive; I just want to spent my entire life bettering myself and learning from those around me.

Because these people are better than me in so many ways, it's easy for me to get along with them, whereas my friends need some patience, compassion and consideration to hang out with me. The past year I have been under in a very different type of challenging situation. My social circle consists of people who are much more negative, more prejudiced, less considerate and compassionate than what I'm used to. It's been extremely difficult for me to stay positive and content under this situation. I guess what I dislike most in other people are often a reflection of what I dislike about myself, so I am shown in a magnifying glass how unlikable my own negativity, inconsideration, subjectiveness, and messiness can be to my friends and family back home. It's a useful lesson but so tough on my psyche. Oh well, what doesn't kill me makes me stronger I guess.

In a way I've been leaning on my friends back home a bit too much. It's time to learn to stand up on my own, hold my own stance, and try not to be influenced by the negativities around me. I'm not strong in this area but it's time for me to work on my weak mental aspects. It's the only thing I can do considering the alternative (finding another place to stay and finding a more outgoing, organized, domestic bf who is just as considerate and intelligent as the current one) are no easy tasks.

Also, I should work on expanding my social circles. I really could use more friends and a more compassionate support network.