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Emotional Debts: (4) Escaping Debts and Forgiveness
Articles - Relationships
Written by AnJ   
Sunday, 05 November 2006 00:00
When you are faced with someone who pursue you relentlessly… someone who is out to exact the maximum punishment possible for a misdeed you have intentionally or unintentionally done and regretted, what will you do?

Or you cannot repay because the payment asked for is beyond your capacity, what can happen then?

Consider this scenario:
Jessie and Kate had been together for the past 3 months. From the start, Kate was not sure of their relationship but she went in anyway. This led to other problems later. Their preferences have stark differences. Jessie cannot sleep without the aircon on but Kate cannot sleep without the aircon; Jessie thinks making random checks on Kate’s sms-es and emails is reasonable but Kate thinks it is an invasion of privacy. Unfortunately, they could not come to a consensus on these issues. For: “If you love me, you would want me to have good sleep!” and “If you are honest and faithful, what’s there to fear?” On top of these, Kate had been ridiculed over her dressing, her language proficiency etc.

Kate decided to leave the relationship. Jessie is irate… using guilt as a potent weapon. “How can you do this to me! I am so miserable over this… you are tearing my heart into shreds… !” Kate relented, remembering what Jessie had done in the past for her. It is important to note that at this point, Kate stopped perceiving Jessie as a romantic partner, but as a confidante. What Jessie is looking for… is a romantic partner. What Kate can provide is only companionship. Thus Kate’s inability to provide more is yet another base for condemnation. “You are playing with my feelings! How can you say you love me and not mean it?” This resulted in a vicious cycle of breaking and patching up. Breaking, as initiated by Kate, when things go beyond the threshold, and patching out of guilt on Kate’s part.

In such a situation, the best bet is to flee (debt flight).
Some emotional debts are overwhelming, such that the debtors feel that they cannot pay. (No, please don’t take to your heels upon reading this!)
To flee would mean physical separation from the creditor.

Last Updated on Thursday, 25 February 2010 17:23
Emotional Debts: (3) Identifying debts and Resolution
Articles - Relationships
Written by AnJ   
Friday, 03 November 2006 00:00
Welcome to part 3 of this series. In this section, we talk about how to identify relational debts in four simple steps.

1. Are there Problem Behaviors?
“I have never seen her so angry.”
“Everything she says drips with sarcasm.”
“She is exceptionally agreeable of late. She does everything that i like but that she hates…”

In such situations, it is important to feedback to your partner (or whoever you are dealing with) about her behavior. For example:
Ellen: “Why have you been so critical and irritable of late?”
Carol: “Nah, you are probably being over-sensitive.”
Ellen: “That’s not it. This morning you yelled at me for being 10 minutes late. You have never been angry over waiting.”

Ellen cites a specific incident and points out the discrepancy between Carol’s normal behavior and the problem behavior. This is a crucial step to recognizing that something is amiss. It also prevents the discussion from sliding into “you are over-reacting… no, you are really behaving strangly” cycle.

2. What are the underlying emotions?

Behaviors are an indication of emotions that lie beneath the surface. Some are more obvious than others. Example: Smashing of items generally reveals anger/frustration. Others are less apparent. Example: Being silent may reflect sorrow, anger, avoidance or fatigue.

Looking at the link between behaviors and feelings requires a sense of honesty. (Surprised?) Not all of us are self-aware and those of us who are… may not be self-aware in all situations.
Sometimes we are sarcastic but we pass it off as genuine laughter. Sometimes we tease out of resentment… but again, we may not be aware of the root emotion.

3. Determining if you are a creditor or a debtor.

How you feel is the best indicator.

Resentment: Irritation, Annoyance, Anger, Contempt, Rage, Hatred, Vengefulness.
You are a creditor.

Guilt: Sense of responsibility, Inadequacy, Regret, Remorse, Embarrassment, Shame, Self-hate.
You are a debtor.

4. Locating the origin of debt.

Last Updated on Thursday, 25 February 2010 17:22
Emotional Debts: (2) Types of Creditors and Debtors
Articles - Relationships
Written by AnJ   
Wednesday, 01 November 2006 00:00
Emotional debts can happen in any relationship: romantic partners, spouses, family relations, friends and colleagues. Such relational debts need not be explicitly stated and agreed upon by both parties to have a profound influence over the relationship. In fact, as long as one partner perceives “debt”, the debt will continue to hold the relationship under seige.

Some people are prone to incurring relational debts while others frequently perceived debts owed in others. I am sure all of you will be able to identify acquaintances or others you have known in these “types” of relational debtors and creditors.

