My first date

Fourth year in Singapore

And so I went on my first date.

I wasn’t expecting a first date that soon. He met me at a friend’s gathering. My friend is his aunt. And ever since we met, he has been asking his aunt (my friend) whether she has asked me if I was willing to go out with him.

That’s about 2 months ago.

It surprised me that he was so persistent and kept asking his aunt for two months if I were willing to become friends with him.

So we met and I could see at first sight, that he was so happy to see me.

We went to Satay By the Bay for satay and I was happy that he chose that place because I really needed to unwind from a stressful work week.

While he was buying food, I caught him looking at me from afar. I was so shy. ☺️

It was a good evening and I really felt good.

For the first time, it felt so real. That I was communicating with a person in front of me, with the both of us checking each other out. It was a date and I knew he was looking at me for something more than a friend. What made it easier for me was I could notice that he was more nervous than me. And that was when I relaxed.

I feel good. And that’s because I feel that I really matter to him. And it mattered to him if I really enjoyed this outing. It makes me feel special and I feel that something is real.

I don’t know if it is going to work out. I’m choosing not to overthink and going with the mindset of knowing him better as a friend. Maybe that will help me to manage my overthinking.

But for now, I’m grateful and proud of myself for stepping out of my boundaries.

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11 July 2018

Fourth year in Singapore

So it has been a full three years since I boarded the plane from Melbourne to Singapore.

I will always remember my trip back. I was in tears and I couldn’t stop crying. I felt that it wasn’t time for me to leave.

Three years on…. I realized I have grown a lot. And it’s really a lot.

Let’s start with the physical changes.

This year, I embarked on a weight loss program. And I have lost 18 kg since 1 Jan. I feel so much healthier and fitter. It amazes me how I can find climbing the stairs or chasing after my morning bus to school so much easier. Of course, it brings much joy to discover that I can finally fit into the clothes I could not wear previously. And the joy of buying clothes that are no longer plus sized! Oh what joy!

Job wise, I took that leap of faith in God and changed jobs from a renowned school to a less renowned school. I haven’t regretted changing school since the previous school had such a toxic work culture. The new school is very disorganized and lacks direction. But the big difference is at least I get to go home every evening peacefully and not having made to feel that I am walking on egg shells. The students in this new school are also incredibly affectionate and they really reciprocate the teachers. They are unafraid to express their love and I really feel very appreciated.

There is also less power struggle here and I get to seize opportunities where I could fight for what I want to develop myself more professionally. I guess the non-competitive (or maybe lazy) work culture is beneficial for me as well. Not many teachers are keen to improve on themselves and to work harder to get better at teaching. So since there is no motivation, I get to do things and experiment with teaching strategies at my own time and pace. For example, I am currently conducting a research study. And then I took a giant leap of courage and applied to present at an education conference in Hong Kong in December. I really do hope I get the opportunity and I trust in God’s timing.

I find that I have grown up a lot. I have really really learnt how to love myself so much. I guess, when people tell me that they see me being “comfortable in my own skin”, it means a lot to me. It meant that I am not answerable to anyone. I am confident of myself. I am confident to be myself. I love myself. And I am unapologetically me.

I am also recognizing more of my strengths. Like how I am really a versatile and competent teacher; I have a huge capacity to love and to give; I am so organized and meticulous; I am so resourceful and independent; I am Street smart; I am strong; I have high emotional quotient; I am wise; I am incredibly kind; I am perceptive and intuitive; I am sharp; I make people feel comfortable; I have grit and resilience; I am determined; I make things happen; I am financially savvy.

And I think because of this, because of my personal growth and development, I am thankful for the near-death experience I had in May 2015. It was the biggest turning point in my life when I choose not to die but to fight to live instead. That was also that point of enlightenment that I am indeed smart, having scored a high distinction on the overall despite suffering for severe depression, back ache and suicidal tendencies. And that was the point when I discovered that God had a reason for keeping me alive.

I know that He has called me to education and to teach and inspire the lives of many students. And I know that my dream to do my PhD is ever more real, especially when I still think and dream about it after three years and when my family still thinks I am crazy to pursue it. Well, when people say that you are crazy in pursuing that dream, it is a sign that you are on the way to achieving something big. I guess, this dream must be real then.

