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Monday, September 11, 2017

A day to a government office

Sometimes it's hard to realize that a relationship is toxic when you're already reeling from so many different negative emotions at a time, but one of the general guidelines is that you always feel exhausted from trying to do and be so many things, but you're still not doing enough.


While this relationship has opened my eyes to how a healthy relationship looks like, it took one trip to a government office to just blow me away.


He needed to renew some documents, both of which can be done in the same building. For once, a drive to a government office to actually get proper stuff done and I wasn't behind the wheel. We set off after getting some banking stuff done, and there was a little mishap in terms of navigation (due to miscommunication), but we got there okay.


Approaching the counter, he got his number and we waited, and while we did, I scouted out the building for the other office that he would need to visit later.


All through the process of getting everything done, I mostly just sat and watched his blazer while playing mobile games. While he queued for the next number, I just sat and watched our stuff. I continued playing my mobile games, pausing a while to get some drinks from the vending machine, all the while people-watching and having relaxed conversation.


The stark difference here was this I wasn't expected to be the point of contact for everything that we did, and I wasn't expected to find out and remember what to do next and where to do it. There was even enough mental room to joke about registering for marriage right then and there to show my grandma who's so eager to "see all of us married with kids".


I never had this really relaxing, yet still mentally engaged "official" outing - with my mother, she took charge of everything so all I needed to do was be there and fill in the relevant forms; with my ex, it was always me stressing about where to go, what to say, how to say it, memorizing procedures, and being chastised for trying my best to get things done as smoothly as possible.


During this entire process, we joked about things, discussed possible goals and non-goals (stuff I/we probably won't want to do in the future), and made assumptions on why certain people looked the way they looked, or discussed how they dressed. Throughout the day, there wasn't any "your opinion is invalid"-oriented comments - it was equal conversation. I think this lady looks good enough as it is, perhaps he thinks that she could have paired her trousers with another blouse that was more plain to avoid clashing prints.


All this may also have been because I was no longer struggling with ill-fitting clothing, impossible sleeping times the previous night that made basic conversation almost impossible, and navigation to a place I was not familiar with. Not to mention the absence of the struggle and anxiety with talking to multiple strangers within the a time frame that I was intensely uncomfortable with.


And even after all was done, I didn't have to drive us home (though I volunteered to after lunch). The road that Waze led me to take was a familiar one, and while the passenger was also asleep, I didn't feel a blanketing sense of annoyance and irritation. The difference? I didn't have to drive us home, I chose to. And while the rush hour traffic annoyed me as usual, I felt much less in a rush to just get home and sleep - the concern was more toward how I can drive all the way home without waking him.


He seldom says "thank you", but he said it twice on that day. Once while we merged with congested traffic (because he knew how much I hated being stuck in traffic), and once before we slept for accompanying him to do all this mumbo jumbo, which to be honest, I'm usually more than happy to be a part of when I'm not expected to take all responsibility for a task that is essentially not mine.


Overall, I managed to get home tired, but not completely frazzled and irritable like I used to be. I think there's one word to describe how I felt that day: appreciated. Regardless of what I did, he didn't ask me to tone it down if I was attracting attention to myself, and he included my input into the necessary planning throughout the day.


So, to those asking me "why him?", here's one of the many answers.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

What a relationship with healthy trust looks like

It's a regular Saturday, and I'm waiting for my shift to start so that I can go through players who are dissatisfied that their mediocre skill is leading to a mountain of losses - regular day in customer service, so to speak.


I was woken up by my grocery delivery, made a very heavy brunch, spent some time with the cat while watching the live action Parasyte movie, then set up my "work station".


The gym mates with suddenly suggest going out for coffee or karaoke. I opted for coffee because I do wanna do out, but karaoke would be too expensive, and I needed to work, or at least be on standby.


What's left was prepping, charging relevant electronics, and just sending a message to family saying that I'll be out of the house for a few hours, as well as an obligatory text to the significant other. The reply? "Ok"


#easy


Except...


about a year ago, I'd be damned if organizing coffee with colleagues was so easy.


In that other relationship, I'd be riddled with anxiety at the mere thought of going out with anyone other than him - and, yes, that included going out with my own family. If I really wanted to go out with friends or colleagues, I'd almost had to fight for it, and I never "won", because I would spend that entire time anxiously checking the time.


