What I mean by “ugly”

You have to understand how I see people: outward appearance is insignificant in determining how beautiful I think someone is. When I say I’m ugly, sure sometimes I do dislike my outward appearance, everyone does once in a while. But I don’t inherently like myself. When I say I’m ugly, I mean I’m not a good person, I’m not a worthy person. I’m ugly.

I’ve met people who are outwardly considered good looking, but they’re awful people. I am not swayed by looks. If you’re manipulative, arrogant, or rude, I’m going to think you’re ugly. Ugly means “unpleasant or repulsive” and it does not always mean in appearance.

Sometimes I do think I’m pretty good looking, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think I’m ugly. And maybe when you say I’m beautiful you aren’t only talking about outward appearance, but that is how I interpret it. Maybe we need to clarify. So yes, I believe you when you say I’m beautiful in terms of a pretty face. Yes, I do believe you. So I will smile and nod when you say I’m beautiful. I will accept your kind words and I will believe you. I love hearing you say it, I really do. But I still think I’m ugly. And I think I’m the only one who can change my mind.

Personal Experience: Eurocentric Beauty Standards

I’d like to say that my thoughts and actions aren’t dictated by race, but that would be a lie. That would be a lie for anyone. I was recently reminded of an old text post: “the first thought that goes through your mind is what you have been conditioned to think; what you think next defines who you are,” which made me forgive myself for the subconscious judgments that sometimes arise. What we have been conditioned to think could be what society tells us, what our peers tell us, and our past experiences. (These are not mutually exclusive categories, as one always affects the other, but they are good landmarks to look for.) I am always harsh and critical towards myself, and often will ruminate over a judgment I made towards someone, judging myself for having the thought in the first place. This is counterproductive, however, because thoughts are just thoughts.

Societal Beauty Standards:

The environment a child is surrounded by greatly shapes their views of themselves later into adolescence and adulthood. Offhand comments that may not seem like a big deal can have a huge impact on a child, especially when said by an adult. Being Chinese and born in Canada, I was exposed to many confusing experiences when it came to my self-worth, self-image, and ideals of beauty as it related to my race.

Living in a Western society, we subscribe heavily to Eurocentric beauty standards. This is ingrained into kids since birth. Representation matters. Growing up, I rarely saw role models or actresses who looked like me. I was mostly surrounded by other Caucasian kids but I never really thought much about it until someone pointed it out to me. It was unfortunately pointed out by a teacher, when I was only about 8 years old. We were doing an art project as a class, where we would stand in front of a light so the teacher could trace the silhouettes of our side profiles, then we would decorate or paint the picture. I remember in our there were only 4 Asian kids, all Chinese – 2 boys and 2 girls. The teacher was doing my tracing and she made a comment about how flat my nose was, and how full my lips were. I remember her laughing, and I really do not think it was malicious, but this stuck with me. Later, my friend compared my silhouette with hers and commented on how much flatter my face was compared to hers. This was the first time that someone pointed out I was different.

When I was 10 I got my first pair of glasses. The lady working at the shop seemed amused by how difficult it was to find a pair that fit me and didn’t slide down my nose because of my low bridge. In the end they had to insert nose pads into the frame so they would fit me. She was very friendly and good-natured about it, however I felt awful. It was another reminder that I was different, driving the wedge even further. I felt like I was an inconvenience for having my facial structure, and reprimanded myself for not being “normal”.

When I was 14, I was getting my makeup done for grade 9 grad. I went with a small group of friends and I was the only Chinese Canadian kid. The woman doing my makeup commented on how full my lips were compared to my friends. She told me not to worry, it was a good thing, and I was very lucky to have such big brown eyes. Although these words were kind and likely only had good intentions, I only felt like I was being singled out. As a very shy and sensitive kid in the first place, I hated being reminded that I was different. I didn’t want to look white per se – all I knew was that I wanted people to stop pointing out that I was different.

I do not think any of these people were being racist or trying to be hurtful intentionally. In the end, though, this took a toll on my self image and self esteem. I think that these experiences I went through are simply what happens when you are a minority. However, Canada is becoming increasingly multicultural, and I do think it is important to work towards a shift in attitudes that will reflect our multiculturalism. I think this can only be beneficial. The idea, however, is not to put down European/Caucasian beauty standards. They can still be embraced, while at the same time embracing the unique features found in different races and learn to measure our self worth with other means, not solely on beauty/appearance.

