Grief. (pt I)

TW // Suicide Attempt. Death. Abandonment. Psychological Abuse. Trauma.

This isn't fiction. This has been a topic that I tried to approach with as much grace and honesty. With honesty, that means mentioning things that aren't going to make people feel comfortable. It is difficult. I have kept actual names out of this in respect of their privacy and also the deceased. Everything that is expressed here, are my own perceptions and feelings, and should not be taken as facts, or any form of endorsement. If you have any depressive thoughts, please reach out to someone, and if you are currently experiencing a huge loss in your life, whether it's a failed relationship, a fallout with a friend, a death of a friend, and you have so many questions unanswered, please feel free not to continue further with this post. I don't want you to feel more hurt than you already are. You may return another time to read this when you are ready. 

And because it is a series of events that have taken place in my personal life, it would be impossible for me to have it condensed in one post. As such, I may be posting 2 or 3 parts of this topic that surrounds grief. While there are mentions of the fear of abandonment too, this story solely focuses on the stages of grief that I went through while coping 3 separate losses, all in which took place in the same week.

I knew Felix* only enough to exchange greetings when we passed in the university halls. I was the president of an English society and in the parlance of the time, fairly introverted. And I was insecure, too conscious, especially around people in general—species I found perplexing and more intimidating than lightning struck bright and sudden. All of which may explain my confoundment when he pulled me to a side to ask if I was all right while we were inside an International Students’ Society room. I’d just finished handling an event and I was exhausted.

He greeted me calmly. I remember the twinkle in his eyes whenever he spoke, he had a certain kind of gentleness he carried with him, the one that you knew you’d feel safe with. I recall the conversation like it was only yesterday.

‘Are you okay?’ he asked.

‘Do I look not okay?’

‘You just look tired. More than usual.’

‘I don’t know if I’m not okay either.’ 

Thus, whatever plans that he had, whatever work he was supposed to do, Felix laid it all down to talk to me. He wanted to make sure that I was feeling okay. He never mentioned that he had plans to go out with another group of friends for supper. He never told me of the time that he was having a difficult time with his family. He had to teach himself to be independent on his own, and all the struggles he was facing on his own, would become the root of both his compassion and his sensitivity to someone else’s hurt.

I was grateful for him, of course, and had a habit of thanking him for being him whenever we bumped into each other on campus. Each time I reminded him how indebted I was to him, he would smile and say it wasn’t a big deal, and that he was more happy to hear out a friend. Friend? Yes, he said I was a friend. I needed that. 

The last conversation we had face-to-face, alone, was in 2018. One night at Astaka, we were sitting on the benches that faced the campus field, it was empty and lonely. There were stars that night. They were shining bright. Out of nowhere, he spoke the words that anyone who has dealt with some form of depression, would freeze for a while.

‘Isn’t it so random how the most amazing people die so quickly?’

We talked about Chester Bennington, specifically about the song ‘One More Light’ by Linkin Park. Initially, the song haunted me, but it was also comforting. I would listen to the lyrics and it was almost as if I was listening to suicidal notes, an imagery of a candlelight flickering. Perhaps that was just the nature when it came down to Chester’s voice and words. He may no longer be around physically, yet his legacy leaves on. There is still so much of him that is very alive to this day.

It was strange. I remember telling Felix how tragic it was, that life seems so bleak, so short for a person so loved by the world. As I said so, I told Felix I knew that he was capable of great things, and that I couldn’t wait to see what the future held for him, and what he would be contributing to the world. Felix smiled and thanked me.

‘Can I help you, not to hurt, anymore?’

Each time I consumed a creative piece, be it a song, film, spoken words, poetry, instrumental… I can’t help but wonder each form of art is about a person who struggle with a sense of belonging, who is sad, depressed and dealing with issues they can’t possibly talk about. Or even if they tried, no one really cared enough to understand or be patient with them.

And I wondered then too, why, despite all the obvious cues, the social hints, we are never truly able to save a life. But I guess, what no one really talks about depression is that it is ocean deep. You learn to swim to shore by yourself. No matter how sharp the rocks are, or how they can cut you, you have to find the strength to get to shore. Because it’s scary. It’s terrifying to fall into the comforting familiarity of the harsh waves and the sensation of drowning. I told Felix, despite whatever pain we were both going through, I told us to hold on. He said he believed in good things to come. And I believed him too.


22nd September, Wednesday — I had known this amazing person since July, I still think of him as someone special. For the sake of keeping this individual’s privacy, I will not go into full details. But do understand that what I share, is solely from my perspective, and may not necessarily reflect on that person’s character and feelings at that time. I’ll call him Sean*. We had our time set aside for each other then, we would talk of the things that mattered to us. I was happy to be myself around him. Yet, we drifted. Maybe that’s not an entirely accurate way to put it. The words we speak, the voices we drown, the choices we make, the dreams we question, they each come with their own repercussions. To put it bluntly, what he did, hurt me. And I need anyone who is reading this to understand that, while it broke me, I still care a lot for this person. The times we had spent together were golden, a bit unreal. I wouldn’t have traded those memories for anything. Despite that, everything that we had said and done, I could forget nothing.

How was I supposed to?

And again, why would I want to forget the good things?

I was in tears. I was livid we ended things through a text. I didn’t want the conversation to end in a bad place, so I left my last text. I couldn’t continue on with the conversation because anger was going to take my stead. I had to save this friendship. Even if that meant not getting out the exact emotions I was feeling.


24th September, Friday — I received news of someone passing. We never talked much, but this individual would confide in me from time to time. Just how do you respond to a text when their sibling informs you they have taken their own life? It made my head spin. There was a lot I simply couldn’t comprehend. I thought of how differently I would feel looking at their texts knowing they won’t wake up anymore. Sad? I wasn’t sure if I was saddened. I hadn’t had any proper emotions since 22nd September.

I thought staying over at my second brother’s was going to cheer me up. I was wrong. He tried his best and cared for me like any older brother would. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t shower. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t get up from bed without the pain in my chest. The worst nights were the ones where I would have vivid dreams of having conversations with Sean, where he’d say he wasn’t being himself, and that we’d talk again. I hated that I had to wake up, to be disappointed, that it was just a dream. But mostly, I was just terrified of falling back to sleep if I was going to dream about the good times we had, only to be slapped by reality that I was left behind.

It broke my brother. Not a single day went by where I wouldn’t struggle to breathe, get panic attacks, and cry. I would cry even whilst I was doing nothing. And it felt apparent at that time too, that I amounted to nothing. It’s something else to be hit by someone and getting hurt, and it’s also something else to have someone make you feel like the world, promise you that they would never leave you, only to leave you. And what difference does it make even though we still have each other on social media? What difference does it make for me to follow him, and him to follow me, now that we are just ‘strangers’? Because I already feel like I don’t exist. Maybe, I was the only one who wanted to feel seen. Maybe, it was wrong of me to reciprocate. Yet, asking myself now, do I regret any of it? I don’t have an answer for that. All I know is, it hurt then. Still hurts.


25th September, Saturday — On my way back to my apartment after what I felt was just me burdening my brothers with my presence in their home, I thought I was finally going to make it. For me, I was going to try to be strong, just for one day. All I begged myself was to not cry for one day. I needed to be strong. Then it all came crashing down. I missed a phone call. I couldn’t answer anyone in the state that I was in. Then a text notification came in, I froze. 

My friend, Felix, isn’t here anymore.

I wanted it to be a joke. 

I called up my friend. This had to be a joke. It had to be. I didn’t care how low it was to be one, but there was no way, a bright 26 year-old like Felix, who had huge aspirations, who inspired the people he encountered in life, has died. This must have been a prank someone thought of, and maybe Felix was just planning for us to meet up or something. But hearing the uncharacteristically quiet scratch of my friend’s voice on the line, I knew Felix had left us that day.

‘I thought you might want to know. He was close to some of us.’ my friend said. ‘Do you want to come to his funeral?’

‘I’d like to go,’ I replied.

The word sounded strange even as it left my mouth. Like? Why would I like to go to a friend’s funeral? Is that what I am supposed to say knowing a friend—a kind, bright and sensitive individual who was going places? I left my apartment room and walked aimlessly in the common area. I am told by friends that through texts, I seemed completely out of it. I don’t seem to remember what took place except people kept mentioning I was just not being myself. 

Even then, I was present at his funeral. I saw people weeping. Some didn’t. It was odd to be hugging friends that I had not spoken to in years. To be meeting up with former friends in a funeral. Why did we have to meet up this way, in the midst of a pandemic, on a cold rainy night? And the night felt long, I still don’t remember much of what happened. 

It was past midnight by the time I settled down in my apartment. Settled down, or so I thought.  I threw up whatever I had for dinner. Back in my room, the sight of my antidepressants made me sick to my stomach. As my anxiety grew worse, even the order that was present in my room soon became a disarray. My focus and vision both grew scattered so that it became a challenge to stand still. And I fell to the ground. Shaking. I was scared.

I mustered what seemed of my remaining strength, switched off the lights, and dragged my heavy feet to bed, forcing myself to sleep. The nightmare came, I saw Sean again in my dreams, and we talked happily. It shouldn’t have been a nightmare if we were still talking, but everything that felt beautiful then only turned to sheer terror for me when I opened my eyes. The problem with being in the care of a person consumed by their own pain and grief is that your problems can’t exist to them. In a weird way, you don’t exist to them. And so the neglect is ultimate. The abandonment is real along with the unfulfilled promises and loving words spoken carelessly. 

It’s not just the abandonment that hurts. It’s the post trauma that follows it when you have opened up to someone you trust. It’s waking up and checking your phone for a message that isn’t there. And the last exchange is still apparent. And you know, they have left you.

I was left behind.

I woke up screaming.

I felt as if the world used to laugh with me, hold me when I spent my time with Sean—no longer. Now the world mocked me. It was as if the world had shrunken away to leave a cold void around my skin, as if I had become detached from reality itself. It was dark. And then I asked myself the question I had been meaning to ask myself, but was always afraid to.

What if I just do away with myself?

What if I just swallowed every antidepressant and went to sleep?

What if I just don’t have to wake up anymore?

Because it sure as hell beats living.

But I can’t. 


I have a purpose in this place. But I wasn’t convinced either. I needed to reach out. I could only think of one person to call at that time, it was Sean. It was just a matter of time before I consumed those pills. I had them on the floor with me. I dialed his number, I was fighting back the tears, and I bit my lip so hard it bled. He didn’t answer. 

Second time. Nothing.

Third time. And nothing.

Did it matter if I called again? Because if he stopped caring, then who would? If he thought the best solution to go about parting with me was through texts, then did I even matter to him now? Did I matter to him then? I couldn’t just call him to start over this friendship. I couldn’t ask him to be here when I was at my lowest. And I started believing that I wasn’t good enough. But I still wanted to live, I still wanted to have hope. To breathe.

