Friday, August 19, 2016

The Angels Walking Amongst Us

While I was browsing in Borders bookstore earlier today, I suddenly heard a man's voice saying, "Hello, lady in brown" (for the record, I was wearing animal prints in silver and brown jubah with black hijab). As I turned around whilst saying hello, I was met by an elderly man who introduced himself as Mr Siva. He said I looked familiar and asked if I was a lecturer from University Malaya. I told him that I'm a new lecturer at HELP university. He went on to explain that he was an Economics lecturer at UM. I asked him why he didn't introduce himself as Dr. Siva. He said, "We, American Phd graduates, never introduce ourselves as Doctors. We just use our names. Who cares about titles when substance and intellect will speak louder than the title of our qualifications." I felt so honored to have met this humble and fatherly warm person. I introduced him to my husband and we went on to have a very delightful conversation. 

He said his childhood in Kuala Pilah taught him two things which he holds as part of his belief system: "Jangan tarok pasir dalam periuk nasi orang" (Don't put sand in other people's rice bowl) and "Jangan pijak orang yang dah jatuh" (Don't step on those who have fallen). He went on to say how tightly he holds on to God and the bible. Lastly he said, "Beware of those who ask for your help and then backstabs you after you've helped them." I can't help but believe he was sent my way to remind me to let Allah handle things beyond my control. Alhamdulillah for the angels who walk amongst us. 💜

After reaching home, I found my thoughts still pondering on that man. So I decided to google him. What I found was simply astounding because not only is he everything he said he is, there wasn't a single iota of exaggeration found in his words. He is what he said he is; and more. 

This is the angel I met today.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Bangsar Gangstars: A Night to Remember

Its 5 am and I'm still wide awake. Probably a spillover from the exciting and hilariously exhilirating night spent catching up with friends from my old hood: Bangsar Gangstars.

After more than 3 decades of not seeing each other, Boe (Syed Zaidi) pulled out his magic apron and hosted the best BBQ Hari Raya open house and invited all those who lived in Bangsar in their teens. Seeing all those familiar faces that has somewhat changed by age (some were hardly touched by time! Jealous aku! LOL!), brought back a flood of wonderful and funny memories of my teen years living in Bangsar Baru, mainly on Terasek 3 and Terasek 1.

With Boe (Botak aka Syed Zaidi)

Although the gathering had begun at 5 pm, my family and I arrived close to 9 pm. As we walked in to locate the host, I was greeted warmly with familiar faces galore! Lis aka Melissa Saila and her husband Megat Fauzi, Syed Najib, Ernie, Lenny, Karim, Amran, Zamzuri, Iskandar Boy, Ja'a... all these people with whom I grew up with. They were always uber protective of me. They considered me one of the boys. I was never regarded as a "kodok" but a "katak" just like them! Hahahahaa!

With Lis aka Melissa Saila

Old stories from yesteryears came up. Among them were the time when Iskandar Boy and Hanif had shot fire crackers at my house from Bangsar's Sports Complex a few days before Raya and my mom turned into a raging Hulk and stormed out to look for the boys. They had ran off and were hiding in the big drains. Poor Karim was seated on the bench when my mom charged outside. Karim being the polite boy he was (and still is) tried to pacify my mom but he got his hair pulled by mom in the process! As I'm typing this out, I cannot help but giggle at the memory but it was really not funny at that time! I said to Iskandar Boy, "Engkau kena mintak ampun dengan mak aku lah...! Hahahahaa!" to which he replied, "Memang pun! Tolong lah arrange for me to meet your mother!" 

And maybe due to the decades apart, Lenny felt it was okay to divulge the fact that he heard that I was being spied on during my teens! Now THAT was NEWS to me! And despite all coaxing and persuasions, he refused to reveal who the spy was. However, its no surprise why I was never in any form of harm because these boys were also my bouncers. If anyone threatened to hurt me, they would make sure those people would BOUNCE out of Bangsar! Hahahaahahaha!

With the Bangsar gangstars, although many couldn't make it to the gathering.

By the time we left for home, it was 2 am. However, the conversations that took place tonight brought back a myriad of sweet and funny memories of yore. On the way home, hubby commented how it was good to see me laugh so much tonight. And he thought it would be a great idea if this kind of gathering is done more often because it seemed to have helped me bounce out of the lengthy depressive rut I've been in of late. I admit it was hard to say goodnight to the boys. But I'm glad for one thing: I managed to leave a wasiat with them. "When my time is up, please come ziarah me and say a doa for me." That request was met with a silence and a look that says "We will always be a part of each other, no matter how far life takes us away from Bangsar."

Alhamdulillah for old friends who remain true throughout decades. And syukur alhamdulillah for Ernie and Lenny who reverted to Islam. Allahu akbar. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Hanging On a Prayer

I understand now how easily adults forget how to be children. The world is filled with countless stressors and responsibilities and commitments. Hardly the kind of environment any adult would want to live in, what more a small child. Prowling predators, malicious intents, assortment of abusers galore. How are we to protect our children from these dangerous people? How am I to protect my inner child from these harsh environments and people?

Little Ana has been silent as death for the longest time. It is as though she has died. But I know she's still alive because I can feel her hurting. Her little heart in pain. Somehow, she has found solace and safety in silence and seclusion.

