Crawling Out of The Rut

It’s been quite a while since I’d written and I do apologize but life has been a roller coaster lately.

Since I started crawling out of my post-divorce rut, I had taken a misstep and had fallen back into another rut – the school/academic rut. As I am slowly recovering from the post-divorce rut, I realize how badly I’ve been doing in school lately.

I’m doing 3 classes officially with the fourth class being a supplemental 1-credit hour class and despite only doing 12 credit hours, I’m floundering really badly. I am failing Discrete Computational Structure (which is essentially just Discrete Math) and can’t keep up with the class. I am not doing well in Calculus despite this being the second time I’m taking the same class (the number of homework and tests/quizzes for this class is truly relentless!) and I’m also struggling really badly with Computing 2 (mainly because the midterm project has crushed all motivation that I ever had in me).

All this has led to an unfortunate amount of stress and tension. I kept backing myself into the corner again – telling myself that I am so weak, and that perhaps I need to reconsider my dream of being a computer scientist. That perhaps, I had made a mistake in thinking that I was smart enough for this venture.

Thankfully, through all this, Chérie has been steadfast in her encouragement and commitment to me. Despite all the whining I’ve been doing about school, she has been very supportive – she even sat me down (figuratively since we’re almost 400 miles apart) one day to help me reorganize my schedule. She and I both successfully helped me cut out 8 hours of work from the restaurant as well as 3 and a half extra hours from private tutoring. Just having her sit with me and discuss my plans was very useful. It calmed me down considerably. It allowed me to refocus.

We’ve only been together 2 weeks so far and things have been going really well for us. It’s interesting how well we’re doing and how much we’ve planned and discussed. I suppose that since we’re both in our thirties, it’s not hard for us to be mature in our outlook and steadfast in our decisions. I truly am fortunate to have found such an amazing person to share my life with.

Group therapy had been very interesting on Friday. The issue between Kyle and Brandon came up again (see: A Most Intense Group Session for context) and I pointed out that since this came up again, that the issue must be pressing enough to warrant another look.

This time, the gloves were off as both Kyle and Brandon got heated with their ideas and opinions. Brandon still didn’t understand why Kyle would not empathize with him or just show him some compassion while Kyle didn’t understand why Brandon is so “fanatical” in his beliefs. Brandon took offense to Kyle’s w0rd choice. Kyle responded that he had no idea why Brandon would so arrogantly presume that everyone should see things his way.

As the conflict got more heated, J was good to jump in and diffuse things before they escalated even more. She cut in a lot and mitigated the conflict very well. At one point she said, “Okay, the content of the disagreement is not what we’re trying to discuss here. We’re trying to discuss how we can approach each other when something like this happens!”

She was right. The content of the argument was not important at all. As both men continued to argue, I interrupted them and jumped in. I didn’t think that I would ever have the guts to do something like that but I did.

I said, “Okay guys. I hope you don’t take this the wrong way but I can really see both sides here. I can empathize with both of you and I do. Brandon, I am part of the LGBTQ community too now and I understand how you feel. I get how angry you are and how much you just want to punch everyone who even utters a tiny homophobic comment. I get it. It makes me mad when a Christian acts like total assholes. At the same time though, I see Kyle’s point – I see what he means by how the Westboro people are just lunatics – it’s because they are. No matter how much we fight them, we’ll never win because they are not only brainwashed to hate people who are different from them, they are also delusional! Doing nothing sucks but sometimes we just need to have compassion for these misguided people. That said, Kyle, I feel like you’re not really empathizing with Brandon. I mean, this is what I perceive. I perceive that you have a great reluctance to just say that you care for Brandon. There were easy outs and you refused to take any of them. J asked you if you cared to be here and your answer was ‘Well if I didn’t care I wouldn’t be here’. Brandon asked you if you could just give him some empathy while T flat-out told you that Brandon just needs to feel some connection from you. Yet you refuse all three offers to let you off the hook. It makes me wonder then if you’re just afraid to show yourself to us – that is to be vulnerable and humble. I have two theories. One it’s that you’ve invested too much into this argument between you and Brandon that if you don’t get any resolutions from it, then it would make the last year for us to be pointless. All I’m saying is that, I feel like you could also be a little less judgmental toward Brandon and just reach out to him, offer some support, and just be there!”

I felt my heart hammer in my ribcage as I spoke. I was afraid of how I was going to be perceived. This was why I didn’t like conflicts. I was afraid of the fact that Kyle and Brandon could both hate me because I was being blunt.

