Chaos Post-Mortem: PTSD and Digital Purging

Waking up in the middle of night to cry, negative flashbacks, and avoidance symptoms are just some of the many indicators of post traumatic stress disorder or PTSD. I have them almost on a daily basis this month. Based on some initial research, it aggravates itself during pregnancy. It’s difficult to have PTSD symptoms on top of everything (hyperemesis gravidarum, my usual mood stuff, etc.) but it’s not surprising considering the immensely messed up situation I had to deal with in the last 2 months. I turn to two things that never fail to cheer me up even in my bed rest: writing and task lists. Oh, and I added a third: reaching out to a friend or two. I used to hole up in my cave. Now, I message people even if it’s against my natural hibernating instinct. There is actually a group that I can comfortably open up to now, strangely.

PTSD’s drive plus some palpable nesting behavior finally gave me the freedom to do the long overdue digital housekeeping I’ve been dreaming of doing for years. I overhauled some online accounts to foster a better recovery phase. First, I killed my Twitter account last week. I figured that the monitoring of my favorite topics can be done elsewhere like Feedly (RSS), Reddit and 4Chan. I organized a system of storing bookmarks of my favorite online resources.

I finally arrived at a phase of having a neutral stance on Facebook which allowed me to have a more objective look of its pros and cons. I went from extreme love (before 2014 and in my hacked account), to extreme hate (2015-early 2016), to neutral (present). I used to have 2 Facebook accounts and it’s difficult to switch from one to the other these days. So I deleted the incognito Facebook account that I use for research and work and decided to just stick to using a singular and sanitized Facebook account mainly for research and messaging, some coordinating, and occasional catching up to certain people. I activated my old personal Facebook account and then cleaned it up by deleting the clutter that does not help me become the best version of myself and optimizing my news feed. It’s completely overhauled and organized now. My albums are sorted in the way I want. I just have to do some more minor grouping and tweaking in my list and it’s working perfectly according to the main purpose of communicating substantially and promoting a more positive mindset. It’s streamlined and the list of friends now is half the original size when I created my account. I am really happy with it now. I finally designed my remaining Facebook account to function in the way I want it to function, as it should have been right from the beginning.

Prior to all this, I had a conflicting attitude with my social media accounts. Even though I was really feeling like my accounts were cluttered, I feel like I have to keep things on Facebook just for the sake of some invisible social protocol. It was bustling with activity, but I felt like my social media account was not reflecting who I am offline or how I really want to use it. Now, I was finally able to break the gaps and what you see on my Facebook wall is pretty much consistent with what’s in the real world.

The crisis revealed who I am genuinely, and I was able to mold my digital accounts to reflect the real me. 🙂 And that’s one of the many good things and unexpected side effects of having a series of unfortunate events thrown my way.

The only thing that’s left for me to fix is all offline: my bedroom’s desk and the food and medication stash by my bedside. My mother’s condition is still the same. She is still sick and fighting for her life. This time, though, I still want her to get better but I am no longer compulsively trying to save her from everything. I no longer have to worry that the hospital will send her home just because she can’t pay for her bill. I can no longer control how she will respond to the medication or how they will manage the donation money from my bed rest. On my end, I have done my part and there is a peace of mind in knowing that I did not wait for her funeral to show my love or shed crocodile tears. I actually did something to fight for her life while she was still alive. I pulled all stops and did the unthinkable for her and I will not regret that decision even if it made me really uncomfortable and exposed me to a lot of people.

This time, my goals are simple: being a wife and a mother. A good and responsible one, I hope. I choose to tend to the needs of my unborn son because he deserves to see the world for the first time in the best possible environment. I always remember that day he almost died from miscarriage because of abusive people. I will always remember that day they almost killed my unborn son because of their selfishness and use it as a life lesson, going forward.

I lost a lot of things these past three months, but I gained clarity and a very relieving sense of simplicity. When you do not have a lot of stuff, it’s easier to see what matters, what is worth keeping and what needs to go. It’s a hard situation but there is a lot of good in it, surprisingly. It prepared me for motherhood in unorthodox ways. There’s nothing more jolting than a full blown crisis. You get your life priorities in order once all the mayhem and dust settles back down to the ground. I am more certain about what I want and what I do not want at this point in time. I am more selective about what I allow in my life and what I promptly let go of for the sake of promoting what’s good, worthy, positive, and encouraging.

