Last Ten Days of My Twenteens

29 has been a strange age but good age. I made a promise to myself that I was going to take control of my life and self and own it however which way would come. And, for the most part, I did. I did more this age for myself than I think I have in a long time. At least consistently and not just in chunks. Not since 23, when I took a year to learn what being self-sufficient meant. I failed myself after that and then spent a few years struggling with who I was and what I was even doing. I abandoned myself as others abandoned me and was really fucked up for those few years. I became independent but still with unresolved issues and attachment problems.

I spent my 20’s with so much inconsistency. With my looks, my weight, and who I was. That’s what they’re for, right? I didn’t see that at the time. That I wasn’t making mistakes, I was just experiencing life itself even though it was through a sometimes painful route. But when you think you are a mistake and dumb, you don’t feel the worth of thriving. So you’re just confused. I never fully felt like a real person because I thought I wasn’t important enough compared to everyone else. I felt like a kid on a soap box every time I wanted to have a voice. I took whatever I could in terms of a connection because I just wanted to be valued, yet it was something I was scared of because I failed at giving to myself. I felt like a potato/turd who just really, really, reaaaaally wanted to be cool.

I’ve always been judgmental but never quite leaned into it. I didn’t use it for better judgment for myself. I didn’t think I could own my shit if I got called out. I’m learning this isn’t true. Embracing my judgmental nature has helped in a sense that I waste less time. I don’t politely tolerate things I know I shouldn’t. I’m less giving to people who aren’t worth it and have more to give to those who are. I have less trouble expressing thoughts and stand by them knowing they are valid. I can deal better with conflict without worrying about being abandoned for it. I judge from my head and less from a defensive position, if that makes sense. As I own my self-care and feel boss from it, I stand where I do and stay there. I like who I’m beginning to build myself to be because it’s the me that I’d like to be and I’m allowed to have a choice in who sits with me or not. It’s only going to get honed and better. I know this. I’ve got an attitude that I’ve wasted trying to bury its worth. Now is the time to let it out.

I felt sad that I couldn’t hold down a proper relationship and felt like who I was wasn’t girlfriend material for what was needed for a working relationship. I have a couple of friends whose significant other just adore them and I still wonder how I get that to happen for me. My inadequacy with dating and being so available to guys who could barely make an effort for me made up most of my 20s while I was navigating alone. Sure, I had boyfriends but nothing was lasting like I once was capable of. I went from only understanding long term relationships to wondering if it was even a possibility anymore. Even now, I can’t imagine being in a relationship lasting at least a year. I gave my heart away recklessly, that’s for sure, and cried a bunch of unnecessary tears for the guys I cried over. I now roll my eyes about when I recall them.

I learned to be less apologetic for my dealing with guys because I stopped making reasons and excuses for the behaviour and efforts I’ve encountered. It’s something I no longer take responsibility for. I don’t have to colour up a romance that is simply not there even if my yearning heart wanted it. I’m allowed to respond instead of just react. I’m allowed to be grossed out or not interested. I have watched grown men cry not because they had feelings, but because they were getting their shit called out and emotional from it. It was always for themselves and never for me but I’d try to cooperate thinking it was. I emotionally babysat their feelings for them while they held no accountability for their bullshit. I didn’t think of myself enough in these situation. I was too busy proving myself over so little that it didn’t occur to me to assess them for myself. Not until it was too late and I was looking back on reflecting and mending rather than from a position of choice.

I’m getting better at engaging with people, as a whole, not in fragments. Almost all of my 20s were just pieces of me left with people because I never knew how to engage fully. I’m still not sure how to get explain this aspect. I felt like I couldn’t be accepted entirely so I’d show what could be accepted, by bits. I lived like an omission rather than a lie. Though it’s definitely a work in progress, I’m trying to navigate how to share my stories with people worth telling them to rather than as a way to try and connect. I’d like it to be a conversation rather than confessions. I used to be bad at participating in conversation unless someone engaged me because I didn’t really know how to connect with people. I didn’t know how to ask questions or what really to say. It’s honestly fucking weird when I think how I lived this way for so long now that I can properly do it. It’s crazy even.

More and more, I look in the mirror and see someone who takes care of herself but she’s no longer trying to chase an ideal. For like, four years now, I’ve been chasing this ideal weight and I got to it. I haven’t maintained it. I’m on average about two pounds over but I’m okay with that. I’m not disappointed because where I am right now, I like. I know it can be better but I don’t shit on myself for not making it better. I like how I put myself together. I don’t see someone who protects herself through binge eating or does it as a punishment for her emotions anymore. I don’t intentionally set out to stay comfortably but miserably chubby anymore. I don’t want to anymore and am confident about my self-control about it. Don’t get me wrong, I still indulge but I don’t feel the shame or guilt about it I once did and certainly not to the extent I felt it. I don’t hate myself when I’m not “on track”. I’m accepting of my body more without adding “even though”. I dress with a bit more self-steeze and honestly, its pretty fucking dope. I can finally feel it, ya know?