I can’t make sense of how meeting Erhard and falling in love and then breaking up with him relates to why God kept me alive back in 2015. I know I have made a significant impact on Erhard. I know that he misses me very much and I miss him very much too. The pain and hurt are still there and I have been praying for God to ease the pain. But I still can’t relate this whole thing to why I chose to fight to live.

If there is anything, I have really really learnt the power of love. Love is so powerful that it can transform. Because of me, Erhard has been working very hard on his articles. I wonder if there will ever be a day when he decides that he is going to quit smoking, start saving money, clear his debts, just because of me. I am not expecting him to do so but I wonder if that day will ever happen since I have made such a significant impact on him.

And because I am courageous enough to allow love to enter my life, I really experienced the warm fuzzy feeling of love. It is great; it is empowering but it really really hurts so badly when the love is not completely reciprocated.

Did I regret loving him? No. I know my love is a gift to him and he has also transformed my life in some ways.

Am I thankful to have met him? Yes. Even when he has hurt me so badly.

I didn’t regret taking the plane to Paris to see him. I was brave enough to face the consequences. I was brave enough to walk away from a man who couldn’t commit to me. I was strong enough to make that decision, knowing that it will hurt me so bad.

If there’s anything, this whole experience taught me that I am human. I get hurt. I need love. I am not made to be alone. I am vulnerable and I am not afraid to show my vulnerability. I am only human. Made perfect in my imperfections.

So yes, my dear girl, you have grown so much.

You love yourself so much more than last year.

Take good care of yourself. Protect yourself from people who are not building you up. Protect yourself from people who are going to hurt you, do not cherish you or are unkind to you.

Give yourself so much love because no one is capable of loving you that much.

You deserve all the love in the world.

And that’s why you don’t need him to complete your life. You are already complete. Promise yourself that everyday, you will find the courage to keep walking and walking further away from him. You need to open another door for your happiness.

You are enough. You are far more than enough. You are capable of getting up from any setbacks or falls. You are that strong.

There isn’t anything you will change because you don’t do things you regret. And that is a clear indicator that you are smart and intelligent. You don’t do stuff that you regret. You think that hard and that thorough before making a decision.

So set your sights on that PhD. Set your sights on Australia. You realized that you have been unhappy for the past three years and sooner or later, you just gotta stop traveling every school break cos it is just not financially sustainable!

Be brave. Be very brave to step out of the boundaries and get what you want. No one understands you better than yourself. So listen to your inner voice and heart.

You are able. Able to get out of that abyss of pain and hurt. Able to carve out a path towards that PhD scholarship and to Australia. Able to allow yourself to heal so that you can allow love to enter your life again. You are able.

Fourth year in Singapore. Don’t make it a fifth complete year. Set your sights on what is beyond and now what is to come.

You know it is the right time to move on.

Choose

Third Year in Singapore

I miss him. Very much.

Much as I wish we were back together, I know I deserve someone way better. Someone who cherishes me, who values me.

So if I can be that brave and strong to choose to walk away from him, I can be that brave and strong to choose to pick myself up again.

To choose.

What’s best for myself.

What’s most loving for myself.

Be kinder. Be gentler to myself.

Moving on in 2018

Third Year in Singapore

Enter second half of 2018 and I found myself vulnerable and weak.

It is okay to be vulnerable and weak. It is okay. 

Much as I try to comprehend why we broke up; much as I hope against any little glimmer of hope that there will be reconciliation; I need to accept that I have broken up with him.

It is funny how upset I am when I, myself have initiated the break up. But then again, I am amazed at my strength, courage and wisdom in making that swift and painful decision.

There is sadness and hurt welling up inside me. Friends tell me to cry it all out but I simply can’t. I feel suffocated at the built up of emotions. I need to really really cry and wail that this relationship is gone.

I need to move on. I need to forgive. I need to forgive that at the end of it all, he couldn’t be brave enough to make that commitment. And that has nothing to do with me at all. 

After all, if I were to forgive, I am doing myself a favour. I am choosing to move on.

It irks me that such a wound takes time to heal. I can only imagine a huge wound, red and sore, in need of so much tender loving care. It’s in need of some antiseptic, medicine and constant changing of bandages.