When you become who you really are in real life and in the digital world, you lose a lot at first but you gain more in the long run. Essentially, you stop giving a fuck about the externals and you become real about what really matters to you in life. It’s wonderful to have that. You lose everything externally, but you gain the FREEDOM to be who you really are and have no more need to hide. You become vulnerable for a time, but once you get past the initial discomfort of opening yourself up, it reveals the strength that you never knew you actually had.

Well, PTSD is still a bitch. I still have negative flashbacks. I still burst into tears in the middle of my activities during the day. I still wake up with bad dreams. However, I think of the silver lining to this giant cloud. I am more in tune about who I am, what I want to do, and who I want to do it with. And for that, wherever this road leads me, I am certain that better days are coming for real.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Sandwich Generation

I have been meaning to write about this topic for a long time now. I guess I was finally compelled to hit the Publish button here in this blog after I read the entire Reddit thread about an issue which resonates with me very personally. It will entail opening up some personal things about my life, but I do not really mind. I believe that the reason that this cultural system of “utang na loob” is unfairly twisted in Filipino culture is because a few people would dare to speak up about it. And I am breaking the chains in this generation by being more responsible and sharing my story.

This story is long but this story needs to get out of my system so that I can now move forward with ease.

 

I did not grow up with a silver spoon in my mouth. As a love child of a rich businessman and a struggling woman from one of the poorest communities in Caloocan, I was born out of wedlock and even basic things like having a normal set of legal documents for a church wedding was denied to me.

 

Unlike most people my age, I can’t YOLO my way into overseas trips and own enviable Instagram feeds of fascinating destinations. Not because I did not want to travel, but more because all my money goes to the typical cycle of sandwich generation—paying for the financial deficits of the past generation by my parents, covering my present overhead and needs financially, and preparing for the future of my child with humble investments so that he or she will not suffer as I have when I grow old and sick and close to my death bed.

 

My father was a well off when I was a young child. He managed to afford to pay for a private school tuition fee even though I lived in the sketchy community of drug addicts and teenage pregnant women. Can you imagine going to school everyday and seeing your classmates wear expensive signature Guess jeans while you’d be lucky to have new clothes even just once a year (during Christmas, at least)? That was me for the entirety of my childhood. I was going to school and living with people who are infinitely richer than me and with problems that I cannot really relate to because I have to worry about other things. I walked to that posh school always being reminded of how poor and low we are in the socioeconomic totem pole. At a young age, I was someone who suffered from discrimination and bullying habitually.

 

I made few friends in that school because I just live in a totally different world from my classmates. They don’t worry about the things I worry about. Financial survival, for one. And that’s a thing to worry about for all time until I manage to reverse this quagmire that my parents have started.

 

My dad saved more money later when I studied in UP Diliman for college. I was one of the lucky few who still got the Php 300 per unit rate before they spiked the tuition fees in the state university. I wanted to take Creative Writing in the Ateneo but I ended up taking a more practical engineering course because my father told me that “Walang pera sa writing.” When I was in fourth year high school, I won a contest in writing at the regional level and I had to raise my own funds because my father would not give me airfare to General Santos City to let me join the contest. Because he hates my fascination for the written word. He was not proud that I bested all the other schools in Metro Manila and qualified in two categories. For him, it was a waste of time.

 

Let me be clear before I proceed with my narrative. I love my parents and I want to help them in every way I can. I know that my parents love me in their own way. In their own way, they have done their best to give me everything they can, most of the time. I say “most of the time” because that’s really the truth. Unlike most kids, I do not have a glorified view of my parents. I know that they love me, and I them. But I am fully aware of their financial foibles and the fatal consequences it had on me and my siblings.

 

I was 15 years old when my mother decided to leave for Saudi Arabia to work as an OFW, an international cook for villas and other large households there. When she left my dad with their illicit affair, she remarried a man who she loved dearly but was financially irresponsible. He moved in my mother’s inherited property but basically mooched off from my mother’s income and never gave a dime to support the family like the way most men do. Things got bad financially when my mother got involved with co-makers, loans, and gigantic credit card debts with its compounding interest rates from multiple banks. It got serious when she started receiving complaints from creditors. The only thing her new husband (my stepfather) told her that time was that the financial shit she is in was her doing and it’s her mess so she should fix it. He has no part in it even though he eats from her hard work. So she was sent off to Saudi very much against her wishes.  And she worked there for 10 years, leaving behind my baby sister who was not yet a year old.