Let’s take a look…

1. People who see themselves as unworthy.
“As long as everyone is happy, i am happy.”
“Whatever your decision, it is perfectly okay.”
Such people always put others above themselves. They consider themselves unworthy of consideration or respect. Because of this mindset, they are always in debt. Such a person may have learned to be so from religious ethics of submission and accommodation. It can also be the result of an abusive childhood, where as a child, she/he was demeaned and criticized, such that it is difficult to form a positive identity. Children who are over-protected may also be part of this group if they internalised the idea that they are “weak”.

2. People who promise easily and yet do not deliver.
“No problem. I will take care of everything.”
“Just trust me… i will solve the problem.”
“Please don’t go. I will do everything you say!”
Such people are conflict-avoiders. They do not wish to deal with conflicts so they postpone the conflicts as long as they can. Cohen and Sterling suggest that children who grew up in a childhood of turmoil (e.g. physically abusive parents) may end up in this category. Such children may engage pacifying (as a means to avoid conflict) and distraction as coping mechanisms.

3. People who feel that other people are never good enough.

Last Updated on Thursday, 25 February 2010 17:21
Emotional Debts: (1) Shattered Unspoken Promises
Articles - Relationships
Written by AnJ   
Monday, 30 October 2006 00:00
Have you ever heard these:

“It’s not fair after everything that I’ve done for her!”
“I cannot leave her, you know… she has done too much for me.”
“She keeps harping on my past mistakes! She doesn’t allow us to move on!”

Frequently, couples who go for counselling with pain, indignation, sense of betrayal and confusion have this in common: emotional debts. Deep emotional debts that were never noted and addressed.

This results in guilt, resentment, bitterness and hostility. (If you see yourself experiencing these, this series is for you.)

All of us have emotional needs and wants that we seek to satisfy. We seek satisfaction, excitement, acceptance, connection, spontaneity, freedom and gratitude with the one we love. When relationships are dominated by emotional debts, resentment and guilt reign. People flare up over the smallest thing, being easily irritated. Sometimes incidents that are not addressed will carry over, such that the reaction to the next incident looks blown out of proportion.

How many of us walk away from our relationships having this feeling:
“She wasn’t what i expected.”

Whenever our expectations are not met, we feel disappointed. That’s when blame comes into the picture. The conflicts that come out of this is can be harsh and taxing on both partners.
The usual options that arise:
1. Give in     2. Compromise     3. Reconsider the relationship
And many couples choose to give up on their relationship in search of more ideal relationships.

Are we disillusioned? Are our expectations over the hill?

Last Updated on Thursday, 25 February 2010 17:20
A secret love
Articles - Relationships
Written by snorkeem   
Saturday, 28 October 2006 00:00

I stood there today in the drizzle, staring over the rolling fields just beyond the entrance of the cemetery. I tried to imagine you sitting there and giving me that silly grin like you always do.

‘I know, Jean. I knew long ago and it is the same for me.’ She said to me. I looked blankly at her, too stunned to react. What is it that she knows? A love that has no name to it, I thought to myself: how could it be? Surely it was an abomination, a direct ticket to hell. I was ashamed that she knew, I couldn’t face myself or say anything more and she left it as that, unsure and nervous over my silence.

We spent the subsequent months being the ‘best’ friends that we were to the rest of the world. We were inseparable, much to the amusement of her boyfriend, who would say in jest that he was dating two girls instead of one. To which I suffered silently in my adolescent guilt, together with the isolation and loneliness I felt for being gay.

S was a quiet girl in class. I often found her sitting alone, watching the rest of us monkey around and chatting up a storm. Maybe it was instinct or just plain curiosity; I soon made my way toward her to see if I could get her to join the rest of us. It was not long before we became good friends. I found myself searching for her between breaks and she, for me. There was an unmistakable connection that we had, as if we could read each other’s mind.

We spent many hours after school at the park nearby, sitting on a small hill, looking at the fluffy white clouds, trying to out-imagine each other over the many challenging shapes and sizes. It was a silly game we played, so that we could hang out with each other a little longer. Sometimes she would brush her hand on mine and turn around to look at me expectantly. In spite of my desires, I would pull away every single time.

We graduated soon after and went on with our busy lives, preparing for the next stage of tertiary education, but she was always with me in my thoughts. One day, S called and delivered the grim news of cancer. I tried to tell her how I feel, but the words never came. I was too scared and unsure.

A week later, I received a phonecall from her mother and was told that S wanted to see me one last time. I raced all the way to her place and was greeted by the sound of tears. I was too late…

Today, I stood at the entrance of the cemetery, wishing and hoping that you were sitting there grinning at me. This time, I sat down next to you under the protective shadow of a large tree, the leaves shuddering in all that drizzle and wind. I was a teenager again and we were alone together again. ‘S, I do love you. I’ve always love you.’ I whispered to the wind, hating myself, hoping S would hear it and forgive me.

