Expectation and Heartache

It’s been a very long while since my last post! I just found out a few moments ago that my account was expired, due to technical issue on my automatic payment. All good now and I am in a good mood to write something here.

Expectation. We all have it. You just have to admit that you, me – all of us are expecting in many ways. We expect our spouses to be better, to treat us better. We expect our children to behave well, to achieve high. We also expect ourselves to be great, to be known. Is it wrong to have expectation? Is it right? Do you have the answer? Because I do not.

I met one lady a few days ago. I have heard stories about her – she is a single parent with two children, her husband left her for another woman (she was also the ‘another woman’ in his previous marriage), and she has no formal work to support her life. But when you look at her, you can get the glimpse of her being ‘her ideal self’. The way she walks, she talks, the way she describe those fancy restaurants, those beautiful places that she ever been. The reality is quite different in her perspective. She looks at it as if she is still living in her ideal world. She loves to talk about her dreams in the past – how she wanted to go and live abroad (The Netherlands was a popular destination for Indonesian during her school years) and yet, her mother was not allowing her to go. She loves to show the pictures of her being invited by her friends at fancy restaurants and have a dip on those expensive menus. Somehow, unconsciously, she rejects the second-class menus. She tends to compare everything with her version of ‘the best goods’ that she ever tried before.

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While she is trying to keep her ideal world up in the water, her son sinks it. One day, he went home and sat with his mother – telling her that he has a daughter with a woman that he had a fling with. He was aware that he had a daughter, but decided not to do anything about it – until he lost everything in a fire, got fired and left with nothing. He then realized that he needed to do something regarding his responsibility as a father. While for him it is a way to complete his least responsibility, for his mother it is almost the end of the world.

This lady – now a grandmother – talked to me in teary eyes that her son is not  supposed to live his life that way. He used to be so free and individual, but now he has to share his life with his wife and daughter. For her, that’s not a fair life.

When I listened to her, I was almost scratching my head – and about to scream at her. How on earth you think that way? That little boy of yours is now a husband and a father. He has to take care of his family. He has to let go his free life and be in order now. But of course I did not do so. I felt pity toward her.

Her life is so full of expectation, and yet she gets none of them done. She never had that chance of living abroad. She could only taste the great menus when someone is kind enough to pay for her. She never had the moment of preparing her son’s wedding properly, and yet suddenly given with a granddaughter. She was looking for love, and she gets loneliness instead.

What do you expect from life?

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Altering Mental Block

In my line of work, I have the privilege to meet a lot of people – listen to their stories and mapping their cognitive functions. By doing so, the process of psychotherapy will serve as the basis for my clients in understanding their way of thinking, distorted belief or simply to know that they have options.

The hard part of psychotherapy is to talk and make family members to understand client’s situation – that they need time to readjust to their new pattern of thinking or how much they need support from their loved ones. Sometimes I scratch my head due to disbelief that family members can’t wait to reach the end line of the process.

What if we – as psychologists – are the ones who need to give support to our loved ones? The answer is as hard as those family members of our clients. When we put down our professional titles and be an ordinary family member of our loved ones, chances are we facing the same difficulties like others.

We have our expectations, our own hopes, as well as fears, whether they will make it or not. Will they be able to pursue their dreams, or will we have to accept the fact that every hopes shatter to pieces? All those questions are in our head – the so-called psychologists – when we walk together with our loved ones who need help or support.

The journey will not be easy. We need to learn from the family members of our clients – who wait and support patiently through every session and years of psychotherapy.

We need to alter our mental blocks and believing that our loved ones will be able to get through their hardest days, their biggest fears and their made-believe limitations. We also need to help them in overcoming those blocks – and make them believing in themselves. It will not be an easy journey, because they might have grown up with the same way of thinking for the past 20-30 years before we met them. But it will certainly be a worthy journey to conquer.

If you’re facing this kind of problem, believe in yourself and believe in your loved ones. Having a set of positive belief will bring you to a new stage of life. Keep up the hard work!

