The sounds of Christmas bells, carols and the dazzling bright lights of Orchard road always warm my heart this time of the year. My favorite festive has to be the Christmas season indeed. There is a story behind this.
Most kids live the best of their childhoods at 10 years old. I had a rather unconventional one. My parents’ marriage didn’t work, they didn’t bring out the best in each other, and I kind of took the biggest impact of it all. Often physically beaten up for no reason, and emotionally abandoned, I had no access to resources for love and nurturance in the earliest years of my life.
At 10 years old, I contemplated suicide. Standing on a chair at the kitchen window of an 8 storey flat, I imagined jumping off and ending my life. I wanted to finish the experience of being human because I was sad about my parents’ fighting, scared of again being bashed up for no reason, and miserable at having nobody to turn to. In some distorted way, I thought maybe I was the cause of my parents’ disharmony. It seemed better to end this life and hit the reset button.
But I stood there by the window sill for some time, thinking: What if I don’t die? What if I got injured and needed to be sent to the hospital? Do I need to bring my school pass for identification? Do I need money for transport if I don’t die?
Eventually, somebody knocked on the door, disrupting me from the train of thoughts. I got down from the chair and climbed into bed.
The next day when I woke up, I had a new resolve. Since I didn’t quite manage to die, I told myself I shall jolly well live a hell of a life. Let’s make it bad-ass and awesome! 🙂
From 10 to 13 years old, I kind of made it through by studying like crazy, switching off my emotions to avoid feeling too sad about my parents, and praying every single day. I prayed for a way to be free of my circumstances. My big break came when I was 13 years old. That year during Christmas, a friend recommended me for a part time job as sales assistant at a Christian gift shop.
I remembered sitting by the telephone for days, staring at it, willing it to ring, hoping that it would be the owner of the shop calling me to start work. When I finally got the call to report for work at S$2 per hour, I knew that I could be free of the circumstances I was born into.
That was huge to me. I knew then I could work my way to University, and I could create the life that I want to live.
My first Christmas, even though I was only 13 years old, was unforgettable. The Christmas songs that I heard for the first time then, got ingrained in my head, even up till now, and they conditioned feelings of empowerment, hope, freedom, love and support. Images of Santa, snow flakes, reindeers, sleighs and Christmas pine trees always make me wanna smile and dance with joy.
Subsequently, with several other part time jobs, I made it through the rest of Secondary School, College and University. Fortunately, I left home when I turned 14, escaping the abusive environment; bunking in with classmates and their families who treated me as one of their own.
There were many people whom although were not related to me, gave me love and care. Because of them, and generous employers who helped support my studies, I held the world view that people are good, our default nature is to help one another as a humanity, and that the Universe is friendly.
Until today, whenever I think of all the people who had given me love, I’d feel so full of gratitude. They had contributed to my magnificent journey of growth, love, forgiveness and courage. I am still on this journey today. In fact, the older I get, the more I feel like a baby on this thing commonly called the ‘spiritual path’.
In retrospect as I healed my relationships with my parents, I knew that they loved me to their best ability, through whatever limitations, fears and filters they have about life. They were doing the best they knew how to.
Although in my experience as a child, I definitely did not feel loved and cared for. While my parents had their own life paths to live and lessons to learn, I could choose to blame them and remained a victim; or I could take responsibility for my own life, learn forgiveness, cultivate compassion and make my life into a blessing for others. The latter was what I chose.
The circumstances into which I was born into had very little resources. I was probably the least likely kid to grow up to be successful or to be living a life that I love. Today I am loved immensely, surrounded by beautiful people. I’d found family in people who have no blood ties with me, and in strangers who would go out of their ways to help me; I am financially comfortable, and ecstatically blessed to have found my passion early in life, and be doing work that I care deeply about.
Most days, I wake up happy to be alive, and amazed with the miracle of just being able to draw a long belly breath. Just about almost everything from Nature to music fascinates me. Everything tangible and intangible that I have and own today, I’m grateful for them because they came to me by grace.
Granted that in life, it is never just a bed of roses. There are times where people whom we trusted sort of turned on us and hurt us. In fact, last year’s Christmas and this year’s New Year period was a time of profound growth and heartache for me. Someone whom I had came to trust and love deeply, bailed out on me, my heart was broken. It took me nearly a year to completely neutralize the intensity of emotions so that I won’t co-create the same scenario again.
Shit is not pleasant. But always after shit happens, when we look back, its easy to recognize that all the experiences of hurt are good because they taught us to discern between what is real from what is not. Because my fundamental belief systems are built on the goodness of humanity, I know that Life is on my side. If anything at all, I’m more sure now than before that Life is in my favor.
For your information, Life is on your side too. Universe always says yes. We just need to clean up our minds enough to know what we are asking for.
You see – every one of the 6 billion people here on the planet has their own story of struggle. I believe that no matter what circumstances we are born into, our past does not indicate our self worth. It is what we make out of our story that determines our worth. One important core belief that we need to have in order to be successful, is the belief that Life is always organizing itself to our highest good.
This Christmas, I invite you to ponder on these 2 questions which had served me on my darkest periods. The right kind of inquiry never fail to bring enlightenment if we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, and face ourselves honestly –
“If all of Life is organizing itself to my highest success, what would I be thinking, saying and doing?”
“What is the one thing that I can do right now to be more loving?”
(C) Linda Loo