I need to allow myself to treat this wound. If I don’t treat this wound, I am punishing myself. This is not an action of self-love. But first, I need to fully accept the fact that I, always strong and independent, am now wounded. I am terribly hurt, sad and afraid to love again.

It is okay to fall, sometimes. Just get up back, in your own pace and time. 

So I am getting up, slowly but surely. I am going to face my emotions head on, embrace my vulnerability, all my hurt, fear and my wound. I am not going to run away from it. I am going to make it a habit to accept, embrace and move forward.

I need to look forward. I realised that I have put my life on a pause for six months because I was waiting for him to make a decision. Now that he is no longer in the picture, I can bring back those plans, continue with them and work towards the life I want in 2019.

Personal goals

  1. Make it a habit to protect myself from toxic people and thoughts.
  2. Keep to saving 42% of my monthly income.
  3. To cook at least two savoury meals for my family (and this involves going for cooking classes to learn new dishes.)
  4. Get rid of clutter in my wardrobe, office and house.
  5. Go out and meet up with friends and new people.
  6. Spend more time developing a better relationship with God.

Fitness and health goals

  1. To finish 10km in under 1 h and 20 mins
  2. To completely cut sugar from my diet (unless on special celebratory functions)
  3. To lose 16 kg by 1 Dec
  4. To cycle on three occassions
  5. Lights out by 10.45 pm so that I can clock in six hours of sleep

Professional goals

  1. To apply for at least two conferences this year.
  2. To attend a course on assessment for learning
  3. To share on a school platform
  4. To achieve more than 70% distinctions (Grade 7) for my HL and SL students

It’s going to be a tough journey. But I am going to visualise this on 31 December:

A girl who loved so much that when it wasn’t reciprocated, it hurts so much.

Yet through the hurt, pain and vulnerability, she has risen up from ashes.

Hopefully, by that time, the wound would have healed and closed. She has moved on to become a girl who truly, truly knows that the best love one can receive is the infinite love she gives to herself.

One week

Third Year in Singapore

Exactly one week ago, I broke up with him.

For the past one week, a whole spectrum of emotions swept over me.

It took me a tremendous amount of courage and strength to make that decision.

When I made it, my heart broke.

We seemed so perfect for each other but yet, he was facing so many issues that he couldn’t commit to me.

On board the plane back to Singapore, I just kept crying because it meant that I may no longer see him again. He isn’t going to travel to Singapore, so he said.

I felt so shattered because I am never going to see him again.

When I saw my family in Singapore, I felt relieved that there is someone whom I can run to. I shared a bit and then that’s it.

I tried to put up a brave front.

I tried to immerse myself in work.

I tried to distract myself.

But at the end of the day, I cannot escape from that hollow space in my life.

I miss him so badly.

Strangely enough, after the break up, we are communicating more frequently and he is making a greater effort to keep in touch.

But that makes it more painful. Because it was supposed to be but it didn’t.

I feel so hollow, so painful and so lost.

I’m trying to get up and move on but it is so draining to pick up every ounce of strength to move on.

As each day passes, I thank God for giving me the grace to get through that day.

This too, shall pass. So I hope.

But please, dear God, help me to feel better. I just feel so awful.

Wishes and wonders

Third Year in Singapore

She was afraid. Very afraid.

But she decided to give love a chance to enter her life.

She decided to put all logicality aside and to try to fight for love.

She worked hard at trusting him and allowing him to influence her life and decisions she made.

She learnt the meaning of “I chose you” when there were guys wanting to know her better but she decided to choose him.

She was courageous enough to invest $1000 on the flight to Paris in December and started saving for her visit in June.

She was hopeful that that visit will bear more fruits in their relationship. After all, their relationship have grown and reached a stable maturity.

But alas, it was not meant to be.

Nevermind that she realized that he had picked up smoking.

Nevermind that she realized that he has more and more conditions to deal with – anxiety, sleeping disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, financial debt.

In the end, he didn’t have the courage to make that commitment to love me. He was afraid. Very afraid.

She looked at his eyes when she asked him. She knew he wanted her but was afraid to make that commitment. He didn’t fight for her. He didn’t choose her.

He lacked the confidence to give her the love and happiness she deserved.