I hate the circumstances that I'm in which exposes me to so many toxic people. People who are so hineous with their spite and malice. I have to be the matured and responsible adult when dealing with misbehaving 'children.' Some people just never grow up. They go around in life behaving like spoilt privileged brats and yet they expect to be respected as adults. We end up parenting them because their own parents had failed to do what should have gotten done while these kids were growing up. Abuse is not just about what wrong that was done. Abuse is also about what needed to get done but never was. Neglect. Am I neglecting Little Ana simply because I have to be a responsible adult around countless immature people?

A few days ago, Star Trek Beyond premiered in Malaysia. I saw this as an opportunity to bait Little Ana out of her shell. Somehow, it worked! She clapped gleefully when she first saw Spock. She cried when the Enterprise shattered to pieces. She stayed in her seat and hummed along the Star Trek theme song and ignored all the other members of the audience who got up to their feet as they started to exit the cinema. She stayed put until the screen turned black. And then she smiled and faded back into silence. Maybe silence and seclusion are her last resources for self preservation.

She deserves better. She deserves the best. She deserves to be loved and to feel loved. She deserves full and loving attention. She deserves to be appreciated and valued. She deserves to be visible!

One thing I know for sure: I die when Little Ana dies. Right now, it feels as though I am hanging onto a cliff by just my little pinky finger. Will I be able to hang on?

Thursday, May 12, 2016

At The End of a Good Day

Today started out really good for me. I had a haircut, after more than 2 years since the last time I had anything done to my hair. Later on in the night, I gave a lecture on what it takes to be a counselor. I was definitely in my element, as the subject is definitely one of my great favorites. I had the class break out into moments of huge laughter as I lace information with humor and wit. That felt SO good!

So, why is it, at the end of such a wonderfully fulfilling day, I find myself sitting down at the kitchen table, nursing an ache in my heart? I know the source of it. It is my inner child. Little Ana. She has been through so much since I rescued her from her dark and unhappy 'home.' I promised her many things, among them is to protect her from any form of harm. I can feel her unhappiness. I can feel her frustrations at the limited amount of free time for her to come out of her hiding from the world. I can feel her confusion. I can feel her fear. What does she fear? Anger. Uncertainty. Instability. Being forgotten.

A few months ago, she chose a page from a coloring book. It had words on it which read along the lines of "I've decided I don't wanna grow up." A colleague of mine did mention that there's a possibility she will not grow up and mature fast enough to catch up with me. In fact, there's a huge chance she might regress into infancy stage where she perceives to be safer that this world.

Ever since I began working full time, I hardly have enough free time to allow her any form of indulgence; even simple ones such as coloring or even blowing bubbles. Poor little girl has such simple needs. Yet, even those are difficult for me to fulfill. I look forward to Ramadhan with the hope that it will bring me more leisure time to allocate for Little Ana.

She had endured so much physical abuse prior to me rescuing her. She was on the receiving end of an extremely angry mother and a neglectful father. I crack my head trying to figure out a way to comfort her. She's in her shell most often than not, and I believe she needs that shell as a baby would need a security blanket. People gave her things when it is people that she needed; not things. And the saddest part of all is how people always put other things as priority over her. I pray to Allah that He will bless me with the opportunity to keep my promises to Little Ana. However, I am keeping one promise right now and always: I will never allow any angry people around you, sweetheart. You've suffered enough. Now, rest easy. We are home. I love you, precious.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Fear of Anger

Through plenty observations as well as my own personal experience, I have come to realize that angry people are not aware of the affect of their uncontrolled rage on others. No words in the dictionary are adequate in making them understand how their anger chases people away from them. Unless they have experienced physical battery and mental trauma as a result of being beaten to a pulp, having their heads continuously banged against the wall, kicked in the ribs, and having the white of your eyes bleed due to bashings, they will never understand. 

When someone is angry, I tend to cower away from them. Nothing I say can placate or pacify their anger. In fact, countless times, their focus of anger would shift, from the one deserving of their fury, to me. As a psychologist, I understand that, theoretically, angry people suffer from victim identity. They feel helpless and invisible. They feel unappreciated and alone. They feel hurt and pain, and they just do not know how to make that pain stop. They also have a rigid set of beliefs regarding how things should be and refuses to compromise despite the constant change in their circumstances. 

I have come across clients who refuse to let go of their anger simply because it is their comfort zone. They may say they want to learn to manage their anger. But at the same time, they resist change. They believe they are open to change when in reality, they dodge it like a deadly plague. 

I have seen how many angry people choose to hang on to their anger at the expense of losing the ones they claim they love. Their claim of love may be true, but it is not a strong enough reason to sacrifice their anger. So, alone they stay, accompanied only by their much treasured companion: anger.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Watermark Perspective.

I noticed my office window was dirty with dried grimy water marks on it. I wanted to clean it but the window frames are screwed shut. And I thought, "Oh, well. If I can't clean the outside, I'll just give the inside a good scrub." To my surprise, the dirty surface was on the inside, not on the outside! This taught me a lesson: when you look at something and you see dirt, make sure it's that thing that is dirty, not your mind or your heart. How everything appears depends on what's inside of you. If your inner filter is dirty, everything you look at will seem dirty too.