Behind the Smile 

I’ve debated with myself many times before on whether or not I should write about this. Unfortunately, one of the things that’s so difficult to do is to be honest to oneself, so I’ve always opted with the latter. But I’ve later realized that no meaningful or sincere growth and happiness can ever be attained without honesty, and eventually, acceptance.

It started six or seven years ago. I don’t remember exactly what caused it or how it started. I, however, remember everything I felt, like it happened just yesterday. I call them my ‘episodes’.

I felt so exhausted — every single day, even when my day has not even begun. I wanted to ‘disappear’ in my bed every single morning upon waking up. And even when I’ve managed to drag myself to work, I spent the first hours sobbing until my eyes turned puffy and swollen. And while I sobbed, one close friend stayed beside me in silence to offer me an assuring hug after I was done. Each ‘morning crying routine’ dragged on for hours. After which, after my work has already been disrupted, I half-heartedly went about my tasks in a desperate attempt to brush the feeling off, only to do the same routine again the following day.

I hated myself. I felt so ugly, and I hated myself for it. This made me overly-sensitive and easily-irritable. I experienced a roller coaster of emotions, one minute I was my old usual happy goofy self, and the next, either sullen or gloomy, for no reason at all. I took offense in things that I commonly just ignored.  Today, I am the life of the party. Tomorrow, I isolate myself. I feel sorry for myself. I am terribly sad. My heart is often racing. I am overly nervous, anxious about something – nothing. I am constantly worried. Most nights, I spent awake. Some nights, I spent crying. Waking up with puffy eyes became a normalcy.

When I was asked what the matter was, or what the problem was, I didn’t exactly know what to say. How do I say that I felt terribly sad? How do I say that I was unhappy about life? How do I say that I feel like I have lost my purpose? And if they found out, what will people say? How will people react?

The saddest part was, because I didn’t know what I was feeling, or didn’t know how to articulate it, or didn’t want to acknowledge it, I started to believe I was already losing it. And although I never thought of hurting myself to end the pain and sadness, I did hope to never wake from my sleep and just cease from existing. If you consider that suicidal, then yes, I was suicidal.

My last year at my previous job was a struggle. The only thing people saw were my ‘sob sessions’. Only a few people cared to know what I was going through, and only one or two stuck around to get the answer out of me even when I refused to give it. And since only a few people ‘cared’, I felt even sorrier for myself.

I left my previous job thinking I was only burnt out. Maybe I was, to some extent. I left to get some ‘rest’, and in the process find answers, and eventually clarity and peace.

I learned (how) to brush the feeling off. I masked it with the sweetest smiles. I disguised it with the heartiest and uncontrollable laughter. I learned to make fun of myself. I threw the corniest jokes. I thought, the goofier I appear(ed), the better.

I started on a new job, a field totally alien to me. I was excited. I was in a new environment, around different people, and learning new things. I was hopeful. It was during these attempts that I temporarily forgot about my sadness. I got my relief.

Years after, I still fall into my episodes every now and then. It’s sad to note too that my episodes have caused some of my relationships to fall out. It has been a struggle.

But instead of masking the sadness and pretending nothing’s wrong, I have learned to express my episodes in a more productive way. A few years back, my silence and tendency to keep my feelings and opinions to myself, made a former boss doubt my capabilities. I understand her now. Last year, I went back to my first love and true passion – – writing. Through it I am able to express myself better, vent if I need to, and appreciate as much as I can. It has helped in more ways than one. It has given more than just relief.

And because I’ve learned to see the good in releasing my emotions, I have also learned to appreciate life more and choose happiness rather than dwell on my sadness. Not to say that I never feel sadness anymore, because I do. It’s just that now, it’s easier to manage. It’s easier not to dwell.

I still feel sadness. I still get anxious. I still worry. But now, I am honest, and I actually mean it when I say I am happy.

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An Ode

Wrote this while on my coffee break a few minutes ago. It’s freezing in our office, thanks to our overly excited air conditioning. Whatever inspired me to write, helped me with the chill.

We’ve spent countless years together

On days when stress overwhelmed,

You were there to provide an immediate relief

You were always by my side

Some people weren’t too accepting

You came on too strong, they said

But I didn’t care

I tried to fight for you

I tried to hold on even tighter

Some bonds are meant to last forever, may be

But ours, sadly, is just not meant to be

I have found another, another far better

One that’s just as strong, but more pleasing

One that’ll fill your shoes and be my new remedy.

*An Ode To Liniment (Farewell to White Flower, and Hello to Human Nature Soothing Balm) 

Quotable Quotes

I find inspiration in everything. I’m often inspired by people and their stories, but if that doesn’t work its magic, I flip through the pages of books I’m currently devouring, or I turn to nature, or I watch a film, or I listen to music. I also browse through Instagram and WordPress,  for some needed good juju. 

I often stumble upon gems – – pictures, lines from film dialogues or songs, or even quotes that enlighten and inspire. Gems that are sometimes funny and outrageous, but oftentimes weirdly apt and true which make it all the more amusing. Each gem I have grown to call as a ‘note to myself’. Nevermind what those mumbo jumbo studies say about people who believe in ‘pseudo-profound bullshit’ quotes. These float my boat. 

Today, I found this. I hope it brings you some light of inspiration or motivation, too. 

“So shatter, baby. Because when it’s time, you’re going to put those pieces back together, and you’re going to see just how stunningly resilient you are. And this new you, this stronger you, this mosaic you, is magnificent.”

Chips

Rough uneven edges

A shower of grains spilled at every bite

Salty, but not too overpowering to the taste

One pop after another

Can’t, won’t stop now

Leave the bag empty

Leave no trace, not a single grain in sight

Lick the remaining goodness on your fingertips

Anticipate the next bag you cut open wide.

