“I’ve read your blog and all I saw was a selfish young brat who never grew up.”
It was like a cold slap in the face. For one thing, I am your average people pleaser and another, it hurt because here I was a few months away from 29 and this person had the audacity to say nothing in me has changed. She also criticized my desire to succeed, the hard work my parents have done to send me and my brother to the best schools, and my achievements. I later on realized that she was merely projecting her discontent over her own life towards me. But I was too shocked to be rational.
Just like any well-meaning adult, I brooded over her comments for weeks. Here was this supposed “Christian” who went to church gamely, taught her kids how to pray, and posted Bible verses threatening me in a country that wasn’t my own. My head spun and I was left with panic attacks and a possible PTSD that wasn’t serious enough to diagnose. How could this person, who knew nothing about me and what I went through in recent months, call me out like that? Also, how could someone who never walked a day in my shoes criticise what I’ve been through and the words I’ve sprawled across this blog? Most importantly, how could a Christian be so spiteful?
This blog, despite its misgivings, has saved me from bullies, eating disorders, and even my own self. It has been my sounding board and despite the many likes, comments, and followers I get on social media, this blog, for a good portion of my life, was the friend who always listened. This blog was created way before the term bloggers were coined and so for years, I kept it close to my heart and refused to craft “my own brand.” This blog was personal and in its authenticity, I aimed to inspire another.
I never recalled a day where my words that came from a place of raw pain would be used against me out of spite. It’s safe to say that I was traumatized and trauma was something that I have dealt with
It took me about two months to process the trauma. There are days where I sit in the shower and be terrified because I was alone in a foreign land while also trying to adjust to a world where my parents weren’t a few steps away. My 28th year turned out to be nothing like I have expected it to be. In fact, it was the exact opposite of what I dreamed my first year of marriage would be.
While it has brought me so much joy, it has also brought me a lot of pain. Most of them because of my unrealistic expectations of life, my own insecurities, and my own misgivings. In the past 12 months alone, I have come against challenges like no other. I found myself at the end of my rope, with no one to turn to. I was alone. Situations have forced me to make decisions that sounded insane for the most part, and most importantly, at the lowest point of my life, I have also been kicked repeatedly by people I sought shelter from. Instead of helping me, they brought up old skeletons, warned my husband of my “attitude”, and continued to gossip about me. Yes, I wasn’t perfect but for someone to kick another when they’re down or to rejoice because I was going through a dark period, whether or not she understood what she was doing, has broken my heart far a million times.
I have discovered what it was like to be in the dark and could easily relate to this passage from Lamentations 3:19-21:
“I’ll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness, the taste of ashes, the poison I’ve swallowed. I remember it all – oh, ho well I remember – the feeling of hitting the bottom. But there’s one thing I remember, and remembering, I keep a grip on hope.
God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out, his merciful love couldn’t have dried up. They’re created new every morning. How great your faithfulness! I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over!). He’s all I’ve got left.”
During this new season of my life, all I had was with Jesus and the fervent hope that even if I may have messed up life through my choices, that God was still good. For the first time ever, my life was beyond my control. It wasn’t as neat as I have always wanted it to be. I was relying on God every single day and it seemed like every single day, there was a challenge to be overcome: whether internally or externally. I’ve written about it here and there and yet today, I choose to see the little victories God placed my way.
First off, he blessed me with a strength and bravery I never knew I had. For years, I had my own crutches: my achievements, my titles, my worldly possessions, and my own “social” identity. In a way, they were the things that have made me brave. But it was when God stripped all of those away that I have learned to find my true confidence in the One who made me who I am (Philippians 4:13, MSG).
Second, through people’s rejection, judgement, and criticism, God has showed me His unfailing love and goodness. By being isolated for the first time in forever, I have seen how truly miraculous God works. Yes, some people may have hurt me and left me in the cold but God, just like the hero that He is, swept in and led people are way who we didn’t expect to extend a hand, lend a hand. These were not Christians who quoted verses and yet you saw how they displayed God’s love and mercy through their actions, not words. They were inconvenienced and yet they sacrificed.