To read about my further confusing experiences of Asian beauty, see: Fetishism isn’t flattery

Recovery is constant resistance 

I wish I could see what you think you see in me. Just once I would like to be at peace with myself and look in the mirror through your rose-coloured glasses. But then you would have to take them off and see me for who I really am. I don’t think I want that quite yet.

Above is an unfinished draft I wrote a while back. On the 18th of September, specifically. This was written on a bad day.

I used to deflect compliments and praise because I strongly believed that to love myself, the love had to be intrinsic. It couldn’t rely on other people’s opinions of me. While I still believe this is true, I now realize that I took that sentiment too far… As I tend to do with most things.

My emotions and thoughts shift from one extreme to another. On bad days, I think I’m worthless. I think I’m a failure. Sometimes, I even feel like I hate myself. On good days I am confident, easy-going, and full of positive energy. Obviously the good exists. It is there, and it is intrinsic. However, the habit of refusing compliments is so deeply ingrained in my psyche that even on good days I cannot accept them. On bad days it’s even worse.

What I am starting to realize is that if I open myself up and let some of the positive in from the people around me, it can help coax out the self love that already exists. This is an important realization especially for the bad days. I’ve been living so long believing in this delusion that everyone who loves and cares for me must be wrong or mistaken. I could go on like that forever, if I allowed it. I could stay miserable forever.

It’s hard to let go of those thinking processes. They’re hardwired into my brain like a bad habit; no – like an addiction. I know they’re bad for me, but I’ve lived with them so long; I’ve lived with them all my life. It’s a constant effort to break free. I improve, then relapse. Improve. Relapse. Repeat.

I’m fighting against biology and brain structure. I’m resisting the pathways that have been ingrained within me. Through my studies, though, I know that it is possible to change. The brain is surprisingly plastic and the body is surprisingly adaptive. It’s possible to override these patterns. It’s not easy, but just like anything else that takes work, it will be worth it in the end.

Heavy

Today, she had me sit down with my arms outstretched in front of me. In my hands she placed a basket full of polished stones. The point of this exercise it to show you that even if you can hold the basket with no problem, over time, the longer you hold on, the heavier it becomes. She looked at me with sad eyes. Kind, but sad. She told me I hold on too long to too much.

I’ll admit I’ve been through a lot and I always forget how much I take on others emotions. I forget how much I want to take care of others.

We went back to the beginning, where I told her about my childhood, even my infancy when my mom suffered from post-partum depression. She said when we are born, we are pure and wholesome. We are born good. Then we grow up and the world around us shapes us. Sometimes it changes us to the point of self hatred and we believe we have no self worth. She said I needed to stop taking on other’s pain. My friends, my supervisor, even my mother’s pain.

The more we spoke, an image surfaced in my mind. The image of a bright eyed infant born as a natural empath.

She rests peacefully in her mother’s arms without a care in the world. Her mother fights the loneliness, guilt, and harrowing depression while trying her best to care for her child. Holding the baby close drives the darkness away. 

The baby senses this change. The empath in her yearns to care for her mother as much as she yearns for care from her mother. They become inseparable. The child cries and will not be soothed by anyone but her mother. Adults chuckle affectionately at the attachment. The child cries when being dropped off at school. She becomes anxious when apart from her mother. Everyone assumes she is just shy and afraid of strangers. What they do not know is that she also takes on her mother’s pain. She wants to hold her pain, to take it away. To hold it in her outstretched arms, eager to help. 

How to tell if you’re an empath.
The science behind empathy.

Hangry

Lots of people experience this. That irritability that we experience while hungry, essentially. For many people, it is a short phase that disappears after eating. It is something to laugh about later. However, individuals suffering from anxiety, depression, BPD, or any other mental illnesses may feel these effects differently.

Having BPD and experiencing extreme highs and lows on a regular basis is difficult enough to deal with. This only gets harder when you lose track of basic needs such as eating, drinking water, or sleeping.

Over the past couple weeks I’ve been going through a depressive episode. I spent all of Saturday in bed, but somehow kicked myself to get up on Sunday. Today I planned on going to the gym. This is why the gym is important to me: it makes me get out of bed, I will eat breakfast, I will exercise, eat again, and the rest of the day is on track. Today I decided it wouldn’t be so bad to skip the gym.

