Heartbreak means I can no longer be lazy

When I woke up this morning, I cried. Then I wiped my tears, got up from the couch and started doing the five fundamental stances of Shaolin: The horse stance, the bow stance, the cat stance, the drop stance and the cross stance.

I am doing this to heal myself from heartbreak.

I’ve been lazy, letting my mind replay all the toxic emotions of heartbreak. Even before heartbreak, my mind was lazy. I left all the promises I made to myself for tomorrow.

But after heartbreak, I can no longer be lazy. After heartbreak, it is now necessary for me to keep the promises I made to myself. This is the only out I have.

Yes, the novel I’m writing sounds bad. But I’m finishing it.

Yes, people laugh at me when I practise Shaolin. But I’m sticking to it.

These two acts of commitment are a form of self love.

If I criticised someone for not being able to commit, then I have to commit to myself to show love.

Heartbreak means I cannot be lazy. Everything that I have been putting off is now necessary.

What I am guilty of

What I didn’t say was that I was the one who decided to let him go. Then I went back and retracted it because I felt bad. I should have kept to my decision rather than feel sorry for him. Because in the end, he stopped caring and I was the one left with a broken heart.

For the past few weeks, I have been letting my heartbreak sink in, feeling its ebb and flow. But there is something that I keep going back to, something that I constantly feel guilty about. That something is self-sabotage.

From the beginning, he would tell me that “I was the one”. My internal response told me that this wasn’t true. He couldn’t possibly like me without knowing me fully, my flaws and all. But still, I was flattered. So I chose to believe even though I knew the truth.

The truth is, I am shy when I first meet people, then when I get to know them, I am direct and honest. The truth is, I knew that what he liked about me was just the surface-shy girl.

Then after getting to know me, he told me that I was not the kind of person who would go out and travel, that I was sensitive and fragile, even though deep down inside I knew that I was strong in my own way.

So I started acting out. I got angry. I got defensive. I sabotaged all my chances of ever being with him. And what I believed in the beginning became a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The truth is, it wasn’t him who broke my heart. It was me. And I blamed him because it was easier to blame someone else, when really, honestly, I was angry at myself.

I am the one who hurt myself. And I feel guilty about it. That’s a thought that takes a very long time to get over.

So I’ve been thinking of doing something to help myself heal. I’ve been thinking of beginning Shaolin training. I’ve always admired the discipline and craft of Chinese martial arts and I feel not only would it be good for my body, but also for my mind.

How am I doing? There are days when I feel angry, and then days when I feel sad. But the pain is not as strong or as intensifying. There are moments when I feel a strong urge to start a new life, and moments where I feel an overwhelming need to stand up for me and defend myself again.

But I know that after all that has happened, this is the moment I will stop practising self-sabotage.

There is no war in love

I’ve been thinking of home lately. Not my parent’s home here in New Zealand, but the old one, my first home back in China, and even the one before then; the home my grandparents first lived in.

Taking me back to their home gives me a sense of pride in the midst of all my failures.

Lately, my senses have been dulled and worn down by the pain of heartbreak, by the shame of self-pity, and the doom of seeing no way out.

But when I think back to where we came from, I am reminded of the strength that existed before my time and which will always be a part of me.

My grandfather saw his neighbour gunned down next to him.

Waking up in a world full of uncertain tomorrows made life more sweet and precious. There on the sidewalk, with the blood of his neighbour’s son, uncertainty crafted his strength.

As the oldest, he raised his sisters from the poor to the strong. He was a strict man, a gentle man, and a practical man. He wouldn’t have spent his waking hours wallowing in self-pity. One hour of pity meant one less day of food.

He knew the difference between love and war.

War was hunger, getting shot at and families parting.

Love was in my grandmother. Taking care of her, looking after her, giving her a better life.

He did not see war in love, even after my grandmother had a stroke that forced him to give up his love of travel.

He cried when he had to give it up. But he cried harder when he almost lost my grandmother.

He was strong in this kind of way. Strong enough to know what was truly important.

Yes, he is still alive. Still, after all these years, there is a twinkle in the corner of his eyes, a gift from the universe for his unwavering optimism. That is the only thing I have inherited, his twinkle.

A few months ago, my mum told me that the twinkle in my eye had gone. How sad that made me feel, to have lost the one thing that connects me to my grandfather’s strength.