It turned out that what I said opened up the conflict into smaller more manageable chunks. We were able to mostly sort through our emotions and reactions toward the conflict. When asked what we learned from the experience, I talked about how fearful I was to share my opinion and how uncomfortable it was to be amidst the conflict. T pointed out that he was glad that I came to that realization and reminded me that through this experience, we’re able to see that just because we’re not directly involved in the fight, we are actually still a part of the conflict as it still affects us “bystanders”.

I learned a few things from group this week – one was that I don’t always have to follow my instincts and pick a side (I’ve always felt like I had to pick a side. Otherwise, both sides will hate me…) because chances are neither of them were right and choosing a side merely makes everything even more petty. I was able to resist my instincts this time and was able to overcome the discomfort of not knowing what to do. I was also able to sit through the discomfort of being in the middle of a conflict and not run away. I was able to do this without having a meltdown. I was also able to realize how brave I was to say my thoughts and perceptions.

At the end of the session, I called Chérie excitedly on the phone and conveyed everything that had happened in group. She was ecstatic to hear that I was able to do what I did – “Good job!” she had said.

“I actually feel kinda proud of myself,” I said, feeling the same kind of embarrassed shame creep in to my cheeks. I was proud of the fact that I was proud of myself because self-validation has never been my strong suit. I think I’m really moving forward towards a mentally healthier me with my improvement in self-validation, self-pride, and self-encouragement.

So that’s been my week so far. I hadn’t had time to really write any Thoughts From Therapy posts either but as assignments pile up, I barely have any time to be online anymore, much less spend time writing blog posts. I hope to be able to post more thoughtful posts when things start to cool off for me. Until then, I’m just grateful that I still have people I trust here in the blogverse and people who care enough to come back and check to see if I have new posts.

 

Progress on Self-Affirmation

So almost a month ago, I had posted about someone that I had been chatting with – someone that I had met over a dating site in this post (Love Bug). I was supposed to meet them last weekend for the first time and they had reservations about our date. They cancelled, and told me that they felt stressed out with the pressures of school, with how their relative is sick, and how it’s so much pressure to meet me for the first time.

I felt like I had been too pushy and too insistent for us to meet. At that point, I was very burnt out with life itself and felt that if I gave myself a reason to leave the city I live in right now, that I might feel better. That if I could meet this person, I could feel better.

It was hard not to feel disappointed when we didn’t meet. It’s not that easy to admit that either. Somehow, it feels embarrassing.

Every time I think of this person, and how they haven’t messaged me in about 8 days now, I feel like somehow I did something wrong. Maybe I pushed too hard? Maybe I said something that they took offense to? Maybe I am texting too much? Maybe I’m too desperate and it comes across as needy? Maybe it’s just me… Everything’s my fault, right?

My anxiety started to convince me that it’s something that I did or didn’t do.

Then tonight, something else happened. The anxiety came back because I had contact the person again through the dating site. I had seen that they were online so I decided to send them a “Hi, hope you’re doing well” kind of message. They didn’t respond and shortly after I sent the message, they went offline. I had a feeling that they didn’t want to talk to me.

I started to beat myself up again. Thinking that it’s probably something I did – that I should’ve waited a little while longer before talking to them again but now I’ve blown it because I couldn’t wait a few more days.

As I showered, my thoughts went back to what I could’ve done differently.

Then I said to myself, for the first time ever, “No. You did everything right. You did everything you knew to do and you didn’t text them every day. You texted them once every few days. You’ve done everything you could. Now it’s me for them to reciprocate”

“What if they don’t?” The inner me asked.

“Well, if they don’t respond back, too bad for them… It’s their loss really. You’re intelligent, you’re attractive, you’re pretty awesome, and interesting. For them to let you go is a huge mistake. And it’s fine because someone will recognize your talents and appreciate you for your qualities. They’re making a poor choice if they choose to leave you”

A few moments after I finished that conversation, it hit me that I had just self-affirmed in one of the most positive manners I’ve ever felt. I was compassionate and understanding of myself. I recognized some of my good qualities and was not afraid to tell myself that I did indeed have those traits.

I felt thrilled that this had happened. I felt thrilled because this is an amazing step that I’ve taken. It wasn’t easy to get to this point but now I’m starting to be more and more aware of my action and words! Wow! What progress!

Impassioned Desires and A Sense of Purpose

Psychotherapy, joining the Peer Educators’ Program, and the divorce are three things in my life that have changed me for the better.

I was talking to my friend, El, and I marveled at how much I’ve changed, and how much I’ve done just in the space of one year. I thought about how the divorce had been a catalyst of even more exponentially growing change for me. It’s only been 4 months but the kind of things that I started doing, and the way I’ve started behaving have improved.