So I skipped breakfast. I skipped the gym. I went to a seminar and straight to work. I was focused on my work until around noon, when I realized I was starving.

Sometimes when I don’t eat, I’m just irritable. I get grumpy and silent and don’t want to talk to anyone until I eat. This is socially acceptable; people understand this. If anything people think it’s “cute” or “quirky”. When I’m already in a low mood, the feelings are a lot darker.

I needed to take out cash and I didn’t think it would be a big deal to go to the bank before eating. So I told my friend I’d catch up with her later.

Halfway there, an exhausted sort of feeling emerged. At the ATM, ruminating thoughts began. You’re useless. You’re ruined. You’re damaged. I started walking back to meet my friends. The exhausted feeling pressed down into my chest, hard. The thoughts were louder. You’re going to ruin this. You don’t deserve to be happy.

My heart was pounding and I walked faster. I knew I just needed to eat, and this would all go away. You should kill yourself. I stared ahead, trying to let the thoughts pass through. I knew I just needed to eat. You’re pathetic, you know that? What a fucking baby. Who gets this dramatic about being hungry? What would it be like to jump over that ledge? I shook my head and held back my tears.

This kept running through my head until I finally grabbed my food, and found my friend. All I could focus on was eating and trying not to cry. Afterwards, I felt calmer, but I was left tired and weary from the ordeal I just went through in my own head.

I went home. I’m back in bed. I don’t know whether I should cry or sleep. All I know is that I’m exhausted and all of this was totally preventable. I’m trying not to be too hard on myself, though; I just need to learn from this and move forward

Just because “boring self care” is boring, doesn’t mean it isn’t so important. Sometimes the small things make all the difference. Getting out of bed. Eating. Exercising. It’s so important to take care of these vulnerabilities. Your health is important. Your needs are valid and you need to care for yourself. 

Disenchantment

This is where broken people are.
This is where they wipe their tears away
And put on a new face;
A shiny, glossy mask.
They meet other
Shiny, glossy people and exchange superficial pleasantries.

This is for the people afraid of being alone;
Afraid of being marooned –
Forever controlled
By a willfully blind puppet master.
They look for another,
Fooling themselves,
Convincing themselves that they are the ones in control.
This is where the hopeful people are.

This is where the lost people are.
Passing through crowds of people,
But not really seeing a single face.
Trying to both remember and forget,
Wishing they knew now only what they knew then.
Searching for a shard of resemblance
Of a happier time.

This is where she shall drift,
Disappointed, desolate, 
Disenchanted.

Gratitude 

Thanks for picking me up and carrying my when I was down. I blog about my pain, heartache, and troubles a lot – I often forget to acknowledge the overwhelming support I have. It would be an understatement to simply say I was “lucky”. This was no luck of the draw. I am blessed and eternally grateful for the people who walked into my life and never left. Practicing gratitude humbles our struggles. Make a point to do this more every day.

Thank you SC; CLB; RN; ACN; EG; TK; FC; EM; PW; RC; AEM; WC; SP; AV; DRB.

People say when it comes to friendship, it is better to have 4 quarters rather than 100 pennies. I am grateful to have so many people who support me, who are all worth more than their weight in gold.

I am grateful for the people I have only met within the past few months, who were kind enough to listen, value my friendship and remained in my life. I am so grateful for their willingness to have open and honest conversations and withholding judgement, instead replacing it with genuine curiosity. I’m grateful for the people who spoke to me and were open to me, even if it wasn’t always easy.

I am grateful for the family who stand by me no matter what and listen non judgementally, and respond with love and honestly. Words can’t express the gratitude I have. I may have had many difficult experiences with people, my diagnosis, and my self image, but I was given the most supportive people imaginable to be my closest support network. I am especially grateful for my parents for being so calm and open about my situation. I am always afraid to tell them when I relapse, yet they always respond with nothing but warmth, love, and concern. I am grateful for my sister and cousin, two of my best friends. I am grateful for their love, ambition, and honesty. I love the unconditional support they give to me; the support that I am eagerly willing to return.

