Growing Up Emotionally Fast

I remember when I was young, I was never rebellious, just dumb. My friends did mature things that I was pretty naive to even though I was lowkey the equivalent of a horny teenage boy with no dick to stick in things. I learned about things through hours of sleepless nights on the internet. I didn’t learn much in real life.

While some of my friends were having sex at an early age, hanging out with older guys and smoking weed on the regular; I was just around. I didn’t get caught up in any of that. There were times I made embarrassingly terrible efforts to be sexy and failed miserably. Example: I wore a thong to class in ninth grade and almost gave myself a wedgie trying to show it off out of my jeans. Still, guys wouldn’t look at me. I was never the slutty one at parties. I only made out with everyone and then probably threw up somewhere later on in the night because I wasn’t very good at drinking either. I didn’t have sex until I was sixteen and I waited on purpose because that’s what teenage rom coms taught me was an appropriate age. I remember even calling a friend about it right after the guy left and being like yeaaaah, I did it. Because sex, amirite?

Fun fact: I had sex with the guy I lost my virginity like, eight or so years later. Nothing was like I remembered. It was pretty bad. I judged pretty hard. We never did it again. As a person, he was alright to me until he got weird/gross this year. I’ll respect on not getting into because he’s a newly father now………

I didn’t have a consistent adult figure to help me through life. Not even secondary like, a relative, teacher, mentor, etc etc. I had someone I viewed as an older sister when I was a kid but she passed away when I was thirteen. I lowkey had no one. It’s been weird trying to navigate life and raising myself mentally and emotionally. Especially since I’ve always been a bit of an idiot.

While I struggled with the confusions of growing up, I grew up emotionally faster than I was prepared for. I didn’t even know this was happening because I was just a kid. Reflecting as an adult, it explains why I was such an internalized mess for so long.

I have faint memories of being in a women’s shelter and the green pajamas with strawberry shortcake. This was one of my first real memories. I experienced death of others at a young age but dysfunctionally because most of the people I knew who died were young. It happened frequently enough while growing up that I had to accept it as something that was a part of life. I was too young to grasp the emotions of it properly. I took that into adolescence as well. I mean, I got sad but I never learned any grieving skills.

No one really took me seriously because of my parents and when I was young, I didn’t understand that either. I didn’t understand why the other kids in the Vietnamese community were so tight knit and I was such an outsider. I always felt like I never fit in. My dad used to try to beat the Vietnamese into me and my mum was the reason why we were so isolated so you can imagine how confusing that was for me. Nothing in my life made sense but because I was too young to understand, I didn’t really think much about it.

But I did know I felt bad things inside me that I couldn’t understand. I felt different but I didn’t know why. I had no one to talk to so I just kept it all inside. Getting yelled at or dismissed definitely helped with the internalizing. I wrote my thoughts out only to have my mum find them and when she could understand them, I’d get yelled at. Shame game was very real in how my life played out.

Though I didn’t understand, I had to cope. I had to cope with figuring out who I was while feeling like it was wrong to be me. I’d see happiness and connection around me but I couldn’t genuinely feel it myself. I was never jealous or bitter about it; there was just always this sad feeling that I couldn’t understand. I thought it was normal to feel the alienation, I think. At the time, I couldn’t tell what was from the trauma and what was part of growing up. They just seemed to blend together.

I didn’t tell many people about what was going on with me. I just acted like everything was okay. Partly to fit in, partly because I really, really wanted to be okay. I convinced myself enough that I was okay knowing I wasn’t. And just cool. I just wanted to be cool. Still waiting on that. But it gave me an understanding that I didn’t understand myself. I experienced things that people around me didn’t. I knew my upbringing wasn’t normal. Some people kind of knew but I spoke about it like a conversation not with any feelings. It was easier to pretend that I was normal too. I could always study how to be normal online while just pretending I was in my real life. I read obsessively about those who I looked up to and pretended this one message board was full of older siblings guiding me.

My lowkey coping and forced emotional growth kept me going through some of the darkest moments of my life. It caused an earnest in me that makes me more aware of the tough parts of life. I’m resilient for it but paired with my inability to think any better of myself, it caused for many, many messed up years. It kept my dumbass from feeling sheltered or entitled though because I didn’t ever feel important enough for that “privilege”. Because I never really acted out, I’d suffer quietly with occasional outbursts. I was innately attuned to my feelings but lacked the self-awareness to control them properly.