Past-Valentine Love Stories

It may be a little late to write about my Valentine’s Day, but I am going to write anyway.

This year marks the 4th of knowing my husband. We met on January 2011 and got married on September 2013. But this year is the first time we celebrate Valentine’s Day, well sort of. On the day, I woke up with a cute doll in front of me. I did not know where he hid that or why did he buy that cute doll. When I opened it, I just realized that the doll has recording system. So, there it was, my husband wishing me a lovely Valentine’s Day!

Valentine's Day gift

After I unwrapped the gift, I left to take my morning shower. He did not tell me that he had something else, the real V day gift for me. It was himself being wrapped! You know, when it comes to silly stuff, my husband is the master!

The real V day gift

The real V day gift

But that was not all. Last night, I got another surprise from my best friend’s parents. It was started when they were having their own family time and somehow my name was mentioned by my friend. His father was a sweet, funny and silly old man, whose heart is very sincere. My friend and I used to laugh together when we remember his father. Out of his love for me, he suddenly said to my friend that they (his father and mother) would love to have me as their daughter and love me with their parental love. You know, I was crying when I heard this! Sometimes when the time is rough, you don’t need some extravagant gifts, you only need small action of love from those around you.

I am loved!

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An Old Man and His Broken Heart

That day, when I walk home from my work, I saw you.

You were so tiny and fragile. You laid there on the corner of the street, waiting for loving hands to carry you home. I was about to walk past you, pretending that I didn’t see you, little one. But when our eyes met, I had no other choice but to admit that I felt the love between us. I held you home, I put you close to my heart.

Day after day, I saw you grow up. Your tiny feet were getting stronger. Your small paws were getting bigger. And your little tail was not so little anymore. You grew so beautifully. And still, I love you, little one. I knew that you loved me too. I could see it.

The white flowers

The little white flowers

Years after years, you were my companion. Whenever I arrived home, you were the first one that I think about. The food on your plate, the blanket on your little bed when the winds were too cold, and some prayers from my mouth. Sometimes I forgot to even fed myself. But I would never forget you, little one.

My love for you were so real. Even if you ask me now, I will say that I am still loving you.

My heart broke when I saw your body on the corner of our house. On that day, when I arrived home from work. I was walking home, wishing to embrace you and enjoyed our time together. My life is now so different. Empty if I may say. My life has gone when I saw you leave. I could not even say goodbye …

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This writing is inspired by a real event. I saw an old man who got his heart break after knowing his beloved daughter was about to leave. He had loved her since the first day he saw her. He would fight the world to share his love for her. His love was even wider and deeper after he had two grandchildren from her. He would really fight the world for them.

Now, his world crumbled. He really has nowhere to go, because he had given his all.

I can only wish that one day he would be able to love again. For others, for his grandchildren. For himself.

Who’s to Blame?

I know one family of 3 children and their parents. Two of the children were born sick, they were unable to form the enzymes needed for digestion. Therefore, their parents had to buy special milk, which cost them three fold of normal baby milk. It was a struggle for them, but their parents never asked why.

When these two children grew up, they became very active. They fight in school, their academic achievement was always at the border of failed and they got into the wrong crowd. As teenagers, they got into more serious fights – and they ended up at police station a few times. They went home in a very bad shape, after being hit by some gang members. They involved in accident when driving a friend’s car and their parents had to pay for the service and fixing fee.

Now they are adults. They gambled now and then. They lost and repent – only to fall into the same pattern again. They borrow money from whoever want to give them the money – because they tend to forget how to count the interest. Some debt collectors come for them, and they hide behind their parents. They lost billion of their family savings and still, no regret, no repentance. Nothing.

The eldest of the children then think to himself. Why is it so different between me and my brothers? He asked his father since he was young, but he never got the answer. One day, when he was a teenager, his father admitted that he did that out of guilty feeling – that he wasn’t a good father and therefore those two boys were born in a bad shape. Unconsciously, his father pay his regret by covering and protecting his younger brothers.

