Healing: dream

Being able to recover from something and move on, it’s a wonderful feeling. The healing process is a vital part in us maturing as human beings. A lot of it starts with forgetting about what it is that hurt us to begin with, specifically that pain. Yet, you still need to keep the lesson learned from whatever hurt you in mind. It could be that certain people are not good people, or be less naive, but whatever the lesson is, know what needs to be learned. Secondly, while keeping that newly learned moral in the back of your head, move on with your life. It might mean cutting off old parts of your life, but you need to do it, or else you could very easily revert to old, harmful habits that could cause you a lot of pain and possibly, cause you to revert to self-inflicting tendencies. That is the biggest emotional hurdle in the healing process is cutting off the past and forgetting about it.

The next part of the healing process is filling your life with new things to replace the old. They don’t have to be similar things. Preferably, they shouldn’t be similar things. Anything that reminds you of your past pain, that’s just asking to be triggered. Being able to do that, it also helps you forget the past a lot easier. You’re able to let go and not think about whatever horrible influences have hurt you. And while cutting off is the biggest challenge emotionally, this part is the most difficult part mentally is putting the past behind you. You are probably used to a certain routine, and you want to revert to it. You probably wouldn’t want to include new things into your life and you yearn for the past. Very few people are naturally good at adapting to and accepting change. And that’s to be expected. We can’t all just be okay to uprooting our daily routines. But being able to accept the change, even in small steps, it helps.

By allowing these new influences into your life, you can expel a lot of the negative emotions that have been burdening you earlier. You stop thinking about those dark thoughts, or about the causes of them. Instead, every day becomes a new opportunity for you to discovery something new about yourself or the world around you. You start to find yourself smiling a lot more, and while you know that this world is a little less wonderful than you remember it being, the parts that are genuinely wonderful that you discover makes that journey worthwhile. Being able to see the good in the world, it’s refreshing. Whether it’s new people, new hobbies, new places, you’ll surprise yourself with how much this world has to offer, despite whatever it was that hurt you in the first place. You stop thinking about the guilt, the pain, the trauma, and it helps you focus on future and what you can do as an individual to make the most of yours.

Being able to completely cast your past behind, it’s not easy. Those wounds from your trauma, they do become scars, but with time, you will forget what exactly gave you those scars exactly, but you will still vaguely remember how you got them, and what you can do to prevent yourself from falling into the same mistake again. The world will no longer feel like a cage or trap confining you, and it will open itself up to you. You are no longer being held down or back by those negative influences and burdens. Instead, you can focus on making the person you see in the mirror somebody you can love more and more. And once you reach that point of loving yourself, don’t stop there. Find new things about the world, and figure out what new things you love as well, and how you can work towards incorporating that newfound passion or interest into your life. With healing, you gain depth and character and that’s a life worth living in this featherlight world.

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Subliminal Behavior and Bad Memories: realization

Something I’ve just realized is how subliminal thoughts can affect the way we act and react to things. And from that, I realized that those reactions, they can come off as passive aggressive, whether it is intentional or not. To add context to this situation, I will start with how as a child, I was bullied. A lot. Flash forward to when I am a 22 year old college graduate, and I am flirting with somebody who likes to sass people. I do not want to be the stick in the mud and stifle somebody else’s habits, so I try to play along with that. But then being sassed at, it spurred those subconscious bad memories of being teased as a child, and it caused me to become visibly uncomfortable, despite how hard I try to suppress that behavior or go along with being poked fun at in the present. And of course, that causes this domino effect of that person telling me that if I am offended, I should say it and not try to hold it against them. I did not realize how uncomfortable being sassed at made me, or more accurately, why being sassed at made me so uneasy, at least within the moment. And I am the type of person who does not want my past to interfere with my present.

These kinds of bad memories and experiences, they can really inhibit our outlooks on life, and close doors before we have a chance to explore certain things again. For me, I’m still trying to learn to be a good sport when somebody is playfully roasting me, because I am a grown adult and I should be able to take a joke; I know that their words are not of malicious intent, and I should not be this sensitive or put-off by something that should be funny. Yes, one could argue that these kinds of remarks could be rude or not-funny, but for me, I know the intention behind their statements, and they are not personally attacking me as a person, just maybe one or two quirks or funny habits of mine, so I know I should not be offended, hurt, or act like I am either of the above. Even though I am aware of this, my subliminal thoughts and bad memories just create this sort of rift between the me who knows better and the overweight, awkward kid who everyone would make an easy target out of.