 

It was a hard life. When my mother left for Saudi, my mom’s sister took me in under her house in the guise of charity. But what she did mainly was trick me. She is my aunt but she had her twisted agenda. There was a dispute about an inheritance that required my signature so that my mother will waive her portion. She tricked me into signing because I was young and gullible and stupid. And I was in desperate need of a maternal figure and affection so I succumbed to the manipulations of my aunt who is a psychology graduate.  I signed. When I finally realized the full extent of what she made me do, I started hating her.

 

When my mom left, I had to work with real property taxes, water bills, electric bills, and super horrible tenants. I was tasked to manage these things. And I was bullied left and right by classmates in my private school, my own aunt with her machinations and psychological torture methods, my stepfather who pocketed the money earmarked for paying for the water bill (I experienced going to Maynilad and begging so they won’t cut the water bill for our family), and a lot of other people who powertrip on penniless teenagers who do not have their mothers with them physically. It was not easy. I was taking an engineering course in UP, and I had to worry about my monthly expenses in school and all those things that are involved in managing a home along with its adult demands. I was 15, 16, 17 years old, and my childhood was robbed from me immediately. Actually, there was not really much to rob because my entire childhood was mainly traumatic and miserable.

 

You’d think that my mom’s entire decade in Saudi will erase all her debts. None of the sort happened. She earned her money and she spent them as soon as she earned them. She was not aware of financial instruments or the concept of growing her money passively through income generating methods of financial investments.

 

She was working hard just like everyone else, but all her money went down the drain. It went to fancy cellphones which were her only consolation with the back breaking work of an international cook who wakes up at 5am and sleeps at 1am the next day, day in and day out. It went to paying for my stepfather’s inefficiencies in handling the rent money for the utilities. It went to so many things, including some of my needs in college and my sister’s private school tuition fee when she started studying in the same school that I have during elementary and high school. It went to an endless cycle of paying bills. It went to the credit card providers and the loan sharks.

 

Did I tell you that studying in college and taking care of a baby sister was hard? One time she had pneumonia and I had to choose between taking my midterm exam in an engineering subject or taking care of her in the hospital. Of course, I took care of her. I failed the subject that sem. I almost did not want to finish my engineering degree because I felt like it was useless, that life was futile and I was meant to suffer like this permanently.  There was also this exceptionally horrible tenant and I had to go to the barangay hall and file a blotter. I was 19 years old at that time.

 

When my mom got back from Saudi to permanently reside in the Philippines, she was blessed with a teaching job before she got sick this year and was forced to resign. But even with her income and rent payments from her tenants, she was still unable to meet the monthly overhead for the family. There was a constant deficit, and she used the Bumbay 5-6 system to cover for that deficit and have some leisure.

 

Let me do a quick computation here. Suppose that she needs 25,000 monthly to survive. She earns somewhere around 20,000 a month, including the humble amount of cash I manage to give every month when I was working already in 2010. She borrows 10,000 from the Bumbay loan guy with the motorcycle and other individuals to cover for the deficits. But the Bumbay guy goes to our house everyday (even on weekends and holidays) to collect as much as 2,000 pesos per day. So the total money overhead becomes 85,000 pesos—60,000 from the Bumbay and 25,000 for the main expenses of the house. They don’t just borrow cash. They also get gadgets because my mother likes multiple smartphones and tablets.

 

For their wedding anniversary, they also borrowed 2 iPhones at the high interest rates of the Indian lenders. That was also the same time that she was crying to me that we have no money for Meralco. Last year, she got herself another BPI credit card after settling her payables to the banks from her former financial crisis. She was justifying that she needed the liquid cash for their needs. So for her, there’s the Bumbay credit line, the credit card, and the financial needs of a family in Metro Manila.

 

You might be wondering: doesn’t her husband have a job? He does. He gets paid 500 to 600 per day in his job. His contract is renewed every 6 months at his job. But he got himself some girlfriends while my mom was overseas and he probably impregnated one of them and he usually runs out of money during enrollment season.

 

He never remitted any money to my mother. He only gives her money when they renew the credit line with the Bumbay guy. If it’s any consolation, they cook really good food. There’s always food at home. They made sure of that. Like I said earlier, they did their very best with what they had. They did not have a lot. And there was one more thing they did not have: foresight for their old age preparations.