That’s the biggest thing I’ve shed in my remaining 20s. My self-loathing and this feeling like I’m living falsely as a person. I’m not trying to love myself anymore. I do. I’ve allowed myself to look after me and protect the inner child I neglected for so long. I no longer feel shame that I’m not a perfect person and not friendly all the time. I don’t apologize for it profusely as I once have. I can wake up the next morning with carb face from eating and drinking too much and not feel genuinely disgusted with myself as a human being. I don’t think I’m completely dumb and useless on a super earnest level anymore. That thought no longer feels like a truth about myself I have to hide. I know now it’s not true and I am okay with telling myself that as often as need be until I really understand it because there are days I still don’t.

I don’t feel insecure anymore. At least not with the same sense of tragedy and doubts. There were moments where I wanted to own the confidence but felt like I should be insecure instead and that doesn’t even make sense. I wait less on the approval of others because I prefer my own of myself. I don’t dim myself down to cater to other’s insecurities as much. I can do this without questioning if I’m arrogant or not because I don’t need to move aside where I’m not overstepping or crowding, ya know? Don’t call me over if you’re just going to ask me to step aside.

I’m living a life that is my own and in my control. In comparison, it’s alright but for me, it’s becoming pretty chill. Sometimes I feel incredibly lonely with how I live it but it doesn’t feel so isolating anymore. I know I have people in my life, it just takes adjusting to not feeling like I can only fill that spot romantically. I no longer fantasize as an escape or a longing, I now dream with ambition and think of how I can get there even though I’m still in learning. I still hope for a love where I’m represented as a partner and it’s expressed and not something that’s questioned or passive. I’m not desperate to try and find it with every person that flirts with me anymore though. I present myself as a person better because I can feel like I am one now. I haven’t quite grasp how to smile and wink at the world because I’m a flirt but I’ll figure it out.

All the things I struggle with, I no longer feel hopeless about. Being unattached gets me into trouble with myself when I drink too much because I haven’t learned to properly navigate that shit. I’m accepting my level of capabilities and challenging my feelings of uselessness. I know where I stand without assuming the lower end of life. I know how stubborn I am and how hard I can work. I’m not smart or intelligent but I can be clever. I have valid things to say. I’m allowed to be funny or think I am. I’m allowed to just try and go after my visions and my goals and whatever else I want to strive for. I can be unapologetic for standing my ground against people who are trying to undermine me or belittle me. I don’t have to be polite about it. It doesn’t make me difficult to stand up for myself.

I’m reflecting on all this stuff in the last days of being 29. My 30s will be something I hoped for in my 20s and if I do it right, each decade after will be better. It will be great not because I say so, it’ll be because I’ll be living in the best way I can, in whatever direction it goes. I will be authentic about my life and hope it’ll attract the same. I still feel silly embracing this mindset but I also feel more joy for it. Like, it’s not quite there yet but I’m at each step of getting there. I get to practice saying no to the wrong people and yes to the right ones and opportunities. I get to see what’s fitting for and with me and have that instead of struggling mismatch. I get to do so much more for myself now that I’ve shed a lot of the darkness I carried with me for most of my life. I’ll be standing as a happier 30 yro rather than a tragic 20.

Short of possibly failing my driving test tomorrow and crying myself to sleep about it…. I’m ready for the next decade and chill about the remainder of my 20s.

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.

Therapy Can Help

Feelings are hard to talk about and share, man.

When I was doing it wrong, it felt really lonely. I’d open up to people who I thought could relate but it ended up reinforcing the shittiness I was feeling inside. To be real, looking back, we lowkey used each other’s bad stories as an escape comparison for our own. We enabled the self-destructiveness of each other because while we were sharing, we weren’t very caring because we barely cared about ourselves. We sure as shit pretended we did though. It’s not an easy thing to recognize when you spend most of your time with this kind of environment as your main way. There’s no uplifting in that even though there is a broken connection.

Then there were times I shared with people who would just dismiss what I was saying. When I didn’t have value, the passive listening made me feel like I wasn’t worth anything to hear. The lack of care they had for what I had to say was crushing at the time. It added nothing to the conversation and left me feeling even lonelier. It made me bury my feelings even further.