Now, let me tell you… there are times in life where you fall down and you feel like you don’t have the strength to get back up, you sort of put on a mask. A mask where you deny your vulnerable self the chance to breathe and cry. And it starts forming into a survival essential where you are from. It shuts your emotions down, it makes you more alert, more adept, yet more detached to compassion. I didn’t want to go back to being that. I was fearful of indifference. 

You know how when you have to pretend that all is well when it’s going downhill, and you head home, you lay down in your bed when the world’s no longer watching. You don’t have to impress anybody and you are yourself. Then fear comes in. You know the fear that you have as soon as you walk into the doors of your house? Or the fear that comes when you are leaving home and you remind a parent, ‘Please, don’t make them angry today. I don’t want to get hit.’ Yes, that. Maybe it’s a broken home. Maybe you are constantly walking on eggshells with your family. And it scares you. Maybe you are worried about what people perceive of you just from the first contact. You don’t know what they are talking about behind your back. And that fear paralyzes you. You feel as if you can’t do anything. 

Well, I told myself to call another number. And if the second person didn’t pick up, I wasn’t going to think anymore and kill myself. On the call, when Helen* answered, that soft voice that said, ‘Hello?’, that gentleness in Helen’s voice dissolved whatever stood between me and my sorrow. My torrents of grief were unleashed. 

‘I tried to kill myself.’ 

We spoke for about 3 hours on call, taking turns for me to cry, and for Helen to comfort me. With her, I felt safe, even though we were separated by a huge geographical distance. I found solace in the words she had to say. For it was through her words, I believe that she too, felt the pain that swirled in my brain, all the unfinished chapters I kept telling as if they held answers. They don’t. Helen said something along the lines that hurt people do things because their emotions are driving them that way.

‘All those things that hurt you, hun, had nothing to do with you at all… and perhaps that’s even worse. Because you know you did nothing wrong, and you are hurting. And these heartbreaks that you feel, hunny. They don’t get easier. The end of a relationship always hurts. And when you have to deal with other deaths one after another, it gets too much for you. You are allowed to cry. And no one should have to judge you for that. You have been giving too much of yourself to others, you haven’t saved any love for yourself.’

At that time I didn’t understand how Helen who had known me in less than a year, just virtually too, would notice that of me. 

‘Do you know how I know this? It’s because I keep my notifications on for you on Twitter. And see your every interaction with people. You give everything to others, putting their feelings first, validating them. It’s always yours that comes last. And all the hurt that you have been through, you still find the strength to forgive and let go. You still show love and care when everyone else would have found many reasons not to continue anymore. Because that’s who you are. You are so important. The world needs you, even if you don’t think it needs you. This world needs you to take up space. It needs you to continue showing understanding, patience, and love. It needs you to spread joy and bring a semblance of hope to those who have none. And whenever that voice tells you otherwise, it’s not true. That voice hates you, because it knows how strong and capable you are in this world. So, whenever you feel like it’s too much, that you can’t go on, please don’t keep it to yourself. You need a shoulder to cry on too when you’ve been carrying the weight of everyone else’s for so long. I love you so much, don’t kill yourself. You are needed here.’

Outside the apartment window, I could finally hear the wind rustling through the silence. It was hard for me to imagine that someone whom I have never met was able to comfort me with such intensity. I laughed inside, remembering those early days that had seen me rush out from my classroom to avoid being hit by my pursuers, grab a piece of wood for safe measure in case someone would hit me with a brick. I remember all the fear I felt for not being able to speak up, where the teachers never noticed the bruises on me. I wished, how I wished Helen was around then to keep me safe. But here she was now, miles away from me, believing in me and telling me that I served a purpose in this world.

I went to bed that night, finally smiling, even if it was a small smile.

(to be continued)

I can’t do this.

I haven’t been the same since 22nd September. I don’t know where to begin. I don’t know where I am going with this post. Pain is temporary, I’ve heard of that saying. Countless times. For the sake of maintaining my sanity and out of respect for some individuals I love and care about, I will not go into full details of what has taken place, or maybe I will, when I am in a better headspace. I have not been able to think clearly. My emotions have been difficult to contain, to sustain. It’s too much. I am given too much pain and care at the same time it has been hurting me. It’s overwhelming me. Fear. Panic. Confusion. Helplessness. Lost.

That’s what I am feeling all at once.

It’s inconsistent. I could be doing the things I love, and I am hit by a wave of sadness. Then I can’t continue what I’m doing, what I was doing, or what I had planned to do. Since I deactivated my Twitter account on the 25th September, I have struggled to live normally. The simplest things became impossible. It’s still hard, because as I am typing this now, I am dealing with a fever, my chest hurts, and by the time this gets published, I don’t know how I am and I cannot guarantee what will happen to me. Maybe I won’t be okay, maybe I will be okay. I am unsure if this post is a cry for help. Maybe it is at this moment, and maybe I will regret having shared this. And there are plenty of people who have shown me concern and care. There is not a single day I do not receive a text, a phone call, or an email asking me if I’m okay.

So, please, just let me state here once and for all, that I am not okay.

This post is not a walk in the park. So, I am putting it out first, that you do not have to proceed further this time around if a topic around depression and soft suicidal thoughts is something you rather not see at this moment. My posts have and will always be honest, no matter how rough it gets. But it’s not supposed to make people feel confused or down. And I cannot lie to myself as to how I am feeling. Some of you have been there before, I know.

Now that I’ve gotten that disclaimer out there, I will continue.

Don’t ask me if I’m okay, because as much as I appreciate the concern and love, I am physically and mentally exhausted to explain, over and over again, what has happened, and I don’t open up fully, the extent of the pain I am experiencing or the cumulative events that has led me up to this stage. You can check up on me by leaving words of assurance, that’s more than enough for me. I am politely asking that for the sake of my sanity, while I am still capable of being rational without going into my survival mode or being indifferent, please do not ask me for details, don’t ask me how I am doing. I cannot keep up with more than 20 messages a single day of repeated questions. Yet, not answering is unfair to any of you because you’ve taken the time out, the care to ask me how I am faring. Not answering you worries you. Not picking up your phone call worries you. It worries me too. I am a danger to myself right now. It is unsafe.

All I can ask, from the ones that sincerely care for me, from the bottom of your heart, please continue to care for me but do not worry about me. I need you to trust in me that I will be okay and that I will be able to make it through this confusing and difficult phase. All this loss that I am dealing with, I have not been able to grieve at all. I still haven’t grieved. What all these events have done, has removed me from the world here. I am here, but I’m not fully here. I don’t see the light right now. I don’t feel any real strength in me, to reconnect with the world and weave myself anew into the fabric of living. 

Every single day is a day of drowning. I can’t swim. I feel the cold wash over me. But I also feel nothing, numb, almost. I can’t seem to get up. I can’t seem to want to move at all. I’ve stopped telling myself “Maybe the pain I am feeling now is preparing me to face something else.” In this depression, right now, because I am typing what I am feeling right now, is such that I am not seeking the happier version of me. My memories are distorted. My childhood memories are blurry. I don’t know how it got dark so fast, but I remember every single detail of the fear and pain of abandonment, fresh, like it only happened yesterday. I don’t know if I still have it in me to reach out for that child-self I once was, the innocent child who loved the sunshine and rain all the same. I started to see darkness around the lights instead of the other way around, and soon there were no more colours in my world. They say there is a rope ladder out of depression, one you can use to climb out of it. The problem is, that I just can’t find the will to reach out for the first rung, let alone try.

I had always loved observing and listening to people. Their facial expressions, their gestures, the shift in their tone when they talk… I loved the flowers and the birds that sing, loved the sunlight and the clouds that drift by as I make my way to work. Loved the way the leaves move in a breeze and that soft whispering sound they make, like nature loves to chatter too. Yet, the tiredness remains like a veil over my skin, grey and cold. And as I watch the other residents carry about with their lives in their own space, spending time with their loved ones and smiling, from my balcony, there is only a creeping sorrow where there should be joy.

This hurts so much. Just expressing how I feel right now too, doesn’t feel right. That I can’t even express my sorrow without coming off as attention-seeking. It hurts so much that I’m slipping into old habits again. I have just wanted to take my life so many times. It hurts that it’s easier to tell my pain here than to anyone I have ever known. It kills me on the inside that each morning, I wake up with a sense of defeat and unbridled desolation. I just want to feel something. I just want friends to know I am trying. I don’t want to hurt. I don’t want to stay depressed. I didn’t ask to be traumatised at a young age, I didn’t ask to have to relive my trauma every single day. I want to have a group of friends where I could tell them how happy I am, how proud I am of them for all they are doing, for all that they are. I don’t want to hurt on the inside anymore. I want to be happy, even for a second, I want it so bad.

But the voice inside my head is that cruel, isn’t it?

At any other time I would have called a friend, asked for the warmth I needed to ward it off, just a little is enough. I don’t know how to, because at the back of my mind, the voice tells me I am taking up space. It tells me I am unworthy. It tells me I am bothering them. And it makes you sad too, reading this. It hurts you because you are sitting on the other end, behind your device wishing you could make me feel better. You wish you could tell me that’s not true. And you know what? You’re probably right. You hate that I am feeling this way and I had experienced pain and such. I know. I know you care. My mind just tells me you don’t. It is a constant battle I deal with myself. 

And I dissociated again.

I don’t know how to continue this now. My whole life, I never felt like I belonged. Not in my group of friends, family, or country. I have always felt as though no matter where I go, I just don’t feel like I belong. Growing up where emotions were consistently repressed, where the blame always fell on my shoulders, the feeling of being inferior to everyone was so much that I feared speaking up at home, in school, and hangouts. Now, I’m just a 20 something that never got closure for plenty of things, has friends and family members that care for me but I don’t know how to receive their care. I would rather fill that void with starvation than reach out to them because it’s safer than potentially setting myself up for even more rejection. To face disappointment. To deal with abandonment, again. 

I don’t want to kill myself, but every time I wake up I can’t help thinking… Just how many more days do I have to continue with this?

But.

I might as well, live the best I can, while I’m still breathing, hey? Just have to patch up my old wounds with promises of bright tomorrows stitched tight with half-hearted hopes. The pain? I just let it come. Drop by drop. And I feel like it is an ocean falling upon me. Instead of rain. Yes, imagine that. That the grief of years I carefully suspended. All of them. Condensed right above my head. Into a cloud large enough to block the sun. They say it can’t rain forever. That there will come a time when it must cease. That the last drop will have fallen. I will still be true to myself, still help others, but I plan to just stay here in the cold, comfortably numb. 

I don’t intend to be that way forever. I am still trying to stay strong here. Feeling empty and experiencing loss have such a strong connection to one another that I need to fully rest before I can figure out what is what. Hope this answers everything. Hopefully. If you care for me, stay on, and trust in me to make it through, even if it seems impossible for me now. Reading back everything I’ve wrote now, it makes me feel sick. I need some time to heal.

