A Life in Review

It was the dawning of a new era, although I did not know it yet. Internally I was ready. Ready for what? To live, most probably. Hadn’t I been alive all this time? Well, maybe alive yes, but not free.

I think each person’s life, just like a story, has key themes. One of mine was most certainly freedom. I sought it, thirsted for it, fought for it, and had been denied it for what seemed like forever. But now the shackles that I had never ever noticed before were coming free.

I had some time to think things through, and more importantly, feel things through. Once again it’s not like I had not done my fair share of soul-searching throughout the years (sometimes I felt all I did WAS soul-searching) but this was different. The retreats had allowed my body to regain some of its former vitality that the past two decades had stolen. I was really and truly coming to life again. And life is a process that is a lot more apparent in the physical than the mental realm.

Peter Levine makes it very clear in Waking the Tiger – good therapists work with the body. Bad therapists don’t. And Psycare were certainly among the best of the best. I wasn’t any slouch at it either! I began to come back to the body, and to my emotions – so often shunted aside or repressed – as well.

The healer’s maxim – you need to feel in order to heal. That had occurred more than once to me during my long years of therapy, but now it was happening in a very different way. I wasn’t thinking about it, or understanding it as some cognitive process. It was happening.

Several long-buried truths became immediately apparent to me. My parents really did ruin my life. I know a lot of people say this, but in my case it’s actually true. They even admitted it! Though that was cold comfort at that time. I even got the Ultimate Asian Apology from my mother, which went along the lines of “I’m sorry that your life was so hard and I gave birth to you.” I can’t really say I was happy to hear it, but I appreciated the thought behind it.

I had to confront the truth that my family dramas and activities had stolen a lot of my life from me. I asked myself a hundred hundred times why I didn’t move out earlier, why I stayed for long, why I was so attached to this and that. I couldn’t have helped it. No one could have had. Anger and frustration and forgiveness warred with each other, fought and smashed and tore holes in the landscape of my mind and heart. Keep on going, I told myself. Where? I had no idea.

Once again I felt the pull of society (omg you’re thirty-three what are you doing with your liiiiiiiiiiiiiiffffffffeeee?) of criticism and all the other things that I had alternately pushed aside and away but never really faced squarely. Or had I? That old internalized critic once again, asking me things that I already had given the answers to years before.

I began to feel nostalgic. Like, really nostalgic. (there’s a whole chapter on that below) Along with the nostalgia came other physical sensations. Nausea, headaches, shaking. Alright Kain, you know what to do. Center, center, breathe, breathe. They passed, as do all things.

I began to wake up each day wracked with pain. My whole body ached. I was so grateful for it! Yes, you’re reading that right. The mind takes a LONG time to process what the body instinctively understands. It had gone into the mind because the physical form was not ready, but this time it was different. As I told my father when he inquired about it concernedly, five minutes of pain was equivalent to ten hours of OCD rumination. I’d take the former anyday.

The nausea continued. The only way out is through, they say, and they are right.

Where was all this coming from? The past, once again. I felt sad. I felt angry. More past and more past…when did it all end? I felt rage against my mother again. Because she never wanted to deal with the past, it kept on coming out through me. More sadness. More injustice. More pain, and more release of that pain.

Greater and greater clarity dawned about everything. I saw connections were there had been none before. Visions came and went and I grew stronger and stronger.

Those months were a time of feeling in much the same way that the twenty years before were a time of thinking. It was nice to be able to give the mind a rest. It was my constant companion, my guardian angel and watchful sentinel both, but it was time for it to move on to a new stage.

I went over my previous chapters and it was a kind of relief to remember that I actually had a childhood! I had periods of my life which weren’t all filled with pain and despair. I’ll have to be honest and say that there has definitely been a lot more pain than joy, but there hasn’t been a total absence of the latter. There was a life which I had fought mightily in order to live, and live it I did.

I began to see everything in a different light. Writing an autobiography will do that to you. I saw how everything was connected, how this had led to that and how that in turn had led to something else. I remembered, I raged, I forgave. The old whys and wherefores appeared, but all so differently this time. I held the unfading colors of the map of my heart up to the light, and new pictures emerged.

Things continued to change, to spin and whirl in their orbit around who I was and what I had become. Without knowing I had already begun to let go of much of the past. Or perhaps it had truly begun years before and I didn’t know it then.

Strangely enough the greatest fear that came to mind at this point is that I wouldn’t have enough time to play games and watch anime anymore. Or surf the Internet and just goof off. The Holy Grail was sort of here, if I lowered my standards a bit. I could just live off the half million, rent some El Cheapo place in Malaysia and take it easy indefinitely. No pressure to do anything. If you worked in order to play, and you could play instead of work…what was the problem?

The temptation came to just screw everything, to go back to Plan C (go to Australia, buy a house, live off the rent for eternity) But I didn’t want to do that! I don’t think I ever really wanted to do that. I had just wanted to rest. Just rest and when I was ready I would go. But rest had been denied me for so long that I grew past even the need for it.

It was a promise that my younger self had made unknowingly many years ago. I won’t abandon my fun and games the way Mum and Dad did. We’ll never turn into one of those working zombies. There will always, ALWAYS be time to play. Even if we have to sit there forever and screw the world.

But that wasn’t the way it worked. In the beginning I had played games to play, and then to have fun, and then to beat back the darkness. And I had done all three, usually at the same time. But I had played – I had learnt and adventured and journeyed through countless realms to do something more as well. I would be spitting in the face of everything I learnt FROM games if I backed down at this point! I owed them more. I owed myself more. I owed the world more – even if I felt that at times it had given me nothing. That wasn’t the point. The point was that I had more to give, even if I didn’t know what it was.

I thought and dreamed and felt and wrote and remembered. I had gotten all the way to the point where I could make my dreams come true, only to find out they had changed. Or had they? I didn’t know. I didn’t know anything anymore.

Many things happened, both within and without. There was, more than anything else, a lot of sadness. Which brings me to my next chapter.

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