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Shiny new life on track phew

The shiny new life I had hoped to return to is not terminal anymore; there is hope and treatment options, phew!  New shiny Samsung mobile is working perfectly and after much fumbling the techno-challenged me has worked out how to answer, text and even use What’s App and check Gmail.  That’s all I need.  After the dog saga, at last the fridge has been taken away for repairs; I suspect I will soon get the call to say no can do and fruitflies and larvae infestation is not covered by the warrenty.  But the best thing is I am rid of it, because getting goods to and from this obscure hamlet with the curse of the thousand concrete steps is the major problem.  No wonder fly tipping is rift.  Thank goodness the temperatures have dropped significantly and a mini-carton of milk satisfies my tea addiction and the posh supermarket next door means I can buy daily.  I tend to choose food that can keep and don’t need refridgerating.  I’ve managed so far, it takes some thought as any new lifestyle would and I need to go on a diet anyway and this way I am always eating fresh produce.  So goes my positive train of thought.

Best of all I’ve started tutoring which I love; the interaction with the kids on an individual personal level and doing what I’m good at.  Of course it is fantastic to be earning again, albeit small sums but every drop eventually turns into an ocean.  I’ve started putting the big notes away for the rent and just using the smaller $10, 20 and 50 notes for daily living.  I’m saving on transport cost by walking and getting fit at the same time.

I have a lot of spare time during the day as my services are not required till the kids come home from school or the weekend.  I may do some volunteering at a home near Sheung Shui with kids with physical disabilities.  Then there is also a part time cashier job at the posh supermarket next door but it only pays the minimum wage, which in HK is a measly $30 per hour, the equivalent of £2.50.  By contrast tutoring the rich kids I earn at least seven times that.  But then it is regular more secured work and instead of facing the four walls with time to kill, I could be interacting with customers and colleagues and learning more about the local culture.  I guess I have nothing to lose.  I could be fussy about the hours I do, say like two five hour shifts from morning to 2pm so I leave free slots for potential pupils.  If they are desperate they might take me on and the supervisor did say I had an advantage because I speak English.  A good command of English can really open doors here and if you can speak fluent Mandarin then the sky is your limit.

Less shiny is the pettiness and ignorance from the dog owner who has taken revenge on my calling for police assistance by chucking the feeding and water bowl down the hill.  I am crossed as I paid good money for them.  I had used thin plastic ones but they bit through them.  But I take a deep breath and tell myself to rise above it all.  Maintain the moral high ground is my mantra.  What I don’t get is you use them as guard dogs but you don’t feed them properly and a neighbour forks out instead, surely you’d be jumping for joy rather than sabotaging.  When I first spotted the bowls down below my initial response was oh sod it.  But then I thought why should she make me stop feeding them if I want to.  I refuse to let them go hungry; it is cruel.  I also thought I am really on a tight budget, counting every cent, wouldn’t it be more sensible to save on the dog food?  The pragmatic me says yes but the compassionate me says an emphatic no.  How would you like it if you were constantly hungry?  Luckily I’ve never experienced that and I hope I never will but I can imagine.  Life is life and it is only us foolish homo sapiens who’ve crowned ourselves king of the animal kingdom. 

So the shiny new life is getting shinier by the minute …  Watch this space.  Mama G over and out.

Voice

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.

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