Beyond the divorce, a new hope found.

When you have no prior experience with love, the first person to show you the closest thing to love would have an impact on you. Perhaps that’s where some beauty comes in, though in some cases, the beauty and happiness fades fast when you are in a lonely rush, and that feeling you thought was love, was built on a rocky foundation, and things just change. I wish I could tell you that doesn’t mean that you can’t be loved, or that you can’t love.

You’re okay, and just because you’re growing up and falling out of love, that doesn’t mean you have to leave everything you liked when you were a child. You have a long way to go, to grow, and love someone special again… you’re only getting ready to say “nice to meet you” to somebody you never knew—you.

Divorce. It’s a word, an event that brings in emotions of all sorts. Usually, unpleasant ones. At least that’s what some may think or say out loud. I wish I could tell you that the end of a marriage doesn’t make you a failure; that I know you tried your best to make things work, but it just didn’t. You are more than your past. This post may be more personal and intimate than my usual ones, and it may take a while to read this. But I do want you to take a moment to realise this, whether you’ve been recently divorced or not, your divorce does not define your lack of worth. Sometimes, a separation happens so you can build up instead of breaking down, and perhaps the best thing you can do for yourself, is to forgive yourself, love yourself, and grow. 

It’s common to have someone painted as a villain when a marriage breaks down. While there may be exceptions too, I feel it’s necessary to understand why it happened. I was very blessed to have this conversation with my friend, Nicholas, who confided in me about his shortcomings and the things he learned from his divorce. One of the hardest things to take away from our conversation was “the things we wished we had known better”. What I truly appreciated was his vulnerability to talk about these difficult emotions, because they were necessary. A wound like this can feel fresh, even after months, and it was important for him to get his feelings out there, here, without being judged.

For the sake of confidentiality, I will be leaving out names. Nicholas first met her when he was 19. Prior to knowing her, he had never been in a relationship. Much secluded in his own shell at that time, letting people into his space wasn’t a part of him. And the times where some would try to connect with him, debilitating waves of insecurities would take over his mind, and Nicholas found comfort in persuading himself not to be attached at all and giving himself reasons why he was unworthy of having someone to care for him, vice versa.

“You’re not going to be good enough. You don’t have a car. You’re not in a stable financial situation. Your family is dysfunctional.” He went on meeting with this woman with that mindset, and all the other feelings he had in general, including the lack of experience with the opposite sex. And sometimes, the world plays tricks on us, on when you meet people. She was at the end of a broken relationship that was manipulative. What Nicholas had to say was, at that time, she was looking for a reason to leave—and then she met him, they found each other. Maybe he was a breath of fresh air, she took an instant liking to him.

While Nicholas was feeling lonely, he wasn’t actively pursuing something. With the added inexperience he had, she was just attached to him and latched herself onto him, emotionally and physically. There was a physical intimacy that he wasn’t used to. Just talking to Nick about this, he admitted that all the things they were doing, it was a rush. They were both young. She was experienced with men, and wanted something emotionally better. She knew what she wanted. He didn’t. He reciprocated because she did first. It is all so strange for Nicholas, this treatment—to have someone being so strong-willed and latching on to him this much. 

“Even if I wanted to resist, I couldn’t.” 

When Nicholas mentioned this, it made me think of how so many of us, especially when we come from a dysfunctional home, always feel lost when someone feels strongly for us. I think about just how much insecurity we carry with us unfairly for the way we were raised. And this ball of insecurity just keeps building itself up in subtle ways: giving us every single reason we can think of why we do not deserve better. Don’t get me wrong, she wasn’t perfect, he wasn’t either. They were both young, and perhaps that given a chance, they both would have made different decisions then. I could tell from his voice that there were times he would unconsciously reminisce about some good times to the point where it just stings.

I asked Nicholas, “You talked about not being willing to make yourself emotionally available to anyone. She came along, and came off so strong, emotionally and physically… and because you were a stranger to this sort of treatment, you just went along with it. Would you say, at any point, did you feel a genuine love for her? Or were you both co-depending on each other to fill in each of your personal void?”

It’s hard to confirm if it was love, and he confessed to having moments where he felt strong feelings for her. “To this day, I don’t know if it was love. I was never in a relationship before so I didn’t know any better. I didn’t know what I was feeling. Maybe back then, I felt that it was love. And maybe in hindsight, I’m being confused because I don’t have anything to really relate to and compare it with. I didn’t have anything to confirm that it was love. But, in comparison to feelings I had for her in the future, after things were said and done, I think that it really was more of a physical attraction-based kind of feeling—and that she gave me a lot of emotional and physical attention, quickly. I believe that’s what bonded us more than just me loving her for who she was. I don’t think I had those deep romantic feelings because it was so fast.”

He continued saying, “Sometimes, the more I’m thinking about it and bringing it up, there are moments where I can remember we disagreed heavily on something. And I have moments where I’m thinking ‘just what did I get myself into?’, ‘what am I doing?’, ‘where am I?’… I’m spending all my time with her, doing everything, ‘is this where I want to be?’. I’m not seeing my friends as much and I was used to seeing them a lot. I’m not doing my hobbies as much. And after a couple of months just doing the same things with her and when the emotions started to wear down, I still wanted to be around her. I still felt very committed to her but I wasn’t sure how I felt about leaving behind all the things I was used to, and that would constantly be a slight argument between the two of us. She was worried I wasn’t ready to commit because I was missing the things I was doing before.”

Throughout the first several months of being together, she was having questions about her ex, the way he treated her, and how she was feeling about him. Phrases such as “I really wish he wasn’t the way he was because I liked him for…” Being younger then, Nicholas didn’t like hearing about her ex. Those sort of emotions were heavy for him to handle. “The closest I even had to being in a relationship, it was me talking to a girl I was crushing on and she would just have me as an emotional ladder to make herself feel better. So to sum up everything, the attraction we had for each other was just through a fast emotional and physical intimacy. Freshness. Excitement…” His voice trailed off. “If anything, I think we were both bonded by the excitement of having something new.”

I noticed how he was trying his best not to stumble over his words too much. Things like this take time and a huge amount of self-reflection. Those memories are just from so long ago and Nicholas was trying not to let negative memories from the current divorce make those memories tainted or biased. And, here’s where I want to say it’s not easy finding balance in that because you either blame yourself completely or the other half. It takes grace to be honest that you made mistakes just as much as the other half did, especially since most of us have been conditioned by our households or the media that “one is always more wrong than the other”. This, I believe, is unique for everyone, not every divorce happens and ends in a fixed manner.

“And then the child happened. You were 19. Tell me how you felt when you found out you were going to be a father, when you were not prepared at all…” I whispered, “What happened?”

Finding out that she was bearing his child then, on that one particular day, it was the start of a very stressful year for both of them. What time they had remaining in 2014 was a rush of adulthood. To get a car, get a bank account together, a place to stay, a stable job for income to provide. Nicholas went from job to job, from gas stations to cleaning cars. Living from place to place, and surviving fights after fights. Adulthood came crashing down. “That’s when the foundation of having a family began, but it wasn’t a foundation that was built between me and her. Everything that used to be fresh and exciting just dwindled to the stress of being an adult, and a new frightening world where we were both becoming parents. I had to provide for my family.”

It was no longer a matter or question if he loved her. He was questioning his own self worth, if he was able to pull through all of this as a man, as an adult, and if he was able to provide for his wife and soon-to-be-born child. “We married in the same year out of obligation because we needed a place to stay. We even talked about it the night before, and I told her that I was sure we would’ve gotten married eventually.”

I cannot possibly fathom how overwhelming that was for both of them. Despite this, Nicholas realised something now and he assured me, “You know, back in those days, in a lot of ways, the quick adulthood gave me a jumpstart to myself at least. Back in those days, I didn’t have a good work ethic. I needed to be serious.” I couldn’t help but point out to him about something he mentioned. I told him I found it interesting that when he discovered she was having a child, they had the conversation of marriage, where he said he was sure they both would’ve gotten married, eventually. I couldn’t help but wonder if he said that to comfort himself, or to comfort her, just to ease the situation. It was probably to comfort both of them, he said. What’s the difference between getting married now or later? It was a coping mechanism for what was happening.  

To give a quick flow of what happened later, just having to raise a child, seeing her grow up, there were cracks in the marriage. Still detached, Nicholas couldn’t be emotionally strong and available for his wife. I asked him why this was the case, “Why were you so closed off? Was it still tied to the fact that she had more experience and you were just existing?”

“Once I became an adult, once I landed a job, landed a place to stay, and when my daughter was born, I was just worn out. That one event sculpted me and after a little while, I found myself yearning some of the things the old me had. The solitude. The responsibilities that I didn’t have. My friends… I missed my friends. I didn’t hang out with them as much anymore…” This was very painful for both of us. He struggled to talk, and I struggled not to break down. I sincerely believed that he could recite all the reasons that he is much better now, yet of course he was still left with the emotional pain and scars. All the “what if’s”, the guilt, the shame, the path both of them would’ve taken not to lead up to this day.  “And she was noticing these things. I confided in her.” he said. That’s when she finally asked, “Well, do you love me? Do you love us?”

Nicholas couldn’t give her a straight answer.

He hesitated.

She never forgot that hesitation.

He knew he couldn’t fault her for it. In her own brokenness, she was looking for validation for her own actions and taking accountability for what took place. She needed him to be a strong supporting figure for her and the child. “I was selfish. I couldn’t shake away those feelings of wanting to go back to where I was. It was just too much. While I immediately formed a fatherly connection with my newborn daughter, I told myself I wasn’t going anywhere. I was going to stay for my family. But at the same time, there was another part of me that wished I could be experiencing fatherhood at a later stage.”

They divorced in 2020. But during the late 2017 up to 2019, conversations about divorce surfaced every now and then. Verbal fights happened and one particular event sealed everything. I will not go into the details here. It’s like a series of landmines, they go off in your face without any warning. Maybe the signs were there all along, the cracks from the brokenness you carried. But the pain is unimaginable—all the shrapnel of memories piercing your heart. All the things that used to center around your life come to a halt, things that used to define you are just ripped away. The jigsaw puzzle of your life, half of its pieces all gone… and yet, the world still expects you to form a coherent whole.

Your happiness has become a distant sentiment; a mere memory of what once was. You look at childhood photos and recollect on who you used to be. It’s hard to believe that was you. That bright exuberant smile portrayed in one family portrays a realization of regret. Remorse clings beneath the words you speak. Anger arises in the gestures you create. A sudden dislike for things you once enjoyed becomes apparent. A fondness you once believed to be unbreakable has now been shattered by the person you’ve created… Then you just have enough. You’ve had enough; you’re exhausted and out of breath.