I talk a lot about trying not to play the victim card, and that is why I’m constantly trying to overcome that hurdle of acting so sensitively when it comes to being made fun of. I do feel like this sort of behavior is justified in the face of knowing that the other party is not trying to bully me, bottom line. It is a tricky, tricky process, but I am trying to adjust myself to being sassed at, or at the least, being dealt with playful banter. I do not want to be this socially awkward monkey of a human being because I cannot take a joke, or because I am too busy being held back and caught up with my bad experiences from over 10 years ago… yeah, that’s actually just sinking in that it has been a full decade since anyone made fun of me for my weight. Tackling these subliminal thoughts, it is tricky, but subliminal thoughts are connected to your past experiences. Trying to go into things with the mentality of an observer helps a lot. Understanding that things are not intended as a personal attack on you, it softens the impact of any seemingly off-putting behavior.

It took me 22 years to realize this, but I need to continue looking forward. Being narrow-minded is only my past, and it will stay there. I refuse to make my idiotic upbringing the reason why I cannot move on with my life, make new memories and experiences, and forget about the bad ones entirely. Honestly, the main reason why I have not written a realization post is because for the most part, I have moved on with my life. I have new friends, new moments, and I have been enjoying my last days of college in full stride. I will continue to write in Featherlight regardless, because I enjoy doing it, and I know that this blog will always be here when I need to write in it, whether it is to overcome an emotional hurdle, or even occasionally share something special or fun in my life. I continue to find new ways to blur my past, heal my scars, and smile onwards, in my featherlight life.

Magical

She always wanted to have magical powers. To be able to help others and be a modern day superhero, she obsessively wished for that to happen. The beauty and grace that these magical girls in the cartoons exceeded, she was enamored. To save the day and let love conquer all, if she could do that, then she could have given up everything. That was, until recently. Since when did being a magical girl involve killing others? Murder? Death? Corruption? And how about consequences? Why did being a superhero come with such dire costs? Yes, reality did rear its hideous head upon her beloved childhood dream, but the girl tried to focus on what appealed to her about the genre. How the output outweighed the costs and sacrifices. How saving the day was more important than teenaged angst and drama. Looking at the small creature before her, she was hesitant. The opportunity to realize her childhood dream was just an answer away. But knowing what she did now, she knew that this door, closing would not be the end of her world. By turning her back away from it now, she would be keeping her dream alive.

misty

Walking along the rugged path, a tall, tanned youth frowned to himself. He had left behind his home to find a cure for his beloved, who was lost to the cold. It was up to him to embark on this journey. He had to find those elusive smoke lilies. Those purple and black flowers held a nectar that, when mixed with ginger root, should melt his prince’s locked heart. These lilies bloomed at the very bottom of the mountains; beneath the mist rested entire fields of them. His prince, the youth dreamt of ending his ailment.His sweet master used to be so kind and loving. But then it happened. The mist began to flood the mountains, in the midst laid their castle. Their paradise together, away from the world beyond. The benevolent boy was saddened.His tears had caused everything to be shrouded in the dark clouds. THe prince’s heart then fell into the coldness. Snow crept onto their kingdom, their haven, slowly draining life from all of its denizens. The youth had to flee, not only to survive, but to find those smoke lilies. Diving through the mist, he was determined to save his home. His prince was waiting, alone and scared. He was separate to remove the snow. He pushed himself forward, through the dark and cold, reaching for any hope. He wanted so badly to hold his prince in a tight embrace. Not as his knight, but as his beloved.