I’m grateful for the girls I work with or went to school with, who have come to be like family: always supportive, always a shoulder to cry on, always a friendly pair of listening ears. Their unique and distinct personalities all provide me with insight from many perspectives, and though they are all very different, their love is all equally strong and supportive of not only me but each other. I’m grateful to be surrounded by such intelligent, caring, genuine women. They are an inspiration and after many difficult experiences in my past, they showed the profound impact of women sticking together and supporting each other unconditionally. I am not only inspired by the times where we were loving and supportive, but also by times of conflict. They always proved my fears wrong, and our friendship always shone through.

I am grateful for my guy best friends from home, who each lend me their own unique perspectives. Again, they are all very different, but they are all the same in their love, concern, and friendship. They are all the protective brothers that I never had, each offering their insight when it comes to my boy problems. After the experiences I have had with previous boyfriends, I have come to realize that love is not only the one who is in a romantic relationship with you. Love is also undying support, the strength of friendship, and wanting the best for one another. I have many perceptions and suspicions about boys, but I also need to remember that they are not all like the ones who have hurt me.

Having BPD is hard. Having depression is hard. Being chronically suicidal is hard. But I have come to realize that my pain and suffering has brought out the good in so many people. It has given all these people the chance to shine and it has given me the privilege of watching them do so. It has attracted the biggest hearts and the most genuinely wonderful people. I honestly do think that my friends are truly good human beings. After having so much love in my life, it has made it easier and easier to shut out toxic people. Thank you all for being there for me; I sincerely hope I have given as much to you as you have given to me.

My favourite colour is

Tw self harm 

Remember that blade I took? The one I wanted to take for a long time? I used it. And it was so sharp. It cut deeper than I thought it would. The blood was everywhere. Everywhere. No one else will want me now. You said you were my friend. You said you’d be there for me. And then you fucked me over. Deny as much as you want but you fucked me over. You’re a shitty friend. You’re a shitty person. It’s deeper than I thought. Oh God, it’s deeper than I thought. I can’t stop the blood. Just a light graze leaves a mark. What if I press harder? It doesn’t matter I can’t feel a thing. I can’t stop. Even though purple is usually my favorite, today, right now, it is red. Red is my favorite colour. And I want more. I love red. The colour that flows out of my body. I love it. Let me pull it out until my vision fades; until my there’s nothing more. Until I’m pale and drained. Until I’m dry and decaying. Red is so beautiful. Yet I am not. Take the beauty out of my body. Separate it from my ugly soul. Let the red stain my sheets and let it bring beauty to my surroundings. Drain it from my veins; drain it from my arteries.
17. 17. Seventeen. 10+7. Only 17 of them. Only 17 sources of beautiful red. Maybe more soon. Who knows? Who cares. 

Worthy

Know your worth.
Know that you, just as everyone else, is worthy of love.
Don’t let yourself stay with someone who wants to be with another
When all you want is to be wanted by someone who only wants you.
When she leaves, and you remain as his remaining crutch,
The only shoulder to cry on
You will always be wondering
What if she stayed?

Go ahead and cover the walls of your glass room with pictures of a fantasy.
Paint the insides of your eyelids with what you want to see
And tell yourself that you’re fine. That this is what you wanted.
Look in the mirror and tell yourself that you’re in control
And then force yourself to feel what you think you should feel.
Live in your false comfort.

Dream, imagine, and hope all you want
But know it does not have to be this way. 

Not as long as you believe you are worthy. 

Skin hunger 

She lived in a bubble. She was hesitant around strangers and was slow to open up. But when she did open up, she was loving, bright, and affectionate.

Over time, through the people she encountered, and situations she experienced, she learned it was better to stay in a bubble. She kept people at a distance. Because, as she had learned, physical affection means you’re asking for more.

She would flinch when others would touch or hug her, friends and strangers alike. She always kept her distance while yearning for closeness. She was lonely when she was not alone. She was starved for affection, yet her fear and anxiety held her back.

Somehow she ended up in relationships with others who would not be affectionate. “I don’t like holding hands,” they would say. “I hate PDA,” even when it was an arm around the shoulder or a hand on the knee. So it became normal for her.

“Why are you so codependent? Why are you so clingy?” they would say. Even though she thought her requests were normal, they made her doubt herself. Her doubts turned into shame, and her shame manifested itself as bitterness, self hatred, and jealousy. She had accepted that it would always have to be this way.