On Toxic Relationships: how long do you hold on before giving up?

So… I grew up pretty desperate to have friends.  I didn’t realize this at the time, but wow.  Any friend who would take me, I was pretty happy and excited.  Being homeschooled sucked in that regard- nobody in school really bothered to invest in you as a friendship, so I was invisible.  Even when I was there, I was always so lethargic I don’t know how I made it through looking back now.  And I realized that some people who vaguely knew I had some sort of illness didn’t want any part of me there.  That feeling stayed with me for years, and entering college, I thought freshman year that I had gained some tremendous confidence… but it was fake confidence.

At my core, my confidence was riddled with holes of insecurity, so the foundation was crumbling still, but I didn’t know.  I thought with the fresh start at a new place, I could keep my illness as hidden and buried as deep as possible for as long as I could, and in situations where I had to end up bringing it up, I felt like a torn individual holding my breath, backed up against the wall by their pending judgment.  So… it wasn’t true self acceptance.  Yet.  People thought I was cool, really nice, and even attractive (LOL).  Some people even thought I had dated a lot because I seemed so confident?!  Haaaaaha.

And the time came when I met new friends who were nice to me.  Who seemed to accept me.  I gave all of me, and more into building those relationships… it was exhausting.  I was in a new place, I needed friends to eat meals with, to just hang out with, study with.  I was content to find just one or two solid friends, but hunting was hard when most people were hyped up to party and go nuts, especially the first year.  I wanted to fit in, so I tried.

But I felt burnt out a lot, giving a listening ear even when I was stressed out about my own issues.  I had a ton of music pieces to learn, yet I had this one friend, the first solid friend I found, who often needed my help.  When I first mentioned it to my mom, she warned me not to give away too much help so freely.  Especially my efforts and time.  I didn’t understand what she really meant at the time, and got annoyed.  I felt my mom was too jaded with the world and pessimistic. My friend needed me, so I wanted to prove that I was valuable and worth it.  I didn’t know how to say no, I need to focus on myself right now.  I never said no.

By the third year, I started to get fed up more and more as I noticed this consistent trend where the friendship was a one way street.  She found a boyfriend soon, I was always the leftover one.  She only made time for me if she needed something or if her boyfriend was busy doing something else.  She would out of the blue ask me to grab coffee, and I would excitedly say yes.  But then she would somehow whip out her chinese homework and sweetly ask me what the answers were one by one.  She would ask to study together, then ask me to see my Works Cited page.  She would barge into my room 10 minutes before class started to ask me to use my printer for our senior project class, making me late because I walk slower, multiple times.  The one time my printer actually was malfunctioning and I told her, she got mad at me.

She would say she’s hungry, if I could make ramen for us, and that she would do the dishes. This was the final straw, and the moment I truly burnt out.  Throughout many other examples such as this, I kept trying to convince myself that it was just a phase where she was going through something difficult and really needed me there for her.  I woke up the next day and realized she had not done the dishes, so I grudgingly rolled up my sleeves and did them.  It was this moment where she came out her room and needed to vent about something serious- it was in the morning, and I was not in the mindset to listen, I was tired of our entire friendship to be honest.  I tried to say something helpful, but knew it was useless.  She actually stared at me, then went back into her room and slammed it.  Yes.  Slammed it.

A few nights later, we ran into each other in the art building and decided to talk it out.  I wanted to explain to her for the second time ever that I felt this was a one way friendship a lot of the time.  She got angry with me that I was upset about the dishes not being washed when her problem was more important- I agreed.  But I realized that it was not about the  dishes.  It was the entire friendship that was wearing me down.  She said she felt it was pretty equal, but that she was sorry.  It was always so easy for her to apologize.  After a while, it felt a bit like it had lost its meaning.

I wanted to care about her and be there for her, but I was finding it extremely difficult to juggle on top of everything I was going through on my own.  There were a few moments where she listened to my problems or something, but each time, she would count it.  She would bring it up the next time I tried to explain how I felt and recount how she had done this one thing for me.  I never kept track. It rendered me speechless how she always remembered anything she had done for me and wanted public credit for it (she would ask me if my professor knew she had helped me with an assignment one time… I got a B- on it anyway).

