I’ve been living abroad for almost a year and a half now. My initial fear before I even got here was what if I don’t get to meet new people who’ll be there for me like my old friends do? I was freaked out by the idea of being alone in a new place.
What is it about being alone that scares most people so much anyway?
Last night was a nightmare for me. I won’t go into details, but I was in my most vulnerable state then. Not having made a lot of deep connections here in Dubai, having conflicts with some friends and troubles with ex-colleagues (yes, you can say my personal relationships are going haywire—I’d like to see it as testing our bonds, but whatever), I only had a few people up my sleeve whom I can call at 1 am on a Monday. I tried a couple, some answered and were in the middle of something but still offered a sympathetic ear, and some didn’t pick up until later on. At that point in time, it hit me, I was with no one but myself, in a country I’m still getting used to, with a culture I wasn’t 100% aware of until I “migrated.”
As I was crying my heart out right by some manmade body of water, I was in utter awe when I came to a realization: why am I so scared of not being able to reach out to anyone at said time when I have ME?
Was it a call for attention? Was it a cry for help? Was it because I was on the verge of giving up on my dreams that were once so bright in my vision until I encountered numerous obstacles?
What was it?
And so I just sat there, eyes bulging with overflowing tears without a tissue in hand. It was just myself, that manmade body of water, decent bench, my big bottle of H2o and cigarettes. Out of the busy Dubai life, there I was, at 1am, alone in my own thoughts in the peace and quiet of the morning.
Reflections came streaming through my mind that time; some made sense, some were random, some were emotional and *&^%$# irrational, some were breakthroughs, some were encouragements, some even came in the form of acceptance and forgiveness—they all just rushed in and out as if I was a freakin’ fast food chain that just opened in a prime area, and I got drained.
Moments do come to one’s life that seems like rock bottom. Last night felt that way. It was terrible. I was needy. I was hungry for affirmations. I was yearning for a hug, you know, some body contact assuring me that things will be okay without having to say a single word. My thoughts were everywhere that I literally did not know which one I should pay attention to.
So finally I told my brain to shut the F up and listen to ME for once.
Recalling the lessons I learned as I braved through this so-called independence, I hugged myself—with feet on the bench, legs folded—whilst crying the hell out of my morning. I asked for clarity, I prayed and asked for forgiveness and strength; I took control of my thoughts that were playing in my head, confusing me profusely a few seconds ago.
I took control. It’s MY brain anyway so who else will control it but me, right?
At that moment, I acknowledged the fact that I’ve hit rock bottom—which was once hearsay to me, I am now encountering it with zero to turn to (at least for a few hours). And I’ve done what’s bizarre to some (if not most)… I spoke to myself with so much love and affection.
If I am in deep shit, if I am encountering this then I must have brought this to my life myself. So why put blame on anyone else? Sure, let’s consider the additional factors, but for the most part, there’s no one else responsible for this but me. Instilling those, I slowly regained my power.
But the question remains: what was it? What was the reason for being so scared of being alone?
To those who know me well, they can attest that I’ve always been the clingy one—in friendships, in romantic relationships, in almost anything. Could it be because I was an only child for fourteen years then suddenly the attention was diverted to my younger brother when he was born, or maybe because I was a rejected child by my dad; or maybe perhaps I was just wired that way? I beg to differ with my latter statement, though. No one is wired and screwed for the rest of their lives for being “something” because we all know change is always an option.
So without the busyness of Dubai life to blame, I guess the answer is that apparently, I am lost. I lack clarity. I lack love. I lack compassion. I lack acceptance.
Despite my endless declarations of self-love, the adjustments entailed living in a different country I did wind up neglecting, well… me. And although it’s nice to put people, career, and goals first, these things will be null and void if I am incomplete, if I am broken and shooting in the dark.
I’m scared of being alone because I never really knew who I was when I began journeying towards independence. Back home it was relatively easy, I had my amazing set of support system, my family can be easily contacted, I was practically untouchable in terms of shaky expectations and obstacles.
But having to live by yourself is different. It’s different when all things are new to you. It’s different when you’re establishing a new life in a new place with new culture, to you (or me) at least. It’s different when during the first few stages, there’s no one to remind you of how brilliant you are especially when you are at your lowest.
For a time, I must admit, I felt disconnected.
Yes, I was busy. Yes, 80% of my days here were eaten by so many professional responsibilities. Yes, I have so many excuses.
I realized along the process that I did not pause to take time for myself anymore. I put other things first before my personal needs. I was in total sacrifice not realizing I was ruining the most important relationship everyone should nurture—the ones we have with ourselves.
I stumbled upon a quote that said: “Relationships are like birds–if you hold tightly they die if you hold loosely, they fly, but if you hold with care, they remain with you forever.”
I guess it’s fitting to say that I’ve held on too tightly on some, held loosely on most, and hardly ever kept me with care. Maybe that is also the reason my energy is funky lately resulting to nasty circumstances that can, in fact, be avoided early on. What’s done is done, though. The only way to go is forward.
It’s okay not to be okay.
It happens. We’re human. We go through dreadful encounters. But that doesn’t stop there. We always have a choice to turn our lives around.
In this case, however, I know I must turn my life around with the recovering incomplete me in tow. And towards this journey to total independence, I am pretty sure I will be whole again in no time. Post-its do help, so I’m finally making use of that damn pen and them pink sticky notes to remind my fabulous self every single day that I am important, that I am loved, that I have a purpose, that I am courageous, and that I deserve.
That is the lesson: never to desert my own needs for others every single time. If I can’t provide for me, how else do I expect myself to deliver excellent results in my personal and professional life? And that I have to be at peace with myself before anyone else, right?