**** This week has been so crazy. An apology to all the emails I have not responded to yet. I’ll get back to you soon. Promise. As soon as things calm down.
But thankfully, I’m getting the most wonderful gift this weekend: My brother is coming to visit! He’s staying for three days and I’m so eager to see him again. Like sister like brother, he’s texting me all the things he wants to eat. And I’m on a mission to persuade him to move to L.A. and find a job here, though I suspect my efforts will be futile since he’s a nice family man who likes seasonal changes and boring suburban neighborhoods. How different can we be? ****
As I mentioned on my last ED post, my limited time in Singapore just moved too fast for me. I had just begun to settle in, and before I knew it, three week fluttered by. I was dreading the day I had to leave. Each day was precious to me; I really felt changes stirring in my heart, but I couldn’t push my recovery forwards faster than it should take place naturally. I needed time. Maybe a month more…or a couple…
I had actually accepted the fact that I would be leaving sometime in December until my best friend Jingwen said to me one night, “You should stay.”
“I wish,” I groaned.
“No really, you should,” she said seriously. “I think Singapore is good for you. You’re a bit different from the first time I met you. And I think you can help me, too.”
Jingwen had been dealing with some issues of her own, and I had played the same role she had been playing for me: being a friend who listened. Although I did also turn out to be her spiritual mentor, constantly talking to her about God and trying to lead her back to church.
And that got me thinking. If I were to stay longer, it wouldn’t be just for me. I had many, many things I wanted to do in Singapore, and it wasn’t just recovery-oriented. I started listing all the reasons I wanted to stay in my head, and the more I thought about it, the more I felt determined that I had to stay.
One day when I was talking to my parents on the phone, I breeched the idea to my dad. He was furious.
“What about your college?” He demanded. “You can’t always run away, Sophia. You’ve been running away from the real issue the whole time. We’ve already deferred your college admittance for a semester. You can’t give up on your real life. You can’t just go to a different new place and pretend that you don’t have to deal with your real problems.”
Hearing him get mad just made me mad, so we exchanged a few unpleasant words before hanging up on each other. But after I calmed down, I knew that I had to talk to my dad again. I needed to make him understand why I wanted to stay. It wasn’t because I wanted to escape; in fact, my limbo life back home was what keeping me from living the real world. Somehow Singapore opened up a juxtaposition of new and old life for me: human and spiritual interactions and connections that I’d lost several years ago.
I knew if I were to verbally express it to him, I would get mixed up and aggravated by his emotions and perceptions, so I wrote him a long email instead. Writing always did calm me down and clear my thoughts. Here’s a snippet of it:
”I feel I am doing better in Singapore…my spirits are quite peaceful and calm even in this hectic society. A little more than a week has passed and as the days go by I feel a rising need and desire to stay here longer…Suddenly three weeks seem so short as I discover there are so many things I want to do here! When I mentioned wanting to stay longer to you that day, I was just expressing the wish that’s been accumulating throughout the week…But I didn’t manage to explain my reasons clearly as I didn’t even organize it in my head, just was a whole jumble of convictions I’ve felt these past days, and that day Jing Wen had also suggested that I stay longer because she felt here was the best place for me to get better.
But anyway I’ve finally organized my thoughts and here they are:
- I love the fellowship here. I love the brothers and sisters in America too, but as you’ve known I always felt a bit lonely as there was really no one I could relate to. But here everyone is young and vibrant and alive, and I myself am inspired and motivated by their active, young lives. In America I feel like I’m living in my own little world. I spend all day by myself at home, and even though I attend meetings there is a limit to how much I can connect and converse with the older generation. So I always felt abnormal; a bit like an outsider, but here I feel more integrated into the church’s body, and I am forced to step out of my own little world and mix with society.
- I feel happier and freer. Singapore is my hometown, and being back here just makes me feel happy and at home. Also I now have to take care of myself entirely. Nobody here really observes or nags about what I eat or what I do, so I don’t feel the pressure to eat to ”show” other people or for other people, which now pushes the responsibility of my health to me myself solely. I don’t eat for others but for my own health. The only person who watches and knows is God, and I have to take care of myself before Him and myself. You both have been wonderful and patient and encouraging to me, but still as my parents you still affect me a lot…I know it pains you to see my weak state and you can’t help saying things which discourages me and makes me feel hopeless and want to give up. But I have to be an adult and independent and responsible for my own spiritual, mental, and physical health now.
- I want to (in my own way) bless Jingwen so very much. She is spiritually lost right now, but I truly see that she is a loved child of God. I shared a bit of my testimony and she listened very attentively; I don’t know how much she understands, but she is really willing to listen and respects my words despite my appearance, and sees the work God is doing in my life. I really want to keep on praying for her and eventually with her, and lead her back to church.
- Singapore is the best treatment center for me. I love the food here, and there are literally no ”diet” food options available here, so I could not even try even if I wanted to! And eating back my childhood favorites gives me much joy as I recall back the foods I used to enjoy and not the foods I am just comfortable with. I try not to be rigid about what I eat, but succumb to circumstances and society. For example if Liwen prepared something I will eat it with her, if it is after church meeting and we all go out for dinner, or I just prepare for myself…This is the hardest part for me because it feels really unnatural, but eating with other people and watching what they eat alleviates my irrational fears and anxieties and reminds me that this is how NORMAL people eat!
- I also really want to bless Liwen and Wengang (while they both bless me a lot too!) Wengang has requested that the three of us (Liwen, me and him) start praying together, and we are praying together every night. Liwen and I have also had some good talks in which we receive grace from each other; I feel really thankful because Liwen really seems to care for me, and treats me like a younger sister.
- I still haven’t had much chance to talk and get to know a lot of people in church! I really like all of them and I would really like to hear each of their testimonies…they’ve got such powerful stories. Each of them have unique characters and personalities, and as entertaining as they are, I feel like they have much to share with me. I would really love to listen to them and get to know them.
- I want to come back to America in a fully restored body and have more testimonies and happy news. All I’ve done is disappoint the people in America, and even now I’m not totally healed. I want to come with a healthier body and a livelier spirit. I want to finally be a testimony, too.”
After I wrote and sent this email to my dad, he called me again afterwards. I had been a tiny bit worried that he wouldn’t fully understand what I had written (since English is not his strongest language), but he did. We had a calmer, deeper conversation, and my dad immediately put things into action.
He called Pastor Vincent (the young pastor of Life Church & Missions), who talked to Wengang and Liwen. He planned out a new itinerary for me, and procured a new plane ticket for me to fly back home on March 2009.
That surprised me, because I had been expecting him to allow me just about a month more. In fact, that was what I had originally asked for, but the fact that my dad would give me two extra months to stay in Singapore revealed his trust and faith in me. It filled me with peace and gratefulness that my parents believed in my journey and supported by decision 100%.
And now it was set. I would have three months in Singapore to win this battle once and for all. This was it.
Questions to Ponder:
1) Let’s think again. What kind of recovery stage do you think you are right now?
2) I just noticed that someone left a heartbreaking comment on my “Exercise Addiction” post…and I would really appreciate it if someone could respond to it. What would you say to her?
3) When your parents or loved ones don’t seem to “get” your struggles and thoughts…how do you express yourself to them? Talking? Writing? Or do you just bottle things up to yourself?