To Find Meaning

I’ve been reading this book called Ikigai by Albert Liebermann and Hector Garcia. If you haven’t read it and belong to the generation that does not understand stress-free life, I would strongly suggest giving it a go. It has made me admit to myself something people have said to me before (while I constantly denied it and called them insane).

I am a workaholic (that wasn’t the admission but we’ll get to that in a minute). I love working. I can complain about my job, my pay and even toxic environments but when you ask me to stop working, I’ll only come up with reasons why I can’t. I can’t stop. I was in a meeting until 7pm today. I was dragging my feet to the train but my ego was flying. I was so busy, I had to be in a meeting until 7pm. Like that makes me feel really good.

And there’s nothing wrong with it. We all like different things and I like to be busy working. It makes me feel important and productive and like I’m doing something with my life.

Now let’s get to the thing people complain about that I don’t like admitting – my work defines everything I do outside of it. I was on the train at 7.30pm and told myself, “Don’t check your emails. Shut it off and focus on the music and the words on your Kindle.” You know what I felt? Not anxious, not peaceful and definitely, not focused. I felt guilty.

I feel guilty when I don’t respond to emails beyond work hours. I feel guilty when I turn off at the end of the day. I feel guilty when I take a day off because the doctors thought I might have cancer. I feel guilty when I am not working for not working because my work defines every other aspect of my life.

Before I read Ikigai, I had read Man’s Search for Meaning – thank you Abhishek, if you ever read this. Viktor Franckl talks about logotherapy which is mentioned a lot in Ikigai. The core concept of both these books are the same. (Can I please mention I didn’t go looking for these books? It came to me through suggestions and surprisingly they had the same messaging.) That when you have a why to live, you’ll do so no matter how. So I spent time thinking about my why.

I often tell people I want to be really rich. That’s the purpose to my existence. Money. I want the kind of money that people I grew up with can’t even imagine. To be so rich and yet so humble. To buy the things I see and I see a lot. To own my own place – massive with floor to ceiling windows and a view you would kill for. I don’t want to inherit it. I don’t want to be married into it. I want to earn it. My work will bring that money that will be mine.

Except, I’m beginning to wonder if that isn’t really true.

I work at an amazing European business school in Singapore. It’s great. I get to go to these incredible events with speeches by amazing human beings. One such event in October addressed purpose and stress. She asked us to look at the person next to us and talk about our purpose. My answer was easy. “Money.”

Then the person next to me mentioned, “I want to do good through my job.” I stopped and realised that it’s what I really wanted but didn’t like admitting because it doesn’t offend my parents as easily. I wanted to do good for the beings on four legs that can’t speak for themselves. I couldn’t admit it to myself, I wasn’t going to tell her that. So I said, “Cool.” But I kept thinking. I always told people I wanted to start a rehabilitation zoo. For abused animals. To recreate a forest in a closed environment so they were home without being subjected to hunters or abusers.

That carried into Viktor Franckl’s explanation of logotherapy. I continued to think about the things that really make me wake up to that insane alarm at 6am. And now as I read Ikigai and they repeatedly talk about the thing that keeps you going, the meaning, the reason and the purpose behind my need to keep existing in this seriously not-so-great planet, I am realising the truth and I don’t know if it’s the wine typing or really me but…

Remember how I mentioned that I got very used to answering “Money” because it offended my parents? Imagine my surprise when I realised the purpose to my existence was really them.

It didn’t matter how much money. It mattered what I could buy with it for them. It didn’t matter how big an apartment. It mattered how successful it made me appear and how much prouder it made them by default because…

I wasn’t an easy kid. I was smart that wasted the smarts and emotional that made stupid decisions based on those emotions. And my life, this incredibly weird thing I didn’t ask for that they gave to me, I spend working like a mad person because it gets me closer to making them look like they birthed a fricking genius – a result of which makes them stand taller than the others in any room – something they deserve.