 

Probably my mother was again counting her chickens before the eggs were out. So last November, she started bleeding profusely until today. And she was not anymore able to report to her job. She lost her income, and the debt payments kept pouring in, including the credit card and the Bumbay guy and the individual loans she made.

 

Have you seen a person who in her old age failed to prepare for her retirement? She had no health card, no savings or emergency fund whatsoever, and had so many bills to pay. Plus she married someone who was not able to handle finances properly. He is abusive with the money and is difficult during a crisis. He even once asked for transportation money from her (the one without a job) so that he can go to work.

 

The situation is very bad. Does it hurt to watch my own mother suffer like that because of her habitual financial decisions? Yes. And the worse thing was, no matter how much money I give her, it will never be enough. Unless I earn 1 million pesos per month.

 

My father provided for me until I studied for my board exam. But there were years that he made giving my allowance difficult and I was compelled to take a lot of odd jobs in college. I even experienced working from 9pm to 6am in a call center, and go to my morning class at 7am. Sometimes I fall asleep in my classes. I did not get uno in all of my subjects and finishing my engineering degree took 7.5 years instead of the normal 5.

 

Eventually, my father’s financial luck tanked. He got into deep financial problems and I needed to take over my half-sister’s tuition fee in a private school. She is taking up Pharmacy. I had to shell out around 200,000 pesos for her needs. She was not a good student though. She failed two subjects and was unable to graduate and even lied to my father that PNoy had a new “bill” or policy that extended pharmacy students for another year. She did not even apologize to us when she failed her subjects after we supported her, and she always demanded that we send her money ASAP. Her exam would be on a Monday and she would text us on a Saturday night or Sunday where there are no banks and we have to go out of our working way to send her money. My father also had a heart attack. He refused to buy medicine so I went to Mercury Drug to buy it for him when he got discharged. The next day, he tells me that his girlfriend asked him to buy her a Samsung android phone and he swiped it with his credit card.

 

Did it hurt? It did. I was already married at the time and I could have used the money to build my family, but I always had them in mind. Yet, they continue to make those decisions that just sink them deeper into financial chaos. Try telling them not to and you will not be listened to. For some reason, my mother thinks of her Bumbay credit line as an asset and regular source of income.

 

I did not learn about personal finance the easy way. I did not have a trust fund in my name, or mighty connections. All I had was my brain, and my typing hands. I started seeking my own financial answers because I knew that I won’t get them from my parents.

 

In 2004 to 2006, I bumped into this forum called Pinoy Money Talk. It was owned by a formidable prof from UP Business Administration department, Kuya James Jonas. I became a moderator in this forum and this is where I learned about insurance, VUL, UITFs, mutual funds, and stocks. I met traders, entrepreneurs, and intelligent people who have financial literacy. My eyes were opened to this world where it’s actually possible to beat inflation and grow your money even through small increments at a time.

 

But at the time, I did not have money to invest. I only spent those years writing SEO articles for really low starting rates and engaging in different kinds of ways to earn money while studying until I got my license. And I spent the time reading and learning about investments.

 

Thanks to all those years of moderating for a financial literacy forum, I already knew where I will put my money when I already have investing power from a fulltime job. I trained myself to know these financial products, well enough that some people think I am an agent for an insurance company. I made it a personal crusade and a business to know about financial instruments. I made it a personal goal to reverse the financial curse that I had to live with while growing up and until now. A lot of women my age shop for bags, clothes, and shoes. I never had the luxury as a child, and after everything I experienced from the financial mismanagement of my parents, I lost all desire for fancy things.

 

I only liked shopping for stocks or investment instruments, because I was sure that whatever I give out pays me back after some time. I shopped for gadgets and gizmos essential for my online work. I shopped for books and online courses to expand my knowledge and jailbreak my lifetime education after college.

 

When I started working fulltime, I was driven and I was intense. A lot of people my age don’t understand why I am so intense, why I am so uptight and serious about work. But this is really why. Nothing teaches you more than a painful life experience, or a series of painful life experiences starting at a very young age. And I hated people my age who don’t get their own jobs and mooch from their parents because if you are not disabled, you are supposed to earn your own keep and not be a professional moocher.

 

But even if I am driven to be financially responsible, I never equated financial success with genuine kindness. I worked in a government agency for almost a year and I met really rich people there. One of them was really arrogant. He told me that when he ran the financial projections, he predicted that I was dirt poor and I will only have enough money in my old age to bury myself. That I should not get married and have kids because I can’t possibly afford it while supporting my mother. (Well, fuck him really because I am now married and I am going to have a kid and I am still supporting my mother with her illness.)