Which leads me to my third learning: love is ACTION, not a Facebook post, not a card, not a message BUT ACTION. Our new church has been sharing with us the story of Ruth and the importance of Hesed or a love that is loyal, no matter what the situation. It was an eye opener, especially in the first year of marriage, of how important it is to love without agenda and even when the situation doesn’t suit us. It’s a powerful love and it’s a reminder of how God loves us.
And fourth, the only way to grow is to acknowledge your own pain, mistakes, and ask God to help you overcome. My husband, just like Joyce Meyer’s husband, Dave, showed me love just like how it is described in 1 Corinthians 13, a love that is patient, kind, and loyal. Towards the end of 2016, I was so angry and so mad at the world, and God took a situation that ultimately meant to destroy and turned it around for good. He took me out of this Devil Wears Prada world I created and into a desert to refine me. I am not quite sure if I am out of the desert but I don’t feel any discomfort instead I feel peace and content with a life that is lived day by day.
Now, my heart is healing while being freed from perceptions that I, as a worldly “independent” woman had, to become the woman He has wanted me to be. Today, I write freely about this experience even if it has no conclusion yet because for me the battles are being won on the inside. I write about this experience in the middle of a battle because no matter what the world tries to do or how the enemy roars, the ending is the same: we win.
And that verse that I started with reflects that because there’s a second part to it:
“God proves to be good to the man who patiently waits, to the woman who diligently seeks. It’s a good thing to quietly hope, quietly hope for help from God. It’s a good thing when you’re young to stick it out through the hard times.
When life is heavy and hard to take, go off by yourself. Enter the silence. Bow in prayer. Don’t ask questions: Wait for hope to appear. Don’t run from trouble. Take it full-face. The worst is never the worst.
Why? Because the Master won’t ever walk out and fail to return. If He works severely, He also works tenderly. His stockpiles of loyal love are immense. He takes no pleasure in making life hard, in throwing roadblocks in the way.” – Lamentations 3:19:33.
I refuse to be reduced by things said about me, about mistakes I have done along the way, about the people who have harassed me, those I have hurt (I am not perfect), and the situations born out of my own doing. They all happened but I am never too far out for God to reach me. In fact, it is in these moments that He holds me closer than He ever has, it is when I am at my lowest that He shows up the most. In my weaknesses, He makes me strong. (2 Corinthians 12: 9-11).
And that lady I began this story about? She may or may not be right but thank God because my victory and redemption doesn’t come from her, in fact her words have no bearing, simply because God has overcome and in Him, all is well.
You’re supposed to hide your crazy.
At least that’s what every book, every girl friend, and romantic comedy convicts us to do. We have to hide our crazy not just so we can get the guy but so we can take control of the boardroom, our Instagram feed, and who we are as women. Boys are taught to get out there, make mistakes, and own the world in their own chaotic ways. But not with women.
Women should be prim and proper, especially in the culture we are raised in. Very few Filipinas “own their crazy”, instead they sweep it under meticulously cleaned rugs never to be discussed. They hide the chaos well: by working out excessively, by controlling food, by acting perfect, by never getting mad. To see a woman who owned her “shit” meant seeing a woman spiral out of control. Never a wrong step in public. Sit right, stand tall, finish your food, never let yourself run beyond a size six.
So many rules of how one should be that we paint our own version of realities that are often confounded with the truths that have been shared with us growing up. I don’t think it was taught for the purpose of forcing one to live up to imperfect rules but it was just one of those things that just happened.
Stumbling across Brene Brown’s Rising Strong became a therapy for me of some sort. It spoke about truly owning one’s narrative and understanding the stories we tell. It has become transformative and though it may take awhile for me to truly incorporate everything I’ve learned, it did teach me one thing: it’s time for me to own my crazy.
It’s time to stop hiding from everything and everyone by pretending to be perfect. She even mentioned the scary “Umbridge” theory where even being overtly “lighthearted” can also be as dangerous as the dark. Reading it and truly studying it has opened my mind to the truths I have refused to see as a child and an adult.