But what existed before will always be there. Although faded, weary and momentarily hidden from sight, a little spark, a little patience, will ignite it once again.

There is no straight path out of a broken heart

I thought that sadness was something linear, like the passage of time. That it would decrease as the weeks went by and I would feel better each day.

I thought sadness looked something like this:

Sadness graph - A linear line showing how sadness decreases over time

But the more I got to know sadness, the more it looked like this:

Sadness graph - a spiky graph that shows sadness zigzags up and down

A zigzaggy shape, with spikes that go up and down.

Sometimes the sadness builds up to extreme anger, then dies down again. Like a broken heartbeat.

It’s strange to think that time heals everything when time and sadness don’t move in the same direction.

Time moves forward. Sadness moves up and down.

Time wants me to get up, go to work, eat lunch, catch the bus.

Sadness wants me to stop.

Time says it won’t wait for me.

Sadness wants me to go to his house, knock on his door and beg for an apology.

Time says I don’t have time for that.

Sadness wants to go back in time.

Time knows it can’t go back.

Sadness argues that he still cares.

Time proves that he doesn’t.

Sadness lives in fantasy.

Time lives in reality.

Time forces me to do the things I don’t want to do.

Perhaps that’s why they say time heals everything.

It’s a force against my bad judgment. It’s the pull of linear events that interrupts this rumination.

It’s the moon to my tide.

Before today, it terrified me to find that there was no straight path out of a broken heart. The way out was fraught with thorns and fallen branches. One step forward opened fresh wounds. One misstep took me to a dark place. In the midst of all the pain, the path left behind, became deceitfully safer than the path forward.

As I was contemplating which path to take, time showed up and whispered to me:

Hope is in the future, pain is in the past.

So fixing on the road ahead, I took one step forward and saw a faint light.

It is not much, but it is where I am, in my journey out of heartbreak.

Speaking from the heart takes time

Last week was the first time I had told the man who broke my heart how his actions had affected me in silent ways.

Everyday, I would get up fearing the world and the perfectly beautiful strangers around me. Everyone seemed to be loved by somebody, and I hated seeing it for fear that it would cast a shadow over my own unlovable self.

Until the past week, I had kept silent, letting my emotions fester in their own pit of agony, with the occasional outbursts of anger. At work, I made multiple mistakes, was distracted and always zoning out. I carried myself around with as little energy as I possibly could, retiring to bed early and waking up late.

Truthfully, I was ashamed of being sad over something that wasn’t real. I questioned why I was angry, even told myself that I shouldn’t feel this way. I never told my friends or family how deeply it cut. Only downplayed my sadness.

Whenever I spoke to him, it was always in a friendly manner, as if I had to appease him for some wrongdoing I had inflicted.

Sometimes, my anger would come out, for small, petty things, like when he cut our meeting short, or if he seemed bored or inattentive.

This gave him the impression that I was always a temperamental person and only confirmed his decision about me.

I was afraid that confronting him would only make things worse, that I would lose him forever. So I always apologised for my short outbursts.

In truth, I was deeply hurt. Just kept pretending. Not knowing where or who to turn to.

But last week, the fear of losing myself to anger and sadness became far greater than the fear of losing him.

So I spoke out.

It took me many tries, a few angry starts, but I got to the truth in the end.

I told him that I had suffered mentally in the past few months by pretending that I was ok. I told him that time doesn’t heal wounds, only covers them. I told him all the above I have just mentioned here.

And then an unexpected thing happened.

By giving a voice to the shame I had felt for being in love, my anger and sadness melted away. Like watered-down glue, they peeled away from me and stopped lingering in the open wounds of my heart.

I started emerging from the brain fog I had been feeling for the last few months. I started caring about my work, my dreams, my goals, my life.

I am still tinged with sadness, but it is not the anxious kind that needs to be tended to straight away. It is more a calming sadness. A sadness that knows it needs not do anything. A sadness that knows that in time, it will heal. But this kind of healthy sadness only comes after speaking truthfully.

I have realised that speaking from the heart is necessary and always takes time. It pays off if the person on the other end is willing to sit there and listen to you patiently, without rushing you in any way.

But he is not that kind of person.

Even though I would still like to talk things through, I am not holding my breath.

I am excited for the future, humbled, and most importantly still not cynical of love.

