Twentytooth

The long awaited birthday post. I have begun to hate reflection because it is a harrowing process of pointing out all the things I could’ve or should’ve done better. This year I’ve come to another iteration of my True Limiting Factor: striving to change myself (ironically)!

The obsession with being better, of growing and having made progress has shackled me. Has made me depressed. And makes me depressed. Somebody I consider a mentor told me that she once regarded her eating disorder as a thorn in her side, something she wished would just disappear. Something she begged God or the universe to take away. Then, at some point the thought stirred: what if this thorn was meant to teach me something? What if all these vices and destructive habits are clinging onto me because they are attracted to my punishment-based, self-hating mindset?
How can I be with the things I loathe about myself, such that I no longer hate myself at all? How can I accept that this living, eternal being that I am is enough, as I am?

See, it’s the same track over and over again and I’m getting tired of hearing it. The driving impulse to fix myself and try harder – how ludicrous to think I have failed even at loving myself! I’ll stop fiddling with the thorns, entrapping them ever deeper. God will perfect me His own way, as the only doctor who can heal my hurts and habits.

Today, I am a new creation. 22 with some two grey hairs.

Sophie, you are loved when you are late to class, eat too much, speak too hastily, snap impatiently, lose your new gadgets, spend too much, neglect your responsibilities, procrastinate, sit idly, think inappropriately, selfishly, and carnally. You are loved when you have nothing to say, when you feel like you don’t know a thing. I love you still. 

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I’m twenty-one

Might as well write a post, right?

The defining moment yesterday: I carried the laundry basket in my arms and walked across the hallway; a picture of the birth canal. I thought: twenty one years ago today, I was a singularity. From where there was no consciousness, I was brought to life. And here I am with the fullness of moments, strings of thoughts and feelings, present and past knit together. Here is a snapshot of life as I moved forward through to the end of the hallway, making my way to a graceful exit.

What do I do with a day of affirmations? Shouldn’t I have felt happier? Why wasn’t I able to embrace the love I was receiving?  Somehow I couldn’t tap into the authenticity of people’s messages. I think I’ve always had this erroneous idea that I must strive in order to be loved- that I must give more in order to deserve kindness. If I truly understood their hearts for a moment – the thoughts of my brother, my sister, my best friends and my acquaintances about me – I’d be brought to tears.

I think we must remind ourselves of the absolute reality that we are intrinsically valuable. God only makes remarkable creatures and He delights in me. He likes me, no matter what I do- just because I am.

It is a privilege to be surrounded by such talented and amazing people in my acapella group. It is a privilege to learn French, even though it takes me five hours to type one page. It is a privilege to send out an email at 2am for my sorority. As my friend so wisely put it: “even on my worst days, my resting state is all the way up here”. Yes! I am resting perpetually on the apex; I am wonderful and I do not have to prove it. Thank you Jesus! If I am already loved, if I am already victorious, what is holding me back from loving the things that I am doing, the things that I am a part of? Nothing. I am walking in His light today.

 

Trust

Nothing could have prepared me for the blood on my sheets yesterday morning. Fantastically red, smeared all over my thighs as if my skin were canvas. Splatters like cherry trees. I had never seen periods in this way: kind of beautiful, actually.
Though a little annoyed that I had to clean this up (and to think I’d want a puppy…), I got on with the task at hand. Sometimes you just have to do it. Like, cleaning your flatmates plates and taking out the trash before anyone else for some peace of mind. Like, starting a ten paged report, bulking up your skeletal resume, and going to that 9am class when your body feels like lead.

I praise God for a more adaptable attitude and an optimistic problem solving style. Instead of shying away from challenges and feeling defeated, I’ve noticed that I now respond to failure and disappointment in a more level-headed way. Am I stressed out about my Linked-in, the looming GRE and grad school applications? Absolutely. But I’m not going to be paralysed by anxiety. There is no ultimate deadline: success is growth at whatever pace works best for me. Most of the problems I’ve faced aren’t unsolvable, my screw-ups unsalvageable. And best of all, my God has planned every day that lies before me.

You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. – Psalm 139:16

Maybe I should’ve planned my winter holiday better. But hey, I’m on holiday. I’m trying to relax here. I’ve finally finished my two songs and posted them onto Soundcloud- now I don’t feel like a fraud when I tell people I “write songs for fun”. I just can’t find the time for personal hobbies during the school quarter- it always feels like I should be doing something else. Anyway, how frequently do you have to do something for it to be a hobby? How long ago was that a habit? Do you currently write/sing/hike/draw/read? Erm not really.

