Wednesday, September 4

Resurfacing


An Open Letter to whoever you are, you should know who you are. And if you do not know me, but you are just a random passerby who happened to read this, let this be a cautionary tale for you to stand up for those in need.

NOTE: This is a letter directed not only to a single individual, but a GROUP of people. So when I write "you/your" I am referring to plurals.

ANOTHER IMPORTANT NOTE:
SPICES in this letter is what it was more than 4 years ago. I do not mean to tarnish any reputation of SPICES. In fact it is the BEST place that I have ever been in terms of training and learning and I credit the very experienced and dedicated staff who worked along side me. If I had a child of my own who had similar problems, I would definitely want them to be part of SPICES. It is just that sometimes unfortunate things happen. During my time there, SPICES was under a church ministry. Now, it has recently become an NGO. They are doing a wonderful job, so please support them in any way you can.

Dear so and so,

Thank you for your thoughts and prayers that you said you were constantly giving...
I have been going through a rough phase and I think it is both good and bad.
Recently, I have been having flashbacks about what actually happened when I worked in SPICES.
I know that you will think that all these are already in the past and that I should not talk about it.

If you think so, and if you are not going to read this with an open mind to listen to what I am going to say next, you don't have to go on reading.

But I must warn you that if you choose to continue reading, you will read unpleasant things and it may hurt your feelings.

But it is something that I feel must be said, regardless of whether you will read or not.

Lets say that it is more for me than for you.

During my time in SPICES, I have been mistreated, bullied, and due to my inexperience and trusting nature I have been taken advantage of and I have no one to blame for all these but myself. Many hurtful words have been said to me, and I have patiently and quietly endure much psychological manipulation and unnecessary (now I realize) stress. But I brushed it all off because of my passion and love for the children. I do not like to call it work. Because it was never "work' to me in any true sense of it. It was my life.

I was always willing to forgive and learn to love, even the one who hurt me till the day that I had resigned and after my resignation, I can honestly now tell you that the bullying continued.


And this was happening with full knowledge of my psychological condition and my mental and emotional state, along with my susceptibility toward burn-out. And I know and am aware that it is not something that nobody knew about (towards the end of my service in SPICES) concerning the ugly and unpleasant things that I had endured during my time spent there, and even more so AFTER my resignation, I know full well that more of you and more of the people in authority had come to know what was actually going on to me in SPICES.

I now look back and feel that I brought everything upon myself. I know that I have always said that it is okay.

My case is not toward my suppressor, whom you know who I am referring to. But towards those who were in a position to act, who were aware of the wrong things that were going on.

These people saw and knew and heard, they knew my health issues, but chose to avoid confrontation and keep things "status-quo" in hopes that prayer will solve the 'problem'.

I am a strong believer of standing up for what I believe, especially advocating when I see things are not the way that they should be. I can be meek and gentle, but when it comes to matters of me being aware of people oppressing others, I speak boldly, without fear, and I have always paid the price of being isolated or losing friends because of this. But it has not changed anything about my convictions to do accordingly. I sometimes think that I feel so strongly about this because I know what it feels like to be oppressed and unable to speak for myself, hoping that someone will be brave enough to come and save me and vindicate on my behalf. But as the world is fallen as it is, people who protect are the ones who know what it feels like to be left for 'dead', to be kicked when they're already down, and to be left to fend for themselves. People who remember, are often people who are forgotten. And so on. But it is how the world is.

But I am sorry to have to ask ALL of you (who were in authority to do something)...
why didn't you do anything when you could?
Perhaps you over-estimated my capacity for enduring those things that happened.
Perhaps you forgot that I am still suffering from depression.
Perhaps you thought I was stronger than I was, which I am sorry to have mislead you.
Perhaps you could not accept that all these unpleasant things were happening under your nose and that you couldn't deal with the reality of all these things happening.
I do not know.

But you have to know that each person can only take so much of emotional strain and no matter how strong I tried, everything accumulated and because of my love for the service, I suppressed those feelings, thinking that they would go away.
But I was slowly fading away.

I told the team, shortly before my relapse, toward the last days in SPICES, that I have been feeling exhausted and that I think I might be heading for a breakdown (those where the exact words). But nobody seemed to hear me.

So now, after everything, all the trauma re-lived and the aftermath of everything, I am sorry to tell you that my emotional reserve has run dry. I wept for a month, I was inconsolable because I felt that I was worth so little and of lesser value that no one thought it was important or maybe worth the 'drama' to speak up for me. I felt so used and left for dead. I felt erased. The moment I resigned, ONE of you, of a HIGH Standing in the church, told me I couldn't resign, because "I wasn't in my right mind". And the next immediate week, my name was no longer in the bulletin. Did it not occur to anyone to at least pray for me? Instead nobody asked, and I supposed it was according to plan that I left quietly without anyone noticing so that the board did not have to explain anything.