A few days ago, while at work, I was able to stand my ground during a minor altercation with my co-worker who was accusing me of stealing his tables. I not only stood my ground and adamantly protested his accusations as being wrongful, I also yelled at the guy for being ridiculous, for not watching his section closely enough, and that because of his incompetence, that I had to greet a table for him and take their orders. I didn’t yell very loudly – I just raised my voice – but it was enough for him to recognize that I wasn’t about to be bullied by him – even if he stands a full head above me. He recognized that I meant business and quickly shrank back down and apologized. He offered me a handshake to signify a truce. I had half a mind not to accept it but I did because I felt that he had learned his lesson.

For the first time in my life, I was in a public confrontation with someone who is much bigger than me in stature, and who has a very strong personality, and I didn’t shrink. I mustered all the courage I had and stood up for myself!

The divorce hurts. And I use the present tense because it still hurts me to think about what I’ve lost. At the same time, it also has empowered me to do all kinds of things that I would have otherwise never have done because either I would have been held back, or that I wouldn’t have felt it was appropriate to be off gallivanting on an adventure without my husband.

I don’t think I’d have been able to spend as much time on campus as I have been doing lately because I’d be rushing home. Nowadays, I have the freedom of being single and doing whatever I want, whenever I want. Sure, many days, that is actually overwhelming because many days, I don’t know what I want. However, I’d like to believe that I’m getting better at that…

I also had a chance to speak to my Director about my time as a Peer Educator, what I’ve learned, how it’s impacted me, and how I want to continue to grow. She had taken an hour of her precious time off to talk to me and for an hour, I gushed about how amazing my experience has been as a Peer Educator, how great it is to be able to create change and make a difference on campus, how I now have a clearer idea of what I want to do in the future, and a little about my background and how much the Peer Educator Program has impacted my mental health as well. The Director was so happy to hear me share all these things. She in turn shared some wisdom and some of her own passion. She kept telling me how much she wanted to cry because of how amazing my story was – she also told me that I’m so resilient and so strong.

I also self-disclosed my suicidal tendencies and tell her more about how much I’m struggling. Despite that, I have also decided to keep pushing on and to keep fighting. The part of me that doesn’t want to get better still fights back but I feel like she’s getting weaker by the day. It seems like it at least, when I’m on a good day like today.

The Director then said to me, “You are a a woman of color, like me. You are going to make an impact in the community in ways that all the Caucasian Peer Educators can’t. You’re going to reach the women who never speak up or come forward as sexual assault survivors. You’re going to inspire a new generation of “Jules”. As a woman of color, you give a face to what is possible. I gave a face to what’s possible for the other Peer Educators who struggle to find their place. Take JJ for example, she came up to me one day and said, ‘What? But you’re a black woman. How could you be in such a position of power? Wow… That must mean that I can do the same too! I want to be just like you!’ You will do the same for someone else”

I was just so awed by her. She is only 4 years older than I am but her depth of experience and the wisdom she’s gained from her years of experience really shows. I was so thankful that she had taken her time to talk to me today. It renewed my passions, and made me even more determined to follow through with my recovery. I felt fired up.

Later, I felt even more fired up when an old high school friend of mine messaged me. She had been in contact with me for months now because she had wanted to improve her English skills. As I was the person who had constantly gotten really good grades in English back in high school (and was even the only person in my school to have gotten the highest grade possible during the Malaysian University English Test), she had contacted me for help. I agreed to help her on a regular basis because she showed so much initiative and so much drive to change. English is not an easy language to learn as a non-native speaker so I was awed by her desire to improve despite the difficulty.

Today, she messaged me and said some really inspiring things. It made me even more fired up!

With her permission, I post these screenshots of our conversation here:

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I erased her full name and photo just to protect her privacy.

This conversation was a God-send. I was just so amazed at the timing. It was what I needed to hear. It was validating and urged me on even more. It humbles me to know that I can inspire others just by being me. It humbles me whenever people tell me their story. This is one of the reasons why I keep doing what I do.

I want more people to be successful. I want more people to be cognizant and mindful of their lives, mental health, and emotions. I want more people to care about others and give to others the way I am doing. I want people to pay it forward and keep doing so until all lives have been touched and changed.

What a world that would be!

I’m inspired, fired up, excited, humbled, grateful, and hopeful today. Despite the end-of-the-day struggle with depression and suicidality, I had had a very good morning/afternoon. Although I grappled with the idea of self-harm tonight, I also had more strength to resist it because of the motivation I received this morning.

It’s amazing what just one person can do to another – in my case, I had two people do to me what I try to do to others all the time – they reminded me of who I am, what my purpose is, and how I can change the world.

