It was midnight. I remember when I looked out to the right car window, I knew I was near death because there was nothing we could have done to avoid the collision. I had only two seconds to react, and then the other car struck my friend’s car.
My friend and I were extraordinarily lucky we walked out of that accident with minimal injuries. A year after the accident, this got me thinking — how did I become an energetic match to this accident?
Even though the accident was caused by a drunk driver who collided into my friend’s car, perhaps a part of me would much rather die than be in my own skin, so I subconsciously became a match to the accident.
I was sad and angry growing up. I suppressed my emotions, and attempted to commit suicide when I was in my teens. Being imprisoned by a particularly traditional Asian family and unreasonably strict convent high school in Asia, I was constantly being bullied. And having spent a few years abroad, I was also being made fun of for my skin colour.
Being at home, I was always told that I was wrong. That I was a mistake. No matter what I did, I would never get my community and family’s approval — because they wanted me to fit into what they wanted me to be — that “perfect” Asian accountant, lawyer, doctor. But I was not that me.
Growing up with traditional Asian “tiger parents,” I was terrified of making “mistakes” because I’d be beaten up otherwise. Anything that went against preset expectations would be deemed a mistake. So I hid — I just thought I would never be accepted for who I am in my community or in my family, and no one understood me.
I felt powerless. While I desperately needed someone to be with my pain, I suppressed my emotions, and blamed myself. I was ashamed — ashamed of myself for being who I am, for how I feel.
I thought I was ugly. I thought I was a burden. I thought I was wrong because I was different.
I was different because I questioned authority — values imposed onto me from school and my community. I questioned socialisation. Perhaps my existence threatened the old paradigm and patriarchy so much that the only way they knew how to deal with my younger self was to control and minimise me.
Being so ashamed of who I am, I just thought I was weird, in a negative way. The intense shame in childhood led me to isolate myself from others, and contributed to this inexplicable drive to “succeed” and get away from my roots.
So I tried to cope by running away, by working very hard to prove my worth in society, because I felt worthless innately. But this shadow I was trying so hard to escape was following me wherever I went.
Nothing external could mask the deep pain and unworthiness I felt inside.
The car accident was a mirror of my powerlessness, and immense, suppressed grief — that grief of not being understood, seen, validated, and being told that there was something wrong with me for years. I have internalised this pain, and lived in self-blame for many years.
But my inner being couldn’t bear to run around in a facade anymore, because I was not living my truth.
I could no longer pretend. And the car accident served as a wake up call for me. I finally collapsed and broke down.
Given my physical and emotional pain, I could barely move — I could do nothing but to face the pain and surrender to my powerlessness. I had to deal with my pain from the car accident and subsequent breakup with my ex.
I went through a rebirth, albeit a painful one. The car accident and breakup shook me to my core, and made me realise that the most important relationship I can have is the one with myself.
I realised that no matter how many men I dated, no matter how I looked, none of these mattered if I did not love myself — that external reality was just a reflection of how I feel about myself. With self hate, I could only attract relationships that were a mirror of that because I was led, by the universe, to heal this wound to integrate. The wound of being invisible, unimportant, 2nd best, a mistake.
So I decided to face my unhealthy thought patterns and pain head on. I melted into my pain. My pain that I’ve been suppressing for years, the pain that needed to be seen, acknowledged and validated.
After seeing multiple healers, therapists, body workers, I gradually got better. At least I know that I love myself enough to sit with my pain to feel my emotions.
I also gradually learned to accept the past, and myself — that I’m not a mistake, and that everyone is different and that each one of us is meant to express our joy, gifts and creativity through our unique talents and passion.
And the love I craved so much from others is within myself — and we can only feel that love by being present with what is, and this includes our joy, as well as our pain. Perhaps the immense pain I have suffered is a doorway to bliss, joy, and self love. Maybe I wouldn’t have known what self-love is without knowing what self-love is not.
It is my hope that we all have the courage to face our pain, feel it, and acknowledge it. That we have compassion for ourselves, for mistakes we’ve made. Through that space, we can then show compassion to others, as we are all one.
But we cannot show compassion to others without showing compassion to and loving ourselves first. And to do that, we need to be unconditionally present with our pain and forgive ourselves — for abandoning our needs, for abandoning ourselves . Because we did not know what we know now at that time.
By being gentle with ourselves, we can be gentle with others. This step may take a long time; it may also be an arduous process. But it is a worthwhile one.
Because of our relentless pursuit of self-love, we learn to be compassionate and loving towards others. Imagine what the world will be like then?
Thank you for reading.
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Originally published at medium.com