At least I’ve replied all the important emails and I’ve seen some important friends- though I tick them off the list and think I’ve done my part after one meeting. I’ve done some Christmas shopping, crafted some cards, watched The Intouchables (brilliant French film). I’ve still got Dim Sum and a massage on my mind. Another song. A book to finish. But I’m not going to fret if I don’t complete everything; last summer was a bummer because I couldn’t do it all. This winter will be different because I’m #chill.

Your eyes

I thought: gorillas. Or guerrilla warfare. The kind you must shield your ears from. Laughter like bombs going off, cackles and obnoxious shouts of jubilee. I flinched at every sound, ears turning inwards, conch shell cochlea spiralling towards a fine point.

Overwhelmed by my own discomfort, I could not see the beauty and triumph of the moment: a revolutionary shout. A carriage of black people, celebrating themselves and their togetherness; pure, rowdy, group effervescence. The football stadium kind, when your team make the goal and boy, you’re so proud. When it’s girls night and yes it’s really about the dancing. When the Theban women gather for three nights with their baskets and torches to revel in the magic of womanhood.

“It was kinda cool. I thought that this must have been what it was like for Rosa Parks”, she said.

What an insightful thing to say, I thought. What an awesome picture. With that, my anger cooled, my heart glad.

Wake

In the morning, there can be no Taylor Swift. She is banned. I will take a dose of Thrupence, a gentle waking, the tinkle of wind chimes. My husband needs to know to cure me with morning sex and a bit of coffee to nudge me into existence. A good roommate knows to leave me quietly on the bed, Bible on my lap.

An apple in the morning is the ticket to swelling in the belly- straight to the second trimester. Lunch feels like second lunch. Will this ever pass? Will there be good in the world?

I will yet praise Him. Ah, there it is. The lamp switched on; I am loved. I walk with a small smile for I have inherited the world.

Drunk with the spirit

Woke up this morning red and splotchy, like I’d run a mile. Eyes wrung dry, swollen the size of golf balls. This is why I shouldn’t drink.

I didn’t set out to get smashed. I painted my eyes gold with no roaring excitement for the shimmery feelings of inebriation. I was blissfully unprepared, failing to exercise an inkling of forethought. I believe it is called “living in the moment”.

It is this morning that I remember what my brother told me about alcohol completely disrupting our sleep cycles. I testify to the sort of sleep that is not sleep as I know it at all. Not restful or restorative, just empty, static. The slow passage of time. I woke with ease; had I slept at all? Am I still sleeping?

I am a wreck, nauseated by the mere thought of sweet foods and powdery lemon. I’ve aged overnight, aching with every step, my body resistant to motion. How equipped we usually are, never to pay any mind to inertia. I feel defilement in my cells, my body in reparation from the inside out. Bloated and disgusting. It is exhausting to smile, the muscles in my face slumped and unable to hold themselves up. I don’t feel like myself. I know, I know, I’m a youngin’ and we bounce right back, but still my body doesn’t deserve this battery. What have I done to the dwelling place of God?

I’ve been here before, not too long ago. Said to myself: no drinking, because you let your guard down and act like a fool before God. Now I’ve added another layer to my wall of defence: no binge drinking, because you are destroying your remarkable body. How many times do I need to suffer through my mistakes before I learn to be cautious? Well, I’ll take a stab at it with Psychology. There’s this cognitive theory of alcohol expectancies, directly related to dem dranks. We exaggerate the good times and forget the hangover. We remember the intensity of the buzz and forget the shame. These positive expectancies reinforce our drinking behaviour, so we need to adjust our expectations to better reflect reality.

Plot twist: replace alcohol with your name and we have a pattern of addiction. A cycle of ups and downs, where two years later I’m recovering from yet another trough of this infinite sine wave. It was alcohol that made me numb to the cockroach in the kitchen, the risks of honesty, earlier this morning. It was alcohol that pushed me to the brink, that fanned the anger- what I suppressed and thought I could handle, beneath the positive expectancies and all the good I sent you in my thoughts- into flame.

I need to remind myself that you are not only the guy who told me my hair smelled like gingerbread, made me feel adored by your wistful eyes whenever I left you, charmed by the cloud of energy you engulf people in, but also the guy who made me cry because you gave me silence when I spared nothing on my mind and heart. You asked me to stay even though I was dying in my guilt, and I did because I didn’t want to ruin your moment. I kicked my spirit to the curb so that we could indulge in each other. And you insult me when you don’t acknowledge that-when you expect it from me. You are so selfish with me and you can’t even see it. I’m done with preserving the good I stubbornly associate with you. I’m done with feeling trapped because I still want you to think the best of me, that I’m the one you want despite it all. Am I pleasing God or man? I’m taking on an eternal perspective on what matters in my brief existence on Earth. I want to sever my attachment to the things that won’t let me move forward in faith; the people who won’t let me be my best self. Think what you want about me. You are not my God.