But now I am here and I am owning my crazy: which means owning my own pain, my destructive narratives, and hoping to emerge better. I will fight for my happy because I know there is no other way.
The other day, I treated myself and soaked in the tub while rereading a favorite, The Happiness Project. The first time I read it was when I was teaching college kids in 2012. It was a very different life from the one I am living now and yet the inner resonance of my life remained the same: I wanted desperately to be happy. To wake up joyful and just at peace.
It was as if a million life times passed before I got to where I am today. Jobs passed, seasons turned, knowledge was learned, and major events occurred. In the deepest core of who I am, I believe I am still the girl I used to be but with the passing time and situations, some things shift and you see yourself changing and becoming a slightly different person than who you once wore.
Anyway, back to the book. Chapter three discussed the importance of finding work that you were passionate about — like you lived it, breathed it, and didn’t think of it as work. My shift from teaching to public relations once made me think that that I finally found the love that I was looking for. But as I continued to spend time in the world of Public Relations and everything attached to it, I found myself going back to the same question, what do I love to do?
This was a question I never dared to ask myself more than a few times a year, especially during high times of stress, late nights, and no weekends. My last job left me on an ever higher level of anxiety and here I am, a few months off of it and still experiencing anxiety attacks like no other. I am weaving my way through it and I should be fine but they still come in waves and threaten to consume.
On most days, I am more than ecstatic to have left a job that was so consuming that it burnt me out but on some days like last night, it left me feeling a little.. challenged.
I miss deadlines. I miss approving things. I miss thinking of solutions and I guess in a prideful way, I miss being important.
It led me back to the feeling of being “legitimate”, a term coined by Gretchen Rubin when she describe her short law career. She wanted to be a lawyer because she wanted to be legit but she found no joy in doing so and so she gave it up but with hesitation. It was her sister who brought her out of the funk of wanting to be important and actually being kind to one’s self.
Last night, it was my baby brother (who else). He reminded me of all the reasons I left, of all the things I’ve always dreamed of, and of resting from the chaos that was my life for a good four years. For the first time since graduating high school, I find myself without an end goal. For as long as I can remember, the goal was to be the best: in school, at work, at the gym, and everywhere else.
Living life constantly on the margin has left me with anxiety at 28 that I am trying to recover from. Being without deadlines for the first time in forever has left me with still feeling panicked every once in awhile but now I have all the time to pull back to my center and the core of who I am.
Learning to unlearn has been 2017’s greatest challenge and yet the ability to breathe and for once to not trying to keep nudging my way to the top has given me the opportunity to breathe and that, to be completely honest, feels so dang good.
It is no secret that priorities change when you’re 28 years old and married.
When I was young and unattached, my life was more about me and what I wanted and less about other people. It was all about curating my social media accounts, running from one meeting to another in my high heels, and just creating a filter perfect life. I don’t know what it was about being single that made me want to create a perfect life for myself – image wise. I spent hours on social media in an attempt to look cute and in doing so, I also spent a good deal of time comparing my life’s to another.
However, when I tied the knot a good ten months ago, it was like I was sucked into a hole of couple-ness. Suddenly, I wasn’t spending every waking moment curating my feed or posting selfies. Instead, I was swooped into a world of adulting and spending time with my husband. Because of that, I haven’t spent a good deal of time weaving my way through the internet and that is actually a good thing.
For once, I was consumed with living instead of pretending to live but of course life, as it always does, revolved again and this morning, I found myself mindlessly going through curated feeds (they just get better every year!) in awe of everyone’s lives but my own. Here I was in the middle of the world’s greatest cities and I found myself wanting to be somewhere else or rather, someone else.
It’s so easy isn’t it? It’s so easy to sit with our phones and just compare our lives with another. In the middle of the mess that is our everyday normal, we tend to let the side people want us to see affect our own behind the scenes. We forget that they too have their own chaos to deal with and just like us, they are simply trying to win the battle that is called life.
So in the middle of comparing myself to the models of Instagram, I finally had the sense to stop myself and just be thankful. I was thankful for my husband, my family, and health. I was thankful for the sacrifices my husband has done so far and so thankful at how gracious God has been through all of it.