After that talk, a part of me completely burnt out.  During this friendship, it made me paranoid about my other friendships- did I perhaps treat my best friend at home this way?  I tried to look back on our serious talks- all of them had been me ranting or being upset to her, almost never the other way around.  I called her up one night, crying because I was so upset.  I asked her if it felt very one way to her, that it was always me who needed her help.  Even at this, she excelled at comforting me.  She told me, if she ever brought up feeling that way to me, how would I respond?  I said, I would feel so awful.  And she said she knows that if the time ever came when she needed me, she knew she could rely on me to be there in return.  That was probably one of the most comforting responses I’d ever heard in my life.  She told me that while it was important to be there for that friend in school, I was going through a lot of bullshit in my own life.  Was that friend ever truly there for me back?  The answer was not really.

And this was the moment where I wondered… did I hold on enough?  Did I give up on her in a time where she needed someone to hold onto?  Was it selfish of me to let go?  I knew that if I was going through a rough time, I would be so sad if a friend faded away from me.  But what I didn’t realize was that was already kind of the case.

Self care.

Looking back at times, I wondered if perhaps I was too harsh regarding her.  If she wasn’t really that bad, but I was too sensitive and had made it up in my head.

Recently, I realized I went straight the opposite of who I was.  I became the jaded person who tried to care less about relationships with people, especially new ones.  To expect disappointment as an eventual outcome.

The truth is somewhere in between.  There will be disappointment for some of the people you meet in your life.  But not all of them.

You should still keep moving forward.  Still try your best in regards to how you treat people, but also understand reasonably that it’s not likely they will all have your best interests at heart or reciprocate.

My senior year, at our small college I felt that I had met everyone I was likely to become friends and was very close to accepting the fact that I’d be a loner and graduate with no friends.  My therapist at the time encouraged me to keep trying to get to know other people outside of my prior friend group, in which all ties to each other were burnt bridges.  Despite feeling close to certain that there was nobody left and that was probably something perpetually wrong with me that drove people away eventually, I found a really good group of friends that remain strong three years later.  We don’t see each other often, but I know none of them would backstab me or treat me like I was treated.

I should still treasure the friends I have now the way I did, but not to prove my worth as a friend.  Just because I genuinely care and I know both their worth and mine.  I do not deserve to just stick on to anyone who will take me, I deserve more than that.  I can bear to choose who to invest what energy I have in.  At least on my part, I’d like to continue being remembered as the dependable friend.

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Random Late Night Thoughts- On Lung Transplants and Perspective

On Goals and Motivation:  The beautiful thing about goals is that you can always achieve them and make new ones, the possibilities are endless, and you have a lifetime to keep going.  When I was a kid, I read this book about this really old man who decided to go to school and teach himself how to read.  It was really inspiring.  He could’ve decided to stay home and been embarrassed or made himself sick with worry on what others would think of him.  I think a lot on our battle with these inner demons and realize that at the end of the day, our biggest challenge in any goal is overcoming our own mentality and insecurities.  They could be something as apparent as being in a wheelchair or having a stutter, they could also be secrets of our past that we’ve buried deep but still influence our daily thought process, and seep into our choices and actions in life like poison.

Goals can be big or small.

My smaller goals lately have been mostly to aim at realism.  I want to make goals I can achieve more immediately- cooking new kinds of food, learning a new language, focusing on building my mentality and body.  All of these are goals as long as you chip at it each day and work towards it, they aren’t less valuable or successful than typical dreams like becoming rich or becoming a movie star.  The hugest part of reshaping my mentality the past recent years was to becomes strong enough to go through the lung transplant evaluations that I knew were leading down to a path of not a maybe, but an eventually.  I had many meltdowns at night and at the hospitals because the fear was always hanging over me, my anxiety became so bad I freaked out at the very idea of sitting in someone else’s car or trying to fall asleep.  It felt like the world was weighing down on me when anyone even tried to make me talk about it:  because I could get away with it sometimes, I wanted to shove the parts of me that was ill away and try to carry on looking fine and dandy and blend in with the “norm”.  I was determined to live the life of a regular kid, to worry about friends, boys, and all the petty drama that came with it, handing my paper in on time, getting a job.