Money can buy you a comfortable life of sorts, but it cannot buy class or other people’s respect. You still have to build your character.

 

Here is another example of a person who has her wealth but no character: my aunt. She came home after a very nice and well-paying job outside of this country. In my mother’s side of the family, she’s the only financially stable one. Her sisters, my mother included, used her as an emergency fund during criticial financial situations.

 

The system of utang na loob is tricky even among siblings. Before she got her job overseas and amassed a huge lump sum for her old age and retirement, my aunt was feeding from our food supply. She even eats all the ulam and we run out of food sometimes. She did this for years. My mother’s husband complained that we cannot afford an extra mouth to feed for years. During one of her overseas trips when she was starting out, she asked for my mother to get some loans. My mother wanted her to have a happy overseas career and supported her wholeheartedly. She never computed that as a personal loan against her.

 

I have this to say amidst all these things that I disclosed. My mother was kind. For all her horrible financial decisions, she was KIND to her family. And this is the one thing she taught me that I will be forever thankful for: wag maging madamot lalo sa sariling kadugo.

 

My mother was generous to everyone and unfortunately, she was too generous that she left nothing for her old age and retirement. You would think that when she got sick and started bleeding profusely, that her well-off and financially stable sister and the other people who borrowed from her when she had money will come to her aid financially. It was the complete shocking opposite.

 

In fact, my aunt even used my mother’s illness to psychologically torture her and was relentless in asking my mother to pay for a personal loan. In her usual manipulative manner, she did horrible things that you would consider unthinkable to do to a severely sick person. Instead of being compassionate to her situation, my aunt even told me bitterly that she regretted spending 40,000 pesos during that one time her sisters visited her on a Christmas vacation.

 

That’s the one thing I hate about my mother. She already knew that her sister is a horrible person yet she continues to receive “help” from her only to get a very painful type of sumbat at a great time of need. She has a husband who is not helping her financially and makes things even more unbearably difficult, yet she does not make a decision to cut him out.

 

And I have to watch all that. I have to watch her suffer, and I am supposed to just stand there and watch while she makes all these decisions to fail financially with bad habits and continue to nurture toxic people like these horrible people who surround her.

 

My husband and I got fed up and we decided to withdraw from our savings and pay the amount to my aunt in full so that my mother can focus on her physical recovery. Money may not be able to buy you class, but it buys you freedom from horrible people who lend money in the guise of help and spend the rest of your life reminding you of how much you owe them.

 

So here I am now. I am pregnant, I am angry, and I feel like even if we give all our money, it will never be enough because the consequences of decades of not planning their retirement is sadly catching up on my mom. I am even angrier because this has put her in a position where horrible people with money like my aunt can just walk all over her. And I could not get her out of it. I can only work on making sure that my own son or daughter will not suffer as I have.

 

Still, my mother is in a life or death situation. And you know what? For all of my parents’ horrible financial decisions, I am still giving everything I can to help save her life and give her a comfortable old age. Here is one lesson: you will still do everything in your financial power for medical care and to save their lives if you really love your parents. All that money I spent for her medical needs is nothing compared to the value of her life.

 

Sure, it may often feel like I was treated as their retirement fund or financial investment. I am not going to lie. It hurts when I think about it.

 

But love covers all wrongs. And I felt really sad that my aunt did not learn this lesson of love and compassion’s value, even if she goes to her church all the time and spews out Bible verses and tells us that we were all going to hell unless we follow her footsteps.

 

She had so much money in her bank account now, but she is impoverished in human values. I make sure that I will earn and surpass her current savings. But I am also making sure that I will not forget my mother’s compassion and kindness as I try to make things more comfortable for this unborn child in my tummy.

 

I am writing this today in my blog because I want to be reminded that all these years of suffering until I reached this age of 30 has to end somewhat. All the toxic things they sent my way has to end here and now. I am writing this to remind myself of how far I have come and how much I had to survive and endure, and how I am still standing here because of hard work, prayers, and the sheer determination to oppose the tide.