Nicholas started therapy early this year in 2021. Once he knew in his mind and in his heart that the divorce was actually happening, it set a new chapter for him to change his life, the things that he was bitter about and the pain he felt of not being enough. This was going to be an end to something that he had been so used to, and was just tired of.

“Right,” I assured him, “and there was also your daughter to think about. While you were going through therapy, you discovered plenty of things that you didn’t know better then. Things that changed your mindset, the things that shaped you for the Nicholas that I am talking to right now. And I can imagine how different it must’ve been for you too because you had been alone, then together with someone for so long, having that physical person centering your life, and now you are going to be without that person.”

I think it’s incredibly nothing short of inspiring that, despite everything that happened, Nicholas was open to healing. But first, he had to accept that things went wrong and he was a part of it. He wanted to reach out and talk to people again. I like to think that, at least from what I remembered from our first few exchanges, it was clear to me that Nicholas was very troubled, it’s just commendable to me for him to just be honest and raw with me, and to just have that trust in me on all these things even when we barely knew each other. In that way, I could say that perhaps that Nicholas admitting that he needed help, getting therapy, was truly one of the best decisions he made for himself.

He thought about his daughter a lot in regards to how he was with his wife. He wanted to show his daughter what a healthy relationship looked like, and that was another reason for taking up therapy—to try to improve himself so he wouldn’t have to repeat the mistakes his parents did, the mistakes he did for himself, and for his daughter. That’s the Nicholas I know now.

I further said this to Nicholas to confirm some things for myself, “If I may add, you may correct me if I’m wrong since I am using intuition here and from the things I’ve gathered since our first interaction. One of the reasons why you struggled to get a divorce too was the fact it would have meant failure for you, as a father, as a man. The societal pressures and stigma were all on you, you were in that anxious and fearful state that also, at that time, seemed to have masked itself like a safety net (eg: you have a place to stay, a car, etc). But what you had not allowed to give yourself was space, a space to grief. You didn’t allow yourself to be vulnerable, that you needed a connection. You didn’t have the time to be vulnerable, to be real with yourself and acknowledge the severity of the loss, and really take your time to cry, to be weak, to break down and to mourn what you lost. That’s why you fantasized instead, “if only this” or “if only that”.”

“No, you are right. There was a large part of me that felt that I didn’t want to fail. I didn’t want to be like my parents. All I really wanted was a healthy relationship and even if I didn’t know how to do it, I just never gave myself space to reflect on what was best for us, individually. I didn’t allow myself to think about the things that I wanted, the things that could’ve made me happy. I was just caught up with being a father. I didn’t know it was okay for me to get help.”

Perhaps this divorce was the only way Nicholas was able to rediscover who he was, the person that is purely himself. He had all these dreams, of writing and creating things… All those memories of running in his backyard, making up stories in the back of his mind. It was nice to be young and innocent. He had those beautiful dreams that he needed to make into some kind of reality for himself. When your dreams are so very different and the person you are with can’t support you in that, everything can become muted and confused. Instead of building each other, both Nicholas and his wife gave each other a terrible compromise that made them neglect their own happiness. They are both better now, they have forgiven each other. While they both work on their own happiness now, they are in a much better place than they were before.

We have come to the end of the story here. I will say that marriages can end. Regardless, you deserve to move on with love for yourself. Even in your separate ways, to know that neither of you were perfect. While the initial stage of a divorce can create a radical new context for the past, and you find yourself groping through an all-enveloping darkness for structure and order, you are okay. You will be okay. Look out the window again and feel the breeze on your skin, hear how the birds sing a melody that affirm, on the darker days, the possibilities of life, the outside chance that aching may, one day—be suffused with tenderness and new hope.


“Lucid. It’s not easy. It’s not easy to just leave things behind and start over.”

Of course it’s not. 

The way we deal and handle adversity reveals so much about how we can grow, it starts with acceptance that we are not perfect, and that it is okay to be vulnerable, and reach out.

I wrote this knowing full well in my heart that I am grateful to be trusted with this piece to share it with all of you. It has been a difficult one to write, but it has been so worthwhile too. I hope that reading this piece, you were able to find comfort in some parts. Having said this, Nicholas is an amazing person and writer, and you can read 'Theater for Moths' by him and reach out to him at @nickhazeee. 

Dear Nick, thank you for trusting me for this, I’m so proud of you. 
Keep breathing. Keep healing. Keep growing.ps, dear readers: You can let me know your thoughts or if you prefer to talk to me in private, you can always reach out to me in my DMs. Love, Lucid.

All is fine.

CW // This content contains descriptions of self-harm, and also refers to themes of suicide. Please proceed with caution. If you are having depressive thoughts at the moment, please do not continue.

Press ‘play’ to listen to music.


[Wednesday 1:38 AM] Sarah

So do you want to talk about it? 

[Wednesday 1:39 AM] Josee

About what?

[Wednesday 1:39 AM] Sarah

Anything. 

[Wednesday 1:44 AM] Josee

I’ve said everything I wanted to. I’m not sure. I think that I will be okay.

[Wednesday 1:45 AM] Sarah

Are you going to bed now? You should. It’s late.

[Wednesday 1:49 AM] Josee

Just some writing. I have a hazy story inside my head, and I’ve tried to write it out but the words don’t seem to mean anything. But in all seriousness, I think I just need some time to sort things out on my own. I’ll write later. I’m looking forward to it already.

[Wednesday 1:51 AM] Sarah

Great! I’m so glad to hear that.

An hour later

[Wednesday 2:51 AM] Sarah

You know something, Josee—you can always talk to me when you are feeling alone. You know? I was thinking about our friendship and what it means to me, everything.

Has it occurred to you that I know absolutely nothing about your life? The things you like, the kind of music you listen to, I don’t know of it. I’ve talked to you for so long but it’s dawning on me that each time when I do, you are just listening to my feelings. You’ve been a great friend, but some days you can be distant too.

Are you okay?

[Wednesday 2:56 AM] Josee

Hey hey, it’s all okay. All’s good here. (Why are you still awake?) Did I ever give you the impression I was not okay? I’m sorry if that was the case. I’ve never been comfortable in telling people how I feel. You don’t have to feel bad about anything. I feel assured enough that you are asking me if I’m okay. That’s more than enough for me, Sarah. Believe me, I’m okay.

[Wednesday 2:57 AM] Sarah

Okay, Josee. I believe you. I can’t wait for you to teach me how to paint tomorrow, can we please start with painting trees?

[Wednesday 2:58 AM] Josee

GO TO SLEEP LOL.


“I wish I hadn’t gone to sleep that night.”

Everything made no sense to Sarah. She cried occasionally, trying to make sense of her emotions, but she was getting colder and stiffer. It is well known that she and Josee had been friends for 8 years. She felt certain that there was probably a time, at least a few occasions where Josee was smiling, laughing, and having fun with everyone else. 

She had also read stories from Josee. Josee was a great writer, she had a way with words that made things feel real. Some held a pessimistic outlook on life and development of irrational fears, some filled with anger and hurt. But Josee was alright. She was having a stable income and was advancing in her life. But Sarah also recalled a time she saw one of Josee’s artwork; a woman weeping in such silent and bitter distress that Sarah’s heart almost moved out to her. Yet all she could mouth to Josee was, “Your art is beautiful. I wish I could paint like you.”

Everything happened so fast, without warning. No one knew Josee had been mildly to moderately depressed with several episodes of major depression. At first, everyone else thought she was just having a bad day, perhaps it was seasonal depression. They hadn’t seen her sitting in her room using her tears as to ease the wounds she had inflicted on herself. And under all that summer heat, no one seemed to ask Josee why she wore sweaters and long sleeves. It seemed clear to Josee that her body was a canvas and the knife was a paintbrush, and the only paint colour she had to express with was red.

Letters. There were letters in Josee’s desk too. They found many letters in her handwriting. She wrote letters to her father, her mother, brother, Sarah, including some other friends too. They never sent them, and she wrote to them as if she was already gone, like she knew she was never going to see them again. In her own words too, in every letter, there was a common theme of her concealing how she felt. Damaged, unworthy, unseen, unheard, undeserving, broken beyond help… a cry for just wanting to be enough, to feel enough, that she was worth living in this place.

For there were so many days Josee couldn’t bear to be around people at work too; she would detached herself from work and tried to go solo whenever she could. It was always easier to not have to hide and lie to people that she wanted out. All of those feelings of not belonging, not being like everyone else, having to hide how the voices in her head makes life exhausting, isolating… it all made her feel small, ashamed, and tormented.

It was hard to take in. Sarah buried her face in her hands, mourning came as a sad song, soft and low. Josee had her great sides too, she could be cheerful, giddy and witty. The people around her felt assured, and when they reached out to her, she would politely decline things, laughed it off and change the subject. Maybe, maybe what Sarah never understood was, all this while, the writing, the art, the changing of subject, were all cries for help. She could canalise her feelings into a coherent one; she only knew how desperately she wanted to turn back time. Crying seemed to be the only sensible thing to do now.


The night of Josee’s departure

[Wednesday 2:56 AM] Josee

No, I’m not okay at all. Hey hey, it’s all okay. All’s good here. (Why are you still awake?) I’m scared of falling asleep. I’m scared of being awake. I don’t know what to do anymore, Sarah. Help. Please for help. I don’t think I will make it tonight. It feels so suffocating to be here. I feel trapped even when all the doors and windows in the house are wide open. I going to put a stop to it. I’m going to stop feeling this way. I just want that fucking noise in my head to stop. I will put an end to this. Every second of everyday, I think about silencing that voice. Did I ever give you the impression I was not okay? I’m sorry if that was the case. I’ve never been comfortable in telling people how I feel. But I want I’ve always wanted to know if I was a bother to you? You don’t have to feel bad about anything. I feel assured enough that you are asking me if I’m okay. That’s more than enough for me, Sarah. Believe me, I’m not okay. I want to kill myself tonight. If I don’t make it tonight, I just want you to know, thank you for staying with me all this years as a friend. I love you and I’m sorry.

Josee Lee Williams (11 March 1996 – 4 July 2021) died from an overdose. The last painting they ever found in her room was a tree in shades of red. Looking closer, through it all, the tree seemed like a sentry to the bloody landscape, the stoic guardian of so many souls, a beauty that encouraged the spirit to dance though words, to make odes to its branches that spread heaven-bound. And in the strong light of the new day, gives liberty for the senses in those moving leaves, the thousand green hues and the soft whispering in the wind that sings “You’re okay now, Josee. All is well.”


Having going through severe depression myself, I can say in my own case that depression isn't a fixed form, it comes it all sorts. What is heart-breaking though, is coming to terms with depression, my mind tries to reason with it. I force yourself to feel, to be vulnerable, to reach out to someone. It's hard, and it's painful. It's a cycle of self-hate I put myself in, and I disappoint myself. That's when the thought of killing myself seems 'worthwhile'. For when I look around and find that world has moved on, and I can't seem to catch up... a race I'm so scared of losing. I contemplated back and forth on sharing this piece. I understand the consequences that comes with sharing such a personal part of me, but it's not a piece of me that I am ashamed of. I just wouldn't know how people would take it. If you read this until the end, know that I am always 6 feet deep inside my mind, but I still keep living every single day.