When this eldest son became an adult, he asked his father if he could change his treatment toward his brothers – because he could see that the two won’t go anywhere if they don’t change their behaviors. His father replied, give me time to fix this and after a while, if your brothers still do the same, you can call me a failure.

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The story above represents our families, somehow. There’s no such thing as perfect parents, perfect children, nor perfect family. But we can always strive to be one. The end of the journey is the last day before we close our eyes for good. What have I done for my partner? What have I done for my parents? My children? My siblings? If I ever made mistakes, did I admit it and apologize for it? If I ever wreck their dreams, have I apologize and rebuild the dreams together with them?

Ability to accept and forgive others are necessity in this life. We can’t go on with anger and hatred in our heart. The same philosophy goes with ourselves as well. Have you forgive yourself? Have you accept your flaws and limitation? Because if you haven’t, you are hurting yourself. And those who close around you will get hurt as well.

Family life is very complicated. I heard a lot of people think and say that it is easier to live away from their families. Because at least, they don’t have to deal with such family issues. I come from a very complex family – both in size and dynamic. It shapes me to be a strong person. It shapes me to prevent a lot of things in the future. I have to admit at last, that those fights and arguments, those irrational actions and belief, those high-pitch voices – are the color of my life. I can become who I am today – because all of them.

What about you?

“You Say Thank You Anyway”

Two days ago my Dad take-away 4 portions of nice Lo Mee from a nearby Chinese restaurant. When I had my second spoon, my Dad asked me if I already squeeze the lime onto my Lo Mee. Just when I said that I forgot it, the phone was ringing.

After a quick chat with my Aunt, I sat back to my chair. My niece, who was sitting next to me, said that she already squeezed the lemon for me.

My niece: Aunty, I did it for you (while showing the dry lemon)
Me: Ah, so nice of you. Thanks a lot!
My niece: But I dropped all the seeds into your bowl
Me: Never mind (smiling to her)
My niece: So even though I dropped the seeds, you say thank you anyway?
Me: Of course, because I appreciate your good intention to help me out
My niece: Ah, I see

I was surprised that she observed thoroughly. That short incident proved to me that a child see, a child do (from the saying: monkey see, monkey do). The best model of implementing discipline and values to our children is by doing it in our everyday life and let our children see it. It will send a loud and clear message to our children that good behavior is part of life and not a burden.

I wish a joyful week for all of you and family.

Feeling Unlovable

One occupational hazard of being a psychologist is I tend to observe everything around me – what I heard, what I see and what I read between the lines.

People may express their feelings and emotions in many ways. And the other party also owns their own ways to be reactive.

Today I want to write what I reflect from some observations, especially when someone feels unlovable.

I was doing my hair in a hair salon when I heard a middle age woman who offered her husband to have his lunch. The time was close to 1 pm. She said, “Do you want to have your lunch now?”. To my surprise he answered, “What time is it do you think, Stupid!”. When that woman said that it was close to 1 pm, he finally said yes. He left me speechless – especially when I saw the woman took out his lunch box and prepared it for him.

Or another time when a wife told me that his husband easily gets mad at her and the children. Sometimes the issue is just another daily hassle, but he would not react differently. He would mad at her – as usual.

Or … A husband who gave up his pride as a man when his wife acted as a Commander all around the house. From what to wear, what to eat and how to spend the money. He said that he’s been giving up his free choice and voice to his wife – just for the sake of preserving the marriage.

Sometimes we see young children who are struggling to tell their parents that they love them. Some parents are well aware of the signs given – through letters, cards, hugs or songs. But some others are so ignorant – thinking that their children don’t understand what is love, or the ability to express their love.

I can’t imagine the feeling of the wife or the husband or the children in the story above. The heavy burden of feeling unlovable, when their pure intentions were being fire back with not-so-loveable reactions from their loved ones.

Everyone needs someone else to love them dearly and able to express those feelings in overt ways. When the feelings are not accordance with the overt actions, the ambiguous message will be sent. Love is a feeling that need to be shown, spoken or practiced. It seems easier to express our negative emotions – but we can practice to express our positive feelings as well. To make our closest ones feel lovable.

