I had a fever last night. I collasped on my father's big and warm and empty king-sized bed and fell asleep. My mother came in, touched my forehead, frowned and told me, "Aiyoh got fever. Who ask you whole day go out with your friends when you jolly well know that your sick. Go to your room and make sure you sleep. I want to watch soccer and it will be very noisy here." In other words, she meant, "I don't want to disturb you. I'm worried for you and I think you should have a good rest." This is one of the uniquely Singaporean ways of being loved by your family- with broken English and implicit meanings. I heard the names of countries like Thailand and Singapore being yelled out, along with a chain of silent prayers for specific scores to actualize, and slammed the door like some spoilt brat. Sometimes it becomes hard to remember that you are loved.
I read the article, Girls make pact to slash themselves (click to read), in The Straits Times on Sunday and I must say, my first thought was, "So stupid and impressionable." It reminded me of my classmates in secondary school who used to cut their wrists. We called them the 'Pai Kia's or 'bad kids' (sounds so stupid) in Hokkien, and when they got into one of their melodramatic and wildly theatrical moods of throwing tables and chairs or fighting with each other or bursting into crying spells or slashing themselves openly in front of the whole entire class, we would just watch them with expressionless eyes, as if they were terribly boring entertainment for the been-there-done-that audiences that we were. After the show was over, we would roll our eyeballs and say, "Siao arh" or "crazy" or "so attention-seeking" or "chey is that it?" or "must be got nothing better to do".
Its funny because now that I look back, I think all they wanted was a bit of love. I think we actually knew that, but we were so annoyed and irritated with them that we refused to give them exactly what they wanted. Each and every single one of them dropped out of school or transferred to another school within 2 years. It wasn't a big deal to anybody because we were all kids from Normal Acad, and kids from Normal Acad were supposed to be like that. So we unwittingly encouraged the self-fulfilling prophecy of being failures in life and tried to stay alive and tried to survive somehow or another.
I was a very proud and silly kid in secondary school. I was uptight and quiet and I felt that I was smarter than everybody else and had gone through more than anybody had ever gone through. Like those pai kias, I slashed myself too, from time to time, but I was proud that I was different from them- my little shows were private and for my eyes only. I kept my pain to myself. I kept everything to myself. And I thought that I was a very big and brave grown-up to do that. Usually after my parents had sparred with each other for a whole night, displaying their prowess in animalistic Kung Fu, as well as their impressive and impeccable use of the language of Vulgarity, I would go to school in the morning, without sleep of course, highly energized by their excellent performances. During the first few hours of the morning in school, I would find myself strangely loud, talkative, lively and playful. "No one knows what the hell I just went through," I would think, and then I would smile and laugh over the tiniest things because everything just seemed so damn funny somehow. Nearing the afternoon however, the energy would vanish without warning and I would find myself sinking into this deep, deep depression. I had to get out. I just knew I had to. Before exploding.
In between lessons I would go to the toilet, enter one of the cubicles, close the door, lean against the wall, and make slits in parts of my body where I knew nobody could or would see. Sometimes I talked to myself while I was doing it, "You're crazy you know. You're going crazy. Oh but I am crazy." Sometimes I asked myself questions, "Why do I feel like this? Why are you doing this to yourself? But why can't I do this to myself? What's wrong with doing it if I know my limits, how deep I should go and when I should stop?" The worse part of it all was consciously struggling and having to deal with the two voices in my head, as if I was some twisted cartoon character with an angel and a devil on either side of my shoulders. One would say, "You're stupid. You're selfish. You're worthless. You're useless. Just do it. (Whhaat even Nike is in on this!)" And the other would say, "Stop it. Don't be stupid." But I guess they both agreed that I was stupid. Haha. Sometimes I would forget the time and unintentionally skip lessons. There was once I even fell asleep and the toilet cleaner had to bang on the door and ask if I fainted inside or something. I lied to her that I had a stomach ache.
It is hard to explain the reason for self-inflicted injuries. There is a sense of self-contempt, a sense of dirtiness in you, a sense of something so very very horrible and painful in you, that cannot be named because there are no words for it, and even if there are words for it, they are not strong enough to nail it down exactly. Because words escape you, and because you are unable to cry, it seems as though the only way for you to release these emotions properly, is to bleed; is to hurt yourself physically so that you can say, "So this is why I am feeling the way I am feeling. This is the reason for it." And then everything makes so much more sense. You can deal much more easily with a wound that you can see. You clean it up and you put a plaster over it. Then you tell yourself that it will heal, and it does heal. And then you hope that that is the last of it. But it never really goes away because you have been in self-denial and self-pity. So you keep doing it, over and over, and over again, while thinking, "I just might really die this time. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad. Maybe I wouldn't mind dying."
