Nowhere To Run
By Sarah Tan
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve cried myself to sleep.
“When will there be an escape from this?”
Growing up, I never knew what a home felt like. I don’t even know what a house feels like because all I ever did was spend years living in different houses with different relatives.
For a period of time, I hit a new low when I moved in with my biological father and his new family after he remarried. I was thankful to have a roof over my head, but I couldn’t but feel like an unwelcome guest in their house. I never said anything about it, but it hurt to see my biological father prioritising his new family above me.
For most of my life, I’ve felt hopeless and alone. I’ve always felt that no one could understand me.
Why did it have to be me?
Why do I have to deal with these feelings of bitterness on my own?
Why do I have the short end of the stick when most people in Singapore seemed to have the basic necessities of love and support from a nice family and a lovely home to stay in?
Why am I so…unwanted?
In those moments, all I could really do was cry silently to God while dealing with the inner turmoil of anger, bitterness, and frustration. The fact that none of these things were in my control drove me crazy – I felt useless against my situations.
Circuit breaker, and even now with the Heightened Alert, was the toughest time of my life. The relative I’m staying with has made it her job to helicopter over my head and nit-pick on everything I do. As the only Christian in my family, I was often mocked and condemned for believing in a different faith. These people, my family, should be my pillars of support but why do I feel like no one cares?
We all seek escape in different ways.
With “home” feeling so unwelcoming, food became my escape. Because food was such an easy and affordable thing to escape to - I found myself in cycles of binge-eating and shame.
I’d be hitting loads of biscuits, cookies, cake, and potato chips from 1am-5am, then go to sleep feeling like crap.
I thought, “The more I eat, the less I feel.”
I wanted desperately to numb all the feelings I had – feelings that what I was going through was unfair, feelings of envy towards the “cooler” lives I see on Instagram, feelings of bitterness towards people who were having it better, feelings of resentment towards my life and myself.
I wanted to spend as much time as I could outside. So I kept giving myself excuses to stay out by eating all the way until the malls closed. (You might be wondering why I’m even spilling all these – I’m getting to the point).
On hindsight, I ran from reality – binging on food that wasn’t healthy for me to silence what I felt, shopping excessively to mask the pain, and seeking for validation and approval in all the wrong places.
It was sad because I ran and ran. I ran to all the wrong places.
I ran until I eventually came to realise that true healing only starts with acceptance – an acceptance of where we are now in spite of where we want to be.
You see, unhealthy coping mechanisms placed a lid on my empty cup, but it could never fill it. The real escape that our hearts seek are in the places our feet cannot find - in our personal moments of communion with God.
The more I accepted this truth, the more I became thankful for everything that happened and is happening in my life because it caused me to develop a strength that I didn’t have before. And more significantly, I got to know God in the most authentic and unique way.
You may have found some of these thoughts and feelings relatable. Perhaps you, too, feel frustrated at how your life looks like now compared to how you want it to. To be honest, I’m not “there” yet either. But it is in the middle of the now and then that you get the opportunity to know God in a way that is authentically and uniquely yours.
While we both continue on our way in life, my sincere prayer for you is that you will come to know, on a deeper level that you are accepted and loved as you are, not as who you think you should be. And one day when the skies part, the sun shines, and the racetrack of purpose comes into full view – I hope that we will be running wild and free together.
Till then, don’t give up – you’re so loved.
Published on 07/08/2021