Yeah, I wasn’t expecting this post to get so real as well but I just wanted to put this out there.

Sometimes, it’s good to find the meaning behind the things you do. It may make them that much more worthwhile.

So, yeah, I’ll say it. I’m a workaholic. I chase after success and I will slave my soul away until I reach it. My purpose is money. But there’s a meaning behind it.

Find yours.

My Lighthouse

 

I’ve been kind of lost for the last six months.

My life went through a drastic change and as I tried to find where I belonged in this new phase, I feel like I lost who I have always been.

When things end, they say it gives way to new beginnings. I thought my new beginning would feel free. Like I could do anything without ever having to worry about how it affects another person. But the thing was, there wasn’t much left to be done with that freedom because the things that controlled me remained. Money, exhaustion and just life, in general.

So I began to cling on to anything that felt new. Maybe a new person, maybe a new role, maybe a new dress or a new passion. Maybe I should focus on myself finally. Or my job. Or maybe I should look for a partner. Maybe not. Maybe I look for the old me. The teenage-me. The care-about-nothing and just-have-fun me. Something had to give because my life had to change drastically. It had to.

But it didn’t. And I couldn’t accept that. I turned frantic in my search for something that replaced what I had lost, not realizing that as I tried to walk towards something else, I was walking away from myself.

So I started to add pressure – to me and to the people around me. I watched others’ lives change and began envying them because mine wasn’t. But it had. It didn’t feel that way because my routine hadn’t necessarily changed. Nothing I did every day changed. It was only an emotional disruption and I didn’t know how to process that. I didn’t know how to point and say, “This is why it’s different. Even if nothing changed around me, my emotions are in disarray. So that’s what I need to focus on.”

I searched for a solution to my emotions in the physical world and failed, consistently. I tried to throw myself into work, but it didn’t feel enough. I tried to balance work with life so I could focus on myself but when the day drew to an end, I was left feeling unsettled again.

Maybe this was my way of grieving. This frantic search for something, anything, that made me feel like my life had gotten better. Maybe this was my way of going through the emotions that come with separating yourself and your life from someone. Maybe this is how we all feel at 27 and it’s nothing but a mid-life crisis. 

The problem was, until three days ago, I didn’t understand any of this. In my frustrations with the world around me, I never realized that perhaps the reason I couldn’t find what I was looking for was because it wasn’t in the real world. 

I haven’t painted for over a year. I’ve given myself a lot of excuses as to why I don’t have the time – to be creative, to draw, to imagine, to clean up after. And on a very busy Sunday, I was just done with the excuses. I always imagined painting a lighthouse, Van Gogh style. There was something about it, standing next to the ocean, alone but surrounded by the beauty of the world that made lighthouses seem so fascinating. They reminded me of the wind against my face, sand between my toes and the sound of the ocean. Far above the land, almost touching the sky, just a little bit shy. Lighthouses reminded me of home.

It’s amazing how art cures the most complex of your problems. As I slowly began painting something I’ve been wanting to for so long, I found what I had been missing. Why I had felt so out of place. What I had been searching for since July.

Myself.

I smiled for the first time in a while. From my heart. It was like standing in the rain, every drop taking you closer to yourself. I painted my happy place, finding it within myself along the way.

Maybe this blog isn’t the right thing to post at this point in my life. Someone recently told me that if I were to get married, blogs with so much honesty cannot exist when they google me. Maybe they’re right.

Maybe you’re not supposed to know how I’m trying to find my place in this world. Maybe we’re all just supposed to pretend we’re put-together and perfectly fine with lives that go through nothing at all. But I’m not going to take this away.

We all go through changes. Some are obvious. Some aren’t. You know they happened, you experience the difference even when you can’t see it. Those may be the most difficult ones to process. 

In the process of readjusting my life to a new reality, I lost myself.

It took me six months of searching and one painting to find. And I know this could happen again. Another change I don’t know how to handle could make me lose sense of who I am.

But when it does, I’ll know better. I’ll know the patterns and the emotions.

