It’s been at least 20 years of working through ED. From the time it didn’t have a name to where I am now; lessons came to light guided with love and wisdom. For every ‘episode’, a takeaway to keep me grounded and hopefully, not fall into it again.
Episode 1: “You’re being controlling”.
In a group of 13-year olds, S walked away from me. We were quite tight in primary school. It crushed me. Being at the age, she probably didn’t know how to articulate her feelings. 21 years ago, there was also less information and support for such areas. We never spoke since that day. The next few years of secondary school was difficult trying to avoid her yet hoping for just a “hi”. I was also bullied and had a bout of depression. I’d latch on to different people with a penchant for the ‘bad girls’ so that I will gain infamy.
Realisation: I lost myself, in trying to find myself.
Episode 2: The popular ones
There was M, the high-school princess who often asked me for favours. She’d reciprocate with cute notes. Finally, a best friend – I can be popular and needed. Yet, she never wanted me to be in her circle of friends. She acted like I was a stranger while her clique did not welcome me. She asked me to drive her to the shopping mall, and upon bumping into a guy friend, dropped me like a hot potato. The deepest cut was hearing someone comment that “she’s such a dog to M”. After high school, we drifted and it’s just Instagram friends and the obligatory annual birthday messages. I have never told her how much I felt hurt and neither did she ever tell me if I crossed her lines. It doesn’t matter anymore.
In university, I had a junior who also saw me as someone helpful. J was the high-performer, smart and boys’ favourite. She was sweet, physically affectionate and I soon began to develop feelings. I confessed but she took it okay. We still hung out, attended church together and met for lunch once a week when working in the same mall. After her marriage and kids, I guess life is different and we’re also just social media contacts. I tried contacting her for lunch or working around her responsibilities but it never worked out.
Realisation: Some relationships are just for a season.
EPISODE 3: Work
R was the ‘cute, giggly fresh grad with a tendency to ask for help”. I fell over to be kind but one day, she told me how my concern and physical affections made her uncomfortable. I felt ashamed and disgusted. I began questioning my orientation. My male boss and my female mentor happened to be ‘out and proud’. I was so tempted….but I was living with 4 committed churchgoers and I’d follow them as I didn’t have a car. I was embarrassed to tell them or why I didn’t want to go to church. So, I’d dutifully go with a stone heart. On the flipside, it was probably the thin thread that kept me from falling into the homosexual lifestyle.
Realisation: God is merciful even when I don’t know. The Holy Spirit knocks at the doors of our heart but Jesus never forces his way in.
I went for counseling at PLUC for my same-sex attractions and learnt about Emotional Dependency. It might have stemmed from my mother’s overprotective nature. She was affected by my 5-week hospitalisation stint. I always felt her thinking “if something happens to you, I would die” so I tried my best not to worry her. Perhaps in doing so, I also took on a protective act. At the same time, the family had financial issues. Being the eldest, I took care of the household and mum also expressed her frustrations to me. It was a lot to take for a teenager. Through counseling, I learnt the ‘why’ of my emotional dependencies and attachments, understand boundaries, to be mindful of my thoughts and not allow it to dictate my life and work together with God. I was progressing.
So, I thought. Yet the Bible says…when you cast out the demons, they can return 7-fold..
EPISODE 4: Church
Met Z at the same tertiary fellowship but we’re from different universities. One day I saw her at my faculty. She was waiting for her cousin. Naturally, we started talking. When we both started working, we moved to a smaller church. She didn’t fit the profile of the previous females. She was independent, opinionated and driven. I admired these qualities that I felt I lacked. All we did was text non-stop through the day. Some of her friends asked if we’re an item. I confessed to her, she also brought up the control word. While she didn’t judge me, we stopped communicating. It was tough as we’re in church but disconnected. I returned to counseling to sort myself out.
Realisation: Forgive myself that I fell again. Recovery is different for everyone and to trust God.
We are still friends but it is a bumpy one. Much as I needed to ‘fix’ myself, she also had her own issues to work out. I’m learning to acknowledge the space between us. Slowly, I miss her less and don’t get absorbed into thoughts of her and when I do, I stop to pray for the feeling to pass. I would love for us to be reconciled but I’m leaving it to God.
I can’t say I’m “definitely cured of ED” because the devil is always lurking. However, I’ve grown in this journey, I can anticipate the pitfalls, put the right actions to better manage my emotions, ultimately giving it to God Almighty to lead me with His wisdom and never-ending grace.