Switch Off

I was busy reviewing a case when I noticed that my reading area had gotten dim. I thought either my eyes were getting tired, or there was someone hovering my area and covering the light. As it turns out, the fluorescent lamp nearest to me had just officially died, and unfortunately for me, the Maintenance Office claims to have no stored bulbs in its supplies. Tough luck. The light from my computer screen is not enough. This is torture for someone with poor eyesight and migraine.

On a lighter note, I just asked an officemate, who is a mother, to serve as an ‘ilaw ng tahanan’. Corny, but it made both of us laugh anyway.
Obstacles. Minor compared to what most are experiencing.
Like in most obstacles, I had two options. One, to dwell on this negativity, rant my head off, and succumb to whatever miserable state I was in. Or two, be more optimistic and claim that as soon as tomorrow (with fingers crossed), my ‘problem’ will have its solution.
There’s an obvious right choice. However, sometimes the obvious right choice is difficult and challenging to do, so I tend to do the other. I rant. I complain. I explode. Sometimes it solves the problem. Most often, it does not.
And that’s why I chose to do the right, more sensible thing. I feel good about it.
Fast forward to a few hours later. Here I am, in the dark again, stuck in the most terrible traffic, faced with yet another obstacle. I am tired. I am hungry. I have food, but I don’t want to eat here. I want to be home with family.
My driver, who’s probably already in his 70’s, seems more tired and much hungrier. He seems more anxious, too.
We talk. I offered him candies and some takeout food, which he happily accepted. He now has a smile on his face, and so do I.
One hour and thirty minutes (and counting) for what was supposed to be just a 20-minute ride home. Unless this car had long mechanical legs or wings, then I can’t do anything (rant, complain, blame myself for choosing the wrong day to run an errand), but wait and be patient.
Patience. My thoughts run back and forth to the fluorescent lamp (or the lack thereof) at the office and the decision to eat some of the takeout food that I have. Just a bit more, we’re moving. Slowly, but moving anyway.
I blink, and it’s not as dark anymore.
I’m home. ❤️

Much Ado About The Loo (A Reflection On and About Public Restrooms, Among Other Things)

I remember Spider-man whining about how having superpowers is both a blessing and a curse.

You know what I think is both a blessing and a curse? PUBLIC RESTROOMS.

Public restrooms provide the momentary, but immediate and much-needed comfort and relief. It’s not meant to, but it often serves as a witness and venue for when certain matters/issues need to be dealt with privately. Most of the time, at least in my case, it is where I get the most meaningful reflections and the best creative ideas for writing. Am I the only one who reflects, meditates, or composes essays while peeing?

Public restrooms are a blessing.

All these are quickly disregarded though when you chance upon a public restroom smelling foul. While I know it’s not supposed to smell like your own bathroom, I feel the smell should at least be neutral or clean. Or like a bathroom cleanser, maybe? The foul smell assures you the place has not been properly maintained, and that the stench will more or less stick to your clothes better than magnet on steel. The smell is an assault to the senses. Scratch that. The smell and appearance are an assault to the senses.

One restroom I frequent was recently renovated, and with that came a few new facilities. It now has a huge mirror. The tiles have been changed, too. Gone are the yellowish-used-to-be-white ones it once had. The cubicle doors are likewise brand new, with fully-functioning locks. Gone are the days when I had to hold onto the door while semi-squatting on the toilet. That, by the way, is every woman’s hidden talent. Take a bow, ladies.

Blessings, right?

Not quite. Not with the additional provision of bidets in every cubicle. This one’s a menace. A menace, I tell you.

But first, a brief vocabulary lesson. Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines the word ‘bidet’ as “a bathroom fixture used especially for bathing the external genitals and the anal region.” It’s clear which part of one’s body bidets are meant to clean. And although I understand why this particular fixture was provided, I can’t help but also think how bad of an idea it is, particularly in a public restroom. I, for one, feel it’s very unhygienic to have or use bidets in public restrooms, but that’s just me. And this is even assuming, bidets are used properly – correctly. Here’s a thought: what if it is not?

Since the renovation and the installation of bidets, I have never seen this particular restroom this filthy. The cubicle floors are always flooded with puddles of water, and the seats are always doused with a mixture of water and urine. With all the amount of water, err –liquid, you see, you’d think at least the inside of the toilet is clean, right? I give people way too much credit and benefit of the doubt, I know, because it seems with the newly-installed bidets, people have forgotten how to use the toilet flush. Of course, the sink counter is not spared. It would take a whole of effort to leave the restroom with a dry shirt after brushing your teeth.

Unrest and discomfort.  Curses!

From public restrooms and other office or school facilities, to social media, free speech and expression, suffrage – these are all reasons to be thankful. Blessings. If only we do not abuse them. Curses.

But borrowing the words of Uncle Ben in Spider-Man, “with great power comes great responsibility.” Just like with everything you own, have, and enjoy, you have to value it, take care of it, and respect everyone else who uses or has it. You lose that, then everything just plainly becomes a curse, for you and for everyone else.

I still use this particular restroom, mainly because more often I don’t have a choice but to. I still wish for a day when I get to see it in pristine condition, meaning no stench, no unrecognizable liquid in sight — a place that can actually live up to its name — a comfort room.

 

But until then, as with everything else (other public facilities, social media, free speech and expression, suffrage), I will continue to proceed with care and caution, I continue to arm myself with enough toilet paper, (p)wet wipes, and alcohol with every visit.

Awake

Are there times when you get too overwhelmed with the wonderful things that are happening, 

You’d have to pinch yourself to check if you’re dreaming

Feel the pain from the pinch, but be glad to have felt it

Feel the relief that everything is real and true 

Then pray you’d stay wide-awake as everything unfolds ❤️