For a long moment, I stared blankly at the emptiness of the place, my heart heavy with regret. I saw her with my inner eye again, this time with her arms extended; I couldn’t help but grin back through my tears. Under the looming clouds, I hugged her one last time, not wanting to let go, but I knew I must and made my way down that winding path alone.

I miss you.


Last Updated on Thursday, 25 February 2010 17:19
A Whole New World (Part 2)
Articles - Relationships
Written by lublub   
Saturday, 21 October 2006 00:00

The GLBT community in Singapore is not exactly the most conducive environment for a questioning teen. Heck, it wasn’t a conducive environment either for the teen who is already out and proud. When I first discovered PPC, I imagined it to be like a community centre, complete with basketball court and GLBT teens just chilling about. No kidding. I thought I could even find a proper youth group there to mingle with and have fellowship. Imagine my shock when I finally saw the real thing.

Going to the PPC at its old location was a nightmare. I have never felt so scared walking around in Singapore before. Tucked away in a maze of shophouses, you had to navigate in between confusing roads and rows of shophouses. Pass by many prostitutes and goodness knows who else, as you attempt to make your way to the place. I’ve been to PPC more than 6 times. And each time I go there, I walk by a different way because I keep forgetting how to navigate to the right spot. 6 times of trial and error. Going home after Women’s Nite is an even bigger nightmare. It becomes all dark and scary outside. But of course, this was the best place that the management could find, and for the fact that it(PPC) existed, I was more than grateful already. Besides, I learned to have more guts and courage just by going there.

Furthermore, if you exclude the gay-affirming religious organisations, sports and charity organisations, gay culture in Singapore seems mostly comprised of clubbing, clubbing and more clubbing. And what’s worse is that you rarely meet youths like yourself in the non-clubbing aspects of gay culture. It is mostly adults. For youths who are just timidly aware and recognising their own sexuality, without any gay friends their age, that can be a very demoralising fact to digest. You will be left wondering, where are all the teens who are like me? Having said that, there are no proper avenues for a gay youth to find peer support. By peer support, I mean someone your age and generation, whom you can talk to.

Last Updated on Thursday, 25 February 2010 17:17
A Whole New World (Part 1)
Articles - Relationships
Written by lublub   
Thursday, 19 October 2006 00:00

Don't you just love to travel?

When you travel, you are exploring a totally different kind of environment. One that is so foreign and fascinating compared to staid old Singapore.

But do you know what it's like to travel inside yourself?

When I finally discovered that I wasn’t straight, it was as though somebody suddenly flicked a switch in my brain. Awareness came flooding in. All the little signs in the past, all those hints to self that I denied. I was discovering the real me for the first time. Before realising our sexuality, many of us would try to suppress thoughts of same-sex attraction whenever they inevitably came out. This time, I let my mind wander and explore freely. Everything seemed to make sense now.

But then again, there were also alot of things that didn’t make sense to me… and I thought, “Okay, so I’m gay. Now what?

It is hard to be surrounded by your own friends and feel achingly distant from them. As though you never really knew them. That was true in way, you could never understand the girls’ boy-craziness. Even though you might understand a guy’s attraction to girls (like bees to honey), it is still different. Somehow. From that attraction to girls you feel. And to make things worse… I didn’t have any gay friends in school.

And hell, it sucks to be gay by yourself.

Like I said, when you finally come out to yourself, alot of bottled and pent-up feelings are finally released within you. And when that happens, there is a need to verbalise what you are feeling. Sure you say, I could do that to the straight friends I’m out to. But no matter how hard they try to emphatise, they could never reach that level of understanding that another gay person will have… for the very fact that they aren’t one. And don’t you wish once in a while, that people understood you? All of us yearn for and need friendships that aren’t casual or fair weather in its nature. But when you’re a homosexual and are going through all that emotional turmoil that accompanies realisation and self-acceptance, all the more you need that someone special to listen to you. You needed someone who cared, and genuinely understood.

Last Updated on Thursday, 25 February 2010 17:06
A life without compromise – Chapter 2
Articles - Relationships
Written by (Guest Writers)   
Wednesday, 11 October 2006 00:00

Part 3


After 14 months, the relationship hit a rather serious rut where neither of us could work out our differences of timing and circumstances. It was a heart-rending decision, but we knew it would be better if we didn’t try to push things forward till it reached a cliff, for want of better metaphors.