Let’s love each other loudly!
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The Warmth of Christmas

Christmas is here!

I used to spend Christmas day with my family back at my hometown. We had an annual visit to a Carmelites monastery about an hour driving from our house. We spent the Christmas eve there as a family and enjoying the abundant grace from the Lord for our family. I learned since very young that Christmas is meant to be a warm and loving season with our loved ones. I believed in Santa Claus, who always gave presents for Christmas day. Well, even though later on I found that the real Santa was my parents, I still believe in the miracle of Christmas day.

This year, I have to be somewhere else. I’ve spent this morning of Dec 24 by watching great Christmas shows by Michael Buble, Lady Antebellum and (now playing) Glee. The show remind me of how important it is to be loved and to be close with your family.

Image I really want to be home right now, but life has given me something else today. I will celebrate the mass with my fiance, with mt new family.

Christmas is not about the decoration, not about the party – but it is about the warmth, togetherness and the joyful feeling of being a family.

Have a Merry Christmas, everyone! May this season brings lots of love for you and your loved ones.

65th Wedding Anniversary? Surely A Hardwork!

On my flight to Australia, I read a book by Scott Peck – the well known ‘The Road Less Traveled’. I reached the second big theme, Love. He wrote that love is an act of courage and a hardwork. Love is effortful, unlike falling in love, which is effortless. When the two persons are out of love, what remains is the hardwork to keep the relationship as burning as when they were still in love.During my stay in Australia, slowly the process of ‘love’ welcome me. It was started when I stayed at my best friend’s place. He stayed with his partner who had different family and educational background. They also had opposite personality traits. My best friend is very bubbly, loud and colorful – while his partner is more serious, organized and quiet. Surprisingly, they can get along very well. And for the past 2 years, they never really had a fight, because everything can be handled by discussion and communication.

Then, when I moved out to another friend’s place, I also witness the hardwork of ‘love’. My friend is in relationship with her partner and they support each other positively. She always prepares the good meals for him and he always takes care of her – especially because she’s sick at the moment. Their relationship follow the flow and they never push too much toward each other.

Finally, the closing is today’s lesson. I went for mass at St. Benedict Catholic Church of Perth, WA. Turned out it was a celebration for those who celebrate their wedding anniversary. There were around 15 couples and they were called according to the years of marriage. The last one to be called was a couple who celebrate their 65th wedding anniversary.

Celebrating the 65th wedding anniversary is something rare and not everyone owns the privilege to have the same experience. People will struck by the awe and forget to ask of the ‘strategies’ to have such a long lasting marriage.

I remember one of many strategies applicable about marriage, arrangement of chatting with our partner (in The Road Less Traveled).  Sometimes we don’t feel the urge to communicate, because we don’t know what to talk about. But, remember, without communication, you’re relationship will vanished. Communication is one way of expressing love and surely, it will need a lot of hardwork. Through communication, we can understand each other. Through communication, we can see the unseen from our partners.

Want to hit the 65th anniversary? Embrace the present, enjoy the hardwork and love wholeheartedly.

Enjoy your weekend!
With love from Perth, WA.

The Gosselins

It is my new interest! The Gosselins … also well-known as ‘Jon and Kate plus eight’

Well, twinship is not a new thing for me. I have identical twin brothers and my Bachelor theses was also about the dependency on twins in their adolescence years. I have heard about this family a few years ago, but lately it really is caught my attention. Sometimes I watch the show at TLC.

I just want to upload some pictures that show the amazement of having 8 children! Well, not to mention the mess though…

As a cover of Good Housekeeping magazine

I watched the process of two-day shooting for Good Housekeeping article. The first day was the shoots for inside story at their house. Then the second day was the shoots for the cover. After a long while of calming down one girl, and another girl, and then another girl … the photo shoots were done. Thanks to one crew who came with puppets and created a funny story to attract the attention of the children.

Look at the magic baby's cart

It is a blessing, for sure – if you can see it that way.