My sad freelance experience

Something happened recently that made me question my ability to write.

A few months ago, I got my dream freelance job writing content for a children’s educational app.

It was my first freelance job ever and I spent 10 hours a week holed up in my room perfecting my content. I had so much fun coming up with creative ways of teaching children about the Earth, the solar system, and the things they saw around them.

I was earning quite a lot on the side. I earnt more per hour on this job than any other job I had ever had. I thought I had finally transitioned into the world of freelance and that I could quit my full time job.

But I decided to wait just to be sure. I continued working 40 hours a week on my day job, and 10 hours a week on my freelance job. I would come home after 12 hours, then squeeze in an hour to write. I did this for about 4 months. Everything was going so well.

But that’s just the thing isn’t it? When everything goes well, something bad is bound to happen. That’s when things started to unravel.

I started coming home from work feeling extremely tired. I couldn’t think. All I wanted to do was lie down on the couch and sleep. But I forced myself to work on my freelance job. And that was my mistake.

Everybody always tells you to work hard. Work hard and you will reap the rewards. Work hard every hour that you have and don’t waste it by lying on the couch.

But that experience has taught me otherwise.

See, I was working hard. I had a schedule. I thought that if I managed my time well, if I stuck to my schedule, then that was all I needed to get the work done.

I was wrong.

My writing became less clear, and more muddled. I was writing, but I was writing pointless garbage. I was writing for the sake of filling up my quota for the day, so that I could hurry up and sleep.

I knew it at the time, but I just didn’t want to stop. I didn’t want to give it all up. I wanted to continue. I wanted it so badly.

On one particular day, when my spirit was at its lowest and my nerves were at an all time high, I decided to ask the question that I had wanted to ask for so long.

I asked my client if I could extend my hours to 40 hours a week, meaning I wanted to quit my day job and take the leap into freelancing.

I hit send, then I held my breath and waited. And waited. The reply came soon enough.

It still hurts when I think about it. Part of me blames myself for not taking the time out to relax, for putting so much pressure on myself to do well.

My face is burning in shame when I write about this.

This was his reply:

“Thank you for getting back to me, but I’m not comfortable letting you work 40 hours a week at the hourly rate that I’m currently paying you. I suggest we cut it down to half and you continue working for me for 40 hours a week.”

Half.

It felt like a bomb had dropped into my gut. All of these months. I felt ashamed that I couldn’t do well. It was supposed to be something that I was good at. And I couldn’t even do it properly.

I replied back to him.

I told him that I needed time to think about it and that I would get back to him once I had an answer.
I was heartbroken. I had put all my eggs in this one basket. And I was left feeling afraid of my abilities, afraid that I wasn’t ever going to be good enough.

So I did reply. Eventually. It took me four days of going backwards and forwards to finally come up with an answer. I asked friends, I asked family, I even did a coin toss.

Against the unanimous opinions of my family, I said “yes”. Yes to the half slashed wage and yes to the 40 hours. Yes to the fear and yes to giving it a second chance.

I said yes to all those things because of a dream that woke me up in the middle of the night that compelled me to write back and say yes.

In that dream, I kept getting rejected by the man who broke my heart. I kept wanting him to say yes to me, but he kept saying no. I had this horrible feeling of being given up on, of bring the woman that nobody wanted to take a chance on.

And when I woke up, I decided to turn the tables. I no longer wanted to be the girl who said no to risks, but the woman who said yes to unknown chances.

That day I made my decision.

I still have to wait for a confirmation from my client. But I’m waiting, not with bated breath, but with a sense of confidence, that whatever the outcome, I chose to give myself a chance.

All woman should hear this

From getting locked in a guy’s car, to shouting down the phone, this is how I ended up getting my closure.

I blew up. Big time. Like really, really, really big time. It was so dramatic, and so unlike me that it almost felt surreal. I have never been in this situation before. Only thought that it happened to other people. I had no idea how it would play out. Twice, I even asked God to help me.

Saturday morning I was sitting in the car with this guy that I had been hanging out with for over a year and a half. I call him “the guy I had been hanging out with” because that was how he wanted to define the relationship.

As I was sitting in the car, there were so many things that I needed to get off of my chest. I knew exactly what I wanted to say but I was editing my words to sound calm and mature, even though deep down I was hurting.

Boy, did I do a 180.