I’ll know to breathe deep and close my eyes for just a few seconds.

I’ll know to look for my lighthouse.

If you’re out there reading this and you’re not sure where you’re headed, what you’re doing or why you’re acting a certain way – this is your reminder.

Breathe. Imagine your lighthouse. What does it feel like?

Lighthouse painting

I’m Depressed

There. I’ve said it. It’s not the first time. But I don’t want to say it again.

I’m depressed.

Not your milennial kind. Sitting at a cafe, rolling my eyes at the girl I don’t like and complaining about singledom, “Ohmygod! I’m so depressed!” No. Not that kind.

The real one. The emotional kind that people tend to treat lightly because they don’t understand how serious it can possibly be. So, welcome to my world.

I’m not an actress. My life isn’t a Bollywood movie. I’m not sitting by the window, staring into space and nothingness. I don’t have a single tear running down my face as I lose sight of what’s happening around me. I’m not snapped back to reality. A hug isn’t going to heal me. A boyfriend cannot fix me.

This is real.

I’m right beside you. I’m not in hiding. I’m everywhere I need to be. I’m talking to you when you’re talking to me. I sound like I do everyday but I care a lot less. You just can’t tell. I show up to the event, dressed like a dream. You can’t tell it took me effort to put it all on. Not physical. Emotional. To get out of bed and prepare myself to smile with a world I can’t connect to anymore.

I can’t tell you I’d rather be at home. Not listening to you talk about problems that don’t affect me and having to give you comforting advice when I can’t even think. I can’t tell you I’m two seconds away from breaking apart even when I seem to be laughing.

You help me. Sitting across the table, as a best friend. You help me. Knocking on my door for a small conversation. You help me. A distraction for a few seconds. But you can’t take it away.

I want to confide. To tell you how I spiral. To tell you how this is all too much. I think I’ve taken on more than I can chew. My overthinking has taken me by my hand and led me back to my dark place. I was depressed a few years ago. I think it’s back for me. Or maybe it never stopped at all.

I wake up every morning. I walk out the door, that takes a lot of effort. I look through my checklist, ticking off things that pay my bills. I eat my lunch to Netflix. I come back home, turn the lights on, find my corner of the bed and suddenly I’m lost. I switch between streaming platforms. I grab my phone and get on Instagram. There’s nothing to watch. Nobody to see. I don’t care about any of it. But I have to. Because if I’m not watching Mike Ross fight with Harvey Specter or Lorelai and Rory Gilmore fast talk their way through Luke’s coffee, I’d want to slam my head against the wall, crying.

I ask myself everyday. Is it the end of my relationship? Is it the amount of work? Is it the personal woes? The inability to give back to the people who gave me everything? Is it the drowning debt? My answer is the same every time. No.

Someone once asked me what depression feels like. “Is it a state of mind? Can’t you change your state of mind?” I tried to tell her.

It’s like an empty room that hasn’t been lived in for decades. It’s hollow, your voice echoes multifold. So your worries echo multifold. It’s dirty, not the sexy kind. It’s broken windows and rusty doors. It’s haunting without the ghosts. It’s a feeling of sinking. Like something bad is always going to happen. But it’s not. You know it’s not. Yet you feel like it just did. You feel like you’ve lost. Maybe it’s the loss of life in that room. Or the loss of happiness. The loss of light. It’s a dark room. Maybe there’s light. All it takes is the flick of a switch. But you’re stuck. You can’t get up and turn it on.

She asked me why. I didn’t have an answer.

My depression doesn’t need a reason to cling on to. My emotions don’t have to explain themselves for sinking again. I can’t write down why I’m not okay. But it’s the truth. I’m not okay.

How do you ask for help when you don’t know what you need help with? What do I say?

“Hey, I’m depressed. I don’t know why. I don’t know the fix. But help me?”

What do they go on with? What solution do they give to a problem I can’t describe?