It also made me realize just how full life is although it may seem like a routine. Now as a Mrs. my life has depth in a sense that it wasn’t all about my selfies anymore. I had this person who was relying on me and I was now part of the team. Now life wasn’t just about looking pretty and meeting a deadline. It was actually building a life while not losing a sense of who I was. It’s an on-going process and I am a rookie still learning the ropes.
And in the short time that I have moved from miss to mrs, here are few things I have learned.
- Life doesn’t magically change once married.
I know I know you’ve heard this before but let me say it again, life doesn’t magically change when you’re married. Yes you earn a best friend, you have someone who will be there 24/7, and someone who loves you unconditionally BUT it doesn’t mean that life is suddenly perfect when you’re married. You would still have to water your own grass and that takes work. Life isn’t like the movies, much to my dismay, but you can definitely
- You still get lonely.
Yes you heard that right, you can be a in a healthy marriage and still feel lonely at times and that’s because there’s a huge part of us that only God can fill. So on days when I am on running empty and on the verge of being sungit towards my husband, I have learned to retreat to my own space and pray, for it is only truly God who can make us feel complete, regardless of our relationship status.
- “You” takes a backseat.
I have never had a long term relationship prior to meeting and marrying my husband. So you can see that for about 27 years, I was running high on me only zone. So imagine the shock of my quite young life when I had to turn over parts of my life to my husband in an effort of “sharing our lives”. So that means that everything is on the table and instead of thinking of “I, my, mine, and me” you begin thinking of “ours, us, and we”. It was quite a difficult concept for me to grasp but my husband would be the first to tell you that I am getting there.
- .. However “me” shouldn’t be compromised.
Yes you love your husband and yes you want to be the best wife ever. These things are essential in making your marriage a success. However, it is important to note that it shouldn’t be just about your spouse or your children. With God’s guidance, it’s critical for one to not neglect one’s self. You still have to love yourself, create a future that makes your heart skip a beat, and live your life for you. Don’t scrimp on yourself. Don’t lose who you are. Make it a point to keep loving and bettering yourself because that’s how you keep the fire alive in your marriage.
- And lastly, put God first.
I have the tendency to want to do it all but of course that is farther from God’s truth. Everyday, I have to find the time to seek God, listen to Him, and ultimately let Him lead me to the wife He wants me to be. Safe to say, this season of my life has been about surrendering who I used to be to give way to this new season. Just like any other new season, it wasn’t easy but with God’s grace, it was surely worth the pain.
Have you ever been in a rut?
And I don’t mean like a rut where you don’t want to get out of bed one morning because of PMS like symptoms but a rut that seems to go on forever. You just can’t find the sunshine, you just can’t grasp the joy, and you just can’t seem to move forward.
Everyday seems like a routine and you can’t wait for the end of the day so you can get a few hours of losing consciousness before it starts right up again. You do a lot of things to get out of the rut: you pray, you try new things, you try to be kinder, you list down ten positive thing, and you work out only to find out that once those activities are over, you are still where you were before you got into all those things.
Calling my own personal rut depression isn’t something I dare do because my pesky optimistic self refuses to call it what it is. I also know people who have dealt with depression and I’d like to believe that saying I have it will disrespect people who are actually going through it.
As a child, I wasn’t particularly hard to please. I enjoyed my Sweet Valley and Baby Sitter Club books, watched my favorite TV shows, and just enjoyed time spent with family. Growing up, I’ve always been awkward and too much of a thinker to be involved with a big group of friends. My mean girl days started early, in fifth grade, and I got tired of it really fast. In high school, I decided to be the outsider, the odd eccentric girl out. Having strict parents also saved me from hours of parties, “hanging out”, and Alabang Town Center. I was just in my own little world and I loved it but somehow, I felt like there was still something that I needed to prove to the world. That my life was missing something because I didn’t have a boyfriend or a girl squad — I was a loner who enjoyed bad romantic movies and my family but the world made me feel like that wasn’t good enough.
