After Series of Incidents, How One Person Learned to Stop “Letting It Go” & Start “Naming My Needs.”

by Christian Luu

My name is Christian Luu. I’m from Dallas, Texas.

And before the pandemic, maybe four or five months, I was working at a pretty large national chain restaurant. Servers tend to be, like, very physically affectionate with each other. There was one day where someone came up and grabbed me from behind. And I turned around and I said, “Hey, please don’t do that.”

She’s like, “No.” Then it happened again. And the second time it happened, I was caught, like, much more by surprise. And I had to run off to the bathroom and cry for a little bit.

And whenever I came out, she was like, “Are you okay?”

And I was like, “No, I told you not to do this and you did it anyway.”

Basically, she was like, “That’s your problem.” Da da da da da.

I let it go. I talked to my managers about it and they’re like, “Well, there’s nothing we can really do, but you can file a report anyways.” So the complaint that I filed never really went anywhere and I just let it go.

Flash forward, maybe a few months into the pandemic. I moved into this gorgeous apartment that you’re seeing behind me with my really close personal friend, who is now my roommate, and her partner. Basically, there was one day where I was trying to… I was trying to get them to clean up the house with me. And I was getting a little frustrated because they were working a little slowly and I ended up cleaning, like, the entire apartment by myself. And then when I texted my roommate about it afterwards, she told them, and that kind of triggered an episode, if you will, where they had said and done some very alarming things.

And at the time I was trying to let it go as it were. And so I… I deescalated them. I told my roommate and I ignored my needs.

So during these episodes, my roommate’s partner would say some very threatening things. It made me feel so unsafe and so uncomfortable that I started locking my door at night and I would get up in the middle of the night, almost every night, to make sure that it was still locked.

While all of this is happening, I’m having conversations with my therapist every week about how, like, you can’t just give someone empathy, you can’t just forgive them. You also have to hold them accountable for their actions and hold them accountable for the pain that they’re inflicting on other people.

I was feeling really trapped and I tried to kill myself and I was sitting in the bathtub because I thought that it would be nice of me to make clean up a little bit easy on my roommate. So I’m sitting in the bathtub, in the dark with, like, the dullest kitchen knife in the world. The thing that actually snaps me out of it is I’m thinking about my really good friend from home. I was really thinking about how she would miss me if I were dead.

I’m back in my body. I put the knife back. Not too long after I come out of the bathroom, I’m laying face down on the couch, typing an email to my therapist. And then after I send that email, I just laid down on the couch and think about my actions.

It’s maybe like 10 minutes into me laying down that my roommate’s partner has another manic episode. I’m fresh off of a suicide attempt, so I do not feel up to deescalating in the moment. And so I’m just sitting there crying. Basically my roommate has to hold them down so that I can make it into my bedroom and finish crying.

So while I’m waiting in my bedroom, my roommate, like, has a talk with her partner and she’s like, basically, You can’t live here anymore.

Flash forward once again to maybe a week ago, um, and cleaning the apartment with my roommate. Then I have another anxiety attack. I excuse myself, politely, go into my room and I start crying again, my roommate comes in and she’s like, why are you crying? And I am, here I am, presented with yet another opportunity to just let it go. Something changes in me and I am able to say like, “Can I tell you something that might hurt you?”

And she’s like, “Yes.”

I tell her about all the stuff that I’d been feeling since that thing happened a few months ago. We have a really great conversation after that. And it was hard to say, but really rewarding. And I realized that by doing all of this stuff, by, like, letting all of these things, like, roll off of my back or whatever, I’m actually depriving myself of, like, being able to, like, have full relationships with the people in my life and to love them and to let them love me.

I was just rewatching the She-Ra and the Princesses of Power finale. There was a scene that really struck me this time watching. Someone tells Adora that she is worth more than what she can give to other people. And that she is also deserving of that same love. It was really profound for me watching that because I am Enneagram too. I am fully defined by my service to other people. But I deserve love too.

That was just a couple of weeks ago and I’m already realizing that it is good for me not to hold back my needs from other people. The only way that I’m able to receive that love is by asking for it. And so by learning to ask for what I really want and by learning to name my true needs, I’m able to see, finally, the love that I give other people reflected back to me. And that is huge.

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