But, if three strikes would mean I’d have to stay entirely out of the love-game, then my third serious relationship with S would effectively be it. From how we relate as two individuals in complete synchronicity in heart, mind and soul , I know I have met the one who’d fit my puzzle-piece.

With her, time seems to hold no significance because even when we first got together as friends and then lovers, we seemed to have traversed the world over and our roads converged at a complete understanding of soul-mates.

Our meeting would almost be destined though it never occured to me then that I would ever love again. At a charity event where we volunteered, I knew on first impressions that she was a lovely soul – something about the way she smiled, and her kindly disposition you’d trust on sight. What struck me later in her company was her sincerity, and how her experiences with love were so similar. We both came from very familiar places of love and loss. Significantly, I knew somehow that we would work out, only because we never really made too much of what we acknowledged, a little like a quietness in your heart where no words are needed.

In fact, words would do no justice for what we have, but all I can put here is we have a vision of a wonderful future where my children share a place in, because with her, I feel like I have come home to the soul I have denied for too long, and with her, I finally like who I am.

My children took to her as instinctively as I did, perhaps because they could trust her in the way I could. And it’s wonderful how the past months seem like years, as I’ve mentioned, time seems to have no bearing on how deeply we’ve grown together.

Last Updated on Thursday, 25 February 2010 17:17
A life without compromise – Chapter 2
Articles - Relationships
Written by (Guest Writers)   
Saturday, 07 October 2006 00:00

Part 2


Strange blessing in disguise it was almost a month later when trying to grapple with that love found and lost in an instant, the second girl stepped into my life. Let’s call her C. Yes, C was indeed the much needed healing from the after-shock of loss. She listened, unprejudiced to my ranting of having been beguiled into a relationship I had convinced myself existed.

Then we hung out a week later at a pub and for the first time, I didn’t just see her as that pleasant girl-next-door, nor that professional disposition at the club I worked-out at. Instead, here was a really amusing social creature who made her friends laugh, and who could drink anyone under the table. That evening, she had a lot more than any of us. Significant that evening was because not only did she invite me out of compassion for my lonely depressed 33rd birthday, but also I was made privy to a social side of her that was a delightful discovery.

So after supper, she started to feel really nauseated and managed to throw up all in her tummy. Whilst holding her tresses back as her friend helped her purge into a plastic bag, I saw the saddest and most vulnerable child in her who needed someone to take care of her, unlike the free and independent spirit I was first drawn to at her workplace.

The morning after started a series of more personal sms communication involving queries on her health and asking her to join me for an evening out at a Girl-party. And the evening at the party would be our significant private moments of mutual acknowledgment of interest. That evening I noticed her eyes a lot more for the first time and I kept looking away for fear that I may fall in love. Apparently it was the same for her because she could sense the tension. After the evening’s event, I walked her to the van and instinctively took her big gym bag while she held my arm. That sensation not only thrilled because of her physical proximity but more at the potential development of that future closeness.

Last Updated on Thursday, 25 February 2010 17:16
What I find important in a relationship:
Articles - Relationships
Saturday, 30 September 2006 00:00

The endearing optimism, faith and unwavering trust of a child combined with the grounded practicality of an adult.

The safe space to divulge your deepest darkest desires and shameful secrets without fear of judgement.

The amazing warmth and wholeness when I wake up next to her, a sated tangle of arms and legs.

The ability to resolve petty arguments through live performances and Scrabble.

The freedom to live and love and learn, be it as individuals or together.

The way we flow so freely when it comes to roles and personalities.

The comforting knowledge that love is unconditional.

The commitment towards a shared future.

The Crush Effect
Articles - Relationships
Written by AnJ   
Friday, 25 August 2006 00:00
If you are lesbian, then this feeling would have a 95% chance of being familiar with you: The Crush Effect.

So you are attached and past the honeymoon stage. A new girl appears in your life. (Well.. MANY new girls but this particular babe snared your attention. In some cases, you might be drawn to more than one simultaneously.) You met her over a gathering or you met her over an online forum…
She has a dazzling smile that weakens you at your knees, speaks and goes about her affairs with panache. She builds a connection that you didn’t think the two of you can have. She cares about your impending tasks. The thin line between friendship and a little beyond is skillfully straddled…

You think you like her.
You think she likes you… maybe.
And you spend days wondering if she fancies you a wee bit in that manner… eliciting smiles, interjected by frowns, stirring an odd blend of confusion and anticipation in your heart. Life seems a little less mundane.
But it falls short of pushing your current relationship into no-woman-land.

Congratulations- you are getting a dose of the Crush Effect.

Last Updated on Thursday, 25 February 2010 17:16
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