If you don’t deal with your demons, they will deal with you, and it’s gonna hurt.
One of the things I have to be prepared as I write online is the nakedness of vulnerability I put myself in. And this blog is one of them that will do so. If you are offended by writings that depict a fall from the echelons of religion, read no further, if you are not, read on, this is my personal testimony.
It is quite a difficult entry to write, and maybe unfortunately to some readers, it’ll be a long one and more ‘frank’ with regards to the colour of the language used. I have split the blog into parts so that it does not appear like a endless wall of text, hopefully that might help.
Each of us have weaknesses, no matter how strong we profess ourselves to be. However, it becomes a real problem when they haunt and torment you incessantly. Such, are problems with mine. I introduce my inner demons, Fear and Guilt.
A bit of history
I was brought up as an Adventist. Maybe a bit too strictly as one, my parents controlled almost all areas of my life, who I mixed with, who I chose to hang out with. The country I was in controlled my destiny, I was supposedly on a standard, normal track of education. PSLE, O’Levels, A’Levels and then army for 2 years, and to the University to study Engineering. And all this while, socialising with normal friends was pretty difficult because of my religious background, it is just not convenient when you are so ‘special’ even though I was supposed to be the standard mould of the Singaporean society. Still, I wasn’t taught how to think out of the box, I was taught how to think how to make the grade. I was never taught how to pursue my dreams, I was only taught how to make other people’s dreams of me a reality. When I nearly flunked my Mandarin language at the O levels (just barely made it to JC), it was as if I had disgraced my mum, who used to be a really excellent Mandarin teacher. (I guess I was unlucky not to have her genes). I tried my best, but it was just not good enough. At the A levels, I was given another chance, and when I finally did pass, by a whisker, my then hard nosed Mandarin teacher actually broke down and cried (in relief, probably).
And then there’s love.
Yes, the girl that I fell in love as my first love didn’t quite work out.
That was then quite a blow to me – I attempted suicide. Fortunately, I had a pastor that talked me out of it. Wryly, I still remember their names, and in a way, now as I typed this, I am embarrassed at my immaturity then.
And then there’s art.
I wrote plays, one about the devil and his fiends and it was slammed by my then church for being too ‘realistic’. At this point, I don’t know what to do anymore, it seems that everything I did was not right, I didn’t even let my parents know of my suicide attempt until much, much later. I sort of just blindly held on to my faith then because it was the only security blanket that gave me some sense of security. Or so it seems.
Of course, there’s technology.
Strangely, I recall that I really hated computers. I think they enslave humans (yet ironically, they are a part of my existence now). The first foray I had with computers was with this Japanese American neighbour that I had who got a Commodore. Yeah, my first hello world was written in BASIC. Still, I did not quite like it. The Japanese-American was a snotty guy, I wasn’t allowed a long time to play with the computer and had hardly time (and money) to explore much.
It was only in my University days that things start to change. I was supposed to be studying engineering. Yet, I got more interested in forums and so on, and yes, computers. I had an Atari 1040STE and a 9600 modem. I used that to dial in to my university. I also found that you could actually bypass the university quota on computer time by a simple hack. That ability to control things like this seemed amazing. Unfortunately, at that time, I was more interested in getting games and “graphic binary files” from ftp sites than studying. I flunked my engineering course. And yes, the break up and suicide attempt happened during that time too. Hurt, tone deaf to all pointing fingers, I decided I shall try to go with what I want to do rather than the standard route of become that sad fuck of a model trophy that people can parade. So I entered in to the Japan Singapore Institute of Software Technology, Singapore Polytechnic (It’s no longer there any more).
And yes, I finally saved to get a computer, I got interested in its hardware. For once, in this make believe world, I was in control. Total control. I can fuck up, I can start again. No one is going to scold me, no one is going to reprimand me, I don’t need to live anyone’s dream, I can make my own. I got my own computer. I tore it apart after a few months and taught myself how to fix a better one on just very little pocket money. Soon, I got my own line. And soon I was operating a BBS. But the best thing I learned was, how much of a comfort zone computing could bring me in. I can totally immerse in coding and reading about hacking, security until I forgot it was morning, until I forgot that hurt, that self pity, low self esteem and depression. Computing was my drug, it was my heroin.
But this didn’t really last, I had to live life. It is more than fixing computers, watching anime, reading 2600 etc…It’s about sharing this with someone which is Marianne, my wife and soulmate.
By that time, I had ‘progressed’ from being an Adventist to a Sunday church going Christian. Of course that made me the black sheep of the family again, but I did seem happier. I believed that God had this future all cared for and I don’t have to worry. Just believe. Only believe. I thought I have finally found the freedom to believe. God has set me free, so I thought. But well, not really. I was in a very bad illusion. I shall elaborate this more in another post, yes, you guessed it, about losing my religion. :).
Fast forward, I left church in 2011-2012 thereabouts. I realise, by then, even though I’m more secure in my mental and emotional state, I have not really addressed my fears, although they have been suppressed and I can talk about them. But I realise I cannot really address new ones, or rather the root of the problem. I can only face to the problem realities, and that, is already a feat in itself. Probably this was because of what I went through. Even until recently, I really hated my upbringing, I was never taught to be independent. And when life beckons me to be, I cringed, I retreated, I became a wimp. I was confident in life, or so I thought, or so I concluded, only to be let down by moments where I knew I ought to be. Not only has this affected my daily life, it had threatened my marriage as well. If I had actually continued to stay in Singapore, I guess, it’s just a denial that my life is out of my grasp, these inner demons kept haunting me. And it’s not as if you can catch them, you think you would, I thought I did, only to come to the realisation that it had been dormant, and resurrected in another form, even more sinister.