There exists this network of friends, acquaintances that I have who are....well, let's just call them the walking wounded. These people, like myself, come from a past scored by an underlying thread of deep unhappiness and dysfunction. The ones with angry emotionally abusive parents, whose parents fought then divorced, the ones used as pawns in a game their parents played, the one whose formative years revolved around alcohol and gambling, the ones who grew up in physical abuse and neglect, the ones who may have had to manage drunk unruly parents or take over the reins of a household because the parents just couldn't or wouldn't. These are wounds sustained as children, carried into adulthood and worn as unseen scars for the rest of their lives.
They manifest in so many ways. As anger issues, as alcohol abuse, in self destructive and self mutilating behaviour, as over weening self confidence. Promiscuity. Further physical abuse. Drugs. Crippling shyness. Issues. Baggage. Phobias.There is no end to this list.
E asked me recently, of the highs and lows of the last few years. I told him that my life only began when I left home for Australia. That the biggest win in my life, was when I left and finally managed to get enough distance to think and breathe and heal.
I didn't do much in Australia. I'm not and will never be one of those restless go-getters with a resume full of activities, president of XYZ club, captain of ABC team, editor at random magazines etc. I don't have that. I had instead, what I'd always wanted. I had a quiet and peaceful life. Like the Banana Yoshimoto character in Kitchen, I healed by leading a quiet existence. I learned to cook, appreciate food and wine, had dinner parties, attended church, learned to make friends, fell in and out of love... I had a gentle, idyllic life for several years in which I learned to be a whole person.
The biggest win because I found myself in those years. Most people have those soul searching moments in their teenage years, their major epiphanies,their self discoveries. I had mine there at age 25. Before I left,I was only half a person and had been only this half person for as long as I could remember. I drifted through life disinterested and disengaged. In all those years, I never stopped having a death wish, perching uneasily on the line between life and death,waiting to see which way the wind would take me.
Then last year,I was faced with moving back to Singapore. I admit, I did not really want to come back. I wanted life as it was in my blue and white Melbourne apartment to continue indefinitely. I looked around, took stock and decided that this time, life in Singapore would be different. If it killed me, I would no longer allow my past to get in the way of the person I wanted to be.
My past dogs me still, appearing in my peripheral vision at times, in the unstable clutching fears that awaken me at night, but my past is no longer relevant. It has taken me 27 years but I have finally left the ranks of the walking wounded.
I still see them though. It doesn't take X-ray vision or any particular gift at psychoanalysis to see the links between the past Cause and the present Effect. I talk to people, ask a few questions and there it is. The scars, fresh and livid staring up at my face as they talk of the past.
Leave, I tell them. Walk away from a life lived in fear and negativity. Embrace life. Have confidence, faith that things will get better. Find love and resolve not to make the same mistakes.