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Reflections After A Family Member Survived Covid

Cung, my second husband, and I got married last year in August 2020 (see my Covid wedding post). Due to Covid restrictions, we did not go on a honeymoon following the wedding. Instead, we planned a delayed honeymoon slash break (didn’t we all need a break after 2020?) in December 2020. Destination: Bali, Indonesia’s paradise island. Domestic travel had opened up allowing for domestic tourism. Plus we wanted to visit our friends in Bali because the downfall of the tourism industry hit them hard.

We took the necessary health tests and protocols and booked the accommodation in several places. Tanjung Benoa, Nusa Lembongan, Ubud, and Tabanan-off we went. We only bought a one-way ticket because, to be honest, we were hoping to stay in Bali for an extended time. Since all our work is done online nowadays, we just need stable internet to be able to keep working.

The first part of our trip went very well. It was wonderful to see our friends at Bali. At Nusa Lembongan, we were able to do a bit of scuba diving. I am on a Dive Master Training program at Big Fish Diving, and I was able to review many necessary skills (visit my article on what I learned about fear from scuba diving). One fateful afternoon, however, I got a text that my father was not feeling very well. In pandemic times such as this, even minor health problems can become majorly complicated.

Emotional Turmoil

Our fears were validated. Several days after that, he tested positive for the Covid virus. A couple of days after that, his situation worsened and his oxygen saturation dropped to 75%. The target oxygen saturation range for patients is 92-96%. At that point, I had to decide whether to go back to Bandung or to stay and support from Bali. In a normal situation, this would have been an easy decision. In these crazy pandemic years, however, it was not that easy. Covid being as infectious as it is, my father kept insisting to be treated at home. He insisted that being isolated at the hospital stressed him out and made him unable to get better in spirit.

Well whenever in Bandung, Cung and I stay with my parents. So I had to think twice whether I wanted to be caught in the same home as a Covid positive patient. On the other hand, he was my father, of which I only had one. Now to give a bit of a background: our relationship is not the smoothest of relationships. Sometimes we find it very difficult to get along. This all factored in while we were on the island.

Making A Difficult Decision

After some thought, I finally decided that Cung and I should cut our trip short. We changed our plans and headed back to Bandung where we are at least closer to support my mother in a worst-case scenario. That was mid-December. Thankfully, my father got better, and everyone adhered to the protocols so that he was only released after being tested negative. He returned home on 30 December 2020-Covid survivor.

He said that he felt like someone that had just returned from war. Victorious, but weak, exhausted, and depressed. At the time of my writing this article (end of January) he is already much better. I feel though, that it was not only him who fought a battle. Everyone involved fought an internal struggle of emotions and what-ifs.

A Space Inside Myself

Having made the conscious decision to sacrifice our plans to be able to support my mother (and my father), I felt like something changed inside me. Something shifted, something was let go. A space-no matter how small-was created into which something new might grow. I have an inkling of what this new thing might be, but I don’t want to name it yet.

I do, however, want to acknowledge the space.

With special thanks to Devika Brendon, a dear friend who introduced me to the concept of “spaces” inside us.

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Signs of Emotionally Abusive Relationships

Emotional abuse can occur in dating, family, or even work relationships. If you are not aware of the signs, sometimes it is hard to tell when you are being emotionally abused by a lover, parent/sibling, friend, or colleague. It happens more often than you might think, and its very likely that you will come across emotionally abusive people several times in your life.

Emotionally abusive people are usually after dominance and control-of you, of the group, or of the project. Often abusers are active substance addicts or have disorders such as psychopath, pathological narcissist, or borderline personality disorder. First impressions of them can be great, as they are able to be very sweet and accommodative at the beginning. In fact, they can come across as too charming or too good to be true.

I have experienced being in emotionally abusive relationships, so this is a sign I have learned to look out for.

In fact, they can come across as too charming or too good to be true.

What are some other signs?

  1. I was constantly unsure of myself. Did I say the right thing, do the right thing? Would he/she be angry at this text and ignore me, or would he/she forgive me and carry on?
  2. I was always so exhausted. I felt drained emotionally, mentally, and physically. Sleeping held no relief, instead it made me more tired because there were constant nightmares.
  3. I took no joy in my accomplishments. On the contrary, I felt guilty for outshining the partner/colleague/friend.
  4. I felt so powerless. As if there was nothing I could do to change the situation, and I had to either accept it, or leave.
  5. I spent more money than I should have, because I wanted to make the other person happy.
  6. My world got smaller and smaller and smaller. All other relationships were considered a threat to the current one.
  7. The consequences of my mistakes were amplified and used as a tool to punish me. It was my fault things went awry. I was the one who messed things up.
  8. I did not feel comfortable being near them. In fact, I was afraid that at any moment they could blow up and physically hurt me, or someone else around them.

What should I do if I am in an emotionally abusive relationship?

If you think you are in an abusive relationship, I heavily suggest seeing a therapist or talking about it with a trusted adult. Neutral third party observations can help you see things from a different perspective. Create boundaries, build a support network for yourself, make an exit plan, and get the heck out. Don’t hang in there because you think you can fix the person, or because you love the person, or because you owe them your successes. Don’t try to understand or justify their actions.

This is easy to say, and I know from experience these actions can be incredibly difficult to do. Try to be brave for yourself, and take the first step: talk about it. As Fred Rogers said: “Anything that’s human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable.”

“Anything that’s human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable.”

Fred Rogers

Remember that you deserve an amazing relationship, and an amazing life!

Featured image photographed by Chameera Laknath during Southeast Asia Leadership Academy January 2019 in Hanoi, Vietnam.

To read more on emotionally abusive relationships, visit this article from Health Line. If you need a reminder of your worth, visit our core beliefs.