I’m not that girl anymore.

Jose_QuoteI used to be one of those girls in school who belonged to a big group of friends. I remember being prompted in social media that I exceeded the number of people I can tag when I share posts.

That feels like a lifetime ago.

Maybe it’s something that comes with age but I’ve limited my number of friends to a bare minimum.

It’s also odd that I started doing this when I severed my ties to a person with whom I had a hot-and-cold relationship with. After all, aren’t you supposed to run to friends and keep a big number of them around you after a breakup?

It was as if life went all the way to answer my plea of ridding my life of toxic relationships.

You tend to see life in a whole new light when you look back. Well, in hindsight, I remember that some of the people I esteemed as closest of friends never really cared about me when they dished out their so-called advice.

I remember this one friend who I grew up, someone who declared herself to be my best friend, but wasn’t there when I was in my lowest. I remember the same friend who emerged when it was convenient for her. And who vanished just as quickly when it was also convenient. Her indifference made me see that it’s not only romantic relationships that can disillusion us about people. Friends could also give us trust issues, sometimes, even more severely than failed relationships.

I was the type of person who stuck it out, especially for people whom I’ve been friends with for years. 

But not anymore.

I thought I’m done chasing after people who aren’t the least bit bothered not being in my life. I thought instead of using my energy and time holding my end of the bridge, I might as well let go and take care of the ones who crossed it for me. And stayed.

I guess that letting go isn’t just for romantic relationships. It’s also for friendships that have gone stale.

Starting over and trusting again isn’t only tricky when you find new love.

I realized that it’s almost equally difficult to let new people into your life, trust them, and be friends with them if you’ve been disenchanted by past friendships.

Maybe that’s why I’m not as welcoming as I was before about new people. Maybe in the back of my head, I don’t really expect them to stay that’s why there isn’t much warmth or depth in the way I relate to them.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying I’m a stoic or anti-social. But we do live in an age where building walls around you is considered wise, poetic even.

Recently, I realized that keeping people at a distance to protect yourself isn’t all that good.

For the past few weeks I kept my distance to some friends. I felt burnt out and surrounding myself with people with different opinion, upbringing, and values was too exhausting for me. I started having unkind thoughts. It was as if a cloud of negativity was hovering above me, following me around wherever I go.

So what does an introvert like me do?

Alternately keeping myself holed in my safe place and burying my nose to work.

And these friends, even with our share of disagreements and differences, kept in touch nonetheless. They kept checking in on me, inviting me over, asking if I’m alright, telling me they miss me being around.

All this while, I was also reminding myself of the good things my friends did for me. I recalled their kindness, their selflessness, their warmth.

I told myself that it’s not fair to judge and punish my new friends for the indifference or betrayal of some people from my past.

So yesterday, after one too many invitations that I’ve declined, I met with my friends for dinner. They were gracious, as I expected. They could’ve taken that as a chance to berate me of all the times I didn’t show up to the plans we made together or the times I ignored their messages, but they didn’t.

Instead they told me they missed me being around. There was not much fuss about the times I wen’t MIA on them – which is more than I could wish for.

We had a nice, quiet Sunday night, just four women who have long turned to one another to be each other’s home away from home.

I have been a dysfunctional home to my friends but last night, I started some fire on my hearth again. I intend to keep it cracking for as long as I could.

PS:

I hope that people who have the tendency to pull away and isolate themselves have friends who are as understanding and gracious as mine. I hope that people who tend to burn out and get tired of people, find those who don’t give up checking on them and reminding them that they are valued, especially when they don’t seem to deserve it.

There is something about grace that soothes the soul.

Hello from a Hiatus

They say lonely people always find time to write.

The past weeks I haven’t written a post, I was preparing to travel and taken a trip to 5 countries.

All this while I was also juggling three jobs. Sometimes I wonder why I tend to glorify being busy until I realized that no, I don’t. As much as I like to grumble about work at times, I truly love having something to do. And the more there are, the better.

A couple of years ago, I wondered if it was to fill a void in my life. I wanted to be bluntly honest with myself. I was at a time when I was assessing my actions because I want to turn my life around.

I was through with toxic people and dead-end relationships. I’ve had enough of waiting for good things to come and wanted to go out and chase after them instead.

