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Archive for April, 2011

The sound of me

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I’d never been fond of my voice.

My recorded voice in particular, which I had to listen to when transcribing minutes of meetings, was an unpleasant reminder of how I sounded — to others. I would always brace myself before the recording got to me, and I would be wincing and squirming as my voice came on — muffled and lacklustre. It always sounded as if I was speaking from a faraway place or behind something.

It was how I often chose to speak in a non-social or unfamiliar setting. I would select a lower pitch and un-emote so my words would come across louder and more measured (or so I thought) — basically, I just wanted to sound less me.

Many times, I simply chose to speak as little as I could, whether or not there was a tape recorder present.

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Having to talk so much about myself — especially my deepest and darkest fears — to a stranger once a week or so helped. As the sessions were only an hour each, it forced me to think very hard about what I wanted to say so I could effectively articulate my thoughts and feelings. I simply could not afford to waste time grappling for words or be vague — or worse, evasive — just because I was shy about my fears or ashamed about my past. And it would have defeated the purpose of seeking professional counselling.

But I also believe it was the sessions of complementary energy work which really helped me to clear a particularly persistent hurdle. On an intellectual level, I could understand how illogical my fears were, but I simply could not incorporate this knowledge to effectively change my thought processes and behaviour. It was almost as if something in me was blocked, S had ventured. Whether that was really the case, what I do know is that things progressed really fast after that

So, talking, especially about myself, was not as hard as I thought. Maybe it was because I was so used to sharing parts of myself (though never as private as the ones I told S) with strangers, albeit online and behind the anonymity of a screen and keyboard.

Moreover, I had told myself that S was only a passing stranger whose path I would not cross after this unfortunate episode, and it would not matter that she saw me at my worst.

So I could not have gone to my friends for help because I could not have beared having to look at them again after that, knowing that they know. Obviously I know better now, and that I am not alone in my fears. Still, sometimes, old habits die hard. Smile ruefully.

But more importantly, and this is the bare truth, I would not have found the impetus to work through my problems by turning to friends.

Certainly, they would have helped to relieve some tension and provided not a small measure of comfort. There would also have been several useful suggestions which I could work on. (Though frankly, my issues were so deep-seated, they would have been a challenge for any layman.)

But you see, I would have been content to just lean on my friends, and continued to elicit their encouragements and reassurances to convince myself that actually, I did not need to change — they would still accept me for who I was. So why put myself through The Gauntlet? I had nothing to lose staying the way I was, right? And I would have continued in my comfort zone, because I was too afraid to change.

But the point is not whether my friends could accept me because I know they will, either way — would I be able to accept myself and to live with my choices?

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It just happened, the way many things do (for me), when I least expect The Change — that definitive difference that tells me things are indeed no longer as they were before. But really, it is the moment when I realise The Change has happened, and this realisation can sometimes come only weeks or months later. Life is strange like that. You don’t always see it coming.

I realised how I started speaking at a slightly higher volume, and the quality of my voice was stronger, clearer and more confident. I remember not feeling worried who would hear my voice and my words, and whether they would like my voice or what I had to say and how I said it.

In fact, I remember liking how my voice sounded. There was a resonance that made it not just a sound mouthed by lips and teeth and tongue, but an intent, want and desire coming from deeper within. It was as if my whole being resounded with my words.

Because I was no longer hiding.

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Written by The Intimate Stranger

April 28th, 2011 at 1:18 am

Into The Blue

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Under the sea, Yonaguni, Japan, 10 February 2010.

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“Imagine being three feet underneath the surface waves in a stormy ocean. You’re perfectly aware of what’s happening on the surface, but you’re in a calm and quiet place, prepared to take the next appropriate action.”

This makes me long for a dive trip — it’s been more than a year since Yonaguni. It’s not so much diving per se that I miss (or maybe it is?).

I miss the quiet and being away from everything else, if only for a while. (Ok, I don’t miss the skin breakouts, but that’s another story. Laugh ruefully.)

Anyway, the rest of the article is a good read on mental discipline and keeping a grip on yourself during these moments that overwhelm us — moments that are increasingly common in this technological age and now-now-NOW pace of life. At the end of the day, it’s really about how we deal with all this internally.