So I try what I always have. To smile. Maybe if I smile enough, the happiness will become real. I try to giggle. Perhaps the silliness will help lighten up my heart. I try to create. Art helped me once, so it should again? I try to live. But as I sat there at that boardwalk, staring at fireworks, my sister turned to me, “Are you crying?”

I had to say no because I didn’t want to explain myself. But the truth was… Yes. The fireworks made me cry. I don’t know why. They always make me happy. And I was happy. But something within me made me cry. Because I wasn’t really happy.

How do you explain that?

Things that bring me an abundance of joy cannot lift me out of this dark hole I find myself stuck in over and over again. Maybe we’re all depressed and we just don’t admit it to each other. Maybe as you’re reading this, you’re relating. But you can’t tell anyone either because when they ask, “Your life is amazing. What do you have to be depressed about?” what do you say?

What do I say?

So I shrug my shoulders, look down in guilt and swallow my tears. I look at them, a lump in my throat and softly say,

“I’m not okay.”

 

Young & In Love

I remember being young. Excited for the future. A little immature. Naive, not innocent. I met a boy. He was cute as a button. Special in his own way. We were different like night and day. He was obnoxious, so sure of himself. Sarcasm came to him like it was art and he was Picasso. I couldn’t stand the sight of him. Or bear to hear the words he would utter.

But I was lonely, he kind of liked me. He asked. I said yes. Three rules were laid out.

  1. We don’t tell anyone.
  2. When this ends, we stay friends.
  3. This will end.

And so we began.

I knew where I was going. I had plans, back-up plans and back-up for my back-up plans. I had a vision of who I was and who I wanted to be. He had love and a comfortable dream. I wanted no part in it. 8 months and we’re done,  I told myself on our first date.

Who was I kidding?!

They say you don’t always know the moment you fall in love with someone. I do. I know the moment my heart leapt out of me, into his hands to do as he pleased. On the phone with him, he said to me, “I don’t care what the situation is, you’ll never be alone. I’ll always stand by you.” I knew I wanted that in my life.

And just like that, 8 months turned 9 and I couldn’t imagine waking up to a world where he wasn’t with me. We couldn’t tell anyone but every part of me was dying to. I wanted everyone to know how much I loved him, how much he loved me, how amazing he was and that his love was only for me.

We hit one year and I couldn’t believe my ears. I was so excited. We shopped, went for lunch and celebrated us. But the back of my mind was beginning to nag. I was young but not young enough to ignore the facts. If this didn’t have a future, I had to be honest with myself and step back. I’d look at him, ready to ask the question and I’d stop. No. I can’t lose him to my need for permanence. We’re happy as we are.

The battle went on until the conversation was finally had, spread over six months of back and forth, sharing thoughts, ideas and passions. Sharing our vision of what marriage means to us, what it looks like in our minds and the other’s role in it. We disagreed time and again. We almost broke up over and over again. Until, finally, one day, I sat next to him. We knew there were differences – kids, lifestyle, career – we wanted so many different things. But when we looked at each other, our hearts knew, “I love you too much to let you go.”

The decision was made. I wish we’d waited.

I loved him, I still do. But life caught up. I grew up in uncertainty, unsure where life would take me. My obsessive planning was born the first time I didn’t know what the future held. Uncertainty scares me. His life was filled with them. I never thought about it until suddenly I did. And then I couldn’t let it go. It was an adventure I didn’t want to be in.

How do you choose between the love of your life and the feeling of security? How do you feel safe in someone’s arms yet afraid in his world?

I did. And like all things negative, the fear grew larger and more prominent in my mind until it took over every conversation, every argument, every joke, every look and every minute of our relationship. I began to compare. Not with the living but with the imaginary. The vision of the future I wanted versus the one I was being offered. “Life is filled with uncertainty,” I was told on repeat. But that’s why you have plans. You have destinations. You have back-up plans, my mind would scream. Sometimes, I would scream.