I recall getting through college just fine but in my head, I had big dreams of becoming Manila’s next “IT” girl only to prove that I was making something out of myself. For years, I found myself saying yes to doing everything and working in a job that people called a “dream”. And for the first three years after leaving a teaching job I loved more than life, I was enjoying the limelight in a public relations career. God gave me the opportunity to work on the biggest brands in the country and I felt proud of myself.
But I also felt empty. There was no joy in telling stories to make people buy things. There was no purpose in it for me and yet I refused to believe it because of the fact that I maintained a certain lifestyle and I was too great in the game to sacrifice what I poured hours of my life into. I was good at it, I had friends in high places, and up until I got married, it was all I had. I had no friends to hang out every weekend, no social life to speak of, and if I wasn’t the successful career woman that I was then what defined me?
Sure, I listened to preachings, read my Bible, and understood Jesus’ love for me but in my head I was simply thanking God for the blessings of the wonderful life that I had. I pretended that I enjoyed the field that I was and maybe I did at one point but I always felt like a fish out of water. I paddled along because I knew that I had nowhere to go. I was 27 and felt like I’ve reached my peak.
So everyday became a drag and I resented it. I resented having to call newspapers day in and day out to share a story I couldn’t care about. Money was no longer a motivational factor – I simply did not like what I was doing. And so one day, I just left, albeit just for a vacation but now, three months into it, I have come to realize that I want out. For some people, the stress and the highlife was great but the peace that it took from me was too much.
The industry gave me so much and I was too prideful to admit that maybe the industry wasn’t for me. Just like a bad relationship, I held on to it for as long as I could without realizing that maybe God had other plans for me. For years, I have attached my identity to what I “did” eight hours a day, five days a week. It was very hard to let go of the life I thought was meant for me to enter into a state where the only thing I knew is the One who is taking me to the next chapter of my life.
It has been scary, at times depressing, but nevertheless liberating. I cannot wait for what God has in store for me and my little family next. But for now, I rest my high heels, put on my sneakers, and carry on to life’s next adventure.
Even if nothing is going as planned, you are still God.
Even if the world is spinning and there is no one who lends a hand, you are still God.
Even if it’s only you and me, you are still God.
Even if I have to deal with my heartache and messes, you are still God.
Even if I make so many mistakes, you are still the God who loves me.
Even if I don’t know what is next, I fully trust that you do.
And so in the midst of my heart break and disappointment, I hold on to the truth that I am loved by you and I know that all is well, not will be, but is well.
It’s engagement season once again (when is it ever not) and yesterday, my baby brother and I got into a passionate argument about one of social media’s most popular hashtags, blessed.
We couldn’t help but roll our eyes over the latest child of God who got engaged to the man of her dreams in the best way possible and crediting it to her surrendering this desire to God. Again, nothing wrong with that but excuse me to think that God is God no matter what. God is not a puppet who will do what we please if we only do things right. Just because you surrendered all your dreams to God and did all the “right” things (and let me just say, we can never be truly right with God without Jesus, period) doesn’t mean you will get to marry the man of your dreams in a church filled with Christians.
Sometimes, you surrender to God and life doesn’t initially turn out the way that we want. I think this mentality, especially on social media, is a way of making others people feel less than because they don’t do things the way you do. It’s a holier than holy approach to dating and leaves church girls thinking that they deserve the better men because they have been “pure”. It’s an unspoken standard. The good church girl gets the guy because she’s “holy, pure” instead of simply acknowledging the fact that God is good and without our help, he blesses us with good things.
So what happens to those who refuse to make the same choices? Do they deserve the bottom of the pit? There’s no one solution to life and that includes relationships.
As a disclaimer, I used to be this annoying person on Facebook. Out of the enthusiasm of my youth, I was always the first one to post about how good my God was and while there was nothing wrong with it, there might have been a few screws loose about the theology behind it. I used to proclaim that He was good because I thought I was. I thought I deserved better treatment because I was hello, better than everyone.
While I think these people mean well (you know, believing the best), I couldn’t help but feel that they post mightier than mightier things simply because they think they are mightier above all because they did everything to the core. Like a rule book if you may say.
