My emotionally unavailable wrist


One day at calligraphy class, Teacher said, “relax your wrist otherwise the brush cannot swirl through.” I looked up at him, in a perplexed lightning of understanding: “I do not know where my wrist is…”

Well of course, I know where my wrist is. I just cannot feel it, nor know when it has tightened up or when it is relaxed. I could not sense where or how my physical body was. Same for my shoulders – I do not know when they are tense and hunched up, but everyone else can see it.

I have been so disconnected from my body. I do not know how to relax my hip or if my knees were curving in while practicing taichi. The energy does not flow. I could not feel my body, I could not feel my mind, I could not feel my soul.

More detrimentally, I do not open up. Sure, people can see that I cry, I laugh, I tantrum, I yell, I grimace. But I have constructed a wall so that no one gets beyond a particular point. I remember while I was working in Japan, and everything made me feel like I was living the dream and all was going well, one guy I was quasi-dating told me I was “emotionally unavailable,” and that no one could really get to know me. I brushed him off, and retorted, “look at how many friends I have!” Quantity, not quality. I was defensive and dismissed his well-intentioned comment. I rationalized and intellectualized that he was being unreasonable.

I pushed people away unknowingly, I would not allow them to see me in pain, I would not dare risk my own hurt just to try to let anyone come marginally close.

Nah, I was the perfect Nochie, in a suit, heels, matching handbag and belt, important, professional, and strong. I would not weep or acknowledge I needed help.

But I do need help. In fact, I think I need help right this moment. I have been combatting a migraine since the weekend, I have stomach cramps, I feel exhausted, I am unhappy at some relationships, I am overwhelmed with the list of things that I would like to do (e.g. write!), I do not know how my knees are full of bruises. I have not exercised. I make excuses of traffic and skip basketball.


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I just want to play – I saw these ducks in a shopping mall and somehow they spoke to me. Be playful, is that not what I say to everyone? Then why do I find it so difficult to be playful today? I want to hang out with my bears, write stories, draw pictures, smile to myself. I want to bake and cook and build pretty little desserts like I used to. Then I remember how I need to work on my WeChat account for the Chinese audience, that the Bearapy website needs more bear posts, that I need to minimize the size of photos, add watermarks, upload them, type, get the ebook translated into Chinese…

I feel suffocated, I feel anxious, I feel like my boat is anchored in a pool of dead water, tangled up in weeds, and stuck. I feel inundated. I feel lonely.

It is time to feel myself, let myself feel the connections within me, and let others see – and not be conscious of their judgments on me.

So I tense up. I try too hard to free myself. Like the calligraphy brush, I try to control the factors I think are within my control. I am unable to trust that the brush will do it’s work if only I would give it space to.

Be me. Let me find my wrist first….

4 Responses

  1. Lisa says:

    你好. Sorry for my poor english. 🙁
    I read your article about your depression in tinybuddha and i feel really connected with. Several months ago i had feels like you. I don’t know my purpose in life. I feel like a total failure. I keep compare myself with others. I have built a great wall to distance myself with others. Actually i just really really lonely. I am afraid to open up to other people. I forgot the last time i speak heart to heart with someone.
    Now I’m trying to find who myself is.
    I just wanna say thank you for sharing your story. It’s makes me better to know that there is someone else with this kind of feeling. Struggling to free from people’s judgement. 加油!

    • Noch Noch says:

      Hi Lisa

      Thanks for sharing this and glad you found some inspiration. you are not alone. I hope you relish this journey of finding yourself. a painful one, but a fruitful one. You will be able to come out on the other side 🙂
      Noch Noch

      p.s. it’s okay, I understand Chinese too if you want to write in Chinese

      • Lisa says:

        Actually i just start study chinese in beijing now(any advice?). While study i often thinking what should i do for discover my purpose in life. I realize that my life till now is in an autopilot mode. I have no purpose in life and just let my life flow away. I’m in my journey to love and know myself better.
        Thx 4 your reply Noch. You make me feel better. I hope you feel better to! ^^ a big hug for you

        • Noch Noch says:

          Oh! You are in Beijing too. Are you settling in Ok? Feel free to email me with any questions about Beijing. I am not always in town but happy to give you some tips if you need. Yes, take some time to think about your purpose in life so let your thoughts wander. Take care
          Noch Noch

about Noch Noch

Enoch Li, (pen name: Noch Noch) was born and raised in Hong Kong and Australia. She has also studied / worked / lived in the US, France, UK, Japan, The Netherlands, China, and has travelled to more than 40 countries. She loves travelling and her curiosity in foreign cultures and languages has led her to enjoy her life as an international executive in the banking & finance industry. However, she was forced to take time off work in 2010 due to her illnesses and after spending time in recovery, cooking, practising Chinese calligraphy, reading and writing – in short, learning to take care of herself and letting out the residual work stress, she has transitioned into a Social Entrepreneur and founded BEARAPY to help corporates make workplaces mentally healthy, and support executives to become more resilient.