I wrote this piece for many reasons, how depression is a silent killer, and it makes me realise how important it is for me to be grateful for my loved ones, as well as be aware of what I say to a friend or stranger. Because any moment now, I don’t know what’s going to happen. Any moment can be an event that impacts our lives one way or another. If you just need a friend, someone to connect with, someone to listen, I’ll be here. There are also many people who would care for you, please reach out. ♡

Ropes.

Finally, in a low whisper, he said, "I think I might be a terrible person."
For a split second, I believed him -
I thought he was about to confess a crime, maybe a murder.
Then I realized 
that we all think we might be terrible people.
But we only reveal this before asking someone to love us.

Why do I cry? Why are the tears flowing? This unexplainable pain in my chest, the tears that won’t stop its flow. Is it my fault? The curtains in the office, they look just as bare and blank as I am in my life. I hear the standing fan, it doesn’t try to pry into my thoughts for the voice inside my head, is louder. Am I not strong enough to adapt to this life where I was told since young, that it was I either I gave it my all or nothing at all?

So why am I on the verge of tears? In the office, no one sees, how could they? Their backs are turned behind me as they scramble to finish a monthly report. Meetings after meetings, quotas to be met. It’s not their fault either. We are all just good at pretending we are okay. These all-or-nothing achievement systems our societies had been promoting all along was supposed to make the world a better place for people to achieve their dreams. Instead, it seems to be an incubator for adolescent depression and suicide. I was led to believe that this belief of perfection was the only viable way for me to survive and it was cruelly adapted into me. But why should that even matter? I am an adult, I am supposed to have this figured out, right?

Right.

No, I can’t.

It’s hard. And I know perhaps this might be relatable to some, or not—either way, this is what I am going through. Perhaps some of you can find comfort in knowing that I am not perfect, that I do come with my own flaws.


Wednesday, 9.00 AM — I told my second brother that I didn’t return his messages sooner because I was hit by anxiety (again). I believe he set aside the things he needed to do to assure me. It was difficult for me just to type the words I wanted to say. Finally, I was able to come up with a concise text, “I don’t know exactly why, but if I must take a guess, it has been an on-and-off thing since I accepted this job position in a reputable corporation. I can’t help but feel the blame is on me because maybe, just maybe I am the one who is not trying to adapt? Or maybe it’s the added factor that I got accepted into a job during the pandemic.”

I further told him about my growing anxiousness regarding my vaccination appointment which would possibly fall on the same day in which I am supposed to handle a livestream video for my company. The fear of not being able to present for my task and to let someone else even manage it for a bit didn’t sit well with me, and there was the added stress of thinking that I have let the team down for being away… In truth, it wasn’t fair at all for me to blame myself. My chest was hurting at this point, one hand on my chest and the other on the keyboard, I had to force myself to tell my brother my fear of disappointing my team and how some days I felt distant from them.

What followed next was nothing but words of assurance and compassion from my brother. My chest still hurt, but somehow, reading what he had to say calmed me, even if it was a little.

He said, “Rather than thinking of failing to meet your team’s expectations, it is okay to make mistakes. Be more compassionate and patient to yourself. If you feel distant, why don’t you try asking them how they find you as a person in or out of work when working together with them?” And he continued on, “I do understand the feeling when your responsibility and things or events just overlapped each other. I would advise to give your team a heads up about it and have a contingency plan in hand. You have been working with them for quite a while now. I believe you can navigate them a little bit on how it’s supposed to run with much ease.”

Those three words.

“I believe you.”

Why? Why did my second brother have such faith in me when I had none for myself? How could he possibly hold so much faith in me when I have been nothing but a mess? Am I not seeing something in myself that he can see? Or perhaps, I am the one here with little faith.

I still didn’t quite catch what he said, and I couldn’t understand where he was coming from having such confidence in me. When I finally mustered some strength and had both hands on my keypad, I typed away and told him that one of the biggest things I had always struggled with anxiety is when things are sudden and changes its course. I even told him how it sounds so silly and childish, that because I am an adult, I should be able to know how to manage myself and my schedule… isn’t that right?

And I don’t think I was fully prepared for the question he raised next.

“Why do you really think it is silly and childish? And what makes you think that an adult can manage themselves 100%?”

I never thought about this. Have I not been giving myself enough grace, or was it the perfectionist in me that feared the unknown? And thus, my brother carried on, “From what I see or understand is that you have set your ‘if and then’ rules, in a manner such, ‘if I fail to manage myself perfectly, then I am an immature person and I contribute to the failure to the team as a whole.’

Unbelievable. Like he read through me. I agreed and he went on. “My next question would be, is it not okay to let loose then on the ropes that you grip so tightly and constantly? Whatever the rope may represent in your life.”

Now I’m not the most religious or spiritual person, but I am in my own ways, sensitive to certain things. But what my brother had allowed me was to question the ropes that I have been holding on in my life, and so I lamented.

“I look up to you, kor, mom, and dad. I always feel that somehow everyone else seems to know what to do in life, and I just don’t? Take mom for example, she is so good with accounts, and knows things about estate, property, etc. Dad knows how to deal and manage himself in an unfamiliar territory, even kor too.”

Perhaps what I said made perfect sense to me then. Isn’t that how it is though when we look at someone with our own perceptions? I could tell my second brother was incredibly patient with his worrywart sister, and so he asked, “What makes you confident and feel that way? Are you assuming from your stored information or having a talk with us personally and inwardly? If it is through your observations, does it really reflect on how the said person actually feels inwardly without you talking and understanding with them? Take for example, your friends have been observing you as a reliable friend that manages everything well, but they haven’t spoken to you and understand what or how you are feeling on the inside.”

That’s how it is though, isn’t it?

All of us. You, me, and everyone else. We only know what we think we know. I had grown accustomed to the image of “I can’t mess up or fail anything in whatever I do, otherwise I am a failure.”

With much love and patience, my second brother advised me to talk to my colleagues on their struggles with life. I considered, but I didn’t want to force a conversation with them either. My anxiety went down a lot and I managed to eat something. I didn’t want to fixate on a miscommunication that happened in the office, but I kept my brother’s word at heart.


Thursday, 3.17 PM – A miscommunication happened which caused me to have my storyboard idea to be half scrapped. I was frustrated as the idea was presented more than a week and the review came in late. That meant more work on my end, and at the very last minute too, just the day before a presentation. I took a leap of faith and voiced out my feelings to my manager.

Now, I wasn’t expecting her to take my side, to pity me, or anything. I just really didn’t want to bottle up my emotions. Because I trusted her too, I wanted to be honest with her. What I didn’t expect was her to really, listen to me, and tell me an incredibly personal story.

“Everyone should pull their own weight in the team, the final results will tell who puts in effort and who doesn’t. But life never goes the way we plan at all, especially not in this industry. And when you’re in the corporate world, you face all sorts of people. You might face people who are slow with instructions, the ones who get confused all the time… sometimes we think our efforts are wasted when we spend so much time trying to help them to understand our ideas, they can’t see it, it gets rejected. It hurts, you might think everything you did was for nothing, but what you had gained on your own, the knowledge, the skill, it stays with you—no one can ever take that away from you.

Anyway, you might think I’m not the one who stays up and prepares all these concepts and storyboards, that’s why I’m doing all the talking here… But what I am trying to help you to understand is that the corporate world is full of challenges. It can break us, it can make us stronger, how we navigate around those challenges is important.

Like you, I kept my feelings to myself. I handled things on my own. I wasn’t relying on anyone, did everything by myself, it overwhelmed me. I cried. I had a breakdown in the office, and I left in a sudden. The previous general manager had to call someone to find me, and they brought me back to the office to calm me down. A lot of things happened before you showed up here… and you know, slowly, it just got better when I formed my own team.

I don’t ever want you to feel that your efforts are not seen. I see your efforts. I see your struggles. I see your frustration. Understand this, I share how you feel, not as your manager, but also your friend. Don’t ever keep things to yourself. Even when I am being unreasonable to you, talk to me, tell me that I am being unreasonable. Because you are the person I hired. I saw something in you. So did our general manager. Does that not speak enough of your own worth in our eyes?”

Now… I didn’t know how or what to respond to her.

I was just, shocked.

I didn’t realize I had shed a tear too. One of the few moments I’m grateful for working at home so no one could see me cry. But you see, in that moment of all the hopelessness and loss I felt, assurance came to me when I least expected it. And I can’t exactly describe how it feels because you have to experience it for yourself—feeling like you are nothing and having someone to remind you your worth.

Suddenly, I recognized that these triggers or anxiety attacks that I was experiencing so frequently were exposing me to parts of myself that I may have yet to make peace with and fully accept. I realized in my feelings of “not being enough” that were coming up, that I had still some work to do on accommodating the parts of myself that did not feel safe and welcomed. That for those parts to feel welcomed, they first had to be acknowledged and welcomed by me.

What would I have changed when I was a child?

What would Lucid do?

A lot of my mental dissociation or anxiety attacks are connected to childhood wounds, tied to moments in my earlier development when my needs were not met. For me, I suffered not feeling safe and welcomed in the social spheres I entered. Even in family gatherings, gossips and rumours would spread, and the wound of alienation would soon spread to me. I lost a huge chunk of my childhood. I went through a period of anger and hurt myself. But now, things are different. I messed up.

Still, I will persevere.

If I can’t wake up at 7.30 AM, I will try getting up at 8.00 AM.

And that’s still something.

It’s remarkable.

More importantly, the conversations with my second brother and manager had opened the door for me to give myself some grace. Compassionately, I took a break from social media in the day. I made time to speak to my inner child.  I told her how much I care for her and how responsible I feel for her safety. I also assured her that she was safe within my body. That, today, I will reparent her and meet her needs; essentially, that she is welcomed here and everywhere she goes.

That she belongs and she is loved—especially by me.

So I say goodbye to the ropes, the ones that I’ve held on for too long, the ones that left me bruised and scarred. This time, there are no more ropes. Just hopes.


Someone gave me a tough pill to swallow. It's the same one I intend to give you. Please take a deep breath beforehand...
Breathe in...
Hold it for a couple of seconds... 
and exhale... slowly... ever so slowly...

Here's the tough pill:

You are not your pain, nor your shame, nor your grief, nor your trauma. You are pure, unconditional and unadulterated love. 

Your mind may scream and say it's a lie.
It's okay. Take your time. Like I said, it's a tough pill to swallow. 

You are loved. ♡ 

With him.

Life, you walked too fast
I don't know what I lost in the way today,
my existence looked blurry
when I peeped into myself.

