Thursday, July 11, 2019

Opening the Floodgates


I’ve been MIA for a while now and I know this story is getting old. Yes, I’ve been busy, I have my parents here with me visiting from the Philippines, we’ve been traveling and enjoying our summer vacation, been working on DIY projects around the house, yada yada yada….But the hard truth and the only one that truly matters in this space is that I have not felt any real motivation to write. 

I’m struggling. How much?...Well, enough, that I’m seated here outside the indoor tennis court where my son is taking his class and feel that I would rather apply lotion to my hands mid-sentence and take the time to stare at middle schoolers fumble with their strokes, than focus on finishing this paragraph and actually make sense. 

I never feel like anything is important enough to write about.

I never could find enough fire in me to share what's swirling in my mind.

I never feel like anyone would be interested to read, let alone find any value in what I have to say. 

I never feel like I have the energy to develop an idea so it can have some semblance of coherence worthy of being allowed to seep out of my inner world. 

I never feel like there is enough quiet space in my mind to accommodate sentences and creativity.

Could I be suffering from depression? I wonder. A lot. 

I’m functional, sure, but there is something in me that doesn’t feel right. It's a struggle to even talk about this now because I know a lot of people won't believe me and think I'm simply overanalyzing myself. I'm organized, do everything I need to accomplish for my family, feel grateful for the life I have, look happy and warm in social situations and overall, seem...fine.

But I am struggling with a lot of my demons. 

Could I just be feeling lost, trying to find more meaning, and drowning in my perpetual existential crisis? I don’t know.

I’ve been trying to 'fake it ‘til I make it' in this space, been doing my best to write what I feel might be of some value to someone out there, but it’s obviously not working. It hasn’t changed anything much in me as far as jumpstarting my writing, my motivation, my happiness. 

It’s a vicious cycle. I’ve always felt that writing and publishing on this space gave me bursts of happiness, a sense of accomplishment and affirmation. Being able to craft something with my words always gave me some sense of purpose. But I haven’t been able to do so because of my mental and emotional state, which makes me feel miserable because not only do I know I’m not able to create, I also feel like I’m failing in some way, which makes me feel even more of a disappointment, a useless waste of air. 

I’m full of self-doubt to the point that it can incapacitate me on some days. 

I feel like I have nothing valuable to give.

I feel like I have no real value in this world. And this thought is further compounded by the fact that what I enjoy doing and feel I'm capable of at the moment don't translate to any monetary contribution.

I have an overwhelming need to always feel safe, in my cocoon, in my comfort zone, where everything is predictable and there is no real risk to fear.

I have become more secluded through the years, save for the occasional time spent with a very select few who I am comfortable with. 

Please don’t tell me going out more will make me feel better. I’m an introvert and forcing me to go out and mingle will not solve anything for me and may only make things feel worse and draining. I can’t feel any more drained than I already do. 

Don’t tell me to apply for jobs and that earning money will make me feel better. Maybe it will. But if it were that simple, don't you think I'd have already done it?

Don’t tell me to go find myself a good therapist and medicate. It’s not something that’s within our family budget at the moment and something I’m not ready to commit to. I know my husband won't mind but the thought of making him spend that money on me will only make me feel even worse. 

Don't think I'm fragile and act like you might shatter me next time you see me and talk to me. Don't think I'm a  fake when you see me smiling and being like everyone else. Just know that people are more complex than what your eyes perceive and try to see with your heart instead. 

I know I'm annoying a lot of you right now, especially those who identify as proactive. I don't need to be analyzed, I don't need you to solve anything or figure things out for me. I don't expect to be understood by everyone, nor is this meant to be an excuse. 

I'm simply coming out. 

Everything has consequences, I know that. And my raw honesty now won't be exempted from that truth. But if I keep fearing what could happen next and shred every scenario to pieces before I speak my truth, then I might never have the strength to open the dam. 

My only intention is authenticity. I'm just hoping that maybe my coming out as raw as I've never written before may help my energy flow better as I step out of hiding. I know there is much more to write, but for today, this is all I can offer. 












Friday, April 26, 2019

The Case Against Looking for Closure

Original Image: Pixabay


Closure is something we've all thought necessary—at one point or another—in the process of moving on from an experience that has ended. Perhaps it was a relationship break-up, a loved one’s death, or the unexpected demise of a cherished career. In most of these scenarios, the ending we’ve experienced has left us feeling blindsided and stuck in a rabbit hole filled with ‘whys’. Instinctively, we think answering these questions serve as stable footing for our climb up, only to realize too late that questions have a way of endlessly reproducing themselves. We wake up one day feeling more confused than ever, drowning in our questions and completely consumed by even more loose ends than what we initially started with.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against closure. However, I do know that you never look for closure. You birth it.