I would also nervously - and dreadingly - get home to a cynical interrogation about the content of my conversations, and if I dared say that I enjoyed myself, it would be sure that I will never request for a similar outing ever again.


This would also happen even if I went for an all-girl trip, so god forbid if there was a guy who brought his girlfriend along as well. I'd have this persistent guilt of wanting to completely immersed in communication with whoever I was going out with, but I'd have texts asking me if I'm done, what we're talking about - seemingly innocent questions that I've been conditioned to think as little "tests" to see how honest I was.


Any last-minute plans were a no-go, lest I would want to come home to someone who was sulking more than the cat who got its tail stepped on earlier. I'd be also paranoid that friendly, platonic interaction with any other guy would be a subject of confrontation.


###


I now live in comfort of knowing that my platonic friendships with other guys are nothing but just that - we talk shit about colleagues and people we know, throw friendly vulgarities with each other, and discuss various topics, mostly relating to work.


I wouldn't have to justify WHY I wanted to go out, because I just want to.

Monday, April 17, 2017

I'm not me without my tattoos

I'm fairly sure anyone with tattoos have been in such situations or similar:


"You do know that your tattoos will make you seem less than others, right? No, it's not what I think, although personally I wouldn't do such a thing, but people have been having opinions about tattooed people for centuries, and it's a bad impression." - it's my impression to make, and people will judge me even if I had no tattoos

"Why do you want to get it? I understand, it looks nice, but do you really have to have it that big?" - I have my reasons, which will most likely have nothing to do with anyone

"You were good looking as it is! Why did you have to vandalize your skin like this?" - do you mean that I am now ugly because I have some extra "deco" on my skin?


I've been approached multiple ways about my tattoos - lesser work prospects, potential life as a spinster because no one would want me, and bad impression to notable people in my life who may or may not help me advance.


Being seen as a trouble-making criminal has not been explicitly mentioned, though.


My facade is simple - I tell people that their opinions don't matter to me, and in the end, I will do what I want, life is mine to live, and as long as I live as a responsible person and don't hurt anyone physically, I'm pretty much good. People can judge me or reject interaction with me solely because of my choice of tattoos, and they can be uncomfortable about it (which is the point, more on that later), and ideally - it won't affect me, or at least it won't affect me in a way that I'd give up tattoos.


However, a facade is only a facade. It hurts when people tell me I have less value now that I have tattoos, especially if they come from people close to me.


The intentions are mostly good - they want better life propects for me, but then again if they really had faith in my intelligence which they tout about to other people, wouldn't it be already possible that I know the consequences of getting them?

Oh, wait! No! She has a fucking degree but she must be oblivious to the plethora of consequences that come with tattoos! 

NEWS FLASH: I used to think badly of people with tattoos until I started watching Miami Ink (praise Ami James and his team) and had my horizons expanded.


I also understand the stigma that comes with it - no decent citizen would have their skin so vulgarly marked with nudity, as well as the long-time link between the dark side of society with tattoos. It's also something seen as very outlandish and intimidating: "pay someone a hefty sum to poke holes at high speed into your skin to inject ink for LIFETIME COMMITMENT?!" Thus, people tend to just reject stuff that they can't accept, such as a) someone willing to pay a hefty sum to have their skin 'vandalized', b) have someone use a machine they can't fathom to piece one's skin at high speed, c) lifetime commitment of a certain design ("what if you get bored of it?"), or d) someone who can do all the above and not regret it in the future.


I believe it's something that we just live with, much like women just live with being cat-called and objectified, because it's not something within our control. We can talk back, explain, try to educate, but if they refuse to take the lesson and stay adamant with their opinion, there's not much we can do apart from put on a smile, nod, and agree.


One of the more frequently asked questions that I get is "WHY do you want/need to get them?"


To be honest, I don't have a solid answer for that, or maybe society has warped me so much that I'm now even scared to feel alienated.

I get them because I like them.

Because it's one of the ways I cope with the crippling self-doubt and body dysmorphia that comes with my search of my real purpose in life.

Because I want to be seen as intimidating, to further solidify my facade of strength.