TW // Suicide. Death. Psychological Abuse. [ This is a work of fiction. ]


“You poor thing,” He said as he bustled around with his smile. “You’ll never amount to anything. Don’t worry though, you’re good at hiding that part of you. Everyone around you thinks you’ve got it together. They won’t suspect anything with the way you smile, handle your job like a pro, and so much more. In the meantime, you can try to hope things get better so you can live longer, but don’t count on it, darling.”

I laughed nervously, forgetting that I was in the middle of painting something, I didn’t even notice that the brush hung limply against my fingers, fresh paint dripping onto the floor. I must confess that at this time I was a paranoid 30 year old filled to the brim with anxiety. I had just gotten home after seeing the psychiatrist and the last thing I wanted was to be regarded as the poor thing. “That’s not true,” I stammered, trying but failing to instill confidence with what I have left. “I will get better. You’re just not giving me a chance to. I’ll work hard. I used to have trouble waking up in the mornings but I do that now, don’t I? I am going to get better and happier. I am going to make new friends, see the world, and do the things that I love.”

I didn’t realise how fast I was speaking by the end.

He turned over to me, my eyes instinctively turned away, I could see from the corner he was still wearing his indulgent smile on his face. “If that’s what you think, darling. But let me remind you just how pathetic you are. Now, let’s see. I am going to ask you to play a game with me. We’ll take a walk down memory lane. I’ll ask you questions, and you answer. Will that be okay, sweetie?” His voice sounded sweet with poison.

My past had been a place I never wanted to revisit for good reasons. All those memories of traumatic experiences that have been painful and have left their emotional residue within me… Just how long had I been faking security? Even then, I didn’t want to give in completely, not especially when he was giving me a rub on my back, something that I didn’t ask for. I’ve been living with him for as long as I can remember. My conversations with him were something I’ve grown accustomed to and though I didn’t necessarily agree with the things he said, I just didn’t have the mental energy to start a debate with him either. As these thoughts ran through my mind, the only impulse I wanted to do was to shout at him, “Right now??” but nothing came out, my defiance clamped in my throat.

“Sure, go on.” I gave a despairing sigh, my hand instinctively putting down the paintbrush on a wood palette that rested on my art desk. All my thoughts of peaceful solitude fled my mind like scared children, my mind felt full of static like an old television set that has lost its signal. I was hesitant. Part of me was screaming to run away from him, but I knew it was futile to put up a fight against him.

His fingers left my back as he eagerly helped me to stand up, then carefully, he led me up the stairs to my bedroom and for an awful second, I was sure I nearly tripped over the steps when he let go of my hand. I could imagine then that there was an odd look on his face when I struggled to maintain my balance, almost as if it was farcical to him, that the odd look quickly  morphed into a smile as he reached his hand out to help me. I apologized and he assured me that it was alright.

When we reached my bedroom, he had been nice enough to help me sit on the cushioned bed. I noticed he had arranged the pillows neatly too, and the sheets looked clean. Quite comforting to know he wasn’t staying rent-free. It took me a while to get used to the idea that I could carry conversations with a person who never got out to do anything for himself but only stayed indoors all day, all night talking to me. It made perfect sense to him, because he was still taking care of the house.

“Remember when you were seven and couldn’t fit in school because you stuttered?” He took a vanity chair and sat legs folded in front of me. My eyes went down to the floor.

“Yes, I do. They made fun of me because I was different. I couldn’t concentrate in class either because they were always picking on me, even when I—” My shoulders tensed up a little as I tried to get the words out. “Even when I paid no heed to their business. The teacher wouldn’t stand up for me because I was just too different. It wasn’t their fault though, I don’t hold any grudge against them, we just didn’t get to communicate properly.”

“On the contrary,” He cut in, his voice stingingly sharp. “You’ve got that wrong. They didn’t like you. That’s why they picked on you. Speaking of communication too, wasn’t it just as awful living with your parents?” He narrowed his eyes and glared at me as he demanded, “Admit that it was a living hell for you.”

He wasn’t wrong. It really was hell living with those two. They fought, every single day, over the smallest things. There were nights where I would lay in bed listening to their constant berating and insult at each other. The sound of clashing voices became familiar to me. I was confident that if I tried hard enough, I could recite all the things they said with their raised voices. It would start so quietly, small bickering over a dinner session gone wrong, or if my mother didn’t like how father would leave the chair unarranged after he used it. Those small jabs would quickly evolve into spats. Not long after, my mother would shout, my father would begin laying into her and the screaming would finally begin. No one could possibly fathom how a lot of those times left me with the emotional pain and scars I tried to bury. But at that tender age, the only thing I could do was shut the door tight and push my face into the bolster my ten-year old body wrapped around, praying that I could lose my hearing just for the night.

“It was awful. I was young, but I’m 30 now. I’m old enough to know that they didn’t mean to hurt each other. They must have inherited some trauma from their own past, causing them to surrender their self control, to have their primitive brains take over tasks that,” I took a deep breath. “—tasks that empathy and logic should have been custodians of.”

When I was 12, I would think of how I would be better for them. Get better grades. Never missing a class. Making them proud. Maybe, just maybe if I studied harder and aced school, they would then be proud of me and not have to fight anymore. Even when I was enduring the terrible cycle of pain, I wanted to grow up faster so I could be better for them. And I had intended to find out how I could end the fighting. I would read all the books that taught self-control with empathy and logic. I had hope. A hope to release my parents of their own brokenness into wellness.

Then one day, she just left.

Mother left, and I remained right where I was, with just books to comfort me.

He laughed out loud, the kind of mocking laughter a man makes when he’s already had you once. I imagined he made a face of forced acceptance. “But your mother left you and your father in the end, didn’t she? God. She must’ve been fed up with how much space you took up in that house.” He was twirling his legs with such energy as he said it.

I inhaled deeply, then turned my face upward to the ceiling and held it for a long moment before I replied. “Stop it. You don’t know her. She had her reasons.” I shook my head, got up out of the bed, and began to pace toward the bedroom window with the city view, the sky looked so liberating. “You speak of her as if you knew her inside out. You know nothing about my mother.” I said, trying not to gaze at the reflection.

“Oh, but I was there. I was there when you spent those countless nights crying, the kind of weeping that could break a saint’s heart.” He came up behind me and wrapped his arms around me, they felt cold. He brought his lips close to my ears and whispered, “I was there. Even with that incident with your father, I was there by your side.”

After a lifetime of loneliness, I could not imagine what would break my spirit more than it did after my Mum left the house. But I learned that it was also dangerous when you tempt fate with such imaginations. My father learned to manage his temper and he left me alone to figure out a lot of things on my own. Fortunately, I could do it. But I had not expected life to drive him to a state where he would set himself on fire when I was 19. I got the call from the hospital. I had never run as fast as I did then.

When I found him in the ward, I could not recognise him. It felt strange to see this man who bore the resemblance to my father looking so lifeless on the bed. He looked up at me with his brown eyes flashing through the layers of pain—the eyes that were the only part of him I could recognize among the mass of white bandages and tannic acid that covered his burns. “They’ve told you I can’t survive, haven’t they? Don’t end up like me, son. Don’t make the mistakes I did because I lo—”

I never got to hear what he said until the end.

I’m not sure if anything would have changed if he had finished his sentence. But I recall, in that ward, I held my father’s hands in mine, closed my eyes and shed tears. The pain of my mother’s absence and my father dying with the wrapped burns, penetrated my soul. I struggled to make sense of it.

The one time I needed someone, Dad slipped away from my fingers, and Mum was harder to find than empathy at a psychopath conference. Somehow, that was when I started seeing him visibly too, at this time, this entity began to take shape.

From the outset, I put him in his right place in my mind, he was merely a friend of convenience and nothing more. But even then, I wasn’t so sure if it would stay that way. Somehow this being just found a way into my home and made it a comfortable place for him, for us. In fact, I was neither accommodating nor welcoming to him, but he seemed to be there at my lowest moments when no one was. Even if he was not particularly uplifting with his words, he was the only one there with me. It was not too long before he got involved with some of the new people I was getting to know. When things turned sour, and it was often, I had to force him back into the house and forbid him from following me outside. I wasn’t sure how many people had noticed how clingy he was around me then, and I certainly could not have told them of all the misery that lay behind my face, the pain that never left me, and the wounds that never really healed.

It was funny too because I would remember the hours I spent to get him to communicate with me on the same wavelength, but he always had a way of making everything sound so cynical. He was always trying to be nice, forming and giving me ‘helpful’ opinions at my worst times in the worst places. With all the effort he went through to be supportive, he sure had a way of making my own efforts to resume a normal life to appear insignificant. He said everything he did was for my own good. The longer I was with him, the more obvious as to what he was trying to teach me: Give in to him, and I will feel euphoria. It sounded too good to be true, so I never took up the offer nor did I even experiment with that idea. But hell, he stayed in my place for another 10 more years, trying to make everything about him and us. In his head, he said the two of us were soulmates—that we were perfect for each other. I didn’t want to believe all that because there were other things that had my attention.

Nothing could be more boring than the exercises assigned to me by my psychiatrist who checked on me three times a week. “Do something you enjoy! Depression can push you to give into your fatigue. It may feel more powerful than happy emotions. Try to push back and do something you love—something that’s relaxing, but energizing. It could be playing an instrument, painting, hiking, or biking. You told me you love to paint so paint the things you love. The next time we meet, you can tell me about it.” I’ve heard that a million times during therapy.

And then he would let out a chuckle each time I would look in the mirror as I try to motivate myself. Each time I would remind myself that I was loved, he would cheer me on, lead me to a false sense of security, only to say “Just kidding!” a few minutes later, followed by a snarling laughter with a slap to the knee. Nothing could be more frustrating than to try to write positive notes to myself only to see him correcting my spelling, turning my “I am worthy” into “I am unworthy” on the pieces of paper. Or to be writing poetry with him looking over my shoulders where I had to make words rhyme with “sad”, “depressed”, or “useless”, and he would make a scene if the poem wasn’t good enough for his standards. Or, worst of all, to sit facing my dressing mirror and have him touching me without my consent and reminding me that I didn’t need anyone so long I had him in my life.

“I have always been with you, and I am so fond of you, Chris,” whispered him cheerfully, “I just know you’ll be much happier with me. Forget the people that say you need proper help. You just need me to take care of you. And I will, I will love you so much that you wouldn’t find hope in anyone else but me. Because all this time, no one was there for you at your lowest except me. I tried to be there for your Mum and Dad. Too bad they broke too easily, but you? You’re special. You had always been the resilient one. It was so alluring, enticing.”

His grip on me was getting tighter, it had gotten more tense than the usual grip-and-whisper sessions we had previously. Usually, he‘d be all sarcastic, then start to apologize before he planted kisses on my cheek and my forehead. The room lights too seemed to be dimmer than normal. Also, why was his breathing getting heavier and his face getting closer as if he was going to kiss me on my lips? I had to get a glimpse of his face…

“Oh my god.”