Growing up emotionally was my unintentional survival mode. Now as an understanding adult, it takes away the intensity of the shame I felt and the defectiveness I thought I was. Being able to share everything I thought I had to hide has helped me accept who I am more as a person now that I have less that I’m supposed to hide behind. I get to connect and feel the emotions I once wondered about. Maybe not to the level that I imagined but you know, I appreciate what I can feel. It’s allowing me to know what my actual emotions are and how to control them because I’m shedding the misunderstood ones away. I can understand what are sincere ones.

At almost thirty, my emotions are beginning to grow properly. They’re growing with me and with an awareness. Talking about it brings out the uncool feeling out of me because that’s how I feel with vulnerable shit but we’ll shed that.

We All Start Somewhere

I’m getting my first real paycheck for a post/article that I recently made payable. I’m getting a whole eight cents for it! And while I’m laughing at it, I’m also genuinely excited. I didn’t think I’d get anything for it. So to get plus six for my two cents, it feels pretty good. Preeeetty good.

We all start somewhere. Hopefully I can look back at this like a Drake song. This little bit of validation is motivation.

It makes me think of when I first started working out. Active was never a thing you’d use to describe me. I was usually in a state of adorably chubby or soft. I was weak. I had no upper body strength. In fact, I was so weak that one time when I was drunk, I tried to do a handstand against a wall and ended up pinching my sciatica nerve and couldn’t walk for a week or so. I had no endurance. My friend took me for a run around my short block and he ended up overlapping me a few times and I ended up giving up. I wasn’t very flexible. Physically useless was not a criticism of me; it was unfortunately accurate.

I couldn’t even begin to consider that I’d be able to lift the weights I do now. Or to be able to maintain the splits and flexibility that I have. It seemed like only something cool people could do and I was not cool. I couldn’t envision myself in that kind of capacity. I was just this blob. I told myself I didn’t mind where my place was but deep down, I was hurting real hard about it. I just wanted to be perceived as cool. So, so, so badly.

What changed everything for me was reading about the hell Roald Dahl put his ex-wife, Patricia Neal, through after she suffered an aneurysm. The stubbornness of her and what she endured to not only recover, but go on to win an Oscars has always stayed with me. I didn’t go through any extremes like that but I kept that mentality even though I’m not high key about it most of the time.

Another was a subconscious trust I had in myself and the process when it came to powerlifting. I remember barely even being able to deadlift 50lbs. I used the assist for pull ups for what can only be describe as a “painfully” long time. I had no experience win strength but when I somehow knew I could be good at this even though I had nothing to base it on. I decided to believe in that. I would learn to believe in it.

I went through nights of waking up in soreness that I would learn was DOMS. My body was tired and so was I. I wanted to do the minimal, but my piece of shit minimal. But I started thinking about doing the minimal of what to reach my goals. I struggled even as I got better at it. I still didn’t have the confidence. I couldn’t take it as seriously as I felt inside because I didn’t feel it with myself. I couldn’t be like fuck yeah about what I could accomplish because there were other people better than me and the cool kids would see me as the try hard to be in the club that I kind of was. I was doing shit for myself but I also longingly wanted to fit in.

Except that I was also a scared to. I was scared of being called out. I was scared to finally hang with the guy I had a crush on because he was so jacked and I still saw myself as a potato that he met me as. This new me couldn’t shake the old me. I was so scared, I spent three years lost, confused and I went back to injuries because I couldn’t bring myself to saying it was okay to embrace the confident I sometimes felt.

In fact, it’s taken five years to believe in myself when it came to my physical capabilities and it’s only pretty recently that I can genuinely say I believe it. I didn’t even really believe it even after I did my first powerlifting meet this past February. Confidence in myself has never come easy. But it’s beginning to welcome itself in the past few months. Especially when it comes to powerlifting. Though it can’t be a priority right now, it’s a love of mine that I will always commit to and get back to. I’m good at it.

I started from a bottom and then I got to a great spot.

I felt the same kind of feels when I saw the check. Things take time to grow but I can do this even if I can’t explain to you how or the steps I’m going to take. I think a big part of it is trusting the process and having faith in myself and my abilities, capabilities.

I did more for my writing this year than my entire life and they were small victories but still victories. One article and an eight cent paycheck speaks more than the nothing I did to put myself out there before then. Both these things give me that tiny more confidence to continuing writing, understanding the different branches of it and make something of it one day.

