The One with Seven Questions to Leave 2017 and Enter 2018

suhaylah

art by Suhaylah H. (2017).

So, it’s been awhile.

For those of you who have kept asking about this blog– the one I started as a school project which then morphed into a space for catharsis– thank you.

My last post was over a year ago, and a lot has happened since then.

I finished grad school, said farewell to Montréal, packed all my belongings into a van and moved back to Toronto with Paul on Good Friday. We began to navigate all the mundane and wonderful and infuriating things that come with permanent, long-term co-habitation for the first time.

Paul and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary.

I rested for a few weeks, watched a lot of Netflix, and immediately started losing my shit with the lack of structure and responsibility. I started job searching and was given a eight-month contract at the Yonge Street Mission as an Employment Counsellor. It was one of the most trying, exhausting things I’ve ever done.

I found a new therapist, figured out new self-care routines for myself (mostly lighting a lot of candles and eating well and getting lots of sleep), and found myself moderately depressed at various points of the past few months.

I eventually decided to end my contract a month and a half early. This was a hard lesson that despite financial stability and routine (things I want very much), my mental well-being cannot be sacrificed.

And so I find myself at the end of 2017– a year marked by much transition– and finally wanting to write and reflect.

The questions that follow are taken from Courtney Martin’s piece from OnBeing, titled “Seven Questions to End 2017 with Clarity and Start 2018 with Intention

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The One With Navigation 101

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Preachhhhhh.

In the past three years, I have received messages from friends, acquaintances, and strangers who have come across my blog. Their messages carry the same underlying theme:

I’m in a similar situation as you and Paul. My parents are incredibly unhappy with my partner because s/he’s not what they expected.

This is so difficult- how do we navigate all of this? 

For those of you who have taken the time to message me- thank you. I am humbled and honoured that you would ask me about this.

What follows is a summary of things I wish someone had told me when Paul and I started dating.

– – –

How to Navigate a Multi-Ethnic/Interracial Relationship (with Dissenting Parents)

*Disclaimer: this obviously isn’t a one-size-fits-all kind of deal.

I am writing from my own cultural (Chinese-Canadian) and faith-centric (Christian) lens, and I am aware that there are a myriad of other circumstances that may surround you and your partner. Regardless, I hope at the very least that something here can be helpful.

Also, I’m not claiming that racial prejudice is a trait unique to Asian parents- anyone, of any ethnicity, can be racially-biased and xenophobic. What I will say is that multi-ethnic relationships and the familial conflicts that ensue are often exacerbated due to traits broadly true of Asian families.

If reading this leaves you with more questions than encouragement, feel free to send me a message!

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The One With the Post-Wedding FAQ

Paul and I got married in Toronto a little over a month ago!

We spent the day surrounded by family and friends- thank you to everyone who came, and especially to all our loved ones that contributed to making our day extra special.

We cherished every moment of our wedding day.

I’ll be posting about the wedding soon, but for now I’ll take some time to answer some frequently asked queries.

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Photography care of Norr Studio‘s Michelle Liando. Head to http://www.finallythechins.com for the full gallery 🙂 

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The One With Long-Distance

I thought I’d post some lighter fare, as Paul and I are looking forward to being married and navigating our new “normal” in Toronto after the various detours our relationship has endured.

Paul’s and my situation is by no means unique.

Dating (or even being married) while in different cities or continents is a fairly common reality for many couples. 

And with that comes creativity- finding ways to bridge the geographical distance, and investing time and space for your significant other while living out your lives in different places.

Here are some of the things that have made this time apart manageable. 

If you’ve been in a LDR, comment below ways you’ve found to make the experience easier. 🙂

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The One With All The Updates

Please know that it has pained and aggravated me to no end that I haven’t kept this blog updated. I’m sure you understand why (and for that I am grateful), as a lot has happened in the past two months.

So, voilà, a long overdue synopsis-

  • Paul left this morning for the Cayman Islands. He’s referring to his time back home as an involuntary “exile”, which, for the most part, is true. Our good friend Josiah referred to it as an “intermission”, which I feel is more apt. More on this here, and from Paul’s perspective, here.
  • We got engaged! I may or may not post a more detailed account of the proposal at a later date. We just sent in the deposit for the church (Knox College Chapel!) but I haven’t really allowed myself to dream much regarding wedding planning yet.
  • I moved into my new place in Montreal on August 1st, to begin my Masters in Art Therapy at Concordia University (a two year program).

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The One With The Scattered Thoughts

I want to begin by saying thank you- thank you to all of you who have prayed for Paul and I, wished us well, and have asked how I’ve been (immediately after Paul updates you on his situation). I am comforted by all of your concern and practical love.

I especially want to thank those of you who have respected our fatigue and our desire to not talk about this. Often the well-intended concern is received by both of us with more exhaustion (to tell and re-live the story, one more time) than refreshing and healing.

So thank you, especially, for the special kind of respect and wisdom that understands that silences need not always be filled. 

This is an aggregated collection of things I’ve written, bits and pieces of things that represent these past few months, in lieu of a first-person re-telling.

You can find a more detailed re-telling of Paul’s immigration/visa situation here, if you’d like all the nitty-gritty details of why he’s leaving in August.

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Enough.

“So I say now, for the record of my own self, and to remember when I may be other than I am now: In spite of everything so strong in dissuasion, so rampant in disapproval, I saw then that there was nothing else anywhere but this one thing; […] In all states of being, in all worlds, this is all there is.

Remember also that I said, Though this is all there is, though it is the one and vulnerable, mortal to all attack, a poverty-stricken word against the highly-financed world, yet it is not meagre, it is enough. I do not accept it sadly or ruefully or wistfully or in despair. I accept it without tomorrows and without any lilies of promise.

It is enough, the now, and though it comes without anything, it gives me everything.

– Elizabeth Smart, “By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept”.

The One With The Pit

I’m not entirely sure where to start.

It is this quandary that has prevented me from posting anything for the last two and a half months.

Should I begin by explaining that Paul might not be able to work in Canada by early June? Or that he may have to return to the Cayman Islands because his permanent residency application was denied?

Should I start by reiterating how exhausted I am to be the receptacle of dozens of racial microaggressions spoken by my parents regarding my relationship with Paul?

Or maybe all the infuriating late-night discussions with Paul over the phone, attempting to reconcile my desire to respect my parents and my desire to love and respect what Paul and I have? Without forcing him to become my family’s pet black boyfriend?

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The One Where She Attempted Dance Class

*NOTE: I wrote this immediately after this all transpired, 
three weeks ago, with some reflections at the end 
that have been recently added.   

I just got back from my first hip hop dance class.

If you know me at all, you’ll also know that hearing me say that is a little laughable, and a lot terrifying.

Some people have an adequate sense of rhythm, enjoy expressing themselves through performing, and feel completely at ease with how their body moves in space. Some people.

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