I need to take a moment now and appreciate myself and the fact that I went through that and got through it in 2017.  I don’t often reflect on how far I come, I usually focus on what didn’t work out.

Recently, one of my goals was to go through Harry Potter World in a wheelchair for the first time, and not break down.  Check.  Huge win for me, even though it’s not the same as everyone clapping and cheering for you on stage or something like that.

When I think of this and all that I went through, I almost want to laugh at how petty everything else compares in life:  when I get frustrated or disappointed with people, stressed over things I don’t have, and most of all, finding out how entitled and weird people are out there that you come across at your job.  I remember being annoyed and complaining about it, but the truth was I felt happy.  Happy that today, I got to be “normal” and complain about petty things like other people who don’t really matter in your life anyway.  It’s just noise.  Letting things get to you and affect you negatively is draining- you gotta choose what is important and worth being stressed over. This is something my dad has constantly reminded me growing up about not being too sensitive or upset over everything.

There are always going to be situations and people who suck.  You can’t go through life only meeting nice and good people, never getting hurt – and I don’t mean just by strangers or acquaintances, but the people closest to you sometimes – yes, your friends, your family.  But that’s how you learn and grow each time.  Who other people are, what you can reasonably expect, how you can deal with the situation better, how you yourself can be better.

I had an epiphany recently, and that was the realization of just how low my self confidence has been.  I always knew I was shy and reluctant to open up to others, but I was thinking about how I subconsciously approached my friendships I’ve had in a way as if they were not only valuable to me, but that I owed them the world for taking the pity and time to be my friend at all.  As if I brought nothing to the friendship, and had to spend the rest of my life trying to prove that I am worthy of being a friend.  I tried to be more extroverted, bubbly, happy, to smile and be more fun.  To go out of my way when I could for them so they wouldn’t see my flaws.  And when it didn’t work out with the friendship, it cut me deep. To the core.  I would be resentful with them, disappointed that they must’ve seen that I didn’t measure up and was too much of a burden.

  1. There is a difference between understanding who is precious in your life, but also understanding your self-worth and all that you contribute with your presence and actions.  As from the movie “Wonder”, it’s okay if you were born to be different and to stand out.  Embrace it.  You are worthy of friendships, and as long as you try your best and care for them, they are lucky to have you.
  2. True confidence comes from within. Today I came to the revelation about how regular people can walk 5-10 times more than I can at 2-5 times the speed and still don’t get tired…. how do you not feel fucking invincible??  I would.  My second revelation… if you can feel at peace and accepting about yourself even as you sit in a wheelchair with no make up on as a bunch of people you know stare at you and question you, then you’re still fucking invincible. (I haven’t reached this point of invincibility yet ._.;)
  3.   I used to think of a strong mind as a fortress, one that can protect itself from negativity, and barricade positive vibes within.  But now I think of a strong mind more as a temple- why? Let the negativity enter, sit there even.  And STILL be able to have your positive vibes rise up higher than all the noise- this is what constitutes a strong mind.

“All that shit will feel petty when you feel pretty” -Dumbfoundead

Disney + Worries

So… my family is planning a trip to Harry Potter World and Disney and I’m simultaneously excited yet super anxious.

The biggest hurdle is that my therapist suggested that I start using a wheelchair of some sort so that I can avoid becoming exhausted to the point of major discomfort and fatigue, and tense muscles.  I had never considered using a wheelchair before, and the hypocrisy that is me, is that when I see other people in wheelchairs, I don’t think much of it, yet when I think of ME in it, I am riddled with a million feelings: perhaps

Shame, that I have to submit to a wheelchair and can’t make it on my own two legs,

Guilt, that I don’t really deserve to use a wheelchair and am a “fake” illness person (doesn’t help that tons of other people have doubted my illness over the years), and that my family will have an extra task to do in pushing me around,

Embarrassment when I have another extra thing to make me feel different, and perhaps

Relief and Hope too, that this might be much better of an arrangement for me energy-wise, if I could only wrap my head around accepting it.  The truth is, my whole life I’d lived in the mindset that my lungs were going to eventually heal and become “normal” when I reached adulthood aka college, yet I was slammed with the ugly reality when I switched over to an adult doctor, who told me I should be prepared for lung transplant evaluation instead.