Of course, then there was me. I didn’t know how to communicate. I had all these feelings and no direction with them because I felt like I was mostly hitting dead ends when I tried. I was so confused about what was going on inside me and having to repress it but still trying to understand made me feel like I was going mental. Even with all my innate emotional insight capabilities, they meant nothing because I was holding back and onto everything because I didn’t know what to do.

I had no adult to turn to. I had no elder figure that could bestow wisdom on me. It was just me. I felt like a fucking alien. I had some good friends but it’s not their responsibility to be readily available to me when I was going through some of my anxiety attacks. I knew I could text them and they would get back to me or call when they could with reassurance and that helped comfort me a bit when I was in the middle of one. Even then, I knew I couldn’t place matter into their hands because no, so I had to deal with a lot of internalizing and internal stuff alone.

By the time I was out of my six-month relationship with the narcissist, I was exhausted and ready to finally do whatever the fuck I could to be better for myself. I reasoned with myself that it was someone to talk to, who had to listen to me because I was paying them and was also equipped to help me through the emotional turmoil I was going through. They went to school to help me understand my doubts and whether it was all in my head or not. They were someone to talk to that was an adult and could do so objectively. The sweet thing about being an adult is, they don’t just assign you a therapist. You get to pick one that you feel a good fit with. I avoided this decision for a long, long time and had reasons that were surface valid but shit, at that point in my life, I was desperate to stop being the way I was.

I started with a counselor who I saw every other week for 90mins. She helped me recover from that shitty relationship and put things into perspective for me that made me sick to my stomach. It took a while for me to understand and I would argue with her and excuse his behavior in that relationship as him being a fucking idiot. She began my start at learning how to love myself the way I am. She challenged a lot of my negative talk and taught me how to take certain words out of my vocabulary. For general stuff, she was really good and told me I wasn’t as broken as I thought I was and that I was a fighter. It was good in that she reinforced that my thought processes were pretty rational and not crazy but because she understood my strength, she wasn’t much help past the general stuff so I didn’t really get any emotions out of that, which I needed because somewhere along this way, I started to really accept the reality of my emotional trauma.

That shit started when I found a therapist who worked with trauma clients. Shit got pretty real when I got to this stage. I was lucky to find one for a very reasonable price that I was able to have weekly, consistent sessions. I was able to learn to open up and talk about shit and my feelings more from my counselor. I was able to start making decisions that were the right decisions for me and helped me understand myself enough to get out of some pretty fucking miserable spots in my life. By the time I got to trauma therapy, I was able to tell myself that I would go into this being as honest as possible and follow through.

I had some side help from a grief counselor as well when my old coworker died. I took the chance to talk to him and he spent 45 minutes with me giving me insight outside of the tragedy and helped me understand more of things as a whole. I actually broke down that day when I got home and just let myself cry my eyes out and let everything out without that jerk reaction to bury. I learned that day to grieve. Not just for my coworker but for some of the issues I was trying to put to rest. It was so intense that I needed the day after to recover.

Back to the trauma therapist, she was really, really empathetic. I really couldn’t accept it initially because it felt so fucking weird. She listened to me with a sense of compassion I’d never felt before and I really didn’t like it at first. It never felt like I was laying down on a couch while someone had a notepad with me. With her, I started to really understand allowing myself to sit with my feelings and accept them even though it took quite a while because I was really resistant to it. I got pretty defensive about it and told her that my body sensations were not the issues here. It was a really hard thing to unwire because I was so used to bursts of crying and then quickly bottling it down and moving on. I was really stubborn about sitting with my emotions because I thought it was stupid.

I had to stop seeing her because I got financially set back from leaving my job to try to focus on my writing more (which was a fail, but it’s okay) but the last time I talked to her really hit me. It was the first time I allowed my emotions to sit there with her. She reassured me that she was there with me and she felt it with me too. It finally made sense to me why it was okay to do this. I didn’t feel alone in doing this like I always did and she stayed with me through it. I always used to feel like I needed to hurry up my vulnerability to someone because I was wasting their time. I still do sometimes but it’s been better after this.

Lately, I’ve been feeling like I need to go back to therapy. It’s on the list of my priorities once I get my shit together a little more solid. I no longer feel as wobbly as I once did but there’s still stuff I need to work on. Therapy is a weird thing to talk about because some people also don’t know how to respond when you mention that you’re going to it. I don’t think it should be used as a crutch so you can just talk about your problems rather than dealing with them but when it works, it works but it takes time and a willingness to follow through with what’s going on during it. It took me a year and a half of it to get to where I am right now and it’s the best emotional and mental spot I’ve ever been in because I’m finally at a point of no return with myself and now I understand who I am as a person and accept that.

And it feels fucking awesome.