I resolved in 2014 not to write about heartbreak nor cancer and not to be late, a very bad habit but I just want to write one last time about lost love.
just like that
here one minute
gone the next
gossamer blowing in the wind
petals floating on the shimmering water
to the shores of the past and beyond
The tides come in and out
carrying debris from the ocean floor
the smoke of a summer barbecue
the blast of a motrobike shooting by
tulips windmills amsterdam
There was you and there was I
Then we became us
And the Little One
Three In One
I felt complete
The storm clouds descended
Thunder lightning stuck
Gale force winds
Love hate resentment entwined
The music stopped the flowers wilted
The Friendship Tree no longer bloomed
Signalled The End
I often wondered where that Love went
Did it evaporate or simply got lost before GPS
Is there Lost Property where one could claim it back
Provide evidence of Love once owned
Say the kid we created out of Joy and Intimacy
Is that proof enough
Or a consulting room where broken hearts could be mended
Like a garage for broken down cars
I’m over you
The collateral damage no longer haunts
I have survived the friendly fire
Withstood the chill of indifference
Being eliminated excommunicated eradicated
Yet here I stand TALL
it no longer matters
that I don’t exist in your eyes mind nor heart
I exist I know I laugh I cry I love I care I dare
It is enough for me and me alone
Here lies Mama G who was not normal. That would be an apt and complimentary epitaph. I’ve been accused of being ‘abnormal’ more times than I care to remember and not by just one person. My ultra tradition Chinese family has always regarded me as the black sheep, the rebel, the one ‘tainted’ by the western culture and values. They used to joke that I was found under a tree which explains why I don’t fit in.
My ex often claimed I was mad, paranoid and over-emotional. When his parents and I didn’t get on, I was the problem and so it would be better if I didn’t come. He used to say I was not normal because I was way too kind to strangers. Well, I thought, if being kind is abnormal then I’ll leave you to be normal.
The other day I brought my trolley along for lunch with a friend as I wanted to buy 10kg of dog food afterwards in Tai Po Market. He told me there was something seriously wrong with me, as I could hardly feed myself and put a roof over my head. I replied that I liked being mad, what are you going to do about it and if I was insane why are you having lunch with me? An old lady passing by laughed because it is my perogative to be ‘mad’ and of course that like ‘truth’ is also open to interpretation. Like the saying goes, ‘one man’s poison is another’s pleasure.’ The cleverest most creative people all tend to be a tad eccentric or hyper; Stephen Fry is a classic example as were many of the comics who tended to be depressives such as Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers.
Why are people so quick to label, judge and attempt to define us, try us what we are and what we should and shouldn’t do, say or be. Kids who are exuberant are too quickly pigeon holed as hyperactive and medicated with Ritalin. Why can’t we just be us and it’s ok. Why are we always measured, assessed, tested, examined from a very early age and unless you are a genius you will always be found wanting, because there will always be someone else better, faster, smarter, more beautiful, fitter and so go.
Recently I don’t know if it is a blessing or a curse but family and friends seem to have come out of the woodworks to advise me on how to live my life, how to improve myself by pointing out what my faults are. Though well meaning I am not sure I welcome this unsolicited advice. Some of what they pointed out were brutal and I am not sure if that was necessary. For example one old friend I hadn’t seen for almost 20 years told me in no uncertain terms that cancer recurrence, divorce, the death of an aged parent were things that happened all the time and the implication was I shouldn’t make such a big deal out of it. These events are all ‘normal’ and maybe it is because I’m not that I can’t accept them and feel sorry for myself. That in fact I was wallowing and that it wasn’t fair on my daughter, as she is looking to me to set a good example on how to overcome adversity.
I’ll give hm the benefit of the doubt and put it down to him doling out tough love to force me to move on. But he definitely is not cut out for the diplomatic service or public relations.
Just because to suffer is fundamental to the human condition doesn’t negate the pain I experienced. Neither does the fact that many others are in the same boat. In the same way that telling me there are others worse off than me when I was undergoing chemo on my own feeling like death warmed up and bald offered no comfort except a feeling of irritation and rage. ‘Think of the starving children of Africa!’ Ok and how does that help their plight or mine? Their suffering doesn’t take away mine and vice versa; the two has nothing to do with each other.