To have closure means finally being able to accept what happened, lifting any veil or illusion to clearly see what is, where you are now, and letting the reality sink in that the situation has happened and could not be any other way.

To have closure is to no longer have the desire to rewrite history. It is present-focused and future-ready.  

Most importantly to me, having closure is to be ‘self-empowered’, as opposed to looking outwards and relying on another person to give you what you need, whether it be answers to your questions, forgiveness, explanations, or direction for the future.

Trust me when I say that these lessons I’ve learned on closure are all grounded in personal experience. I’ve learned the hard way that involving another person in your personal search for closure never, ever works. Doing so is actually a ‘counter-closure’ move because the more you deal with the other person—the more power you surrender to that person as the one who can help you or give you the closure you seek—the further back you get pulled, and no significant healing is achieved. You keep thinking this other person holds the answers to your questions. You keep thinking you need this other person to give you clarity on what really happened, and that you need all these answers in order to move on. But all this does is delay your healing. All this does is pick at your already stinging wounds, and make you feel less in control of your own destiny.

The lessons on closure I share here now came to me through an ex-boyfriend/fiancĂ©. Other than my husband, I’ve only had one other serious romantic relationship. Ours was a saga. We fell deeply in love; broke up in a confused manner; semi-got back together; semi-broke up again; semi-hoped for each other; I got tired, fell in love again, and married someone else (my husband now); resentments surfaced; became friends; fought; he married and had a family too; became friends again; fought and swore off each other; until finally, he died. Last year he passed and lost his battle with cancer.

We sought closure from each other and it took more than a decade of our lives until death finally interfered. We threw our questions and accusations at each other, hoping it will bring us the finality we sought. I tried looking for closure through my questions but I failed. Now I know that sometimes the questions serve only as our excuse to keep us afloat. We find solace in our questions because they feel familiar and less daunting than the pain and work involved ahead in permanently shutting one door behind us and confronting our new normal.

Sometimes, questions don’t end by themselves no matter how many answers you get. You have to decide to end them. 

What I know for sure is that closure is a decision. It’s a gift you give yourself every day, if you have to. It's mustering the courage to open a new door, while knowing that you are allowed to grieve the past, and that doing so doesn't mean you are resisting your future. It's deciding to believe that getting answers won't change what is. It's making the decision that it no longer matters what the other person's reasons, state of mind, motivations, or sentiments are. What matters is what you feel, what you perceive, and how you intend to show up from this point onward to work on your healing. 


































Friday, April 12, 2019

The Social Media Rule of 3s for Greater Happiness and Productivity

Original Image by rawpixel from Pixabay 

At some point, we've all found ourselves complaining about how social media has negatively affected both our productivity and our moods. Numerous scholarly articles have been published on these areas, but you don't have to be any sort of expert to acknowledge that you can easily get sucked in some social networking vortex and then easily experience 'missing time phenomenon'.  (Thanks for the abduction, Mark Zuckerberg!)

Not only do you end up wondering where time has gone, you also suddenly question why your fingers are tired, your eyes are dry, and you're inexplicably feeling a bit more angry, depressed, or anxious. At that point, it doesn't take long for any of us to realize that instead of getting on with our days and accomplishing real tasks, all we feel like doing is grab a brownie or a bag of chips, and let the chair or couch swallow us whole. 

Personally, these feelings apply to me in relation to Facebook and Twitter, where people are allowed to elaborate on whatever they wish to share, or put out links to their news headlines of choice. 

Because of this, I've come up with a system that has proven quite effective although it definitely requires self-discipline and integrity since you'd have to strictly monitor yourself if you truly want this to work for you. 

It's my Rule of 3s: Three minutes, or three 'upsetting' information on my news feed, which ever comes first, is my limit.

This means, when I go on Facebook or Twitter, and start scrolling on my news feed, I keep in mind that I only have three minutes to spend there. However, if even before my three minutes are up and I've already scrolled through or read three headlines, news bits, or updates from contacts that upset me, made me angry, depressed, or negative in some way, I would have to shut it down and get on with my day.

I allow myself to go through this process about three times per day, on average. So far, it has worked wonders for me, especially in terms of my mood. 

I know that three minutes are not enough to allow you to go through your contacts' updates, but that further forces you to focus on what's truly important to you. Let's be honest, not everyone on your friends' list carry the same weight of importance in your life. If there is someone you truly care about or want to be updated on, then go on their page and spend time there. Message them personally, or give them a call. Hang out if you can. Let the Rule of 3s help you filter through the rubbish so that you don't carry that with you and allow it to affect your mental and emotional health. With my Rule of 3s, I've found that I'm able to easily shake things off by taking a deep breath at the end of it, and then walking away, either physically, or just detaching mentally so I can focus on other goals for the day. 

I hope you can give this a try if you still find yourself drowned by the social media abyss. You can do this, and hopefully have more energy for the things that truly matter in your life.