Breakups: A Guide To Being Alone 0 713

When I first made the decision to end my almost six-year relationship, I wondered what on earth I was doing. Despite the fact that I’d been mulling it over and considering ending things for over a year, I still wondered. It wasn’t that I wasn’t sure — I’d been sure for a while. Things had been deteriorating for years, so a breakup was inevitable. In the most logical part of my brain, this was the only path left to take. And yet, in the deeper, more emotional region of my brain, I was asking myself only one question: Are you sure you want to be alone? 

Loneliness is something we’ve been taught to avoid. We’ve been reminded time and time again that loneliness is a weakness — that you’re only desirable if you’re in constant company. That our worth is determined by the eagerness of others to spend time around us. That message is everywhere; it’s in mainstream movies, it’s in books, it’s all over social media. It’s presented and reinforced every day, so it’s no wonder that the thought of ending a partnership and choosing to be alone can be a terrifying one, even when we know it’s the right thing to do. 

The thing about people in relationships is that no one ever expects them to be lonely. In fact, loneliness and the plight to escape it is one of the main reasons many people get into relationships in the first place. Of course there’s a big difference between being alone and being lonely, but that line has the tendency to become very blurred, and makes it hard to see clearly. Sometimes I look at couples and wonder if they’re spending time together because they really want to, or because they’re afraid of being lonely. And then I wonder if they know the difference, because I certainly didn’t. 

“despite this knowledge of the pain and destruction a separation brings, there comes a time when it becomes painfully obvious that a breakup is about the only thing that will bring happiness to one or either partners”

The funny thing about breakups is that they’re kind of a double-edged sword. No one ever wants to go through a breakup. They’re painful, they can be messy, and they almost always involve a seemingly endless stream of tears, running mascara, and ice cream inhaled by the pint. And yet, despite this knowledge of the pain and destruction a separation brings, there comes a time when it becomes painfully obvious that a breakup is about the only thing that will bring happiness to one or either partners. It’s kind of like a workout; it hurts like hell when you’re doing it, but you do it anyway because you know at the end of it you’ll be a better person. 

Of course, you don’t feel like a better person right away. It depends on who’s on the receiving end of the breakup, but I’d wager to think that both parties usually feel equally as devastated. It’s hard to feel like any of this pain was for any good reason, especially in the first few days. It took me a week or two before it began to sink in to my system, helped along by copious amounts of sad music and some intense journaling. 

What came next was more beautiful than I could’ve ever imagined — I came back to myself. I woke up to each day completely aware that I was in charge of every decision. I began to exercise more, not because I wanted to look good for my partner, but because I wanted to feel stronger. I began to draw, not because I needed a hobby to fill the time, but because it gave me joy. I read books, I listened to whole albums on repeat, I went for walks. The best part of all was realising that it wasn’t the actual activities that were bringing me such joy — it was the absolute freedom behind every single thing I thought, did or said. 

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like my ex was a horrible person. In fact, our relationship taught me a lot and I still feel grateful for it and for the time we spent together. I don’t regret my decision to end things at all, but I wouldn’t change a thing about the past either. I suppose that’s the thing about hindsight: it either makes you grateful or resentful. I, for one, have nothing but gratitude coming out of this whole experience, which I think makes me one of the lucky ones.

This past year spent by myself has been wonderful. Even in the middle of a pandemic, I’ve been able to find gratitude for simple pleasures. It’s been so rewarding to come back into myself, to trust my own decisions, and to feel content with my own company again. To be happy alone, without loneliness. Maybe ten years ago, an experience like this would’ve felt like the end of the world, but as I get older I find that I welcome these painful and uncomfortable moments of growth. Without them, I wouldn’t be who I am. And who I am is an independent, deeply sensitive woman with so much growing to do. But this time, I’m looking forward to every second of it.

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Friends For A Season 0 438

I believe that in life, one of the most beautiful things that we can experience is friendship. It’s not a necessity that you can’t live without but it sure as hell makes the mundanity of day to day life tolerable and even enjoyable. I’ve always been a person who valued friendship above all else, of course, family tops the list but the line gets blurred with the friends who’ve been through it all with you. 

In my entire life, I’ve only ever had a couple of friendships implode and fall apart. Mostly some friendships fade over time with no hard feelings and some friendships stand the test of time and space apart. The world prepares you for heartbreak, we see it in movies and read about it in books – we know it’s a natural part of growing up. No one warns you of the deep pain that is felt when you lose a friend. It’s an underrated love.

My approach to friendship comes with the headspace that this will never come to an abrupt end. Maybe it will fizzle if we don’t truly connect, but it’s not going to be a huge dramatic break-up the way it happens with significant others. So the few times that friendships have come to an end in that way, it shattered my heart harder and deeper than I ever saw coming. 

It’s hard to describe the feeling of losing a best friend. It’s kind of like losing a piece of yourself. Your friends are the people that you are utterly you around, you don’t feel shy or insecure or embarrassed with them because they know who you are and love you because of it. You trust them with your ugliest side and depend on them when you can’t depend on yourself. It’s a pure connection because nothing is holding you together apart from the mutual desire to be in each other’s lives. There’s no romance nor sex nor children nor finances that force the relationship to be sustained. The two people are bound by nothing more than pure platonic love.

That kind of pure love is hard to find. Not many people will love you unconditionally and expect nothing in return. Good friends are hard to come by and when you have them in your life it makes the human experience richer and more beautiful. There’s security you feel in friendships that you don’t feel when in romantic relationships or even sometimes in familial relationships. It’s a chosen family that is supposed to stand by you through it all. So when a friendship starts to go sour, it’s so hard to recognize it and let it go. 

