What if I told you that I had CHOSEN this life and all its obstacles so to truly understand suffering and love in all its form? Sounds crazy but bear with me for a second.

I come from a middle class traditional Indian family. I was born and raised in Hong Kong. Not often if at all do you hear about a girl as young as 5 being raped by her own father in a city like Hong Kong. You do hear about rape, yes, but incest and not just one off but for years rather for over a decade. This is unheard of.

Do you often hear people say they feel like the odd one out or the black sheep in the family? I’m sure you do. I’ve felt that ever since. I’ve also repeatedly told my mom that I must have been adopted because I am nothing like the rest of my family. While on a superficial sense, we are all similar – love good food, finer things in life and enjoy traveling but again who doesn’t? Most people that live in this world love all these things. The superficial commonality is a norm among people so really it wasn’t uncommon to have these similarities with my family. This is where I think I stood out, I’d cry when I’d meditate or sing bhajans (devotional singing). I’d be passionate about love in every sense of the word. I’d be driven in wanting to pursue a career but also in which I can change the world I live in (and that’s where veganism, teaching, being a therapist, a #MeToo advocate came from). No one in my family are passionate or sensitive in the way I am.

When I reflect on the different hurdles I’ve undergone, whether it was getting myself to university at 28 or refusing to be arranged in my twenties to a complete stranger or to recently being divorced. These challenges were ones that I had chosen and was destined to happen for a bigger purpose! Sounds crazy so just bear with me again!

I believe now more than ever that I decided to come into human form to experience the deepest levels of love and to bring that love to as many as I can. But to experience love, I had to also experience the other side of the coin – suffering. That might sound odd but to know the depths of what love is to understand how pain can tear us down because we usually experience intense spiritual love when we are in despair and broken. So my journey of going through pain was intended for me to feel love, to see one’s (or my own) suffering, as a deep desire to be loved or understand one’s need to feel loved which also ties in with why I became a counselor.

My journey to recognizing love, of course, came the hard way! 8 years ago, I met someone in Portugal in a club. He looked so familiar but little did I realize that he was the very person who checked us (my family) in at the hotel we were staying. When he had checked us in, I had noticed him. But of course, I pretended I hadn’t! We had barely spoken to each other but the moment I saw him at the club, I pulled him to me. Alcohol always help in feeling braver! There was something there but I couldn’t put a finger on it. Fate didn’t give us the chance to spend any physical time together but fortunately thanks to technology he found me on social media and we reconnected.

The chemistry was instant and the effortless chats just flew. We made each other laugh so much. Teasing each other and being goofy were our ways of showing affection. I remember in one of our chats I said to him, “I’d put black pepper in your toothpaste”. He responded to that by saying, he’d put blue paint in my shampoo and then shave my hair off to which I said I’d cry. His immediate response was, “noooooo, I don’t want you to ever cry because of me.” Little does he know that when we didn’t end up together there were lots of tears, tears that hurt deeply.

We made a deal that if we were still as connected in 6 months’ time, we’d meet somewhere. We constantly talked about where we’d meet. Each time we chatted, we were so looking forward to our meeting. We’d talk about what our first date would be like, and how we might be shy or just look into each other’s eyes and be in each other’s arms forever.

But remember I said, I had to experience suffering to understand the depth of love and so I couldn’t believe that this would actually happen. I doubted that someone who was over 11 years younger to me would like me. Besides, there were many superficial things that worried me. Like we were of different race, in long distance etc. But when I looked back to the text messages, I don’t know of a man who was this expressive in how much he liked me. So what did I do instead? I met someone 3 months after, in Hong Kong and even though there was no chemistry, I thought to myself, this was the ‘right thing’ to do because he ticked off the checklist I had. I didn’t quite realize that I was giving up on love. The very thing I wanted to experience. Sounds crazy, right? I had to go through more suffering to really understand what I was giving up on.

The suffering I had to go through was not feeling loved, to being married and yet feeling a void. To feel something was missing. When I finally realized what I wanted but didn’t have, I knew I wasn’t going to have it in this marriage hence I had to end it.

I also knew that loving someone with all my heart was something I was always afraid of. Being raped took away my strength to trust a man completely but more importantly to trust that I deserved love. So the 8 years was also for me to find myself and when I did, I knew I was in this marriage for the wrong reasons and that it was time it came to an end. I’m glad it did and I’m so grateful that my ex husband and I are good friends now.

This whole experience was shattering but also soul searching. I found myself in the process. Love to some people comes at the expense of deep suffering and I sure as hell had that destined or like I said I had deliberately chosen that for me.

8 years later. This very guy I met is back in my life. Is he here to stay or show me what love feels like, who’s to know. Is he here for me to let my guard down even more and be vulnerable and allow myself to experience the love I’ve always desired? Perhaps. Whatever the purpose is, I’m allowing myself to let it come in. To experience what I am meant to experience. To trust in the process and embrace love in all its glory so through what I experience, I can share love and talk about what true spiritual love feels like because this effortless connection with him felt and still feels very natural.

To realizing that suffering can lead to the depths of love.