The fights grew bigger, the shouting louder, the words more hurtful. Sometimes, I’d remember the moments we spent too in love to give a fuck about anything else. Sometimes, I’d remember my parents in heated arguments, afraid I was following their precedent. Are we just like them?

We pushed, pulled and lost our minds in the swinging emotions that were mostly mine. I wanted him as much as I wanted to know every little part of my life.

The longing I had for the world to know made me feel trapped with the eyes that were now watching. The people I wanted to gasp with jealousy were now running their mouth with opinions I didn’t want to hear.

He stood his ground, “I want you. It’s really that simple to me.” I couldn’t relate. Instead, I had pain. I had fears. I felt lost in a relationship that had once made me feel like I belonged. And it was so easy…

It was so easy to pretend like it didn’t matter. To turn off my fears when I heard his voice. His laughter brought with it that comfort, his words made me feel loved. His arms… they felt like home. But then I’d leave to come back to my real one, the home that’s made of walls and cement and reality would stare at me, questions burning my brain, anxiety waiting to spiral.

My heart would sink with me as I was stuck in the rut I forgot about when he was standing next to me. And the circle will start all over again.

How do you choose?

How do you choose between the comfort of his arms and the comfort of your mind? Between feeling at home and feeling secure?

How do you choose between the love of your life and yourself?

I chose myself.

I don’t know if I’ll wake up one morning and hate myself for this. I don’t know if I’ll ever find someone that loves me and makes me feel the way he did.  But today, in this moment, I believe I did what I had to for myself. There are people who get it and ones who don’t.

But I wake up every morning and tell myself, “It only has to make sense to you.” Sometimes it does. Sometimes it doesn’t.

That’s just something I have to live with.

 

Alone

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It’s a sunny Sunday afternoon here in Singapore. I’m sitting on my bed, waiting for my nails to dry. The third movie of the day just ended and the feeling hit me again. The one where I can feel the emptiness within. It’s like a tiny prick that begins the moment my heart starts racing with anxiety. My heart starts racing the second my distraction ends and I don’t know what to do with myself.

I don’t know how to be alone.

I’ve struggled since I was a kid. Even if I’m by myself, I needed to be surrounded by people. I needed everyone else’s existence to keep mine calm and sane. I’ve annoyed friends and family time and again, taking advantage of their niceness to keep them by my side. I never needed them to talk to me or pay attention to me. Just to be within my line of vision, let me know they’re here.

When I was a teenager, friends were abundant. Never a moment alone, I began to crave it. I wanted the silence of my room, the coziness of a book or the melody of my favorite song. I didn’t enjoy people. I hated the company. In a Myers-Briggs test, I was an introvert – stereotypically so.

But then I hit 20. I developed depression, again. The loneliness that came from being alone was like an icepick being driven deep into my heart. I needed more than just a human in the room. I needed conversation, warmth, attention. I needed to be acknowledged and loved every minute of the day. I dreaded going to the bathroom because I’m in an empty space by myself and the anxiety would drive me insane.

Then came the incredible 23. I met a boy, cute as a button. Loving, affectionate and never stopped paying attention. I’ve been in love with him for almost 3 years now. Every waking minute I’m not busy, I was communicating with him. We mastered long distance. I didn’t need him in the same room. Just his voice, his texts, him. He became my best friend, my partner in the literal sense of it.

But life always happens. Between us, I happened. And because of me, space happened. So, here I am, on a Sunday afternoon, all alone and I don’t know what to do with myself. We sometimes spend so much time in a relationship, we forget what we did before we met them. I’m sure I had empty days quite like this but I can’t remember them. I don’t know who I was before I met him. What did I do? What was my distraction? Who did I talk to?

I fidget. I continue to fidget. I can feel the anxiety build within me and I don’t know how to get through it.

Am I hurting because I’m without him or am I anxious because I’m alone?