 

For all the money I shelled out paying for the deficits of the past generation, I am still optimistic that I will have a bright future. Today, I am in a sandwich generation. Tomorrow, my son or daughter will live in a comfortable way, totally beyond the hellhole I had to dig us out of. I am writing this down as a promise to myself and all my future kids. I will love them the way my mother and father has loved me. But I will exceed that love by making sure that my future kids will not have to worry about money when I leave this earth. Other people can just scoff at my intense approach to work but I have a goal and it is clear. And I am not going to back down.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Positive!

positive-pregnancy

 

Since we got married in August 2014, we were really trying to have a baby. I think I was too eager to have one that it kind of backfired on me. So when I finally got a positive reading last night, I was in a state of shock. I was already starting to consider that I am infertile or sick. I was hospitalized and taken to the ER last night over what I perceived as heat stroke or a fainting spell. As it turns out, there’s already a bun in the oven and he/she has been taking up my energy.

I’ve peed on a stick countless times and I sometimes even had to delude myself into having that imaginary second line. But this time, I did not even have to squint my eyes because it’s clear as daylight. It’s finally here. All of the sore boobs, constipation, food cravings, dizzy spells, and general hot feeling seems to be worth it. The feeling is indescribable. This year, I learned new things about life and it was somehow preparing me for this next phase. I am really grateful because I was actually starting to worry about my fertility. Adoption has been a possibility I am exploring in case my worst suspicions were correct.

I am going to park this post right here for now while I think of my life-changing experience last night. 🙂 I am really grateful. I’ve always told myself that I am not God’s favorite. But I have my moments. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

The Genuinely Wonderful Things

There are two brand-related articles that I need to piece together today, and I am in this process of free writing and decompressing my thoughts before I prepare for these two and other “adulting” errands that I need to run today. One of my recent hobbies is cursive writing or resurrecting my natural penmanship through writing instruments like brush pens and calligraphy pen holders. A more awesome and portable addition to this humble collection is the Jinhao 500 ivory medium fountain pen for beginners recommended by Jillian and Keshia of Everything Calligraphy. Just holding it and gliding the tip of this pen on paper makes me feel like every word I write is worth a million bucks. I’m converted after being initiated in this wonderful world of fountain pens, and I am even using it for basic jotting down of notes and filling out of forms (as long as the paper GSM can handle it).

Jinhao-500-ivory-pen

Writing really inspiring messages or words using this nice pen filled with iron gall purple ink has turned into a hobby. This particular quote I wrote on my 80 GSM book paper notebook is one of the most inspirational ones I have seen online this month and it’s worth highlighting:

Jinhao-500-Fountain-Pen-ivory-design-iron-gall-ink-qotd

I had to make a lot of tough personal choices this year. One of them involved the direction I wanted to take professionally. I was cruising along in my comfort zone, finances were somehow sufficient, fun was always in the corner, and despite my simple life, it’s still far from subpar circumstances I had in life before.

My initial plans in 2015 did not pan out at all. Today is totally different from my expectations. But I am grateful that things turned out this way instead of what I had in mind. In a world of practicality, being genuine was a tough and expensive thing. When I was young, I think I already knew what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. But I always considered other people’s needs, other people’s expectations, and other people’s dreams for me.

A month ago, someone just one year older than me died of an uncontrollable illness. Her death jolted me to what matters to me, and solidly drove home the important concept that there are no rewinds. Every single day that I postpone the actionable things that will allow me to accomplish my dreams is a wasted and irreversible day. Based on that single standard alone, I have been wasting my time for a very long time now. 

A week after that, I took a leap of faith and suddenly took baby steps in the direction of my dreams. And I found it amazing that the doors just opened for me, welcoming me as if to tell me: “Where the hell have you been and what took you so long to acknowledge that this is what you need to do with your life?” All this time, it was right under my nose and I kept insisting that I fit my square peg in the world’s round hole. The moment I stopped basing my life decisions with other people’s grand ideas was the moment I started to live genuinely. I am my own person now. I am 30, what I want is crystal clear, and I am walking–nay running– towards it.

Now that I have found the things I genuinely want, I am gripping it tight and writing constantly to remind myself how hard it was to gain these insights and how ferociously I should guard them now that I have them.

Apart from these, I also made personal choices to just SAY NO to things I don’t like. I said no to people, event, and things that do not contribute to my well-being. I block off my own negative train of thoughts. I detect the triggers and firmly tell myself: you’re not going in that direction again.

This is the best part: I get to start over. Picking up the pieces after last year’s ground zero is extremely difficult. But somehow I made it. The world did not necessarily run out of problems to give me. As we speak, there are large personal challenges looming before me and my family. I am potentially dealing with major and life-changing losses. But somehow, I am managing it much better that I did before. Something in my mindset has changed me permanently. And it was a good change.

