Therapy is a bitch and I won’t let anyone convince me otherwise. It is a difficult but necessary journey that I have embarked on. Each session is torture, drawing me into dark corners that I have spent years avoiding or covering up. Now, all of a sudden, the floodgates have opened up and I am learning to reassemble the broken pieces of my life and soul, reconnecting them in new light, and understanding why I am the way I am, and how others have broken me.
I’ve always loved psycho-thriller novels, so when I decided to write some of my own, I never anticipated that somewhere down the road I would become my own resource for twisted inner thoughts and pain. It is incredibly bizarre to be analysing my own personality and sorting through bits and pieces of my life the way my psychotherapist is guiding me through. It is a fascinating process that I will certainly integrate into a book at some point, but for now, reality is like undergoing surgery without anaesthesia.
Growing up an only child moving from one country to another prevented me from having a steady anchor to return to, a place to call home (German has a wonderful word for it, Heimat) where my roots and childhood could be safely tucked away. Unlike people who grow up in the same place until they have to move away for college, or because of work, my anchors were people. They kept me grounded, made me feel safe, and to some extent defined my identity. Naturally, my first anchors were my parents, then my husband, my in-laws, and my daughter. My life revolved in and around them, and I tailored my life to integrate and interweave everyone in a fair and harmonious manner, which often meant surrendering a part of myself, my identity and my independence.
Over the years, I lost one anchor after another, and when everything crumbled around me, I lost my centre and my equilibrium. Friends and loved ones whom I consider pillars, because they supported me and offered a stable foundation, have been my source of security to cling to, a last bastion of sanity. So to me, a betrayal of trust and/or destruction of friendship is tantamount to knocking down one of these pillars that are struggling to keep a very fragile and damaged structure together. The stability is gone, and I find myself shattered, completely vulnerable to the elements. To everything. And completely terrified.
Anchors also have a dark side to them. While they provided the emotional security I crave for so much, anchors set all kinds of boundaries and pre-determine identity. As an Asian woman, I have built my character based on the anchors in my life, so I was always identified as someone’s daughter, wife, daughter-in-law, mother, subordinate, co-worker, etc. and introduced myself accordingly. It is only recently (in the last three years) that I have had the courage to introduce myself as myself, based on what I do. And that is scary because I carry around this deep-seeded guilt of being selfish and arrogant if I put my own needs first.
If anyone asks, I can confidently say and prove that the menopause-midlife-Empty Nest-divorce-death all-inclusive combination package is a really lousy deal.