I froze as soon as the words escaped my lips. When I looked at his face, what greeted me was the perverse pleasure gleaming in his eyes, his facial expression almost dehumanizing. Did he always look this twisted?

“What’s wrong, sugar?” His voice was low and icy.

“Oh my god. To think it had always been this way. It is ironic, is it not?”

“What’s that?”

“That for years you stood by my family, all the years that my parents were at each other’s throats, that the only thing that kept us from giving into our inner demons, was you.” The strangest thing happened, I felt his grip becoming looser. “I’ll never be good enough for you. But what I never understood was, why didn’t you let me die after all this time?” Only then did I remove myself from his grip entirely.

“Don’t you understand? You can’t die. I need you to be alive so I can feed on your misery. But it’s not just me. This isn’t a one-man show. This is a team effort! Don’t you realize you played a part in this too?” Where was the cynicism in his voice?

“Played a part in what?” I was surprised by his question until I remembered how I was letting him have his way then. I had allowed this person to take control of my life and the people around me. 

I didn’t know it at the time, but as I stared into his eyes, I realised now that he was never meant to stay in this place. He wasn’t supposed to have this much power and control over me. And that all along, a truth was emerging: I wasn’t afraid of him; he was afraid of me. He was afraid that if I started seeking help in the right places, that if I had reached out to somebody for healing, then he would have nothing on me. I’m sure, though, that if I had reached out to even one person that cared for me – that saw my worth – it would’ve been enough to get rid of him. He would simply have to accept that I was bringing in other people and interests that gave me joy, and no one would have believed his word against mine.

When I look back now at those days of my childhood, time was distorted: But I knew that the periods where I couldn’t explain the things I felt, the occasions where my parents struggled to be civil in their own home, he had always been watching us. He drove my father into a state of apparently uncontrollable anger. And even when I grew older, and became somebody, I eventually had to go home again, and when I did, he made sure I paid a heavy price for my hours of happiness.

I can’t remember what I’d done this time; I just know I had been trying to paint a future. By admitting that I needed help, I was making a new start and taking the initial step towards the hereafter. I wanted to draw a line under the sorrow of my childhood, to relegate it firmly and irrevocably to the past—the past where my heart knew my family belonged to.

Even when he stood so close to me I could see every detail of his sneering face, I saw my own reflection in his eyes—broken, but not defeated. I still found him extremely intimidating and my feet were trying to take steps back. Yet I did not move. I did not want him to think for a second that I was afraid of him. I wasn’t anymore. I simply brought my hands to his face and touched his cheeks, almost caressing it and I said, slowly, in a normal and assuring voice, “I’m sorry for not being kind to myself. Today, I am forgiving myself. I am forgiving you. Not because you deserve it, or have stopped the grief that lingered. Today, I am forgiving myself, because I deserve it. I was never so sure, but I know now that I am the bigger person here. I’m alive and I’ve got a chance. And I choose to let go. I am letting you go.” I was so tired that it was a real effort to speak.

Depression moved his lips to have his say.

But nothing came out, tears welled up in his eyes. 

They say sadness masks itself behind anger, yet anger never comes unless in direct self defence, and so perhaps I can credit this natural passivity with his willingness to cry and feel pain, to let his sorrow teach me more about my true nature and how fragile I was as a human. He turned, and I saw his back. I don’t remember if I have ever seen the shape of his back. He  then let out a cry that almost broke my heart and as the last note of his cry trailed into the air, I began to experience inner peace. I didn’t feel so alone. Somehow, I was going to make it. 

I don’t really remember what happened afterwards, all I knew for certain was that I never saw him again. For the first time in the longest while, I slept peacefully that night. As I began to drift into slumber, whimsical dreams of myself painting in a flower field while Mum and Dad laughed like strangers falling in love in their earliest exchange greeted me. I saw what resembled enrapturement to me. Extraordinary it was.

When I woke up the next morning, I searched for a photograph of my parents’ wedding in their bedroom. There it was in their dresser buried underneath a pile of old clothes. I held the photograph in my hand gazing on its yellowed surface—it was the most perfect memory of those two and I chose to have their smiles etched in my heart. I chose that photograph because in that moment, they were the couple they should have been, would have been, had it not been for the stress of life. In that 1987 snapshot, their unwarped personality was something so golden and sacred I wanted to cherish it forever. If I had been a great painter I’d sit with an easel and attempt to paint their marriage with splashes of love. But instead I just let the photograph make an impression on my memory. I saw my mother’s tenderness and my father’s youthful spirit. I needed those memories to stay with me, I needed them to soothe me when the bad ones threatened to erase all traces of those people I held dear, even in their absence. I wanted to recall everything that made them beautiful to keep me alive.

I wanted to live on.


I cannot recapture the past any more than I can escape it. But some of us can hope for love as well as understanding. When the world opens its eyes to mental health awareness, understand the weight it carries, and validate a person's state of being and emotions, everyday life will be a shade more pleasant. They say that Depression is just inside my head—they’re not wrong. Well, not entirely. But maybe through this story you will see just a glance of how Depression can be, and how terrifying it is as a physical manifestation. This is how Depression talks down to me and I want to fight it. To disregard a person due to their mental health is injustice to me. All too often, even when we are hurting, we jump into defense, anger, and sarcasm quickly and no one leaves the conversation as a victor. We give in to anger, instead of stepping away. We join in the crowd, instead of thinking for ourselves. We forget ourselves. Does this mean I'm wrong? Does this mean you're wrong? That's not the point. I just hope for all of us to be kinder, more compassionate to others. The world needs more love. It can be done; a simple message that you care for a stranger online or even a text to a friend to remind them how blessed you are to have them in your life. "I hope you're okay"—this sentence alone saves even just one person. Not everyone will read this message and agree with it, and that's okay. I still want to thank you for reading it. I hope you have a nice day wherever you are.

My mental health: Living with MDD and GD.

TW // Dysphoria.

This wasn’t a planned post. I had scheduled something else for today but this morning was different. I woke up feeling defeated, worthless, with a toll of anxiety engulfing me. I had received some personal troubling news over the phone. I wanted to stay in bed for the rest of the day. But then I sat thinking about the future waiting for me, I thought about the special person whom I have not met but will meet, I think about the person who will be proud of what I did to get up off bed, that person was me.

So I got up. Still anxious. But there’s progress. Because you see, every other day, it would have been easier to stay in bed and not face the world. Living with MDD (Major Depressive Disorder) and GD (Gender Dysphoria) takes a toll on me, it’s an ongoing battle, constantly. There were many things I wanted to speak out, I just didn’t know how. Don’t know where to start. Don’t know how it will be received. Don’t necessarily have the privilege to just speak out honestly on how I feel in this sinking place, in this Asian upbringing and all else that feels, traditional, archaic.

But I am going to try.

I am going to try my very best to journal all these feelings. Not always on the internet, but when I feel it’s necessary for such. It’s not the brightest and happiest place to be in the dark, cold closet. Even growing up, I was confused on how I was feeling because words were inadequate; society was unhelpful. There was no impetus for me to understand the condition in my mind, my feelings, and all the things I was going through. Even in times where I knew I was broken, I downplayed my own brokenness by comparing my life with people who had or have it worse. I thought being grateful was all I needed to push through and see life in a better light.

What I didn’t know was I needed help.

I needed support; unconditional love.

Not the kind of love that excuses me from doing vile things and exercising unbecoming practices, but the one that knows despite everything I say or do, I am trying my darn best to be sane. You see, when I was discovering myself, I possibly already knew who I was, but I was uncomfortable with it. Tried all the tricks from the book to look like a normal feminine woman. Tried to date guys to feel pretty and see that being a female isn’t so bad as I’d make it out to be. I was uncomfortable with so many things but went along with them convincing myself it was all part of growing up and blossoming into adulthood. I didn’t know things was going to get messier with me slowly coming to terms with myself. I wanted to deny myself. 

In university, I hardly dressed up as a guy. I would try to wear something more feminine to appear more female outside. Would try hard to feel like a lady, wearing the tight dresses, flowing skirts, high heels… would remember feeling empty after a prom night looking at the mirror. All I remembered from the proms—wasn’t the food, not the performances, no, or how that emcee particularly sucked at their one job. No. The women were beautiful, so were the men. Yes, the men. I was envious. I looked at them in their tall stature, the suits they wore, the different tones in their voice… and realizing that could never be me.

Staying in the college apartment too prevented me from dressing up as a guy because I was sharing the place with people who would not understand. Going shopping with my female friends, I already got used to smiling when they would choose a dress out of the rack for me. “Very nice,” I’d tell them, “but it would look better on you, not me.” They’d still insist I looked the prettiest out of them. When someone tells you how beautiful you look, you’re supposed to be happy. I knew their intentions, it’s going to be alright, right? Right.

But you see, no one knows what goes up inside my head. I would still get scared shopping alone for men’s clothes in the mall. It wasn’t just the stares that would make me uncomfortable, but the fact that I had to cover up when being questioned about my ‘fashion choices’, “It’s not for me. These clothes are for my guy friends, my brothers.” Those clothes were for me though. 

Dealing with relationships and the opposite sex too would take a greater damage to my dysphoria. I would only dress up as a guy alone in my room or when I knew I was heading out alone where others wouldn’t find me. It felt lonely. It’s still a lonely place. It’s always a lonely place when you are afraid to be caught and questioned. And I tried, I really tried so hard to love me as a female. I wanted to achieve bigger things, make something out for myself, be that friend who listens when someone’s in need. Joining an English Society, I met some amazing people, hanging out with all sorts of people who supported me, helped me out of my shell, where I learnt to give public speeches… Performing on stage gave me confidence and I was ‘kind of’ getting used to being in public with my outward female appearance, but there was still pain from hiding at home. I still hung on to life and hope things will get better.

It was a terror to come to terms that I am actually, not the person everyone think I was. I mean, hell. I’m female in offline. I’m male online but I am still talking the same behind the screen. But I was only, I was only female offline because that was how I was born. Does this all mean, I am mentally ill? A freak? Hitting puberty when my chest began to develop, it felt unnatural, then looking below, down there, I’m missing something—I felt foreign just as my own chest felt unfamiliar.

I wanted to make an effort to talk to the close friends about it. I was experimenting on androgyny. I had to learn make-up, and look androgynous—androgynous enough that I felt like I did not have a label on me because when people cannot tell if you are male or female, they tend to simply ignore you or refer you as ‘that guy’. I had a lot of friends that love me, I was fully aware of that. I do, and I would be there for them, naturally, even if I was more close-knitted to some than others. Even then, I could see that I was distinctly different than them and some close friends could observe the same in me. I just don’t think it would’ve been easy for them to ask either. I mean, who goes up to their friend and asks, “Hey, are you possibly trans?”