My whole life, I’d been competing with people functioning at full capacity, when it was literally not possible.  And even after the sad realization, I could not bear to face the reality that it was, and continued to live in doubt and silence.

After a few years of therapy now, which I started on and off 3 years ago, I think I’m becoming better at shifting my perspective to a more positive one, but it’s still a really long and bumpy road.  I have to expect that most healthy people, especially ones at my age, will simply not get it, or even have the patience to try to get it, because they have their ableist privilege, and all I can do is control my own mentality.

The list could go on forever for all the rough moments in my life when other misguided people mistreated me and misunderstood me, believing I was taking advantage, or lying, “playing a victim”, or one thing or another, just because there was no visible evidence in their eyes.  And it caused me to continue to doubt my own capabilities and limits as well for a long time.  But now I realize that you do not let other people’s ignorance hurt your own knowledge and perseverance. You are not any less just because you were given less spoons.

I have to learn to forgive people and move on, because for a long time honestly, I’ve let myself get caught up in the unfairness of it all, and the rudeness of others causing me so much hurt and pain.  No more.

Moments of Pride

As a person who is constantly overwhelmed by self-doubt and lack of confidence, I spend so much time as an INFJ also meditating how to make the world a better place- how can I impact the world and leave it a bit better than I found it?  I don’t have ambitions as high as becoming the first female president, but there are subtle moments in our day-to-day that we can change and influence others, that become a wave of a bigger movement with one small decision.

It’s okay if you’re not perfect and live in a zero-waste house, for example, as long as you are at least conscious and working on improving lessening your wasteful contribution to the garbage landfills.

After researching a lot about environmental waste, particularly about non-biodegradeable products that are incredibly harmful in mass doses, I came across this website that discussed a movement in Berkeley, California encouraging restaurants and other cities to become straw-free.  Of course, there are always people who might dismiss the idea with the thought that we are those annoying hipster tree-huggers.  But I don’t consider myself one, in that I don’t censor and become super paranoid about using a plastic bottle for example.  However, it is a simple solution that makes a lot of sense to me in persuading restaurants to become straw-free, cutting costs down for them as well as benefitting the environment.  Straws are a superfluous product, one that we might enjoy using, but definitely do not need.  It was surprising to me to find out that straws are one of the top 10 items contributing to total garbage littering our natural environment.  So I thought, where can I make the biggest impact in as short and efficient of a time as possible?  I looked up Applebee’s, a place that my fellowship and I frequent with up to 20 people if not over, almost weekly.  I sent an email complimenting their staff, but also suggesting how cutting down on offering straws would make a huge difference.

Today, the manager called me and talked to me about it!!  He said he never thought about it, but it was a pretty good idea and he would talk to upper management about it.  The issue was that they used it as a difference between straws used for alcohol so that they could catch underage kids drinking.  We talked for a couple minutes and he said his name was Jesse and I should flag him down next time I’m there so we could meet.  I just thought it was so awesome of him to reach out and seem to actually CARE.  YAY HUMANITY IS NOT LOST.

The second moment was when I wanted to join a bunch of dudes in watching  basketball, and when I went to watch, one of the guys jokingly said, “get outta here, we’re tryna watch the game.”  At first, my instinct was to laugh since they were laughing too, and I knew they were joking.  One of the guys next to him was like yo that’s sexist.  However, somehow I found the courage to speak up and ask him to apologize, in which he did, twice, the second time sincerely.  I don’t know, maybe it wasn’t worth writing a long post about, but I felt empowered and proud of myself for these small moments of hopefully contributing to a bigger wave of change in our thinking and our choices that we make.