And that, I did.

Many years ago, I never in my wildest imagination would have guessed I would end up where I am now. And I am not just talking about my physical environment, which has ranked as one of the happiest countries in the world by the way.

I am talking about the peace in my heart. No matter how busy or drained or emotionally volatile I get, I still wake up with peace in my heart every morning.

It never fails. 

There is always that fresh, clean stretch of time, no matter how long or short, that envelops me when I open my eyes each day. That fluttering moment when I am just drifting back into consciousness that I feel indomitable peace.

This is before the errands of the day or my responsibilities snatch my thought away into a frenzy.

But those moments of quietness…they’re a huge deal to me.

Because I’ve had my share of mornings when I wake up with a gaping hole in my heart. I’ve had those mornings when the moment my eyes flutter open, I let out an inward groan that’s so terrible, it echoes into my very soul and comes from the dread of facing another day.

I’ve had mornings when I have to drag myself out of bed and with zombie-like deliberation, force myself to get on with the day. One small moment, one small step at a time because the thought of the unknown future and the dreadful present overwhelms me.

Those days, I learned to dig deeply into my faith as I have never done before. When you feel like you have nothing more to lose, you end up giving your everything.

To God, to the universe if you’re not the theistic type, to your steadfast will to turn things around because dammit, this is the only life you have. Somehow, you and your purpose just become one vibrating being.

This is what happened to me.

And I am sorry if this may be too vague for now but…if there is one thing I can tell you with absolute clarity and certainty it is this: things will get better. ALWAYS.

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Day Two or The Quiet Morning After

Have you ever had one of those wild nights when you made a sweeping declaration that you’re sure will change your destiny?

Or maybe those life-changing moments that you know forever shifted you outwardly and inwardly?

Often, these pivotal moments are followed by a still morning, with a deafening silence in its wake.

After the adrenaline has gone down and the dust has settled comes the quiet flutter of…everyday life.

What now?

Where do you go from here?

Remember that How I Met Your Mother episode when Marshall finally decided to pull himself together after Lily broke off their engagement?

After being miserable, he finally stood his ground and decided to put back the pieces of his life.

But the morning that followed this decision didn’t really see him living his dream.

Like everyone of us outside an American TV hit series, it just consisted of putting one foot after another and doing what needs to be done even if sometimes you have to do it with gritted teeth.

Then one day Marshall whipped up some pancakes for breakfast and his friends knew, he’s finally crossed the threshold of misery into the glorious ordinariness of daily life.

Sometimes we get so caught up with chasing big dreams that we take for granted how many people struggle to just have an ordinary day. One that’s free of gut-wrenching pain and mind-reeling anxiety.

Yesterday, I made an almost sweeping declaration to clear up some space and time in the everyday rubble and noise that is my life.

And instead of making pancakes, I just set aside some time to let my thoughts run free – from worry, from being chased by deadlines, from being numbed by TV, and from being cluttered by social media.

And you know what, it’s just as fulfilling as a hearty breakfast.

marsh

My 13267th Attempt

writer

I feel like there’s a lot of expectations weighing on a first post.

I don’t even know how many times I’ve typed words that somehow refuse to string together, pressed on backspace rather frustratingly, and wonder if it’s the coffee that’s causing this wall on my mind that seems to be blocking my thoughts. I know what you’re thinking, isn’t coffee supposed to help?

Well, it does, most of the time. Sometimes though, like today, it’s causing a haze before my eyes that stops me from stringing one word to another.

Or maybe —

Maybe it’s because this doesn’t feel like a first post to me at all. It’s a fresh but numberless sheet on a notebook, after the pages before it were torn away, crumpled, and thrown onto the floor as witnesses of my frustrated attempt to write. Messy pages where I scrawled my messy thoughts.

Or maybe this is just another recluse’s clean, well-lighted place in a noisy, bizarre world.

I know I have censored myself in the past few years. I thought that not writing about things I feel strongly about would make them go away, as though I am keeping a flood at bay.

I don’t know.

I just know that it served me well to keep my thoughts some place other than the far corners of my mind.

So here it is, my nth attempt. Not the first, but hopefully not the last either.