When one of my friendships went sour, it happened without me even realising it at first. I started to subtly feel the disconnect and imagining a life without this person, which at one point felt earth-shattering, became more and more manageable. I forgot the joys that we shared because I saw this person changing in ways I didn’t particularly like. 

The thing about being friends for years and years is that people change with time and if you’re lucky, you can grow together at a similar pace with a similar mindset and similar goals. However, there is the chance that you can grow apart, become completely different people until one day you realise that maybe the only thing holding this relationship together is time. 

It’s a tough pill to swallow when this happens because usually you only realise it when it’s too late. You don’t have the energy to fight for the friendship anymore because you’ve lost a lot of the joy that makes it worth fighting for. It starts slow, you first feel mildly irritated about things that you used to like about them. Then you start wanting to see them less, not putting in as much effort to ensure that they have a place in your life. Eventually, you start to feel like you don’t even want them around anymore and it can be so confusing because you don’t understand why you feel this way. 

With the experience I had, I let this animosity for this person stew and live only in my mind. I wasn’t enjoying our friendship anymore, but I also wasn’t willing to have a conversation about it or put in the work to fix what had gone wrong. I struggled to see things from the other person’s perspective and didn’t look at myself for the role I played in it. I was also scared that if we were to have a conversation, that it would result in our friendship coming to an end. A part of me knew that this was likely going to happen one way or another.

All relationships are a two-way street, there is no way to look at a situation and place blame on one person. I can try to absolve myself of responsibility for what happened but we know that just isn’t true. 

Only when the pot had finally boiled over and things had been taken too far, did the two of us have a conversation. I don’t know if I necessarily have regrets about how this conversation went, but I regret not bringing things up with this person sooner. Because when we spoke, the frustrations and anger that I was holding in my heart were also shared by her. It wasn’t just me that was hurting but her too. We had both avoided being honest with one another because we both knew that things weren’t working anymore. 

I had spent so long indulging myself in my emotions and painting her out to be the bad guy that I never took a second to think of how she felt. She was also growing apart from a friend that had been part of her life for so long. She was also experiencing the growing pains of changing and becoming who she wanted to be. I didn’t realise that we were both coming from a place of immense hurt. 

What’s crazy about this story is that the friendship ended at the same time my romantic relationship ended. I was heartbroken in lots of ways but if I’m being honest, my heart hurt harder and longer for the loss of my friend than the loss of my boyfriend. She had been a part of my life for so long and we’d maintained a friendship for over a decade.

We shared so many laughs, so many adventures and so many good times that when it all came to an end, it was hard to believe. I was disoriented for so long afterwards, my life felt like it had so drastically changed in a couple of days. 

“sometimes losing someone helps you realise that there is an ease that comes with letting go”

However, what did happen was the realisation that the people that stood by me and supported me through one of the toughest times were the ones who were meant to be in my life. Sometimes losing someone helps you realise that there is an ease that comes with letting go. All the time I spent thinking and wondering about this person was returned to me. I understood what I needed from a best friend and the tough lessons learnt when things fell apart also strengthened the friendships I still had. 

Sometimes the hardest thing to do is let go of something you felt was going to be permanent in your life. However you’ll realise that letting go brings a lightness you were seeking and as sad as it may be, some friends are around just for a season. They help you grow, teach you lessons and accompany you to the exact point in your life they’re supposed to. 

What I realised is that we have to be grateful for all the friends we have in our lives, the ones that stayed for a season and the ones that’ll stay for a lifetime. 

Waving The White Flag On Mental Health 0 706

On Sunday, 27th June, the government announced that the lockdown would continue indefinitely until the cases drop below 4,000. Malaysians all over the country expressed their unhappiness with this decision due to the negative implications that the lockdown has had. One of the biggest challenges that this period has brought is a sharp decrease in mental health. 

A piece of hope that Malaysians have had during these trying times is a clear end date to the lockdown. Since that has been taken away by this new approach, individuals are having a harder time than ever coping. Depression, anxiety, OCD are just some of the mental health issues that have been growing during this time with cases of suicide sadly also on the rise. 

In 2021 alone, there have been 336 police reported suicide cases, more than half of the 631 that were reported in 2020. 59% of Malaysians suffer from depression and 55% suffer from anxiety, there has also been a two-fold increase in individuals seeking help for their mental health since 2019 with Befrienders reporting that 1 in 3 calls have been due to suicidal thoughts. 

Much of these mental health issues are brought about due to the difficulty of making ends meet. Families, especially within the B40 community, have been unable to provide basic necessities, some of them even going without proper food for days. 

One social media campaign has come about to bring some hope back to the people. The #WhiteFlagCampaign or #BenderaPutih is a movement for the people by the people that aims to provide families in need with the basic necessities to get through the lockdown. The hope is that by families asking for help with white flags that the people within their community will come together and give food, water or whatever else they need.

This comes about at a time where citizens feel abandoned and let down by the government. So many have not received sufficient aid to survive through the past year and a half and felt that it was time to take things into their own hands. This campaigns sought to fill the gaps in the community and perpetuates the notion of #KitaJagaKita. Malaysians taking care of each other. 

Below we have listed some resources to help those in need, including both NGOs that are providing basic necessities and mental health resources for those who want to reach out. It is important to remember that there is absolutely no shame in seeking support, it in fact shows immense strength. 

Mental Health Resources: 

Basic Necessities Aid:

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