She told him that despite all his conditions, he was perfect to her. She accepted him for who he is. It doesn’t matter if he wasn’t rich. All she wanted was a man who truly loves her, wants her and values her.

But he couldn’t give that to her.

He couldn’t make a decision to give her a status in their relationship.

And so, she made that decision for him.

Exactly one year since they met face to face in Munich, she told him that they are better off as friends.

Her heart broke when she said this. It was very difficult but she leaned more on her logical thinking than her illogical self.

She was vulnerable in front of him as she shared how much she loved him but she felt so hurt that he couldn’t love her back. She couldn’t wait for him any longer because she had waited long enough. Being in long distance relationship has created so much emotional drain on her and she is tired of waiting for him to act.

She looked at him. His eyes watered as he held back his tears. She waited for him to say something but he didn’t.

She wished he could fight for her. But he didn’t.

She wished that he could say to give him time to work on it. But he didn’t.

She wished that he would be courageous enough to make a decision at that point but he didn’t.

So, she chose to leave him.

It is terribly painful. The pain of letting go of someone who seemed so perfect for her, who seemed to be her destiny but he just didn’t have the courage to commit.

She wished that she wasn’t that strong enough to put a full stop to this relationship.

She wished that she had loved herself lesser so that she could continue to be in this relationship.

She wished that she was not that intelligent to realize that he had not chosen her as much as she had chosen him.

She wished that she is not sensitive enough to feel that hurt and sad.

She wished that she is not wise enough to just settle.

She wished that her tears would stop flowing.

She wonders if she could ever open her heart to love again.

She wonders if she is destined to remain single.

She wonders about why God has constantly told her that he is the guy He has destined for her but it doesn’t seem so. Even last night, as she prayed at the Sacre Coeur, God seemed to be rebuking her for making that decision.

She wonders if she could ever meet someone who values her, cherishes her and loves her more than himself.

She wonders if she could ever be strong enough to love and live all over again.

To fight or to take flight?

Third Year in Singapore

So I chose to take flight instead.

I don’t know what made me do that. It was pretty senseless for me to pack up and leave and seek refuge at Aunty Margaret’s place but I just listened to my inner self and moved.

I couldn’t accept how much of a low priority I am to him. I found him to be emotionally unavailable and I spent so much time by myself. He didn’t make plans to be with me. It was always last minute plans.

No doubt he had a conference to prepare for but as his friend would bluntly put it across to him,” if I were you and had my girl friend flying 15 hours for you, I wouldn’t give any fucks for that presentation or the conference you have to attend.”

When I wanted to go for the day tour at Mont St-Michel, I invited him to join me but he said it was too early for him to wake up and be at the pick up point. I was so pissed when I read that text.

And then I learnt that he picked up smoking socially. I was so pissed because it showed me that he didn’t love himself enough. It was enough seeing him drown himself in soda and milk shakes and gorge himself with all the unhealthy foods. As I told him that by smoking, you are not only joking yourself; you are also killing me.

Where is that self love? If he can’t love himself, how can he love me? If he can’t manage himself, how can he manage our life together?

I feel like I am his accessory; when he needs me to show to his friends, he calls me. He doesn’t really care about me. He isn’t interested to show me his life and to allow me to know how he spends his life. He isn’t making me as a priority and as part of his life.

I feel very sad and hurt. I feel that I do not know where I stand in his life. Am I his accessory, friend, companion or a visitor to him?

I don’t feel pursued. I don’t feel wanted. I don’t feel valued. And I do not like that. I feel that I deserve way much better.

I travelled down 15 hours to see him, looked for my accommodation and paid for it myself. Out of six full days, I only saw him for three full days and there were no future plans at all. He kept me waiting.

And when I travelled to Aunty Margaret’s, he didn’t even ask me when I was coming back or even bothered to ask if he could come and see me.

I deserve way much better.

But I love him. I really do. So do I fight or take flight?

Give myself permission to ….

Third Year in Singapore

I can’t believe that after all that wait for the past six months, I am finally on my way to see him in Paris.

It is the most illogical thing I have ever done. I can’t imagine how I have let my logical self take a backseat as I prepare myself for the trip to Paris.

For example, I pack so many different pieces of clothings because I can’t decide which one I should wear, what I could impress him with or what occasion we might end up in.

