Losing value

Last night I said goodbye to my third year of undergrad, and my new beginning started at 5:30 AM this morning. The past eight months were hell and I have yet to leave it even though I’ve been at home in my pj’s for 7 hours. I lost my way in second year, but this year I lost myself.

I don’t know where to begin. I cried so much. Everywhere. If I didn’t cry, I almost did. At night under my blankets, walking to the bus stop in the morning, during my run on the treadmill, looking at the stars at night. I was powerless. I still am. Some nights I was so shaken up I couldn’t calm down until I watched five YouTube videos in the dark before bed. My heart ran with it, my hands trembled, I couldn’t breathe. And it happened again and again.

And I realize that somewhere along the way, among frustration, disappointment, and fear, I had lost myself. I stopped valuing me and became nothing. 16-year-old me would’ve been the first to call this pathetic, but here I am now. For months I lived in a dark place where I couldn’t find solace in anything. Nothing was permanent, nobody was reliable.

In my moments of desperation I wanted to break something, to hurt someone. I wanted to cause as much damage as I’ve received. I wondered if I kept living like this, will I one day want to walk into a speeding car? Where is the end of my strength? Why do I no longer have a bottom line for what I can take?

It’s because I’ve stopped respecting myself probably. I didn’t receive the respect, support, and love that I needed. Eventually I didn’t know what to do with this body that has no importance.

It’s summer now and I can make it a new beginning. I know I’m valuable. I just have to live like it now.

The body is such a miraculous thing. Upon hearing those awful words, my appetite and hunger for that slice of apple pie disappeared in a matter of seconds. My mouth turned dry and my heart, pounding vigorously, began to disassemble my ribcage for its grand escape. I held my phone with my cold fingers, hands shaking harder than during that presentation I made three days ago.

I wanted to eat that apple pie. It was my reward. But all I want to do now is to break something.

With the cigarette between his fingers,

“What’s in that box?” He asked me, his breath white in the coldness of the air. I turned back to glance at him, and I saw the cigarette between his two fingers. I pretended not to notice.

“Birthday present,” I said and I remembered the day I caught him with a smoker’s breath. I walked alongside him, my words stale and dead. I caught him I caught him I caught him. I didn’t want to.

“That’s cool, who’s it from?” He asked again, like he knew me well and he wanted to continue our conversation. And he did know me well, but that was back then. Am I the same person? I don’t know.

“Amanda,” I told him and he nodded because he knew that name. That day I caught him and I told him that his breath smelled like smoke. I did it before we parted and I told him calmly. He held me with his strong arms and he said he was sorry.

I told him it was okay and left.

“Tell me what’s inside after?” He called out to me as I walked away. I told him okay without looking back and I was just thinking of that cigarette in his hand, burning away.

He told me he would stop, but I guess there’s no use to worry about somebody who is no longer mine.

***

I wrote this when I was 16 on my Tumblr blog for writing at the time, where I also wrote terrible “poetry”. To this day I’m not quite sure what it was that I felt after I broke up with this boy that made me write all kinds of sad things. Looking back it all felt like a bad Korean drama with a sad ending. 

At first, I folded my legs and held them close to my body. Then the space got smaller and I do everything in my power to bend, to flex, until I’m the size of a speck of dust. Around me are strangers who sit with their bodies spread out, in the space I used to occupy. I wonder what they could’ve possibly done to take the place that I thought was rightfully mine. But if I’m brought along, that’s okay. I don’t need to take up space. I don’t need a lot. I’ll become so small that I weigh nothing. Just don’t leave me behind. Please take me with you.

Ten years now

Last week, I went to a Confidence and Performance lecture, and it was then I realized I’ve been living this way for 10 years. For literally half my life, I’ve been picking at every spot to find flaws, comparing every single aspect of myself to other people, and basically just feeling like shit in general.

As I sat in the lecture, I felt so familiar with the content that I could probably teach it. “Here are some symptoms of having low self-esteem…I know it’s true because I exhibit all these thought patterns and behaviours.” At points I was almost reduced to tears because I felt so alone. Everyone in the room made it seem like it was so easy. Here is what confidence looks like. Now that you know, go and do it. I realized I shouldn’t have been there, but instead in my therapist’s office.

We had to come up with a list of good traits that describe us, and there were people who said it wasn’t a difficult exercise. During that time, I looked at each suggestion at the bottom of the page and measured them against myself. Are these things I’m supposed to just know? How can I be sure of anything? Why does this need to be so damn difficult?

Am I just not fighting hard enough? Is this my own doing, my fault? I go through everyday having to reassure myself again and again. It’s okay. Don’t compare. You’re doing well. Don’t worry about that. It’s not important. Just keep going. Good job, Flora. You can do it. Just keep moving. 

An Absent Monday

Goodbyes are always so difficult when you’ve barely said hello. Today was excruciatingly long, and it started when I woke up this morning alone in my bed. The strangest things happen when you miss someone. I wish I can hear the sounds of his light snoring that I found annoying when I wanted to fall back asleep. I wish I can feel his arm against the spine of my neck and his cold feet upon my ankles. I wish I had paid more attention when he embraced me, enough to feel his presence in his absence.

He looked at me with such kindness and waited at the top of the stairs for me. He bought me those fattening Kit Kat bars again and said my cooking was yummy. He held me and reassured me that I’ll be a great mother and squished my cheeks saying I was cute. This day was destined for downhill when I woke up and he was not there to say good morning.

Some things about writing and one about fungi

These comments on my writing assignments are spirit-lifters. The words like “compelling”, “beautiful”, “amazing”, all so cliché and overdone, but they recharge me better than a nine-volt battery. Of course, I will never know if my writing professor is exaggerating or not, but my heart accepts these compliments like oxygen. I write. I can write.

“Writing is a craft”, I remind myself. There are so many things to be improved upon: my wordiness, clichés, and the use of passive voice completely ingrained into me by biology lab reports. I also appear to lack a personal style in my writing, which feels strange seeing how I run a blog where all I do is write whatever I want. But that’s a bit difficult to develop in a short time frame, so editing is going to be my new best friend.

I foresee a painful process of slashing entire paragraphs and struggling to find the perfect phrasing in this upcoming assignment. But oddly, I’m not dreading it. It’s probably because I’m not at the stage of the beautiful 2 AM panic yet, but I look forward to carving out a piece that is laced with pain.

P.S. I just sent in my first query letter and I’m so shaky. It could be because I haven’t eaten yet, but let’s not focus on that.

P.P.S. I sent in an application for a staff writer position and that also makes me incredibly anxious. But I need to stop thinking about it.

P.P.P.S. I need to improve my telephone speaking skills. I made such an embarrassing phone call to the newspaper editor. He’s going to remember me for sure, but I’d rather not have that as my first impression the next time around.

P.P.P.P.S. My fungi course has asked me to culture some fungi on an agar plate. I’m doing all kinds of things for this B.Sc degree I swear.