Road Movie: Chapter 21

“What’s so important?” Dakota walked outside of her apartment building. Her parents had visited her apartment and insisted that she come outside. “I know you might be hesitant, but we wanted to get you this so that when you leave the city, you’ll be ready for whatever is ahead of you.” Mrs. Logan smiled as she led her daughter outside. It was a brand new car. “Oh my god!” Dakota gasped. She started to feel a little uneasy about the idea of driving it, but her parents insisted that she get in and drive with them in it. “Uh, okay.” She was hesitant, but knew it was time to face this fear. Stepping into the driver’s seat, she buckled in, and turned on the engine. It was a while since she actually drove, but it was like riding a bicycle to speak. “Alright, where are we going?” She turned around to her mom who was sitting in the back of the car. “Ooh, let’s drive along the Lake!” She suggested excitedly. “Alright, a trip along the Lake it is!”

Driving with her parents in the car, Dakota started to feel a lot more calm. Yeah, motor accidents have happened to both Phillip and his mother, and it does suck, but it happens. That sounded insensitive, but it was the blunt truth. There was no point in being fearful of the car accidents. She just had to be careful. Knowing that her parents and her own life were being placed in her hands, she had to prioritize her parents’ lives first, obviously, and she was making sure to drive knowing that. She made sure to watch traffic on all intersections and lanes like a hawk, making sure that nobody was trying to merge onto her lane or cut her off, causing a potential accident. She had that much control over her life, anyways.

Dropping off her parents at her apartment garage, she gave them a large hug. “Thank you guys for this. I really needed to get over everything.” She grinned graciously. “No problem, honey. We just wanted to help you overcome some of those fears. Besides, you’ll need a car where you’re going.” Mrs. Logan smiled. “Thanks, mom. Thanks, dad.” She could not stop smiling. She was genuinely touched that her parents would go out of their way to buy her a brand new car, and then on top of that, help her confront her fears of driving. Coping with the trauma, it’s a step by step process. Some steps will take longer, but a step like this, it takes just one good experience and a strong reminder of who is in control and what they are in control of.

“Also, another thing, Mr. Hopkins finally got back to us about a date for Phillip’s funeral. Do you think you’re ready for this?” Mrs. Logan looked at her daughter, gravely concerned. “It’s something that I know I need to do if I can ever cope with the loss and move on.” She assured her mother. “The reason why it’s been a while was that he was going to therapy. Suicide prevention. It’s understandable, given what he had been through.” Mr. Logan sighed. Losing your wife is tough, but then your only child, it massively reduces ones will to live. “But he’s better now. We make sure to visit often and I know he wants to set up a fund in Phillip’s honor.” They smiled at her. “That’s incredible to hear. I’m glad he’s doing a lot better now.” Dakota nodded in relief.

Later that day, Dakota’s phone started ringing. It was none other than Mr. Hopkins. “Hi, Mr. Hopkins, how are you?” The brunette answered nervously. She was still a bit afraid to see him after the incident. She still felt some survivors guilt for not being the one who drove that night. But she knew it was unhealthy and wrong to dwell on those hypotheticals. The what-if’s needed to be shafted. “I just wanted to know how you were doing. I think out of everyone, the two of us were definitely the most affected by Phillip’s passing.” “I’m still trying to get over it. It’s tough for both of us, absolutely. But I know that Phillip would have wanted us to be happy with our lives. Even if he was not a part of them, he wanted that for us.” Dakota rationalized. “He was so fortunate to have a girlfriend like you. You kept him grounded and focused. For that, I’ll always be grateful. You’ll always be like a daughter to me, Dakota.” Mr. Logan admitted. “Thank you, Mr. Logan. That means a lot to me, coming from you!”

“Monique, what was the meaning of this?!” Dakota was with Monique, Virginia, and Maria, getting dinner together. It was the first tine they had a girl’s night out since Phillip’s death, and Monique’s first time overall. The brunette was referring to the email she got last night. “I never entered the Capture My Chicago Photo Contest! And you’re the only one who had access to my photos!” The two had shared a mutual dropbox for their photography. “I wanted to boost your confidence, and I took your best shots and entered them. And you won!” Monique snickered mischievously. “I mean, I’m honored that I won, but why did you do that behind my back?” The brunette frowned. “Because if I tried to get you to enter, you’d probably be too modest or nervous about your photography. Plus, since I entered you behind your back, you didn’t know, and if you lost, you’d never have to know!” Monique laughed. “The rejection email, you’d probably think it was spam or something.”