And because I packed so many different pieces of clothings, I have had to bring three different pairs of shoes and another cross-body bag for a simple evening out.

And for the first time ever ever, I brought my make-up kit along and with the best shampoos and conditioner.

GOSH!!! What has happened to my practical and smart-travel self? The packing of this trip is totally impractical that I can’t believe that I have become impractical!!!!

And here I am on the airplane, feeling butterflies flying around my tummy. A sense of anticipation, excitement and immense joy is bursting through my soul.

Is this what they call love?

And then what happens when we meet?

And then will our talk about going to Portugal to visit Our Lady or Fatima come to reality?

And what about my shoestring budget?

And then what about my mother who is discharged from the hospital and recuperating?

OH GOSH!!!

My dear girl,

Give yourself the permission to leave behind work and all the affairs of others.

Give yourself the permission to place yourself as first priority, just for the next 16 days.

Give yourself the permission to allow him to take care of you; your strong and independent self can take a rest for a while.

Give yourself the permission to be open and vulnerable in front of him. It is okay to act childlike, foolish, curious and excited.

Give yourself the permission to allow love to enter your heart.

Give yourself the permission to let go and surrender to God where this relationship is concerned.

Give yourself the permission to stop overthinking and to focus on the present.

Give yourself the permission to believe in the goodness that God has blessed you.

Give yourself the permission to give love a chance. You deserve only the best. ❤️

What’s worth fighting for

Third Year in Singapore

st francis of assisi

Very quickly, I am ending my first day of May in a few minutes’ time.

I have been crazily busy that I figured out I would do good if I had checked in here. Just for a short while.

I have not regretted moving to another school. I don’t think I will ever regret it because the sense of community is strong and there is a safe environment for me to thrive in. It just goes to show that the previous work environment was so toxic and if I could survive there for two years, I can pretty much survive in this school as well.

Unfortunately, because of the lack of stringency, the bad culture in the school was allowed to develop where laziness and incompetency have crept in. Don’t get me wrong. It is not my intention to sound arrogant here but while I am completely aware that I am not the best (and never will I), the incompetency and laziness of my fellow colleagues have allowed me to shine and thrive in this environment.

The school does not have the culture of setting exam papers. I courageously volunteered to set the exam papers for the mid-year exam, a move that shocked my colleagues who were used to taking past years’ exam papers (without any modification, mind you). And I have amazed myself that I could set two decent papers. I am truly proud of myself. It is important to me because I am learning more about assessment literacy and if these papers are really accepted for the exams, I am able to get direct feedback as I mark these scripts. It also revealed that I don’t settle for anything less or for anything that could shortchange my students. And this could possibly mean that I will never allow myself to grow stagnant.

Yet, work wise, I am working with a challenging colleague who doesn’t know why he is here, what he is doing and why is he doing this for. It is frustrating working with him when he doesn’t keep to timelines and doesn’t get things done. I have to clean up his messes for him. I think I have had enough. I am going to put my foot down and fight for myself. I need to improve my work conditions so that I get less stressed and I can concentrate on what truly makes me happy and fulfilled. I will make my voice heard and I am prepared to bear the consequences, even if it means getting out of the student council.

Four months on, I have lost 15.3 kg. I am frustrated at the dismal 1.8 kg weight loss I recorded for April. But I don’t think I should beat myself up for it because I have tried as hard as I could and there are some external factors I couldn’t control. How could I control my emotional eating when I have a stressful work environment? There are many things to celebrate though! I am officially cleared of hypertension. I no longer suffer from back aches and arch pains. I am losing body fat and gaining muscle. I am getting fitter and healthier! So tell me, why quit? Why stop? Any loss is still progress! I have to keep going, no matter how difficult it gets. Day by day, I can still do something about it!

I miss him so badly. BUT we are making good progress. I find that our relationship really, really rests in God. God has been truly intervening and guiding us all this while. It is truly by His hand that we talked things through and we have agreed to move to Australia. I am grateful that we talked things through. It could have ended up in a fight, honestly but I think the beauty of us is that we talk. We listen. We consider each other’s feelings and position in our lives. And that’s what I love about us. That’s why I have to keep fighting for this.