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Written by The Intimate Stranger

April 26th, 2011 at 11:11 am

Posted in into the blue

I just haven’t met you…. yet

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Sunset at Cowaramup Reef, Gracetown, Western Australia, 9 March 2011

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Haven’t Met You Yet

By Michael Buble

I’m not surprised, not everything lasts
I’ve broken my heart so many times I stopped keeping track
Talk myself in, I talk myself out
I get all worked up then I let myself down

I tried so very hard not to lose it
I came up with a million excuses
I thought, I thought of every possibility

And I know some day that it’ll all turn out
You’ll make me work so we can work to work it out
And I promise you kid that I give so much more than I get
I just haven’t met you yet

I might have to wait, I’ll never give up
I guess it’s half timing and the other half’s luck
Wherever you are, whenever it’s right
You’ll come outta nowhere and into my life

And I know that we can be so amazing
And baby your love is gonna change me
And now I can see every possibility

Somehow I know that it’ll all turn out
You’ll make me work so we can work to work it out
And promise you kid I’ll give so much more than I get
I just haven’t met you yet

They say all’s fair in love and war
But I won’t need to fight it
We’ll get it right and we’ll be united

And I know that we can be so amazing
And being in your life is gonna change me
And now I can see every single possibility

And someday I know it’ll all turn out
And I’ll work to work it out
Promise you kid I’ll give more than I get

Oh you know it’ll all turn out
And you’ll make me work so we can work to work it out
And promise you kid to give so much more than I get yeah
I just haven’t met you yet

I just haven’t met you yet
Oh promise you kid to give so much more than I get
I said love love love love love love love
I just haven’t met you yet

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For those of you who are still looking, just remember, if you’re not with him or her now, it’s because you haven’t met him or her — yet.

So, don’t lose hope.

And keep believing :-)

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Written by The Intimate Stranger

April 11th, 2011 at 11:49 am

Hands

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Circa February 2008:

That first touch…. the mild shock of sun-scorched skin pressing in on the moment; palm to palm (not so holy afterall — not with one such as he); knees slowly caressing bare skin (under the table, away from oblivious eyes); arms entwined as bodies moved as one (fire, walk with me); skin on skin (his on mine).

“So, do you know what you want in your other half?”

“Maturity, conversation,” The Comic said, without hesitation. “And physical compatibility.”

Ah. But of course.

I can’t remember my own response to that question, but I do remember not being very sure what I wanted then. (No surprise there.) Or at least, the words did not come from my heart.

How things have changed since then — the flood of words when another asked me just a month ago; words that I barely thought about before letting them fly; words that made him laugh at some point.

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I’ve never been one to touch another person. (Though I’m a frequent dog and cat molester. Heh. Heh.)

It’s simply not in my nature to, I think. Though on rare, very rare, occasions, I’ve been known to accept or proffer a hug. I remember those moments — when emotions had the upper hand (ha-ha) and I just went with the flow.

I don’t generally like being touched either, though I’m fine with (or tolerate) accidental brushes and unintended physical contact — again, this is generally speaking. One of my pet peeves with the latter is strangers (always the women; with men, it’s not a peeve — it’s a potential assault case, that is, the writer goes into Xena mode) who literally rest their breasts or tummies on my back while waiting in queues. (Tell me you haven’t experienced one of those!)

This is why I rarely go for massages. I don’t care how cheap it is in Bangkok or wherever. I can’t bear being touched by the ‘wrong’ hands, in particular, hands that feel and move like mush — mindless mush.

This is not to say that I don’t like being touched. I do, very much actually — but because I’m sensitive to touch, it matters a lot what and who is touching me.

The two women I go to for my facials have good hands, and I often drift off to sleep during the sessions. Not coincidentally, I like them as people too. When I was deciding on the tattoo artist who did my second, it was very much about the comfort level. And he does have a very light touch. So, though he was a relative newbie when I went to him, I took a leap of faith. I’ve been following his work since then, and in the last couple of years, he’s produced some pretty amazing stuff :-)

Come to think of it, I’ve never thought very much of the Ex-Communicated’s hands. I didn’t not like them; I certainly liked having him hold my hands though that’s more to do with emotional attachment. But I never thought they were particularly, well, interesting. Oh well.

Have you ever observed doctors’ hands? I like looking at them, very much. I won’t venture so far as to say they have ‘kind’ hands but doctors’ hands do move differently — deliberate, confident, graceful, almost as if they have a mind of their own and are not mere appendages. (Ehhh, is this going to raise hackles again? Heh.)

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I had proffered access to a document on my iPhone as he seemed particularly curious about an itinerary that I had trusted my travel buddy to plan almost entirely. (And really because he had also shared something personal on his iPhone earlier.)

He slid his fingers under my phone, touching mine — just barely, lingering for a while longer, before taking the phone.

Later, as I held up his work document with both hands and pointed out a grammatical error, I remembered my surprise when he slipped a hand effortlessly under my right forearm, and traced the sentence in question.

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Actually.

I do like touching babies’ hands.

There’s something about the slightly curled up fingers and softness that is so inviting…. like a pale budding bloom…. untouched by life as yet.

Babies’ hands are the promises of tomorrows and new beginnings.

Hope — we could all do with a little more of that.

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Written by The Intimate Stranger

April 1st, 2011 at 3:42 am