Since I had space in my life for new and better experiences and relationships, the details are happily working itself out. I was able to see the best in people and this brought out the very best version of me. It was not like before where every single day was a crazy hustle for survival, where I always look on people with guarded suspicion and a general instinct to keep myself in my shell. It’s still a struggle for daily survival but somehow I already gained the muscles and the mindset to keep going. My pace has been established. And even if it’s a very small or invisible accomplishment by the world’s standards, I know that I have made genuinely good progress in my unique race in this life. After all, you cannot make an impact or change other people’s lives if you do not begin the hard work inside of yourself.

I know that I could not have made it without my husband’s support, without the genuine desire to change things. I now fully believe that when you have the best intentions and you do your best to execute these intentions properly no matter what curveball is thrown, the world takes care of all your needs and points you to the right direction in a way that’s impossible to miss.

So, here’s a personal blog post to mark new beginnings, the pursuit of my most authentic life dreams, and the vice-like grip I have on the genuinely wonderful things.

 

 

 

 

 

 

FurMommy

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The latest object of my affection these days is a four-legged furbaby who has taken up most of my free time. I totally adore this puppy and I sleep beside her. She cured my decades of dog phobia with her cuteness and now I am joining in the alliance of people who are passionate for dogs, after years of preferring cats.

Now I know why so many people are crazy for dogs. They’re amazing! <3 <3 <3

My Reesey Pompom is pretty young and has a few tricks up her sleeve. A half-Pomeranian and half-Japanese Spitz, she loves belly/chin rubs, hates her vet visits (injections freak her out like crazy), and enjoys running around the house with her chew toys. I kind of spoiled her with new toys almost every week.

Strangely enough, she’s afraid of the outdoors and prefers walking inside the house. She’s what people know to be a toy breed which makes her so fragile; just jumping around can wreak havoc on her legs or trachea so I needed to develop that watchful eye to be a good furmommy. She fell off the bed once and I was unable to forgive myself for around a week. I also got equally frazzled when she acquired canine distemper, a horrible and very contagious disease that had her in the veterinary emergency room.  Fortunately, the Pendragon Veterinary Clinic in Kalayaan Avenue is super responsible. And her doctor Thea Salvador did an amazing job in saving her from doom. Had they not saved her, my poor Pompom will not have survived this long.

Speaking of poverty, I think I got really poor last month while adjusting to her needs. But the happiness she brings to the home is so worth it. If there was a rewind button and if I was asked to choose between the cost savings or the puppy, I will choose the puppy again. <3 Years ago, this would have been UNTHINKABLE. Haha!

Whenever I take Pompom to some place outdoors, she’d instantly get the attention of people and you cannot be a snob or ignore your surroundings when you are with a dog. I would actually end up SOCIALIZING despite my general anxiety, shyness, and introversion. It’s really nice because these days, it balances out my tendency to over-isolate myself. And you always have something to break the ice with. There’s just so many things to talk about with a dog in sight. And I kind of googled about dogs like crazy during the first three weeks that I took her home. There was a huge adjustment for me and I am happy to have undertaken that adjustment. It increased my happiness and decreased my stress levels considerably. <3

When I am working on my computer, she sits right beside my chair and she would go as far as following me to the bathroom (I forbid her, though. She tends to eat anything on the ground and I am trying my best to keep her clean.) There’s nothing more endearing than having that kind of rewarding companionship during the day while hubby is in the office and I am doing my thing in the way that I want here in my tiny nook. (Oh, and she wags her tail like crazy when her furdaddy arrives from work.)

Other than my baby Pompom, so many other things occupy my time these days. I am regularly working on my upstrokes and downstrokes for brush calligraphy and I also joined a camera club in a nearby city. Life is pretty simple from where I am but everything I want and need is within reach. I have one particular wish that has not been granted yet but I know that in God’s time, it can happen.

Meanwhile, I’ll attend to my furbaby with all my loving devotion. <3

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One Year

This is a personal blog long before the height of events blogging and the outpouring of groundswell thinking and I am supposed to write about this momentous occasion of celebrating my wedding anniversary with my DH. I used to call him my SO and it feels nice to call him DH now. I am starting to come to terms to being a wife now and approaching the Titas of Manila status. I used to be the one bobbing my head during late evening concerts but now I am mellowing into staying home and tinkering with things in my she shed.