Yes everybody’s mum and dad will get old and eventually die. This is indisputable but it doesn’t mean we are not terribly sad at the loss. Is it actually abnormal to have emotions, to feel? Is it an illness, a disease that needs curing?
I’d rather be not normal, imperfect, surrounded by all my flaws, faults, eccentricities and issues but still be me. It has taken me over half a century to be finally comfortable in my own skin and nothing and no one is going to change that.
Anyone who knows Mama G. knows she loves to talk, she loves to reach out, communicate … In fact you can’t shut her up and she has this annoying habit of butting in mid-sentence.
So when Mama G is silent, lost her voice, this is not a good sign. It is bad, very bad. Either she is clinically depressed and has withdrawn into her own safe shell behind the invisible barricades in her head or worse still she has been silenced. Sounds rather alarming and dramatic as if my tongue had been cut off or a gun is put against my head or my family threatened if I dared breathe a word.
Silence like a thief in the night crept upon me unawares; being ignored, my opinions, feelings dismissed, unacknowledged, worse still ridiculed and so the brainwashing began, the drip drip daily effect convincing me I was not worth being heard. Later it became that I was paranoid, over-anxious and quite possibly insane. How I felt and thought were not based on reality, truth. I suffered from depression, a mental illness, so could my emotions, opinions and concerns be rational and valid.
The man I was married to and loved, the father of my child kept pointing out my faults, imperfections in an attempt to create a better me. He was doing it for my own good. If he didn’t care why would he bother? After all he wasn’t doing it to his friends or family. He must love me so much and what he said must be true otherwise why would someone I trust with my life and for whom I would take a bullet for without hesitation do that?
So I shut up. I swallowed my true feelings, what I wanted, what I needed and never opened my mouth to express them because I was thinking and feeling wrong. In fact I was wrong; there was something very wrong with me and it was his job to save me, to show me the error of my ways.
It was also too much of an effort, exhausting to have to fight your corner every single time over the most trivial of things and of course there was also the harmony of the family, keeping the peace to consider. I was always the one to say sorry first whether I believed I was right or wrong. The family was my world, was what gave meaning to my life and what made me; wife and mother above all else. It could not be broken at any cost, even if it meant losing my identity in the process, although it was never such a conscious decision or thought.
The need to fill the bottomless void of a sense of belonging, of loving and being loved, being accepted, being validated and having a specific role in life that gave meaningful to my existence superseded everything. Yes in the end without realising I lost my entire self not only my voice.
In spite of my superhuman efforts the family was demolished and matters were taken out of my hands. Loss registering on the Richter scale.
But everything has a flip side, everything, no matter how dire. The opposite of loss is gain. Stripped of everything and I mean everything there was nobody but me. I found me again because there was nothing else. I rediscovered the use of my voice because now there was no one to tell me to shut up or mock what I had to say. Nobody to make me feel stupid for feeling the way I did or that my emotions were somehow wrong, irrational, invalid. That I was being paranoid, crazy, difficult, sick.
I gained freedom. I could sing at home, out of tune, it didn’t matter, it made me happy. I gained happiness, freedom, a rare feeling of being comfortable in my own skin, of not feeling on edge, on permanent defensive mode, ready to do battle against verbal attack and put downs.
Finally I could give it a name: emotional abuse, a form of domestic violence. I never in a million years thought I was a sufferer. I was never punched, kicked, slapped, had my hair pulled or knocked to the ground. Nevertheless abuse it definitely was just not physical but it poisoned my mental and emotional well-being and affected my health. Frustration and anger turned within became clinical depression. We all know mind-body spirit are interconnected. Maybe it weakened my immune system too and allowed the cancer cells to run riot not once but twice, who knows.
With huge loss comes tremendous gain and a tough old bird is born, broken wings healed ready to soar the heights beyond the clouds into yonder blue.