A Small Achievement

Letting go of pride.  A lot of self-care and confidence is reframing how you feel about yourself, and letting go of pride enough to realize that you can still retain your dignity even when you feel you’ve lost it.  As much as I tell others that sharing and revealing a part of your soul makes you feel like you’re vulnerable like an open,  bleeding wound to others, it’s part of what makes you human- the first part is letting others know what you’re going through so that they can help you.  The second part is that despite our worst fears that we look silly or weak, I’d say 95% of the time, you just simply earn more respect for speaking up and being open in the first place.. it increases trust, and you are a leader in paving the way for others to see your imperfectness, so that they may allow themselves to become vulnerable too and share.

Yesterday, at girl’s group, I took out my inhaler and used it, then joked about gargling.  All of them watched me, and asked me questions about it, especially the ones working in hospitals.  I was feeling confident, or rather, content, and somehow that made it feel safe and okay to talk about my inhaler and not make me feel like I was isolating or making myself look like a sick person.  And it felt good.

Ironically, letting go of my pride made me feel proud.

The Onigiri

I don’t remember if I wrote about this before, but it’s my go-to story whenever a friend who’s having self-doubt or any other moments of apprehension talks to me.  It’s a story I tell myself once in awhile to remind myself of my worth, even if I don’t always see it.

When I was younger, my best friend got me into mangas, and my favorite was always Fruits Basket.  In one chapter, Kyo is this character who comes off angry but holds in a lot of pain and fear.  Tohru is the girl who looks at him in thought, and ponders, “Hm, maybe it’s on his back.”

The way Tohru sees the world is that every individual is an onigiri, and each contains a special ingredient.  However, the problem is that Kyo’s onigiri looks at everyone else’s, and is envious looking at the ingredients on their backs, whether it’s salmon, or tuna, or egg.  He can’t see his own.  He thinks he’s worth less because he can’t see his back.

Sometimes, pretty often actually, I find myself as Kyo, struggling to see what’s on my back.  I know some of you are thinking “please, I know what my special ingredient, I’m made of PRIME RIB, wagyu beef yo.”  And that’s great.  But a lot of us spend a lot of times staring at all the other onigiris’ backs and admiring their special ingredient.  So I’m here to tell you that you have something special on your back, and I see it.  You are made of worth, you were created unique, and everyone around you can see it even if people might not go out of their way to tell you or admit it to you.  I think we could help each other out by being the eyes for each other on what we can’t see.

“You’re either a Blessing or a Lesson”

I found this quote somewhere on tumblr a long time ago, I think it might’ve been said by Frank Ocean but don’t quote me on that. This particular thought always stayed with me with the way I interacted with people.

As a homeschooled child, I never realized how naive my expectations for other people in the world were.  In a sense, I probably believed I was better than everyone else, in that I held myself to high moral standards, and my friend once told me that I was one of the few people she felt had such a moral compass who would never do the wrong thing or hurt someone.  My college years, I learned two things:  the full extent of my ability to hurt somebody I cared about (even unintentionally), and second of all, just how wrong the assumption that others hold the same beliefs, perceptions, or morals you do is.

I entered college beginning to experiment so that I could find my sense of self, both on a personality and aesthetic level- I made mild changes such as growing my hair long, got it ombre’d, began wearing some make up, piercing my ears, paying attention to the way I dressed more and how I carried myself.  It was such a sense of vulnerable freedom, to spread your wings out yet knowing that the immediate safety net of your parents weren’t beneath if you fell.  I tried to reinvent myself for the better- the cooler, more confident version of me.  To my disbelief, I was not quite a wallflower anymore, and even though I was still really shy, I forced myself to try to venture out my shell, and realized people not only seemed to notice me, but liked me.