It has been five days since we last communicated. We (At least I) have been so busy that we have not communicated. I am also amazed at how we could immerse ourselves in work and still trusting that this relationship will work out. I love it at how we could trust each other despite the infrequent communication. But I also hate it at the same time because I really wished we could talk more and be there for each other. And because of my work and the environment and because of where this relationship is heading to, it is becoming clearer to me that I should no longer delay in entering into my next stage of life.

I can’t wait to see him in June. I am praying for a marriage proposal. I am not being shy here but I just feel that we have both reached a steady stage in our relationship that it doesn’t matter where we end up in. If we don’t end up in Australia, I am now willing to move to France. So yeah, what’s stopping us? I am ready to take the plunge in the next stage now.

So yeah, looking back since my last post, I am once again grateful for things turning out good, proud at how I have trudged on and hopeful that things will turn out for the better.

What’s worth fighting for is what is truly necessary and we can start by doing the possible first so that we can eventually achieve the impossible.

 

Reality Bites

Third Year in Singapore

And so, 2.5 days just whizzed past like that.

It seemed like a fairy tale.

He arrives in Singapore. She rushes off from work to meet him for the three days. They paid no attention to the limited amount of time they had and immersed ourselves for three days as if time was infinite.

He’s like a child when he gets so animated from sharing his experiences in Singapore.

He’s like a gentleman when he offers to pay for all the meals and transport. He has given me so many gifts over the past three days.

He enjoys talking to people and asking them questions. He is so open and readable.

He listens to me and asks me so many questions to find out more about my life. He wants to know who I am. He sees me for who I am. He accepts me for who I am.

On the very last day, he nearly got lost when the cab driver couldn’t bring him to our agreed destination. When he arrived at the destination, that look of relief was memorable. It was as if that he was so happy to see me.

I was so happy that he enjoyed Singapore and had a good impression of Singapore. I am so happy to hear him say that he doesn’t mind coming back to Singapore. He also enjoyed Singapore food, especially durians! He is not adverse to durians! He appreciates the fruit. 🙂

I am also happy that he is open to experiences, especially when I brought him to experience the authentic life in the neighbourhoods and not in the tourist areas. He saw for himself how we really lived in Singapore. And he was not adverse to it. In fact, he was appreciative about how we really lived.

But on 23 March, it was heartbreaking to see him return to Paris. It really stuck so hard that it is the distance that separated us. How long more can we see each other again? So what if I am visiting him in June? After that? What’s the plan?

We had a hard talk about relocation. We were clear that we were not going to stay in Singapore. He asked me to move to France. At that point in time, I didn’t think much of the question. I thought it was a very logical question that both of us needed to have answers to.

I was prepared to answer this question because I knew this was going to come up. So I was honest. I told him that I cannot imagine myself living in a foreign land without the ability to converse and move about freely. I will lose my independence and I will be very dependent on him. He will go mad. I shared with him about my family feeling upset that I am moving so far away. And lastly, I told him that I am very unwilling to give up my Aussie PR and that if I were to ever move to France, it is because of him. I know it is very difficult for him to give up his permanent position and to adjust to a new environment.

Of course, he didn’t have much clarity over this question as much as I had. He was in two minds about staying permanently in Europe. He also made a stand that moving to wherever is always difficult for two people. But he expressed that he was unsure about whether he was able to fit in to another new environment.

We ended the conversation with “HOW?”

There were no answers. We didn’t end the conversation on a bad note. But we knew that it is difficult and we both needed time to have the answer.

Today, upon reflection, I realised it was a commitment question. He was asking me to begin life with him in France. He was asking me to share a common life with him. I wondered whether I busted the proposal he was probably planning to pop. But I didn’t regret being honest. I had to be.

But this is so hard. So hard.

I am fearful that we can’t deal with this. I am fearful that we will part ways because of the indecision to relocate. I am fearful that my fragile heart will be broken and I can’t love again.

I have this impetuous thought to stop this whole relationship with him. But I realised that I was doing it to protect myself from getting hurt. Fiona said I should stop myself from overthinking and I do agree with her.

But the truth still stays.

We are separated by distance and it is hard to close the distance. Have we tried hard enough? I don’t think so. Can our love withstand this test? Only time can tell.

Reality can be really so hard at times and it really bites.

Bring me back to 21 March, pls….