As odd as it was, Dakota was grateful for what Monique did. She helped her do something she never thought was possible, and because of it, Dakota was able to get her name out there as a photographer. “Honestly, your pictures are really good. You’ve learned quickly, and I think you should consider making this your career when you move.” Monique encouraged. “Hold on, I want to see these photos.” Maria frowned, grabbing Dakota’s phone. “Where’s this DropBox?” “Here, here.” Monique gestured, taking the phone and logging into the site. She tapped on the image file to bring it up for Virginia and Maria. “Wow! These are really nice! Can you take my wedding photos?” Maria smiled. “I mean, if I’m still in Chicago, sure!” “Oh, no, Maria will probably make you come back just to take them.” Virginia laughed. “Hey… that’s true, actually. I’ll cover your expenses and everything, since my parents have to pay for the wedding.” Maria smiled. “Thanks!” Dakota grinned. It was reassuring to know that people enjoyed her photography as much as she enjoying doing it. Lining up the angle, waiting for the lighting to be perfect, and capturing that moment at just the right time, it was a thrilling sensation for her. She enjoyed being able to land on that perfect picture.

immature: realization 39

When there is a conflict, the worst thing you can do is turn and run away. Playing the “avoiding game” just escalates the issue. A good example would be if you see a boy with an injured leg on the street. The child notices you, and screams for you to get help. Instead of helping him, you turn your back, and keep walking. The pleas will then turn into curses and screams of anger, and then finally, that kid will have a permanent leg injury. That is what happens when you avoid resolving conflict. Incurable emotional and mental scars form. These kinds of traumas will forever plague us. For me, being mature means that you can sift emotions out of your decisions and actions and know when to be the higher person and not let small things bother you. I will be honest, I am immature to a decent degree, but I am trying my best to learn to be mature.

The thing about emotional immaturity is that when either you or someone you are dealing with have it, it can cause acknowledgement of one another’s feelings to go to the wayside. Immature people hardly ever see beyond their own needs or thoughts. They put themselves first, in this myopic point on view, and close out the world around them. They never once think about how their own selfishness can hurt others. They try to make themselves the victim, so that others will pity them, and think of any other parties involved at the bad guy. But when this sort of repeated behavior becomes a habit, it is very noticeable and will just cause the immature person to be seen as such.

I have had the wonderful pleasure of dealing with an immature (relative to me) ingrate before. Trust me, they are not fun. But a lot of that behavior stemmed from immaturity. They did not understand how to react to having someone try their best to treat them kindly. And then when conflict arises, they run and hide, expecting me to be the one to initiate confrontation. And then when I confront, I find myself having to apologize despite them being immature and ungrateful for how hard I try for them, and me feeling like an even bigger jackass afterwards, causing me to dislike myself that much more. And when I asked them why they felt it was okay to let me be the instigator, they said it was because when their mom got angry, they would let their mom cool down and then talk. The thing is, I am not their mother. And I do not have the emotional integrity of a mother to swallow my own pride for somebody, because that somebody is not my child. But they decided that it would be in their best interest to make me out to be the bad guy, despite me going through depression and their inability to react maturely to it only worsening my condition.

A recent conversation I had with my friend made me think about something. What to do when you’re dealing with immature people? Simple. You don’t. Let them hang around with people who are more like them maturity-wise. You would think that the group of them being immature would cause each other to be dragged down, but I would argue that they can grow and mature at their own pace, because they are all at the same place mentally. Do not let their emotional ineptitude drag you down. It would obviously be different if a mature person were to be around a bunch of immature people, but if equally immature people stayed together, they will be able to help each other move forward in life. Find people who are at the same pace of maturity as you, and grow together with them. And do not always stick to the same people, if you feel like you outgrow them or if they outgrow you. You do not always have to drive in the fast lane in life. Do not be ashamed if you have to go at a slower pace. You will all end up at the same place, eventually.

insecurity: realization 37

For me, whenever I get competitive, it stemmed from insecurity or nervousness. I used that sort of “you’re going down!” attitude as a facade because I did not want others to realize how fearful or intimidated I was of them. But the big question here is, why am I so keen to compare myself to anybody else? Why could I never be happy with being just me? Looking at who I am now, I am perfectly happy with a lot of my qualities. I am upbeat, likable, silly, hardworking, and caring. I feel like I have hardly changed from when I was a kid, on the inside, anyways. I just tried my best to stay true to who I am and the values I stood by. But when I was faced with so many external factors, I found myself lost, strayed from the person I knew I was.

