I saw someone’s post about how they just want to move to another country and start over where no one knows them and it inspired this post – which I had written initially as a reply to her post.
You see, I pretty much ran away. I moved to the United States in December of 2011. Sure, I had a valid reason – my husband is here. But at the same time, I also left quite abruptly. I gave my job a month’s notice – which was a no-no for that job since I was a teacher and I can only leave at the end of the semester per the contract I signed, not in the midst of it. I was supposed to pay the company (the institution I worked for) for breaking the contract but thankfully, my Principal, who had a soft spot for me, was able to negotiate a release from the contract with no penalty.
In a month, I packed up my stuff and left Malaysia for good. I left “friends” (well a few true friends, the rest all circumstantial friends mostly) and family behind. I left the people who have caused me so much pain and suffering (most of them did, not all. I’m just generalizing for the purpose of this post). I left the people who gossiped about me, the people who acted like I was their friend but then later turned on me, people who couldn’t bother to keep in contact, people who have caused me trauma in the past and the people who took me in and later rejected me because of a difference in opinions.
I thought I would be happy. For the first few months, I was. I felt free and I felt like I could anything and be anyone. I didn’t know then that I’ve been suffering from depression for years and that my depression was far from over.
Then things started to weigh me down. I started to miss people, food and places back in Malaysia. I started getting angry and bitter because I felt like I always had to make an effort to contact people -” Why can’t people contact me??” was a common gripe I had. I slipped into another depressive episode. The job I got here as a server was dull and unchallenging compared to my job as a teacher back in Malaysia. Suddenly, nothing was good enough when months before I was exceptionally happy to leave. I think this was when I started projecting blame on my husband because I felt like if it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be in this place. I didn’t know it then but I had unconsciously harbored this irrational and unfounded anger towards him.
It wasn’t until this year when I started therapy that my psychologist brought up the issue of my move. I laughed at him then because I didn’t see the correlation (just like how I didn’t see why he wanted to bring my parents up so often in our sessions). I would just briefly talk about my move and leave it at that. I didn’t see the benefit of wasting previous therapy time for a decision I had made to leave.
It wasn’t until S left for his vacation in August that I started to entertain the idea that perhaps I am suffering because of my abrupt departure. In the first week of S’ absence, I started to realize that I have been unjustly accusing my husband for my loss of friends and family (though I didn’t verbally blame my husband, I was internally doing it with the way I treated him). It was an epiphany of almost epic proportions. I was distressed because I felt like this was the worst time to have an epiphany like this. I wanted to go in to speak to an on-call clinician but I felt like doing so would make my revelation to S when he returned from vacation to be less effective, less special even. So I waited. In anguish, I might add, because I didn’t know how to deal with this new information.
When S returned, I wasted no time in telling him what I’ve discovered. I told him that in the beginning, I doubted him but now I realize he had been on to something after all. S told me that I did not allow myself to “mourn” my “loss”. I did not allow myself to grieve the loss of friends and family even if I was the one who made the decision to leave. I had run away but I realize, it’s still not good enough. He told me that I needed to feel those feelings – to allow myself to feel sad and not deny it any longer.
I realize that there is no running away. Especially not when the very thing that I was running away from wasn’t the people who had grieved me but rather my own mind who projects fear and insecurities towards others. There is nowhere I can go to escape my pain. In my perceived escape, all I’ve done to myself is back myself further into the corner because the trauma, memories, pain, and depression is closing in on me. There’s nowhere left to run.
So now, I know that the only thing I have left to do is stand and face my demons. I’ve allowed all these things to back me into a corner long enough and it has led to me picking up knives and cutting myself. It has led me to think of nothing but death and dying daily.
Relocating my physical body and removing myself from the negative influences was easy. Running away from the realities of the negativity back in Malaysia was easy. Yes, it has helped some not having to see or interact with these people any longer. But now, all I’m left with is myself.
Relocating my mind and removing myself from my own insecurities and self doubt isn’t going to be as easy. I still haven’t really grieved my loss – other things have come up that are far more painful and powerful for me to deal with in recent days – but I know that I will have to do so. I know that I have to acknowledge the pain of separation and rejection and admit that running away had not solved anything.
It’s not easy. But, I’m beginning to believe that I can do it.