Sept 17th, two years ago, last year & this year

On this day two years ago, I was in Winnipeg on a whirlwind trip that was less than 48 hours. I didn’t want to go. I ended up going because my ex at the time didn’t want to be away from me too long and was willing to fly me out. I voiced my hesitation but in the end, I went with his wishes because I wanted us to work and it would make him happy.

I had a miserable time there. I found out the life he told me and that I saw in Vancouver, was a different tale he told back at his home. His family life wasn’t as close as he made it out to be and he ignored me most of the time instead of introducing me to his friends as I thought he would. They asked me questions I didn’t know how to answer because it was different from what I was living with him back home. They didn’t even know of the person we were fighting about back home. I hated it there yet I tried so hard to convince myself that I could make this work. That I could make Winnipeg work. We had plans to get married. I was really stupid.

When that relationship ended, it was the crisis I needed to realize that shit needed to change, I needed to change. I made a promise to myself that I would work on myself. I didn’t keep that promise very well in the beginning. It was really tough but I kept trying.

This time last year, I started a new job that I couldn’t believe I even got. I had plans to quit my previous job just five days before but instead of two weeks notice, I was so fucking fed up, I made it effective immediately. I remember waking up the next day after I pulled that shit and going, what the fuck do I do now? I had nothing lined up and the reality of that hit me hard. But it was the beginning of me understanding faith. I told myself that if this was meant to be the right choice than something better was going to come along if I put in the work. So I hustled the fuck out of job hunting and then I got a better job.

This led me to take another step into the unknown a month later by saying fuck this to living any longer with my roommate at the time. It was something I should’ve done months ago but she convinced me rent was too high in Vancouver to live on my own and I didn’t believe myself an adult enough so I believed her instead. I snapped on that misery too and gave notice without even finding a place first. I put it in faith’s hands that there was better and I would find it. I found the place I’m currently at and at the time, even now, it’s right for me (even though the laundry is garbage). I got pretty lucky with the rent as well, to be honest, so there you have that.

Flash forward to today. My lease is up next month but I’m going to continue living here because, on my own, it’s good enough for me. It took a few months to build a home out of it but it’s been the first home I’ve ever felt since being on my own. It’s been a place I can have people over and feel comfortable about it. It’s got a welcoming and cozy vibe to it that I dig, that I set up. I actually don’t tend to have people over but the option is there when my place isn’t a complete mess.

I started a job a month ago that is what I’ve been looking for with a company that wanted me a year ago but I declined because they couldn’t offer what I wanted. It’ll be a job that I will either be valued at or will give me experience for a much better one a year from now. I finally feel a sense of responsibility and autonomy in a position for the first time in my life. It’s been a rocky road with jobs this year and employment but it’s recently beginning to find a steadier footing.

Two years ago, I was an emotional mess in a relationship with a guy I didn’t even really like. I started therapy because of him and I’m so grateful I did because my therapist opened my eyes to who he was and that I wasn’t crazy for my thoughts of him. It was hard coming to terms with how stupid I was and it wasn’t easy to genuinely forgive myself and believe that I wasn’t going to be the same stupid person. It didn’t help that for that year after I was still distracting myself with dating because I didn’t know how to use my time properly but it was the first time that I was attempting to try for myself.

A year ago, I was still a mess but this time a mess in my own space, on my own. I shed my miseries and only had myself and my own doubts to face. I had lived on my own before but I wasn’t ready at the time but this time I knew I was. I was more determined than ever to be my own person and attempted to bust my ass and was getting there, even though it was pretty poorly. I stopped distracting myself so much by filling my time with guys even though there was a couple I got attached to. Thankfully, I got over them and haven’t looked back since. I made the decision to put myself on anti-depressants to help keep the big emotions at bay while I tried to learn proper ones.

Today, I stand on my own two feet. Not alone, because I am blessed enough to have people who let me know I’m not alone, even when I feel the loneliest. I was in a relationship that I believed in too much but I’ve grown enough to not invest in it and move on for now, maybe forever. I’ve busted my ass off this year to get to where I am now. I worked through a death, a roofie incident and a somewhat emotionally abusive relationship. I made it through them and as I went through these things, I was still learning ways to take care of myself. I’m not as self-destructive as I used to be and I don’t think I ever will be that way to the level that I was again because I’ve learned to love myself.