Renewed Passion

After the amazing experience I had at the Office of Health and Wellness Peer Educators’ Retreat, I’ve added one more thing that I could potentially do as a future career. I’m looking at different ways I can combine Computer Science with my other passions and I think I’ve got some ideas what I want to potentially do in the future.
Here are some of the ideas that I’m thinking about:
 
1 – Work for my Director at the MAC to develop technologies to aid in education and to build educational resources for the masses (schools, colleges, community learning centers, etc).
 
2 – Pursue my PhD in Computer Science Education and open a Computer Science Assistance Center using a similar model that the MAC is currently using – it’s super effective!
 
And now, 3 – Work for the Office of Health and Wellness Promotion to develop technologies to aid the Peer Educators as well as the campus, to develop apps/websites/other forms of computer tech to disseminate health and wellness related topics and data to campus citizens, and help coordinate the infrastructure for such reasons.
 
I know all of them sound ambitious but it all really boils down to my passion of wanting to make meaningful connections, to educate others in topics that are important to me, as well as further my passion for mental health advocacy.
Now, I’m not sure exactly how to do these things yet but at least I have an idea what I want to do. I want to make a difference in people’s lives in the educational aspect because the most meaningful time of my life has been when I was a college lecturer.
It’s also made me realize that I have made an impact on others – even if it was just for a day. And that to me is more priceless than money. It’s so important to me to know and to feel like I’ve contributed to society – even if it’s just the campus I’m in.
I know it’s going to be a tough journey because Computer Science is kicking me in the butt hard, but I also know that I’m going to work my hardest to make this a reality. This means that I’m going to have to work even harder than I have to help myself through my recovery. I’m still dependent on S, and hopefully someday that’ll change because I’ll have learned to rely on my own strengths, to practice self-care daily, to self-affirm, to self-love, and to keep growing.
After 8 painful months of suicidal thoughts, self-harm, severe depression, anxiety, and emotional turmoil, I hope that I can cope better and really commit to my recovery.

Thoughts From Therapy – #75 – Relinquishing My Weapon and A Change of Style

The session with S went well enough… At the start. Near the end, it took a turn for the worse because the child was craving more attention while the adult wanted to keep us safe.

So the adult said to S, “I didn’t want to tell you this….” I paused because the child started to protest. After a few moments of hesitation, the adult regained control and continued, “I actually bought a knife…”

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Thoughts From Therapy #70 – The Rageful Child

**Note: This was supposed to be published last Thursday but I got too busy to finish this uber long post so now it’s out of place.**

S and I make a great team. I’ve known that for a while now because of how almost effortless it is for us to hash things out and to come to well founded conclusions about my psyche.

Today’s session though, completely confirms that notion that I’ve always had about us. We had a huge breakthrough – a huge win that I have been desperately needing since my world came crashing down a couple of weeks or so ago.

As I’ve mentioned in my last post, I haven’t stopped crying since Monday and yesterday’s session was just me fighting through my tears to speak. I was crying so hard and so much in S’ office yesterday that I was shaking and my voice was so cracked and shaky that it was hard for me to even say words.

Today’s session was accompanied by some tears but I was completely rational, heck intelligent even, in my analysis of things and my ideas about myself. I shed tears when we were at certain points that elicited some strong emotional response but overall, I’d say that I was pretty collected for the most part.

This, like all my other “Thoughts From Therapy” posts, will be a long one. But boy, what a win! I was so excited because I felt, for the first time in a very long time, light. Sure, I was still carrying all my burdens but somehow, I am able to carry it better this time. I don’t know how I’ll feel later in the day or even tomorrow but for now at least, I’m stable.

I felt so light that while I was waiting for my Starbucks order, I couldn’t stop the H in my ADHD from being out of control. I kept trying to talk to the barista who obviously didn’t want to talk. I was hyper. I bought 4 Green Tea Lattes – one for D, the receptionist, one for S to thank him for his efforts and support, one for me and one for my friend, CG, my coding buddy and the first friend I ever made in college who believed in me so much that he never stopped bugging me about joining him in Computer Science.

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Processing a Childhood Trauma – Thoughts From Therapy #61

-Potential trigger warning: This post contains content that deal with childhood sexual trauma and self-harming thoughts. Note that this is also going to be a really long post.-

It is a strange thing that I feel that I deserve more compassion when I see myself as someone else than when I see myself in the first person. In the midst of raging thoughts of self-harm, my person, SH, messaged me on Facebook with two simple words, “You ok?”. I contemplated how to answer him.

I wanted to lie. I wanted so badly to lie so that I could go and hurt myself.

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