For me, being raised by Asian immigrant parents, that was probably the first part. Your “family friends” are just complete assholes who brag about their children’s accomplishments, and when you do not have anything accomplished because you are five years younger than them and can hardly speak English, then things get ugly. I still remember one of them saying that I was “unfixable and undisciplined” because I was acting like how almost any three year old would, in other words, rowdy and rambunctious. And because of that, my parents cracked the whip on me. Possibly literally. My earlier childhood is still a blur, but given my dad’s military background, getting hit was highly probable. Asian parents want to make each other feel like their children are inferior. And the trickle-down effect is that the children feel insecure.

When children feel insecure, they become competitive. I can say this form firsthand experience in high school. I had to deal with so many people who were in-your-face about their accomplishments. They wanted to intimidate you, because they felt insecure about themselves. Nobody can predict the future. No matter how much you have going for you, how self-assured you are, there will always be that seed of doubt lingering in the back of your conscience. The what-if’s and worst-case scenario’s. Unfortunately, these doubts are not ones you can really shake off. You can minimize them, but they always need to exist in some proportion, because they represent you being realistic and practical. If you never think about the worst-case scenario to a situation, you will find yourself in a very bad place mentally and emotionally should all hell break loose and it actually occurs. That being said, insecurity makes people come off as intense and competitive. A lot of it has to do with them being unable to lessen their doubts.

Whether your insecurity stems from the people you surround yourself with or the doubts you are unable to contain, the way you channel it should never be in such a way that others around you get harmed. Being competitive or intimidating to overcompensate for these doubts, it’s unhealthy and destructive. I speak from personal experience as both the harmfully competitive one and the one who was targeted by others. The question is, why did I need to get insecure? Why could I not love myself? A huge amount of it had to do with others doubting me, and it made me doubt myself. I let my environment get to me. But, in almost every case, you should never let other people tell you how to live your life. Nor should you ever let your life revolve around another person. I let that happen, and it caused my entire existence to become one of paranoia and anxiety. Always put yourself first. Love yourself for being who you are, and never get that validation from somebody else.

 

 

freeform: realization 35

When it comes to cooking, I love having a sense of freedom. When you force me to cook a certain dish, there are preconceived expectations. I do not like having to perform or cook towards the expectations of anyone, including myself. Whether it is making a dough or batter, cooking, or even completing an assignment, I try to do this with a freeform style. There is something about being improvisational that works so well for me in the kitchen. A lot of it comes with experience. Since I am incredibly familiar with how ingredients work, I can make a lot of different techniques and flavors come together in dish concepts that do sound or taste good. For me, any ingredient has the potential to become a plethora of things. So I have the freedom to transform the ingredient to whatever I feel like. This sense of being freeform, it is probably one of my favorite habits.

When you are not weighed down by expectations and judgement, being yourself becomes a possibility. I think that this sort of freeform style I developed in my cooking, it is interesting, given how neurotic I am in other outlets of my life. When I was a culinary instructor, we had to teach certain dishes, prepare them in a certain way, and we had no freedom. Because of that, I felt trapped. I used cooking to get away from my stress, but then when my stress-reliever became the main source of it, I did not know where else I could turn to. Whenever I saw my chef knives, I would have a panic attack. I did understand why my knives scared me so much. At first, I thought it was because I had an urge to cut myself with them. But in reality, my knives were just a reminder of work. How much I detested being held to standards, and how I was under the constant scrutiny of others. It was too much for me to handle on an emotional level.