You see, the reality is, and I would like to begin with this is this: God is good no matter what. Whether or not we are good, clean, or whatnot, God is good and will bless us because of who He is and not because of what I have done.
I guess all this post is trying to say is this: you are loved even if you haven’t done things perfectly. You are cared for, you are not forgotten and God has given you new life and new opportunities every day. You are not counted out and you deserve a story of redemption as well. Don’t let your past count you out, fight for what God has given you and overcome.
This post is a highly sensitive topic for me and can’t wait to write more about it.
It’s a beautiful spring day in Los Angeles today and as I write those words, I couldn’t help but pinch myself because I am actually in Downtown Los Angeles and have been roaming around LA for about two months now.
It has also been two months since I hugged my family or even spent time listening to my dad’s cheesy music while I complain about how awful work is. One part of me relishes in the fact that I have so much free time in my hands without having to worry about deadlines or odd bosses but another part of me misses home. And by home, I don’t mean Manila, I mean home as in being with my brother and parents on a lazy Saturday while wondering if we should order pizza or not.
I am 28 years old and have never been apart from my parents except for this year. The transition has been quite difficult albeit a temporary one. For most people, I grew up sheltered and spoiled but to me, it was just another way of life. Being away from them, even for just a small amount of time, has made me grow more appreciative of them. My dad has always worked so hard in order to give my brother and I the best of the best and in a way, I felt guilty for wanting more than the life my dad worked so hard to give us.
Truth be told, I would have been happy with my life. It was hectic, I could never make ends meet, and I didn’t have as much freedom as I wanted but I was pretty much content with the life I had. I loved my family, loved our home, and I guess loved the fact that I didn’t have to make decisions for myself. It was a pampered (but not easy) life but I’ve made a decision and here I am, typing this up while I wait for life to unfold.
For most of you who have packed your bags and traveled to other cities, the revelations may be quite startling and this may be the reason why people travel: to discover who they are while at the same time appreciating home more. These past two months have been raw and defining.
For the first time in forever, my older sister asked me why I was so mad and angry at the world all the time. I wish I had answers but I didn’t. My childhood wasn’t perfect but my parents gave what they had. It was my only ideals of how the world should be that may have created my inner demons or the pressure of the world I was in, but there is no time for excuses now.
My husband says I should take it a day at a time and simply relax into the days. In all honesty, I have no idea how to relax. I have always been uptight and on the go so this whole new relaxing thing and spending days reading, catching buses, writing, working out, and exploring is a totally new ball game.
It’s as if I am shedding who I used to be and not only is it disarming but also scary. My old life was pristine and this one is so messy and uncertain and yet I am here now. And though my faith is shaking, my beliefs are still there. It may be taken into a new dimension but I know God doesn’t love me any less.
It’s a new adventure and a new undertaking. I may not know what tomorrow brings but I have faith that God will follow through and at this moment, my own spring is coming forth.
As I was riding the bus today while I loaded up my iBook shelf, I couldn’t help but feel like my life has changed just a little bit.
Okay, maybe that’s underestimating it. It’s safe to say that since I got married: life has never quite been the same. Prior to getting married, people have always counseled me about the importance of understanding that life changes drastically once you tie the knot and for as reason I can’t seem to comprehend, I never once thought of it that way.
These days, I’m more of a wife more than anything. My days are filled up with making sure I don’t make decisions without consulting or even telling my husband about it. And for an independent woman, that is absolutely disarming. You see, I grew up not owning up to anyone (yes, even my parents), I’ve always been hardheaded and a little too persistent for my own good. It’s my way or the highway dear sir and it never quite occurred to me that you absolutely cannot act that way if you wish your marriage to work.
So here I am for the first time ever twiddling my thumbs wondering what’s next while trying to learn how to knit, to cook, and not blow up the washing machine while watching The Mindy Project for the nth time. It’s a different life and for once, there’s no deadlines.
Relaxation is a strange thing but it’s easy to get used to. And so is writing with no valid conclusion because it turns out well, in life you never know quite what the conclusion is so for now this is just a semi colon that serves as a pause for what’s next.