Saturday, January 16, 2016


Everyone has issues. You can't live in this world and not have issues. Christians say it is a "broken world" and it is, in more ways than one. We are all imperfect. As if that did not already guarantee us issues, in our imperfection we then cause other people issues, and in their imperfection, others also cause us issues. It's simple cause-and-effect.

So no one is "okay", but the level of "un-okayness" and the areas it affects differs from person to person. Trying to insist that one is "okay" only leads to more issues for yourself and everyone around you. We can all SEE you're not okay. Your attempts to prove you're okay, in fact, blatantly expose your issues to all and sundry.

Anyway, I have issues too, and I come from a fairly stable, ordinary, typical sort of Chinese-Malaysian family so I've always felt like I don't have a right to my issues. You cannot say you do not feel loved by your parents, for example, when they have worked hard to put you through university. What is that, if not concrete evidence of love? And you cannot say you regret your parents' parenting style, because even if it left you never feeling good enough, you graduated from university with honours and now have a fairly well-paying job, so obviously their methods were efficacious?

The emphasis on filial piety among the Chinese also means I can never stop feeling guilty at questioning my upbringing. Can I be a good daughter and still say I resent my parents for sweeping aside the creative part of me as if she were unimportant? And of course it is also unfilial to blame one's parents for all one's issues.

But it is not a blame game. I have to acknowledge my issues, and trace them to the source in order to deal with them. Unfortunately the source very often does appear to be in my childhood. When else are we most vulnerable and impressionable? And who else but those closest to us would be able to have such an impact as to cause issues which continue to reverberate through our lives thirty or forty years later?

So I have issues, and sometimes I think they are not large ones, but sometimes they appear to me to be as high as mountains. And I am still tackling them, one day at a time. Sometimes I think I have vanquished one, only to see it pop up again later. I have to love myself and feel secure in my identity. I have to fight the fear that revelation of my weaknesses will bring rejection. I have to live in reality instead of the oblivion and comforting embrace of escapism. I have to take responsibility for my own happiness, not expect another person to make me happy. I have to own my past choices and admit I am partly to blame for my own issues -- avoiding a victim mentality. I have to recognise unhealthy patterns of behaviour and thought, and work on turning them around.

It is hard work. It is exhausting. Sometimes I despair. Sometimes I feel alone. Sometimes I am impatient and frustrated with myself. But that is also one of my issues: wanting to be perfect. I have to give myself permission to be imperfect.

In the end, I think my issues are quite common ones. Many of us are insecure and fearful. Many of us struggle to accept our true selves and have perfected various methods of running away from the pain inside. This is the human condition. I am human, and so are you. We live in a broken world. We all need healing. We need to be whole.

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