I felt so sick at the thought that at the cost of avoiding confrontation or some 'disciplinary action', it was okay that I left quietly, while the 'cancer' was preserved to continue being a midst SPICES. I do not blame her. I know she has serious issues. But again, my case is not with her. But with all of you who could have vindicated, but did not.

I believe that prayer is everything. But sometimes, when you see a man with no shoes, and no clothes, without shelter and food, you don;t just go up to them and say I'll pray for you. I think during those times, you pick him up, give him shoes, clothes , feed him and help him find shelter. Nothing much to pray about or wait there. I know I am not as serious as the scenario I just stated. But do you know how damaging psychological and emotional hurt can be? I would rather endure physical pain, than to suffer each day with the traumas of the aftermath and live with the thought that things could have been different and that things could have been avoided.

The thing with mental illness and internal hurt is... you can't see it. There are no physical scars as prove of abuse or mistreatment. People see to believe, and when they see something physical, they remember and can sympathize. But not for us, our scars are in our souls, our hearts, our mind. You can't see them, and sometimes its hard for people to believe us and how we feel and what is true or real for us, because 'it's all in our heads'. And when people do that, they don't realize that we ourselves suffer too, sometimes wondering if they were real, or if things really happened the way they did. It is living hell. But I promise you that we are not all unaware of things that really happened.

And I know what happened to me.
It made me feel like a cheap commodity.
I was only remembered when I was of use, fit for service.
Once broken, considered erased.
I was cheap commodity because I was a fresh grad.
It never occurred to anyone that I had no previous life savings before I worked in SPICES.
I cannot have insurance because of my mental illness. (unlike my colleagues who had their housing and insurance taken care of, perhaps I was young and deemed too risky to invest in, which in hindsight, it was a fortunate decision (on your end) that nothing was given to me since I only contributed 3-4 years of my life to SPICES)

I am grateful for financial support for my medication expenses during my days in SPICES ( which I was told I was not entitled to until DN found out that I had monthly expenses to dish out)

But how did it not occur to people that my relapse would mean more medication?
And that the medications were sky high?
I had to down 12 pills a day, and it cost us RM 500 to 600 each month.
But I no longer had support since I was not of service.
Erased and forgotten.
I feel mad at myself because I don't even have savings for further studies.
Or even savings for in case anything happens to my parents.

I have nothing now.
I have no emotional stability,
I have lost my confidence that I can ever hold a secure job.
I have wholehearted given my prime years to SPICES (which I do not regret one bit)
I have lost a big chunk of my heart.
Sometimes I fear I might go insane.
And when I think of all this, the question that begs to be asked (more than answered)
remains:
WHY didn't anyone do anything?
Were they afraid?
Did they think it wasn't important?
Was I not important?

You say so much about being a community and caring for others.
But why didn't you do anything?
(I am not angry, just heartbroken)

I have nothing left to give...
I am empty...
I have stopped making things since January.
Everything I have been making looked ugly to me.

On a final note. I am both happy and sad that it took the price of me leaving SPICES for people to realize that some sort of bullying was going on. And that the new younger staff will not need to face unnecessary treatment like I had to.

Perhaps, the sacrifice of one person (which is me) and the pain that I have to live with is the meaning of all this. So that history will not repeat itself.

I am disappointed and deeply hurt by the church (the ones who knew and the ones of authority).
Shan Chung and I have been deeply hurt, and we are struggling to find a new beginning.
But we are leaving the church. Because of the 'inaction', injury has been inflicted not only to me, but to those who love me. To my husband who was very much affected and had to take on the much strenuous responsibility of dealing with my hurt as he tried to be as strong as he could for me (while deep inside he hurt as bad as I did or maybe even more). To my family, my mother and father who had to see their daughter cry and take another fall, not understanding the meaning of all that has happened.

Please never ever fail to act if you ever come across another opportunity to vindicate for someone. No matter how small the cause. By not taking action, lives are broken and only God knows if they will ever heal and NOTHING will ever be the same again. You may continue to live your life, a peaceful non-confrontational life, but know that what you are unaware of, the hurt and pain you have inflicted, they are real to those you have failed, and nothing can change that.

On a final note, I just want you to know that I still have passion in regards to the field. It has been a wonderful journey of loving the children and being loved by them in return. Being touched by them in their very own way. Nothing on earth will ever extinguish my love and passion for them. And for that I have you to thank.

From the bottom of my heart,
Sungting

P/S. Some of you seem to have misunderstood that SC and I are abandoning our faith. We have not. We still look toward HIM as HIS grace and mercy continues to sustain us. We are in our hearts still very much longing to be close to our Father and awaiting HIS comfort daily.

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