Belinda Lee uses work to get through break-up

26 April 2013 / 3 years 6 months ago

When Simply Her magazine last spoke to Belinda Lee in mid-2011, she was looking forward to married life. But a year and a half ago, she and her fiance broke up. She's now single and coming to terms with the breakup.Belinda admits that the healing process is an ongoing struggle, and she feels emotionally drained. She tells us: "I've had constant nightmares since the breakup; getting through each day can be a torment."Instead of wallowing in her pain, however, Belinda devoted herself to hosting television programmes like Renovaid, in which she helps local families in need to redo their homes; and Find Me A Singaporean, where she travels to exotic places to meet Singaporeans who have uprooted themselves for personal reasons and social causes. The moving experiences she's had on her travels have helped her along in her own emotional journey.Working on Find Me A Singaporean, the travelogue she has hosted since 2007, has given Belinda the opportunity to visit other countries and meet new people, some of whom have changed her life. One person even helped her to start healing her broken heart, when she was filming in Mongolia during the painful period just after her breakup."My Singaporean host and I met a 27-year-old Mongolian woman named Turay who had been suffering from cancer for, seven years. She was a bright university graduate who was bedridden by her illness. Even so, she cheerfully thanked me for visiting her. Perhaps she sensed that I was unhappy, because she kept telling me, 'Belinda, be strong'. I couldn't help it - I started crying. I turned to the camera and shared on-air that I was going through a difficult period, and that at times, I even felt like ending my life. But this girl, who was valiantly fighting for her life, was telling me not to give up on mine. It made me feel so ashamed of myself," she says quietly.A note of pain enters Belinda's voice as she recalls how she broke down when she heard that Turay passed away two to three months ago. "I had promised her that if she recovered, I would fly her and her mother to Singapore and show them around - it was my way of giving her a reason to keep fighting for her life. I can't do that now."Having met such extraordinary people on her travels, Belinda herself has decided to step out of her comfort zone. This March, she will go back to school to study theology. "It's quite a bold step for me, as I'll be taking seven months of no-pay leave," she confesses. "Some people even asked me if I'm planning to be a nun or pastor." That's not the case, she says - it's just something that she feels she has, to do.She's learning to celebrate life again. "For the last two months, before I sleep at night, I've been writing down at least five positive things that happened to me during the day."She was surprised to find that as soon as she started counting her blessings, she could list up to 10, sometimes even 15, good things in a day. "They don't have to be big moments, like striking 4D or meeting the man of my dreams. They can be things like having a friend be considerate to me or enjoying a great meal. When I look at my list, I think, 'Wow, even if I don't feel that I'm happy, there's actually plenty for me to be grateful for'."Belinda is also looking forward to finding new love. She may have split up with someone very dear to her, but she won't let that cripple her. "It's easier said than done, but I choose to look at it this way: it takes two hands to clap. Now that I'm the only hand left, I'll have to find other hands to clap with - my friends, family, my job - until I meet the right man who's going to clap my other hand for life," she says with a hopeful smile.I feel tears welling up as Belinda speaks about the Mongolian woman, Turay. It isn't just the story that moves me, but Belinda's own emotions. The 35-year-old has a natural ability to connect with people, and I'm, experiencing it firsthand.I've seen her on television, shedding tears of empathy as she shares the struggles of people she meets. I now know how those people feel, because I'm utterly comfortable with her within minutes of meeting for the first time. Maybe it's how she looks at me when I speak, that makes me feel she's genuinely interested in what I have to say.When I ask how she does it, Belinda says she's never really thought about it. "It seems impossible to ask people tell me their innermost feelings the first time we meet, but we've done that on these programmes. I realise that it's a gift."She adds that it may be because she never acts like she's there purely to do a job. "If people don't feel genuine compassion from you, they'll never share their suffering with you," she says earnestly.Instead, she shows how human she is. "I've lived in a one-bedroom flat with my grandmother. I know what it's like to be homesick, depressed or hopeless - at times, I still feel that way. When people realise that I understand what they're going through, they want to connect with me."

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