I am currently on a two-week break for my health. After I hosted the 2021 Pista ng Mapa (Philippine Festival of Maps) last Saturday and finished grad school finals week with a grade of 99%, I crashed and found myself running on empty. Actually, I was no longer running by Sunday evening. I was just emptied out.
Forced to rest in bed and let go of my usual Herculean work load, I finally had time to reflect in my solitude and unpack the events from the last 12 months of my life.
The Second Life
Earlier this year, I almost died from a severe asthma attack. They put me in the covid wing for 2 days until my swab results came out since the asthma symptoms looked eerily similar to the dreaded coronavirus symptoms.
I was super frightened while I had oxygen tanks and I struggled to breathe. It was unlike any other asthma attack I’ve had in the past.
The most painful part was that I did not see gentleness in my surroundings at the time and it aggravated my recovery.
That is where I realized a bunch of things.
If I were to die, I’d like to be surrounded by light and gentle energies. Additionally, I don’t want to be anyone’s burden (e.g. have a chronically complaining caregiver within my earshot while I go through illness or old age problems). If you truly love me, taking care of me should not be a hassle.
I need to express my love to the people who matter to me at every single chance I have. (This has been a resonating lesson every since my parents died and left me as an adult orphan in 2016-2017.) I have worn my heart on my sleeve since then. I just say what I want to people with the most love I could muster. I just give it all so freely and with so much sincerity.
It’s always best to connect and to err on the side of kindness.
Boundaries, Blinders, and Self-Worth
I believe that I sometimes spend a great deal of my personal life in denial. I am beginning to see things with a bit more clarity this year than before. I had been overly optimistic about certain situations that turned out to be sub-optimal and even harmful for me as a person.
I noticed that whenever I love someone, I give 200% of myself to the person. I drop everything to help the person. One person described it as “generous to a fault,” except that it’s evolved into generosity to the point of my utter destruction or detriment.
In some instances, this extreme giving of self came to the point where I gave up on my own dreams, squelched my own potential for growth, and minimized my wins in life or achievements. I was very happy to keep giving but it created a great and painful imbalance where the takers had no limits while I just kept giving from my heart without minding my own well-being in the process.
This is the sad truth for people who give of themselves too much: their perpetual availability to the people they love makes their own needs to be taken for granted by those same people. I am not a victim, really. I ALLOWED THIS TO HAPPEN. And I repaired that recently and reclaimed my own energy, my own boundaries and personal space.
I had blinders because I put people I love in a certain pedestal. In my case, I usually just explain away their behaviors when they take me for granted. This person’s busy so he or she has no time to help me here. Don’t bug this person. He is just tired so he speaks like this. Just pay for this thing and “hayaan mo na lang, ikaw na bahala.” I was so good at explaining it all away even when I am being constantly shortchanged by the lack of balance in the situation.
I later realize that I had been truly living as a castle with no walls. And I should always have boundaries intact especially to the ones I love the most. I have mistaken love as a ticket for unlimited abuse. I am so good at breaking my friends free of their self-destructive behaviors when they ask me for advice, but I fail spectacularly in fixing my own self-sabotage.
I have so much growing up to do. This adulting thing did not come with a manual. But I have to keep going as I have two little boys who rely on me to keep it all together.
This was a rough phase of my life journey and I am even hesitant to write about it. However, some people may come across this piece and find it helpful to their journey so I am putting it out there.
I needed to set some boundaries, and let go of what does not serve me well. I felt a bit guilty doing it but there was a certain liberation when I proactively chose myself.
I affirm myself even as I write this now.
** I AM WORTHY. I AM ENOUGH. I AM WORTH FIGHTING FOR.**
I don’t have to apologize for taking someone’s time if I am in a relationship with them. I am just like any other person. I should not diminish my needs because the ones I love fail to meet the bare minimum. I should acknowledge if the bare minimum is not met and give myself enough self-respect to walk away if it’s already clear that I am the only one doing the work to keep things together or to make things better.
And honestly, I don’t need other people’s responses or viewpoints of me. My self-worth’s foundation goes way way deeper than any single person’s perception or assessment of me as a human being.
Relationships of any kind ought to be two-way to sustain itself. If it’s a co-dependency or a controlling situation or a one-way unrequited situation, there’s just no point sticking around and you need to love yourself EVEN MORE.
Honesty and Sitting with the Pain
Another thing I was able to successfully manage better this month is curbing the need to satisfy myself emotionally with useless purchases and purposeless activities. I am still a work in progress on this front.
I found my truth and I spoke it. Saying things like “What you did (or did not do) hurt me a lot.” or “I think I made a huge mistake in this decision.” or “I am changing my mind about how I’d like to proceed with this.” are now stuff that I can say out loud. I used to be so scared to see the writing on the wall.
I am now also able to say “I am eating this bag of chips because my heart is broken.” instead of beating myself up for not maintaining my calorie limit for the day.
** I acknowledge the failures and I sat with the pain for months. There was SO MUCH PAIN. I could have escaped it through an addiction but I FUCKING SAT WITH IT day in and day out.** I left my comfort zone. I was enabling certain situations or setups in my relationships to maintain a certain illusion.
I did not go through any shortcuts this time, though. I did the grunt work, and I continue to do so as I type this up. I show up at the gym at 5:30am three times a week (hoping to turn it back to daily starting next week!) this month even though I felt like I was gonna fall apart on some days.
It was there that I realized that I CAN BE BRAVE. I did things that I thought I was not capable of managing on my own. There are many things I cannot control. Other people’s way of handling their relationships with me, for example. But I can control my response and my plan of action moving forward. I can set limits to what I can and cannot do. And I can be totally at peace with those things now.
For as long as I am being honest about what I truly feel and where my heart lies, I don’t think I will ever stray too far from my life’s purpose.
Honestly, I might actually end up growing old alone because of my realizations. But it’s alright. If that is where I will find peace, then let the chips fall where they may.
Inner Strength, The Tower Moment, and Empress Energy
I guess 2021 is my year for inner strength. I underwent what astrologers call as a Tower moment where I was just in a painful and messy place right before a spiritual awakening. But now I also have the Empress Energy, the unapologetic divine feminine of nature that pursues growth, makes tough calls, and takes no BS from anyone.
This soul has taken quite a journey in the last decade. I can hardly recognize the person that I was a decade ago.
I am still in this “dark night of the soul” vibe where I need to be a bit reclusive to reflect on what’s happened so far and what I can do next. But I finally found the peace in not knowing what’s gonna happen next. I found peace that while I spun up fairy tales and happy endings in my head, I know things might not really end in the way that I expected or hoped.
I SURRENDER. I plan tactically, hustle and give it my best shot everywhere, but I STILL SURRENDER the outcome to God and detach myself from the need to have things go my way.
It’s no longer framing my situation with rose-colored glasses. It’s seeing things for what they actually are, and acting on it accordingly.