Truth is, I can’t find words so I delayed writing it for a few days. I had pictures but not the right amount or intensity of words to describe how special our anniversary was or how special this relationship is, in general.

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I think it was in this same blog where I was ruminating a lifetime of growing old in a tiny flat alone with cats and stacks of books that hit the ceiling around 4 to 5 years ago. There are cats from where I live now, but I am far from alone, this is not a tiny flat, and the stacks of books are… very much stacked and still here with me.

I never imagined that I’d become a housewife. Yet, here we are, chronicling it from a very pretty home office that my husband helped set up for me with the generosity of my mother-in-law, father-in-law, and sister-in-law.

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I still don’t have the words today. On our anniversary, we did not necessarily travel far or out of the country. But we spent 365 days exploring each other and finding so much more about the other person and our very selves in the entire process. We hit some road bumps. Those road bumps were mere anthills for most old strong couples but they surely felt like mountains to me and him. After the end of the first year, I must say, I feel more solidly like we comprise 1 body than when we started out.

Marriage is not easy. It’s a rather violent process of melding two unique individuals and turning them into this special tag team. No, your wedding gown’s price tag does not prepare you for it, no matter how exorbitant the costs.

It’s not just about making love. It’s about making things work even when the other is being extremely unreasonable. I am usually unreasonable when I am unwell. I credit this wonderful person for being able to handle that, in the same way that I handle whatever defects he has. In fact, I am one of the world’s most self-absorbed people and marrying him allowed me to realize that and amend that so that I can love him more. I just can’t stay and be my old self because I know that I still have so much more to give.

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The definition of love does not change. Affections do not necessarily fade away. It just deepens when both parties are willing to submerge themselves in the love they have for each other.

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And this means that romance is now feeling kilig whenever he makes sure that I have a nice home office, when he stands in line on National Bookstore’s Warehouse sale not because he’s a huge bookworm and book hoarder but because it makes me happy to be there, when he makes sure that my medications are taken on time, when he buys my favorite bag of chips on the way home from work, when he manages me when I cannot manage the basic things in myself. (Like the really embarrassing basic things.) It’s when he feels kilig when I support his financial decisions or diskarte in life, when I make attempts to cook something, or basically TRUST him by not tinkering with his smartphone inbox.

When we were boyfriend and girlfriend, it was not like this. It was more on sparks. This year, it was more on commitment and deepening out of our self-giving.

This whole year that we entered into this marriage, I saw the man I stood at the altar with for who he really is minus the barong and the entourage: a really good person who is perfectly matched to me. And the fact that I cannot post this without crying means that he has touched my life at so many tremendous levels.

It’s the type of crying you do when you realized that everything you wished for in a man was given to you by a good God and you hope that it lasts despite the numerous trials that most married people attest to down the line.

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It’s not the type you see on movies like Paper Towns but it’s still love in its deepest form. I am posting a photo of him on a plain T-Shirt to prove my point. It’s not a movie poster. But that smile on his face is enough to make me smile for a lifetime.

(Remember that matchmaker who allowed us to meet? I owe her so much of my life’s happiness and I hope that she will always be blessed for introducing us.)

Happy Anniversary, Sweetheart. I love you!

 

Cloudy Sunsets

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I was earnestly waiting for the sunny side up sunset this afternoon. A cloud decided to pull the curtains down on the sky from where I stood. So it ended up looking like a hazy swirl of purple, pink, white, and light yellow amidst the backdrop of viewing decks’ silhouettes.

I perspired a little. The control freak in me dislikes not having the perfect shot. But my recent encounters with nature teach me that control is an illusion. And it is one of those days where you rigidly map out everything but your feet take you somewhere else.

Later this evening, I ended up having a meaningful conversation about life’s path– a solid piece of advice that I needed, the second wind I needed to sail through life again with the aplomb and audacity I had in the past. It was good dinner and excellent conversation from someone wise and ahead in years and completely understanding of what I am going through. I had no idea that I was meeting him today. Travel has that charm of unwrapping gifts in unexpected places.

He said a lot of things. Personal things now etched in my head permanently as I doggedly get back on track.

Basically, when clouds threaten to hamper your view, it is so much better to accept, adjust, and choose a better angle. And this is precisely what I did with today’s sunset. Perhaps, this is precisely what I will later be doing with other things beyond a simple sunset shot.