So many people do it. In and out of relationships. Sometimes, just alone. They’re occupied. Their brains don’t crash at the idea of coming back to an empty house – and I have flatmates. I have a roommate who sits outside the entire day. But she travels and I come back to an empty room. I won’t have him to talk to. To fill my silence. How will I survive?

How do they? Do they all feel this way?

Is it something you learn to live with?

Does the silence drive you insane like it does me?

Does it make you cry with memories from as far behind as 20 years ago?

Does it make you miss the place that feels like home?

Does it make you miss the voice that gave you joy?

The arms that kept you warm?

Or do you feel nothing at all?

Do you just walk in, drop your keys, pull off your shoes and settle in? No sound but your own footsteps. Your breathing. The distant kid’s screeching laughter.

Do you ever put earphones on?

Do you ever turn to the door wishing someone would walk in?

I sit here sometimes. I have a huge window to my left that’s always shut, the curtains drawn. But I still hear the world go by. Honking cars, screaming kids, music from the apartment above. I hear my flatmate laughing with his girlfriend. The laundry tumbling in the washer.

And I realize the silence that surrounds me that I can now hear things that don’t involve me. It makes me feel more alone. More anxious. More lonely.

I put my earphones on. The happy songs remind me of my good days with him. It reminds me they’re possibly behind us. The sad songs remind me of the choice I’ve made. It is a hint of a future that I have to re-learn to live in.

Every lyric I hear, every joke I laugh at, every scene I watch continues to build slowly, step by step. I can feel it within me. Anxious.

Anxious that it’s so great. Anxious that it’ll end. Anxious that the end will mean a few minutes of quiet before the next one begins.

Anxious of the thoughts that come with the quiet.

Anxious of the memories I don’t want to re-live.

Anxious of the silence.

Anxious of the sounds.

Anxious of the world.

The never-ending reminders.

Anxious that in a world filled with people, here I am.

In this little concrete block that I slave my life away for.

Surrounded by the things that often bring me joy.

Anxious of being alone.

Alone.

Living In Contradiction

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I am the girl you’ll see on the streets, smiling at strangers, forever cheery.

I am her, nose in the air, uncaring, uninterested, just a little bit snooty.

 

I am loud, to you, maybe to her. You’ll hear me from the other room, laughing and making jokes.

I am shy and anxious. Timid when I see them. Afraid of my voice, terrified of the crowd.

 

I long to be free. To be rid of the Louis Vuitton dreams.

“Find me a corner and my old computer. I’m in the mood to watch TV.”

To be rid of my wants, focus on the needs,

To buy less clothes, to save fewer links,

To return my credit card, to live debt free.

 

I am the ideal consumer. Have something pretty? Does it smell luxury?

“Bring it to me, won’t you please?”

It’s not for show. It’s not for them to see.

It’s for me. It’s for the way they make me feel.

Powerful. Rich. Just a little bit snooty.

 

I suffered. A childhood that left me broken. Insecure and sceptic.

I’ve had days where food wasn’t real, when home wasn’t existent and life was on hold.

Yet, here I am, spoilt. Like a kid in a candy store who won’t stop crying. 

Not because I’m sad. Because I want what I want when I want it. 

 

I love people. The closer I can keep them, the happier I feel.

I hate company. Leave me alone, don’t want to speak.

 

I long for a partner. For someone’s arm to hold.

To smile, to flirt, to laugh. To hug when I’m cold.

I am his woman, in love, smitten. 

“Where’s my ring? Can’t wait till I marry him!”

 

I imagine a world, my company, I’m Queen.

There’s no king, no man. Just me and my employees.

It’s an empire. It’s mine. It’s hard work, long hours, no sleep,

But when I stand at that window, overlooking a world that I can finally touch and feel…

I would be invincible… but wait, that’s not it.

 

I want more. Out of this life, this world.

To have it better. To fight for more. 

A better job, better salary, better rights, better government, 

Better love, better laughter, better people,

I just want…

 

I want to be content. Happy with what I have. 

Accepting of others. To have the ability to say,

“You are your best version and that’s okay.”