Do I have to answer that? Anxiety, distress, pain. All in one go.

After graduation, moving out from my siblings and started living on my own, as I weighed in all my thoughts of wanting to disappear from this world—Disappointment was profound. And still cuts me skin deep. I wonder how I got by those days in college.

The days keep passing and passing.

Every thing is on repeat, on repeat.

The man inside of me would slip away, slowly… slowly…

I had hoped he’d disappear.

He didn’t.

It got me thinking to this day that I am stuck here and destined to live a life colourless and pointless. Black and white? Grayscale? I called it 50 shades of pain. I wish this description, all these written words sounded less dramatic and extreme, but it’s not.

This is how I am feeling.

This is what I go through daily.

Living my failure of being a female, a sister, a niece, a daughter.

My coffee laced with self-rejection. I’ve pushed out so many beautiful things in life I could’ve experienced. I hurt myself thinking about the worst possible scenarios about how my family would hurt if I opt for a top surgery, take hormones, and start life anew. Not only family, but friends would too, would have to get used to this ‘new’ person who had always been there in their life as a female.

I would hyperventilate and cry at the thought of confessing to my friends. To admit that I want to have top surgery, and that I am considering going on testosterone. There’s an overwhelmingly terrifying prospect of being rejected. Am I strong enough to do this? I don’t think I’m independent enough to live with this identity yet. Not only is it comforting to be known as Lucid Green, but it also makes me feel safe when not everyone can be sure of my sex. But regrettably, I don’t think I have a bag packed that’s all enough and says it is all set to leave when I open up to my family. I sure as hell don’t know how well they will receive the news. And I love my family, too much to break their heart.

Have your ever tried to have a conversation with a friend in a loud environment? Where your friend’s talking as loud as he can and you can’t make the most out of what it is because everything else is so loud? All that background noise makes the situation incomprehensible. You try to understand and enjoy your friend and the conversation, but it’s exhausting. My condition is a lot like that background noise, and it’s always there, every waking hour of my life. Some days the noise is bearable, but some days it gets sickeningly loud. An unsettling pitch that makes me scream. Because I’m still scared. Some people wake up feeling scared of what they might lose, I’m scared of what I’ve already lost.

I just don’t know how to go about it. But I’ve learned to live with it. Because I know, someone, somewhere, out there, they are going through the same thing. I want to tell them, “You’re not alone in this. One day, you are going to wake up and see everything in its right place.” I’m still female in appearance, my thoughts are all very much the same and still mine, but I’m going to be honest with the people that I care for. The ones that stay, I know they are the keepers. Am I going to ever get a surgery? I don’t try to think much about it, but what I will do is make each day count by trying.

Deeply flawed.

In the corner of the room, a young man sits on the faux grass, his hand holding a letter he had written. He seems crestfallen as if he shared a personal conversation with this letter. For its content, while painful, holds a glimpse of what he was like before he came to realize who he is now.


Holding a couple of people close to him, he is ever so grateful of their presence in his life though his actions hardly reveal and his voice don’t vocalize enough. He knows he is not the person past lovers fell in love with, or sought for. The girl they fell in love with was a lot more desirable and loving. Though complex in thoughts like trying to solve puzzle pieces in her mind, she got anxious over the years about herself, about himself.


The obsession over the tiniest details, the increased rigidity and aloofness. Perhaps in the public eye and of his safety concerns, he allows flickers of the young girl to pay a visit, but she doesn’t overstay her welcome back at his place when it’s just him alone in the apartment. For the most part now, that girl is gone. How can anyone possibly love him and stand by him despite the drastic changes of identity he has gone through over the course of time?


He clasps the letter close to his heart and feels a sting inflicting him, invading his space making him wish he had ignored his voice. The suicide attempts. The thoughts of erasing others, and ultimately himself becomes the bane of his existence. Days of unconsciousness and panic attacks were better off masking the ill manifestations. The countless promises he has made to himself where he would get back on track, but he’s still trying. With all his effort, he is pushing through.

Time and time again, he is reminded of how his body wasn’t that of his own. Society incites a slow painful death on him, with the repercussions of his anger like a cherry on top. Words are not much aligning with his actions of late, the language between everyone he tries to love in a state of confusion and complication. His presence shrinks when the words “I love you” leave his lips for they searched hope desperately, like a scavenger would and waits to feed on the dead.

The glassy stares.

The emotional unavailability.

The sleepless nights.


It’s on him.


The rejection he gives out to people gets exhausting and depressing, and mostly, just nothing to his family. With trust comes trauma, with trauma comes intimacy issue, with intimacy issue comes pain, with pain, comes an unwanted feeling in the center of his world. Some days he cannot comprehend why he abhors himself and vehemently rejects the care of others. Out of fear, maybe. Out of love? For who? Himself? Himself.

A story of a man hiding.

“Closets kill. They suffocate us. We drown in the refuse of our own lies, lies that say we’re alright. We’re only alright when we can be seen for who we are.”—David Husted

He sat in prim on the drafting chair, legs crossed, and fingers intertwined over one knee. On his desk sits a pot of artificial flowers, plain, and arranged poorly. He gazed at it. It was in his favourite colours, green in three shades; creamy mint, dark shamrock and dark mint green. Though it was cardinal sin and faux pas for him to own one, it saved him the thought of having to keep it alive with water and sunlight; an appealing prospect for him who seemingly lacked the innate ability to keep living things alive. He wondered if that’s all his life would ever be. “They will never know, will they?” he simpered, before sighing.

Working on his articles, he slouched in the drafting chair as he typed. Occasionally, he would catch himself doing it and straighten up, pushing his shoulders backwards and the small of his back upwards and in, sitting taller, more alert. He told himself that he didn’t want to wind up as a hunchback in a few decades time, but within a few more minutes of typing, it slipped his mind and he resumed his slouching posture. The way he sat lacked inspiration and he looked like a heartbroken man; an impression not helped by his empty stares into the room.

He had never come to terms with who he was, fearing from the backlash and ridicule that will hit him like a torrential downpour. He knew he was far from a perfect human being. He was calculative even though he constantly overthinks. Somehow, he had a way of carrying himself in a callous manner around people he had no regards for. First impressions of him were either aloof, distant, or stand-offish. Even so, he had made countless mistakes. To change himself was something he grappled with – or about anyone. Deep down, underneath that indifferent expression, or smiling face sometimes, buried a part of him that doesn’t heal from past heartache.

There was always a part of him that had a hole. Others would have emotional scars, but not him – he was still bleeding because his heart feels strongly for the pain of others. The thing was, regardless of the pain, he had a perspective that living with an incomplete soul is a form of death, and he would rather be a humane human in pain than the art manikin he owned. He had a hard time dealing with and getting himself out of the hell in his head. With every mistake he committed, he became stronger, more knowledgeable, more wary, but also harder for him to be fully open to a person. Love and feelings and relationships were never black and white or palpable. It took grounds and patience for him to apprehend these things, and regrettably enough, his realization of all these things forced him to close off from people who cared and loved him.

Stuck in the closet, somewhere in the back of his mind, he felt it was only the beginning. The beginning of an inexplicable pain, the suffering and the endless conga line of emotions that were in store for him. As of now, what only mattered to him was making through the next day.

Death is permanent but I…

I hit the rock-bottom for the past few months. This blog post is something I debated on writing. Who knows, maybe I will delete this in an hour later, or maybe it will overstay its welcome here. Either way, it is a good place to vent.

I hate life.

Regardless, every day I search for reasons to make life worth living. Being able to make it through the next day and see the sun rise, that is sufficient. I am still learning to choose life, each day, instead of death.

You are just as lost. You are not sure why you are reading this either.

Maybe we are just in the same boat.

Just maybe.

Perhaps it is with the idea that everything I experience is temporary, therefore the pain I feel should come to an end eventually. Naivety at its best; a mask for optimism, some might say. What else is temporary? 

Everything.

Does it not make you question why we tell someone we are having a bad day, but not a bad life? If you have a bad day, it finds its way to halt. Light is only significant in contrast to darkness. Comforting one’s self by saying without the bad days, the good days wouldn’t be quite as sweet. 

Such cliché. Cliché but, I find myself gravitating towards it.

Maybe I quite fancy the idea of life not being sweet all the time and instead, of it concerning itself in finding balance in the many flavours of life.

I cannot predict the future. I cannot simply foresee the arrival of the better days to come for me, my inner peace, my soulmate, or life-changing encounters. I don’t even believe in soulmates. Having said that, I know the only way to know when that day comes is to experience it. And to experience anything at all, I need to be alive.

While my thoughts and feelings are still in place, I appreciate that I can see the world change around me while I am still breathing. Time is simply a measurement of change. The clocks measure the sun’s position in the sky. The days of the year measure how far the earth has traveled around the sun, and our age measures how many of those full rotations I have been alive for. Time stops for no one, and neither does change. In other words, while I am alive, change is the only thing I can be sure of.

If that is not hope, I don’t know what is.

I do not wish to think that my life as a former victim of mental and physical abuse is not worth living because of the situation I am in.

The only thing I can help speed such change is by changing my perspective. When I was 14, I felt an overwhelming disinterest in life. I thought about life like this: we are born, if we are lucky, we go to school, we go to school some more, we get a job and maybe continue to go to school, find a career, maybe get married, have a family, they go to school, we work until we are too old to work, and we die.

Maybe we die before one of those “milestones,” and maybe we will be missed. Regardless, one day we will die, and eventually, the world will cease to exist and none of this will matter any longer. I was indifferent and numb to the idea of death and saw no point in participating in life as I thought I knew it.

If I had ended my life right then and there, I would never have discovered what I know now.

Flash forward, I’m in a different city making a living as a writer. I have accepted that deep down I believe that nothing matters, but my perspective has shifted.

If being alive and not being alive matters equally as much to the universe, then my presence is just as significant as my absence. I realized that life, in itself, is significant. I have one shot at this whole being alive thing, and it would be rude of me to throw it away before my time is up. And if ultimately nothing matters, does that matter?

That just means that there are no rules — anything can matter, and I have the freedom to decide what matters to me. I do not believe there is a meaning of life. I believe there are many. And I believe that they are not set in stone, they do not exist already for me to find, they are for me to create.

Once I realized that I cannot find meaning, I stopped looking for it and started inviting it. I began saying yes to things outside of my comfort zone. I started making conversation with strangers. I started doing things that I wanted to do, despite the opinions of the people around me. I started caring about myself. I began to value life, in all forms. I came to realize how strange it is to be alive, in the first place, but how wonderful it is to share this oddity with millions of other living people at the same time.

This is not to say that I am always happy. No one is. I have days where I feel lost, insignificant, tired, stagnant. I do not always feel a sense of purpose. And that is okay. In those times, I just remind myself that no one really knows why I am here. I simply am. Maybe I don’t hate this life after all.