Actually I never really stopped this addiction until I came to NY and mysteriously developed a quiet little reputation for helping people. This might sound like something to boast about but it really isn't (and I am definitely not trying to be modest). I was frequently teased for giving "free counselling sessions" to my "patients". But I took it more as a kind of honour, that my friends, and not my "patients", were willing to trust and confide in me. Because that's what friends are for (yes yes very cheesy I know). And that's all there ever was to it. Because ultimately, we just need someone who is willing to listen to us, or at least, to pretend to. They don't have to say anything at all. They just have to be there for a little while, and maybe lend a shoulder, or a warm embrace. And I couldn't possibly tell them, "I am having problems too." I was forced to put myself aside and talk to them. So I talked to them, and I talked to them some more, and I tried to help them in any way that I could. The deeper they led me into their lives, the more I realized how stupid (see how I keep using this word) I had been. I doubt they knew that when I helped them, I was helping myself as well, and that when they said I understood them so well, it was because I was going through what they were going through.
I think it is very easy for those on the outside, looking in, to be judgmental and critical. It is in fact incredibly effortless for them to know what is right and what is wrong. But when it really happens to you, everything turns into a murky and dangerous grey. You know you need help, but you don't know who to turn to, and you don't know who you can trust when you can't even trust yourself anymore. You are paranoid and lost and you become a danger to your own self. You are your greatest enemy.
I admit that there have been occasions where I was tempted to cut myself again. There was once my father found me staring intently at the scissors I was holding in my hand. I was in the toilet at home and I forgot to lock the door. I wasn't going to do anything really. I was just staring at it and not doing anything else, so he thought that I was just being weird (the way I always am). I couldn't possibly tell him that I was somehow, fascinated, and even sensually attracted, to the sharpness of those silver blades and the crisp metallic sounds that it could make and the kinds of shapes that it could make on the flesh on a human being. Mostly I keep my nails very short because I have a tendency of digging them into my flesh when I am unable to control my emotions. Sometimes my entire wrist becomes swollen with lines, as if I had been clawed by a beast, and I go to sleep with a heart full of guilt and the next day, it is magically gone but the guilt remains.
It is important to realize that self-pity can make and break anybody. It is easy to blame the world, to blame everybody, to blame myself, for what I am feeling and what I am going through. It is easy to give in to pain, to sorrow, to feelings of hatred and self-hatred. But then I ask myself, "What is the use of this? What is the use of blaming anybody?" And then I remember that there is no use. Self-pity is disgusting and is a complete waste of time. It doesn't change anything. It will never change anything. People move on, and life goes on, with or without you. It is up to you, to realize and acknowledge that you are responsible for your own life and your own happiness and that you can and you have to do something about it. People may try to help you and guide you, but you have the final say and you make the ultimate decision. You alone must find the strength to lift yourself up.
I try to find a reason to live, and hold on to it. Religion helps a lot but I will not insist that everyone must subscribe to what I believe in or burn in hell.
I try to bear in mind that there are people who suffer even more than me, and that I should count my blessings. I try to believe that everything is a blessing in disguise.
I am aware that I am who I am today, because of my past, which is a double-edged sword that I can either choose to use well or allow myself to bleed even more than before.
There are things that I can control and there are things that are beyond my control. I will control what I can control and do what I can do.
I try to be content but not overly complacent or greedy.
I try to surround myself with a tight group of people who love me and who act as a kind of support system when I come crashing down. I try to protect myself by being quick (perhaps even ruthless) in ending any negative and unhealthy relationship.
I try to love myself more because I know exactly what I want and no one might do a better job than me. Hehehh. I try to love myself so that I can love those around me better.
I try to understand myself because I am my greatest enemy. Know thyself to know thy enemy.
I try to accept who I am. I might have a great deal of flaws but I have strengths and talents as well.
I am crazy. I am weird. I am impulsive. I am temperamental. I am random. I am idealistic. I am a perfectionist. I think too much. Hell, I write too much. I am crappy. I am full of shit. I am still trying to figure myself out and it might take forever.
But I am who I am.
And I will not apologize for who I am.