On Vulnerability and Loss

It has been a while since I wrote a very personal entry, and I feel that now is a good time for it.  For while I talk about the qualities and the advantages of risking much to be where we are and to be in a place to do what we do, there are many downsides.  

It’s these downsides, these vulnerabilities, that stay hidden behinds the scenes of the many status updates, check-ins and Instagram photos of the many trips, exotic spots and exciting projects that happen in our lives.  It’s on vulnerability, it’s about loss.  This entry is a reflection on a series of events that have happened since May leading to today.

On the loss of one’s past life

I suppose I should start with a background story.  A big loss for one is leaving loved ones, close colleagues, strong work networks and promising connections and to risk it all to do what we want/should/could do.  So when I left a lot of things, I didn’t really say goodbye only because of the difficulty of saying goodbye and stating the reasons why you are even saying goodbye in the first place.  How did I deal with this? I disabled my Facebook account and I switched off.  I went on a month long trip overseas.  The six week wait in between getting back to my place in Brisbane from San Francisco to finally leaving London was one of the longest and possibly a confusing state between a) trying to tie up commitments in Brisbane, b) coming up with new projects to keep my ties with Brisbane and c) getting myself ready for the next stage of my life in London.  I decided to leave my Facebook disable and only create a new account, and slowly add people in, when I was ready.  Yes, so Facebook (or lack of) helped me deal with the upcoming loss.  But I was ready for this though, for many reasons that I have not really talked about here.  I was not only ready to move on to another stage of my life but I also wanted to see who else I will be taking with me.

On a friend’s loss

I found out very recently that a friend is going through a major loss of his own – the loss of his grandfather.  I cannot imagine what he is going through at the moment as it was not just the first in the family.  Losing a family member is not like losing the face to face or the constant contact with family members.  I don’t know what to say.  I remember seeing a Facebook status update of someone making a comment that he was happy for his new London family when celebrating a birthday.  We lose, we gain, we somehow still manage to forge connections and relationships with people that we can call our second family, our family away from home, our reminder of where we are originally from.

On losing a friend temporarily

Very recently, a good friend has left London after spending a few months here.  On the same day, a friend of a friend has moved back to London to try and forge a life here.  People come and go — I’ve never really have this habit of ever saying goodbye to anyone only that goodbye’s, for me anyway, is reserved for this very final farewells.  With the ease of being connected with someone in so many different ways, farewells and goodbyes seem to be for the solemn occasions of saying the final farewell to someone that you know you will never see again.  However, I think, liking a photo or sending a comment through is not the same as a shared experience.

However, the effect of saying goodbye to someone pre-“Generation Y Expat” is magnified in that this connection from the past is gone, leaving one to contemplate on the very new connections.

On vulnerability 

I wanted to share my moments of being vulnerable.

The first time occurred early May when a very distressing incident occurred.  I really only have the courage to write this out only because of a very recent story in the Australian media.  After what had happened, I was left putting a lot of trust in a small group of people that I have recently met.  The incident, a part of what had happened, left me fearing for my life and standing there alone and afraid, with the perpetrator there, thinking “Is this going to be the end of me”.  A series of other events also happened and I was able to go to someone to tell them about the incident – but with effort as trying to talk to someone about it was like trying to breathe while having an invisible hand choking one’s neck.  I left to go to Dublin for a short while.

The second moment of vulnerability was when I had just arrived in London.  I didn’t have a place to stay for the longer term, I was about to start a new job.  After spending time at the police station to submit a statement of what had happened in May, I left a few hours later in the rain and wearing only sandals.  The vulnerability intensified with other things that happened at the same time.  I decided to cave in to tell my parents of what I was going through, something that I wanted to hold off as I didn’t really want to burden them.

There were other moments and I don’t know how I got through with it all.  I admit that there were many times where I simply just didn’t feel well at all, times were I could do nothing but just let the feeling of being vulnerable just wash over me and wait it out… but there were also good times when I felt stronger and in control.  Today was one of them, when I sat in the sunshine to read a book, when I was reading the positive comments made by a doctor on a recent event I was involved in, when I think about John Barrow’s story of Populous, when I see friends old and new being there for me, when I think and know for sure that I can deal with loss…


This post is dedicated…

To those who have felt loss, those who have lost, those who are vulnerable, and to those who are just finding their strength…