To them, to him, to me…

 

But I just don’t agree.

 

 

I Feel Alive

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I’m drawn to pain. I’ve known this forever.

I say this often and people always underestimate how it runs and how real it is.

I’m always the one on the phone listening to everyone’s most depressing sentences. I’m the one my friends come to when they need to cry, when they need to vent or when they need to complain. And I absorb it. For someone who doesn’t know how to care for a human being, I’m always the one listening, ready to comfort.

Lately, I’ve been asking myself why.

Have you seen Eminem ft. Ed Sheeran’s River? The actual video is a flipping nightmare when you look at it in the sense of a relationship. But I’m so drawn to it. I find myself watching the video and listening to the video instead of just the song because I don’t want to just hear the song. I want to hear him say hurtful things to her. I want to hear them fight. And I find comfort in the pain that it gives me.

It’s similar to Love the Way You Lie. When they constantly push each other against walls but they also are attracted to each other and this destructive cycle continues until the house finally burns down and I thought to myself, “My God. That relationship. Wow.”

I fight with him all the time. I don’t intend to start fights and most of the time, I am trying to stop them. But in a way, when I look back at them, I realize how easy it was for me to escalate something insignificant into something so big.  How hurtful words rolled off my tongue like I was asking for an extra shot of espresso. How I did anything I could to ensure he would say the things he’ll regret because it hurts me. But I wanted to hear them.

I remember a phase a few months ago. It was a bad one. We were fighting like the world was crumbling around us. I woke up every morning, exhausted. My fingers would itch to text him an apology but instead, it would build up. I’d begin with, “I’m sorry. But you know what happens…” The text would end with, “But you’re an asshole. It’s your fucking fault.”

In a way, I was the sanest during that time. The constant pain in my chest was a comfort. And there was so much pain. I was hurting emotionally to a point where I could physically feel the pain. But it was perfect.

You know how you dream of a future?

I do, too.

I sit in a room, drink my coffee and imagine a world where I’m finally successful. I’m in the perfect career, look absolutely gorgeous and in love with a man that’s amazing. But we’re not just in love. We’re in love in a way that makes us extremely vulnerable around each other. Like I could drop dead with a heart attack if he said one word wrong because that’s how toxic and unhealthy that relationship was. But it was powerful. Because we were in that relationship knowing we had the power to destroy the other with one word but loved each other so much that we’d never say it. It was like walking at the edge of a cliff. You could fall to your death or on land and live. It was filled with adrenaline. And the idea of that relationship felt so surreal and incredible.

The problem is – my needs don’t match my reactions in reality.

I’m someone that will put up with a lot. But when my boyfriend said something that hurt me deeply, I didn’t run towards him. I didn’t say, “More please.” I took a step back. I called less. I spoke less. I hated him with a passion because he’d hurt me and it wasn’t okay.

And I told myself, “Maybe I’m over it. Maybe I’m not that person anymore. Maybe I’m not drawn to pain.” But every time we fight, every argument we ever have, I want more. Like an addict who found the best version of a drug, I can’t stop until it’s all done and I’ve finally heard it and felt it. Then I stop and breathe. Then I go, “Cool. Now we can fix this.”

Are you like that?

We sit together as a family. I find myself disconnecting. Like an outsider looking in. The happiness that they feel doesn’t exist in me. I’m laughing with them while thinking to myself, “Fuck. This feels so fake.”

But when they’re screaming…

When we’re all screaming… it’s so bloody painful. But I’m in that moment. I’m not detached from my reality. I’m present and alive.

I live everyday believing he and I will break up someday. I love him. The idea of a world without him scares me to death. But I think of it everyday. I think of why it’ll happen – because I’d choose to end it, of course. I think of that conversation. The panic and the pain set in and I pick up my phone and text him how much I love him. He writes back and I smile with a little blush.

The back of my mind goes, “Imagine a day when that doesn’t happen…”

And I’m alive again.