Today, I see myself and have allowed others to see me. I don’t have that sense of isolation, hiding or invisibility anymore. I’m no longer on the anti-depressants because I’ve learned emotional regulation that I can handle on my own now. I still stumble but I don’t hide it anymore because I’ve learned to open up about it with people who remind me to be gentle instead of dismissive of me. I’m not as self-absorbed in my own issues now that I’ve learned to connect more with the world. I’ve come to accept the flaws of me and the parts of me that I thought would get rejected. I don’t distract myself with dating anymore because now that I’ve learned to make it something that I have a choice in, instead of something to fill my time and void, I’ve lost interest in trying. I’m happy doing my own thing and once I realized that loneliness was the driving force of it, and really recognize it without defensiveness, I was able to overcome it with the help of my friends.

Two years ago, I was in love with the wrong person and in the wrong place. Last year, I didn’t know what love was. This year, I found love in the right place and with the right people. It’s been a journey and I’m not there yet. I still fumble but I’m not as lost. I don’t downplay how far I’ve come because I acknowledge the amount of work I’ve put into where I am right now. I shed a lot of who I thought I was, who I used to be and old thought patterns and mindsets that were holding me back. I believe in the depths of me rather than thinking I’m deep down shallow because I’m not sophisticated.

Today, I look in the mirror and see who I am instead of confused at who’s looking back at me.

 

 

 

The Learning of Being Kind To Myself

TO YOURSELF

For three years, it has always been a personal goal of mine to squat 200lbs in this pink Betsey Johnson dress someone gave me years ago. I decided what better time to hit this vision than for my 30th birthday next month? I’d done the program before, it’ll be great! I can do it!

Confession: I did day one of it and decided to stop the program.

I had to be honest with myself and say I didn’t want to commit to it. I wanted flexibility in my life. I knew deep down that I’d be giving myself low-key anxiety with the rigidness of the program because I’d be putting expectations on myself. I would’ve drowned in the guilt if I didn’t keep to the program because I’d rather be doing something else. I settled on telling myself that, after my birthday, I’ll be 30 for 365 days and that’s 365 days to still pull this shit off. I’d honestly rather be putting my time into practicing driving and getting my licence by my 30th because if this happens, I can do anything and I’ll be crying. I’d rather be crying over that.

Also, the open mic thing will be on a Monday and I had to tell myself, I’d rather watch my friend do something he’d always wanted to do and join him on it. On the program, I’d have to choose between the two so I chose while I’m ahead. I want the flexibility to work on material and maybe meet up with him before the day so we can politely smile at each other’s attempts at jokes.

I mean, I’m still going to go to the gym. I’m just not going to just go when a program tells me to. As long as I go and keep at it, it’s what’s going to matter. Powerlifting is always going to be there for me as long as I put in the effort. It’s like the supportive boyfriend that believes in me and just wants me to do my best, whatever way that works for me. I’m the overthinking girlfriend who doesn’t want to disappoint him by not being as great as him because he’s sculpted like a God and makes me feel weird things when I see him deadlifting all those 45lbs plates. I just want to be good enough while he’s reassuring me, “Babe, you are good enough, do it how it works best for you. I’m not telling you what to do. Don’t put that on you or us.” And I’m crying because he’s being so understanding and perfect.

I feel guilty when I make decisions for myself that isn’t about “being healthy”. I made the decision to catch up with a couple of my closest friends this week and eat and drink an amount that I’m paying for in carb face and belly. I can’t look in the mirror right now because it’s pretty bad and I don’t want to see the evidence on my face. I went to the gym twice this week because I currently have a tweaked neck from work and acupuncture did not help it as I thought it would. I’ve been getting migraines. This wasn’t a good physical week for me.

Come Sunday, I’m telling myself it’s okay. To not take all this anxiety and guilt seriously. To be honest with myself with the fact that I am not a rigid person. I like structure but I need flexibility within that structure. Also, I am not very disciplined and trying to really force that shit on myself will make me go into a self-sabotaging mode and if I go deep enough, it can get ugly. Also things like, I was mindful of my neck and didn’t want to make it worse because of my guilty ego. I’ve been kind to myself about it. I’ve been talking myself through the anxiety and guilt. Mind you, I still feel them but I don’t feel them seriously.

That’s the reminder I have to tell myself. To not take my overthinking anxiety seriously. To remind myself who I am now and that person won’t just say fuck it, and bask in the piece of shit mode. To remind myself that I’m totally a responsible adult and believe it. Tomorrow is the start of a new week and there are no expectations that I’ve put on myself for it. My neck will get back to normal eventually.

Being kind to myself is tough but it’s something I have to learn without spoiling myself when I try. I didn’t understand this difference for a long time.