Lesson 10542

This was the post on our Instagram last night. I woke up and read it this morning as a message to myself instead of my message to others.

I chuckled. I know I still had so much to tackle. Sure, I’m not afraid to mix all the colors on my watercolor set but I’m at a point in my life where I’m afraid to step out of my comfort zone. It also meant sharing what I was keeping inside me for so long.

I’ve been wanting to write about personal stuff for so long. I just felt I shouldn’t until I’ve processed everything. I mean, of course, I can just whip up updates on Twitter about my feelings real time but it’s a public space. By public space, I don’t mean wanting to window dress my life. I just felt that I can easily release negative energy irresponsibly but I shouldn’t. No, not until I’ve sat down and made sense of everything that has happened in the past year or two.

I’ve been hurting for a while now. I actually sound like a broken player (I don’t know if kids will still get the reference). I always try to make sense of what’s happening almost every day. I already told myself to stop. Just stop. Maybe it was not really ever supposed to make any sense and I must just move on. Maybe, I shouldn’t keep on scratching the wound that was already starting to heal.

So, every day, I kept on asking why. Why do these things happen and why do we meet people who have the capacity to hurt us whether or not they are aware of it? Then I thought, of course they are not aware of it. I almost just walked away leaving the person clueless.

I actively tried changing my schedule and routine too last year. I figured, the less people I actually meet, except for work and my relatives, the less people will know about my personal life, the less stuff anyone can hurl at me. Also, the less energy I spend on people who love to keep tabs on everyone, the less distracted I’ll be.

So there I was living the ambivert life: looking like an extrovert onstage and trying to curl up in a cozy corner somewhere in Metro Manila, afraid to make new connections. On one hand, it has definitely helped me focus on my path, listen to myself, introspect and deal with things I had to attend to in all aspects of my life. It felt so liberating to be present in what I do: just thinking of the things that will make my life more meaningful.

I wasn’t even chasing happiness anymore. I sought contentment and I felt better. It meant that I finally accepted that life will not be smooth sailing but it’s okay. When life got challenging, I would always go back to the image of myself standing on a paddle board and kneeling down upon seeing an incoming wave. It can tip me off or it can drown me for a few seconds but I can always swim and get back up.

But, somewhere between shuffling duties as a mom, wife, worker & daughter (my dad was in the hospital and I always had to wrap things up ASAP so I can visit him…I have no regrets and I hope to put this in another blog post), I noticed I swept some stuff under the rug and guess what, they’re all back now that some other things in my life have been resolved.

So my hurts have started to surface again but I’m so tired of hearing the same story play out again in my mind. I came across this text in our class in high school and it said “people are innately good”. I held on to that for so long but applied it in a different way in my life that I kept on going back to the people that hurt me because I know, everyone is innately good.

It has gone so bad to the point that one of my friends who visited from abroad was chuckling as she told me, “Tippy, you should forgive but you should learn your lesson too.”

Throughout my life, I will have discussions with friends, relatives and strangers that will go, “You know _______ did this to me. I don’t understand why s/he can do that. How can s/he sleep at night?”

I was getting tired of the same narrative in my head. I was also perplexed at how we as humans will have to deal with all things that are seemingly uncontrollable. We can’t be hurting all the time, I thought. How? I didn’t know.

I felt so empty at the start of this week. I actually had to Google “Why am I feeling so empty?” (Lol at how I ask for help.) However, it disturbed me because even during my dad’s last days and at his wake, my life (and his life) still had so much meaning to me. But now that everything is easier and more peaceful, I’m feeling hollow? How could that be? One of the things that came up was that you will start feeling empty if you continue prioritizing the needs of others all the time.

“That’s it!”, I thought. I actually redesigned my life and also abandoning my dreams as I have trained myself to do so in the hopes of making other people happy.

I tried revisiting everything that happened and I realized, I was making space for others so they can stop hurting. Maybe pursuing and achieving their own dreams would make them happy. It didn’t. I would shower them with time, attention and offer a listening ear and a reassuring presence hoping that one day, they’ll wake up and realize how awesome life is with a drop of gratefulness. Nope, didn’t work either. I couldn’t seem to walk away even if it was so painful in the fear that they might hurt themselves. I finally decided to disappear when I knew they had other sources of support.

That was not healthy anymore.

I found myself crying every single time anything related to my dreams would come up: a youtube ad, a quote on Twitter, the mere mention by a friend of an idea suggesting I do what I always wanted to do. It looked silly. To boot, I’m not even crying about the lack of food, a house or a relationship. I just knew I kept something inside and tried not to let it grow out of fear.

So this week, as I went about my work, and was casually listening to one of my favorites, Simon Sinek. He always talks about corporations but in this talk, he mentioned something personal. He pointed out that instead of just hating others, we can just look at the positive points of another person to make us realize whatever it is we have to work on.

I did this exercise with a couple of my friends. (Thank you to them by the way for spending time. It always feels so comforting to confide to people who have seen you grow up, be at your best, strangest, weirdest and most vulnerable too.)

As usual, we went about sharing how challenging our lives are at the moment and how we can possibly move forward. But, aside from that, I also asked them:

(1) How did the childhood of the person play out?

(2) How did it shape them to be the person they are today and the truths they are holding on to about the universe? (You know, I do this exercise with Riley’s yaya too in the hopes that by understanding her life, I will understand mine.)

(3) How were their parents to them?

(4) Ultimately, I asked them, (thanks to Simon) what are the strengths of the person you despise?

Sure, asking someone about the strengths of the person that hurt them so much was a difficult exercise at first but it felt so liberating afterwards! So, as Simon has pointed out, thank you life and thank you fate for bringing us all together so that we can learn from each other.

You know, with so much that has happened lately, other truths that I try to cling to are:

(1) The person who is unknowingly hurting you has also been hurt. (You too have read this somewhere so many times.)

(2) They are not trying to do whatever it is they’re doing deliberately.

(3) I also have my own faults and I have a hand in allowing them to hurt me.

(4) I may also be unknowingly hurting other people even I’m not trying to do it deliberately.

Now that I have acknowledged that I am no longer the victim and that I was also responsible for things to play out, I feel like I am finally taking the baby steps to take charge of my life. Having said that, sure, I will still make space for others and allow the people around me to grow because it makes me feel fulfilled and happy as a human being but in the process but I can look after myself too and it’s not selfish.
Here’s to a pensive and meaningful weekend!



P.S. 10542 has no meaning. They are just random numbers and each year, I look forward to learning more about life, my craft, myself and my mistakes.

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