However, my confidence was still in a budding phase, and the few people I felt a click with, I attached myself to quickly; I saw only their great qualities when they showed me a small act of kindness, and without realizing it, I subconsciously put them on a pedestal.  And then the first time they broke my trust or let me down, I felt myself spiraling downhill.  I wasn’t sure why my sense of other people’s emotions were so heightened, and oftentimes I can’t fall asleep at night being overwhelmed by all the problems that exist everywhere: I wish I could turn it off.

The intensity of my personality has given me the ability to observe and for the most part, see each individual clearly for both their flaws, potential, and beauty.  Everyone possesses both “good” and “bad” qualities, and these traits are what make them unique. I grew up seeing the world in black and white, but now I see that many things fall in the gray. Things don’t always work out in life, and we might end up becoming lessons in other people’s stories, but that doesn’t mean we should stop striving to be blessings.

As for ourselves, once we realize not everyone around us think on the same wavelength, we can reach a better understanding and be more tolerant and take things less personally.  If someone wrongs you, they are simply a lesson; move on, and cherish the ones who are blessings.

Embrace your strengths, and continue improving the rest.

Alter Egos

Shower Post #3

Do you ever react to a situation differently depending on your mood?  I think we all do.  A part of it may be an innate, so deeply ingrained part of us that can’t be changed.  At some point though, I wondered if I might even be bipolar.  What I’ve concluded is that everyone has multiple facets to their personality.  What is the real me?  Does anyone know?  Most people who think they know me might only have met the predominant me, or the stereotyped quiet Asian girl who has been trying to find her voice all these years, and still is.

When I was younger, I feared nothing.  Throw me in the deep end of the pool- I didn’t know what drowning was, so I had full confidence I would float and make it to the top.  Tell me to belt at the top of my lungs to strangers and introduce myself afterwards?  Why not.  Dare me to walk to the edge of a cliff and gaze down the world at my feet?  Sure.  Once upon a blue moon, I was fearless.

At some point, things changed.  Self-doubt had me wrapped around its fingertips.  I became a slave and puppet to the moods of others.  The obstacles leered over me, laughing at me as I became imprisoned in their shadows.  Over time, I withdrew into myself and people knew me as the shy, obedient, and tiny girl who could be easily coerced into doing their bidding, or who would stay silent to their mockery.  It was hard to make friends, but I had all these feelings bottled up inside, frustration mostly.  Multiple circumstances in my upbringing, household, and life molded me into someone I did not like.

If you caught me at a certain phase though, you would have met a different side of me.  Maybe it was the frustration spilling over, lighting a fire to my being.  Quell your voice.  Humble yourself.  Respect your elders and adult authorities.

Jasmine, why don’t you have any friends?

The journey I’ve made is mine, and maybe you do or don’t relate to it, but damn I’ve traveled a long way to where I am now.  The challenges are not over, and yet I can resoundingly say I am proud of myself to still be here, existing.  I am a survivor.  It is vital to first survive and overcome your demons, so that you can really live.  Maybe most of the time, it’s a struggle just to exist, to be.    But if there is a silver lining to all the pain and suffering you feel, it is that it will make the beautiful moments that much more beautiful.  After some self-reflection, I divided myself into Five Identities (more in the future on the ID, Ego, and SuperEgo via Freud)

  1.  The Obvious Identity- Passive, Submissive, Quiet, Hardworking – who most people think is me… only recognizing the side of me who tends to be a pushover, likes classical music, smiles too much
  2. The Fierce Vibrant ID- who likes orange hair, the sensual human body, admires bold and free-spirited women, colors, has a temper, has no time for BS, all kinds of music (yes, I like hip hop music sometimes, depends on the specific song, why is that so surprising… all genres can be incredible, including that genre)
  3. The Dreamy Artsy ID- aspires to mix all kinds of art, loves photography, music
  4.  The Hateful, Depressed, Sick ID- consumed with negative thoughts, some worse than others.  The devil voice that whispers and tells you to give up, what’s the point.  Always tired and uncomfortable, grouchy, withdrawn, pessimistic, blames the world and everyone else (1/2)
  5.   The Overcheerful, Optimistic, Bubbly ID – super happy and excited all the time, wants joy to be spread to all corners of the earth, wants to save the world. (2/2)