Normally, if I made a mistake in the kitchen, I could recover. Oh, I burned a cake. Well, I can trim off the burnt bits, and take the remainder, re-bake it, and create biscotti. I overcooked my steak. Chop it up, braise it, and then I can make a stew. But when I was a culinary instructor, I had no such freedom. The students needed to be taught something, needed to be taught how to do it the classic way, and if I made a mistake, I would get threatened and yelled at by it. My boss engraved in me that failure equated to ridicule and that I should be ashamed of my failures, not embracing of them. It ruined my self confidence and my love for cooking for the longest time. I could not have the creative freedom and flexibility that I normally had. Being so stiff and rigid, feeling like I was performing a high-wire act every time I held a knife, wore my chef whites, it was scary.

Even when I was a line cook, I never was held to that sort of standard. If I made a mistake, it was fine. We could always find a way to rectify it. But when I was teaching others at the school, their tuition was going into me passing down the knowledge of classic cooking correctly. Even when I teach cooking lessons on my own time, I was not felt to that much pressure. I do have high standards and always strive to make my food taste and look good. But I refuse to let others dictate my vision or my passion. Unfortunately, that is what happened at my old job. I lost my freedom and it was what spiraled me into depression and anxiety. Being yelled at for things I did not do, being expected to be perfect and when I am obviously not, being reprimanded and verbally abused. I know now, do not let yourself stay in that sort of environment. Being in the line of constant scrutiny, it is not a life worth living. Live a life where you are free to do and act however you want.

severance: realization 34

Even if you and a ex-friend never quite recover the relationship you once shared, there’s no reason to be sad, nor is there a reason to be angry. So long as both of you are happy with the lives you currently lead, then that is more important. This is something I just realized recently between a handful of things. The first was when I was watching an episode of The Actor’s Studio on Bravo, not really because I wanted to, but because it was on right before Top Chef. One of the actors said that sentimentalism is just undeserved happiness or emotion. What’s the point in dwelling in the past when the present deserves more of your attention? Secondly, I just saw my ex-mentee/roommate the other day. At an event where I was invited to. It was awkward, yes, but I saw that they were really happy (obviously not to see me, but in the midst of their friends). Seeing that, coupled with the fact that I was already gaining my own form of happiness, it made me realize how it is okay if I never recovery the friendship I lost with them.

Severance is a noun meaning the act of cutting off or ending a relationship. It sounds final, intense, and grim, but it does not need to be perceived that way. For me, I see it as an opportunity. When you are around the same people constantly, you form habits and norms. Your perspective is essentially stuck in the same way. But when you change the people you surround yourself with, how you see the world can change too. Currently, the company I have, they are all good people. Optimistic, kindhearted, selfless, considerate. The kind of people who helped me recover from my second suicide attempt. They helped me realize what kind of person I am: a hardworking, protective, and loving person who just wants others to be happy, while at the same time, an unforgivingly sassy pastry cook who does not have a filter. I am proud of who I am, flaws and everything, and I will not apologize for being me.

While yes, my ex-friend/mentee/roommate was a huge factor in my self-loathing behavior, a part of me still does care about them, because I am a naturally caring personality. That being said, seeing how happy they were, it made me feel relieved. It was reassuring to know that while I may have hurt them during my state of depression, that they recovered. Just seeing them happy, it does not matter to me if I am the cause of their happiness or the exact opposite of that. Knowing that they are no longer hurting makes me feel more inclined and able to move on with my own life. I no longer have to be weighed down with these thoughts of guilt, needing to justify how when I was depressed, I had no control over my actions. All of that can be finally placed behind me now. I do not care if my relationship with them ever mends.

As I am now, I already have a great group of friends. I know that I am already a very likable person. If I was not a likable person, I would not have so many friends or have made so many friends in just the past two months alone. People who see me as crazy or insane because of that previous suicide attempt are just people who have not met me or gotten to know me on a personal level. The people who can see past that and the ones who I value. The ones that understand how badly in pain I was, and do not treat me differently because of it, I appreciate greatly. The ones who do think I am psychotic, unnecessary for me to live a happy life. They will understand eventually how depression works, and then be more sympathetic or understanding. But I will not be there waiting for them. I will have already moved on with my life. Severance changes perspectives on not only you to others, but you to yourself. You can see the qualities that were previously forgot about in tunnel vision. You can continue to grow and blossom.