When “the guy I had been hanging out with for a year and a half” told me to get out of his car, I didn’t. I stood my ground because I needed to be heard.

So what did he do?

He got out of the car, took an Uber to his workmate’s place and left me in his car. But before he left, he said “If I find that anything gets damaged in any way, you’re going to have to pay.” Then he left.

After a few minutes I calmed down. By now it was 3pm. I was starving, hadn’t eaten since breakfast and needed to go to the toilet badly. So I decided to get out of the car.

The door on my side was locked. No problem. I thought I’d try the driver’s side. Locked too. So I tried pressing the unlock button and opening the door handle at the same time. No luck. I did everything I could possibly do to get out of the car without trying to damage it. I googled “How to get out of an Audi.” I even tried to get out from the boot of the car. I mean I did everything. But still no luck.

So I phoned him. I told him that I was locked in his car and that there was no way out. Then he said, “No problem, I’ve already asked my workmates to pick up the car. You just need to wait.”

At this point, I’d never even met his workmates. I didn’t want to look like some crazy maniac, which I knew I probably already did. But I didn’t want his workmates to be there judging me while I was still in this state.

Five minutes later, a car pulls into the parking lot beside me and two of his workmates, one male, one female, unlocks the car I’m in and tells me to get out. Like they had no idea what was going on, only some hashed up story he had given them about why this crazy girl was in his car. So I gladly got out of the car, and went back into mine.

It didn’t end there. No. That was just the beginning.

When I’m in my car, I phone him and tell him that it was not cool of him to get two people who had no idea what was going on to intervene in this private situation.

While I’m raising my voice at him down the phone, he tells me that his workmates have just arrived with his car.

And then guess what happens?

He passes his phone to his female workmate because he doesn’t want to deal with the situation anymore!

And guess what I say next?

I have no idea how I managed to choke down these next few words because boy did I say it with as much command and emotion as one possibly could.

I told her:

“Can you get him back on the phone? I know that you think that I’m acting a little crazy-”

Her- “No I don’t think you’re crazy at all.”

Me – “It’s just that I’m acting this way because he was the one who wanted me to fall in love with him (his words exactly) and now he’s gone off without even giving me some kind of explanation.”

Her – “He should talk to you. No woman should have to deal with that.”

And she passes the phone over to him and gets him to talk to me.

Like what just happened? Did she just agree with me? She, someone who was supposed to help him, just agreed with me. Maybe I didn’t look as crazy as I thought I did?

Like I didn’t even agree with what I was doing. I had been telling myself that I was this crazy maniac for demanding some answers, for demanding an apology. I was ashamed of myself. Have been for months trying to pretend that nothing had happened, trying to pretend that I was OK. That I was just too sensitive, too emotional and that I should just bottle up my emotions.

But here was this other woman telling me that what I was doing was actually OK? Because of what she said I found the courage to tell him exactly what was on my mind without fear. To tell him exactly what I felt. And nobody stopped me. His workmates just left him to talk to me. I could hear them in the background doing their own thing and leaving him to deal with his own personal situation like he should’ve done in the first place.

I said many things to him on that phone call. One of the things was that he had always run away everytime he had an argument/fight/break up with a girl, and that this time he was not going to run away.

He had always either moved to a new country, gone hiking up a mountain or left one way or another to avoid feeling any emotion close to love.

I also told him that everytime he had ever done anything wrong, like bully someone when he was a kid, drink and drive, or light a fire on someone, his mum or some other person had always been there to protect him and tell him that he was not going to suffer the consequences of his actions because they loved him. But today that was not going to happen, because I was going to tell him that he had done something very wrong and he was going to have to confront me instead of running away.

He stood there listening to me fuming at him for over an hour and finally said that he would come up and apologise to me in person – in 2 weeks time.

Whatever.

Let’s just say that when I woke up today, it was like a fog had cleared. I heard the birds chirping outside the window again. I felt the sun warm my room, even during this dreary Winter season.

The shame that I had held inside of me for so long was gone. The shame that had prevented me from moving forward all these months was lifted.

None of the passive techniques that people had suggested to get over a relationship – meditating, forgetting, forgiving the other person – even came close to lifting the shame that I had felt.

None of it worked, until I did what I did yesterday.

Because sometimes to get over something so painful and not let it get to your soul, you need to stand up and defend yourself, your heart and all it’s emotions.