Because it's a silent cry for help to people, to tell them "this is what it means, please help me before my sanity slips away".

Because I want to challenge the beauty standards of people by having as much sex and feminine appeal as I can while having these "delinquent"-type body art.

Because it's something I wanna get with my own money on my own skin, I'm not asking anyone to accept it or understand it or stare at it, so it shouldn't be a problem.


Here are some answers to some common other common questions:

"Why do you want them so big?"
A: I like to make a statement, if my laughter has not illustrated that enough. Also, the only two big ones I have are fairly detailed, so having them too small, it defeats the purpose of asking a master artist to put so much effort into a masterpiece, doesn't it?

"Aren't you scared you'll regret them?"
A: Yes, I'm afraid that my fickle mind would one day decide "actually, I don't like this style/design anymore, but it's now permanently on my body". Which is why I give myself as much time as possible to weigh my options and see if I still want it a few months or years down the road. Also, I try to make it a point to be sure that everything that I get has meaning - each one of my tattoos now represent a part of me. And even if I do regret them years down the road, it will be my regret to take on, because there will be no one else to blame.

"Why do you waste your money like that when you could've spent it on something more practical?"
A: It's a personal preference, like how some people don't mind spending more on food, entertainment, self-pampering, etc. I know people who would rather spend a fortune on games, or spend a bomb on clothes and designer items. People who seem to be like you may not hold the same core values and principles that you do, so I will shut up about you spending so much of your money on [insert what I think is unnecessary and frivolous here], and I implore you to just mind your business and not comment unprovoked about the amount of money I spent on investing in a good artist for a permanent feature on my skin.

"Aren't you worried about the impressions that you would make to new people?"
A: Not really, no. Well, depends on who it is. Most of the time, I like to watch how people on the streets react to me when they see me: shocked? Disgusted? Impressed? Thankfully, I work in a place where pretty much everything goes, and I'm valued by what I can give rather than how I look and how I spend my money. As for first impressions, it really depends on whether you actually want to get to know me in person, as opposed to just writing me off as a lost cause on your book.


I accept the fact that society will not take the time to understand you or accept eccentricity if they are adamant about their values, even when I desperately try to persuade people to perhaps stand on the other side of the picture for another angle that they may be missing out. In essence, I'd be lying if I said that any snark comment/spite directed toward my "integrity" because of my tattoos didn't bother me or hurt me. In fact, it hurts a lot. Say you wouldn't do the same, say your money would be better spent elsewhere - that's on you. But what's on you as well is also seeing me as less of a person because I chose to be even more different than I already am.


My point here is: have whatever opinions you have about what you think about my tattoos. I can't make you see through my lens if you don't want to. However, I hope that if you feel the dire need to tell me about your opinions of my tattoos - good or bad - please, at least try to be civil about it. I understand I don't look like a decent person, much less a decent girl worthy of a decent guy such as the person whom I call my significant other right now. In fact, there's a whole other list that could write me off as "unqualified" to be his girlfriend, and that list doesn't include my body modification.


I give silent nods to fellow inked people I meet - in respect and in silent understanding of the little "society" that we form, in silent retaliation to typical society expectations and beauty standards, in embracing our love for body art even in the face of potential spite, discrimination, and isolation. I can't speak for all fellow inked people that they will feel the same way that I do - many of them are emotionally stronger, and take a lot of this with grace. Perhaps they deal with it in a different way than I do, or they're just let it roll off their back - either way, kudos to them.


Perhaps one thing about inked peeps is that... we're all slightly out of place in this world where we desperately try to find relativity and try to fit in somewhere, to fulfill a role and not let our life just slip by in vain. And since we're already labelled "strange", we might as well do it in style - in the form of permanent body art, pieces of myself that we will take to the grave with us to decay, telling the stories of our lives and being permanent reminders of the lessons we learned, the people we met and loved, the silly things that we used to do.


Essentially, live your life and I'll live mine. If our path cross, I take it as fate for me to have met you, for whatever reason that fate has in mind. I just implore one thing... let me live my life, as my mother has let me live mine. I will blame no one and take responsibility for any issues that come with my choices, as will everyone else. There is little else that give my life meaning apart from him, my family, and my love for the limitless world of tattoos - please don't take that away from me.