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.



At times when work gets too hectically busy, my go-to source of relaxation is a hot tub (mug) of coffee or tea with honey.

I put my pen down, take off my earpods, and head on to the office pantry to fix myself that perfect cup. This seemingly rough patch-free task is sometimes disrupted by an already empty hot water air pot, which I have to re-fill because someone chose not to, and now, I don’t have any choice but to. Once that’s done though, I stand beside the dining table with my favorite pink/green mug filled with my beverage of choice: today, it’s hot tea with honey. 

I do not drink it at the pantry. Instead, I proceed to stand in front of the window behind my desk, always my favorite spot. I draw the blinds just enough to reveal the green pastures and birds waiting to greet me. When I’m lucky, I watch, oftentimes in amazement, how the soft drizzle of rain touches the greens that happily await below. 

No chit-chat. No unnecessary things said or heard. Just me, my mug, and nature – – – the same, only more meaningful, respite from work. ☕


Dear Doreen:

Yesterday, just as you were about to conclude what was supposed to be a great day, someone ruined it for you, with words that you feel (you believe) although meant to be funny as a joke, were unnecessary, offensive, and hurtful. That person might not have realized it, but her words stabbed you in the gut, quite badly. Her words left you embarrassed, angry, hurt, and worst of all, ashamed of the way you look.

Go ahead. I am allowing you some time to feel the pain. Cry if you must. Let it out, and let it go.

How very timely and apt that you chanced upon an article about someone else’s own struggles and how she lifted herself from such. It gave you some relief and assurance that you are not alone, didn’t it?  You are not the only one who gets undermined for the way you look. You are not the only one who has body issues. Everybody has it. But these so-called body imperfections are what makes you who you are. These imperfections are what makes you, YOU. These imperfections make you beautiful.

Yes, Doreen, you are beautiful. Say it again. You are beautiful. One more time, and this time, mean it. You are beautiful.

Look, I know you’re tired of the hurt, the pain caused by people’s words, expectations, and opinions of you. Stop listening to those that pull you down, and start appreciating yourself for who and what you are. I know it isn’t easy. It never really is, but it is possible — attainable, and you can do it.

Realize and acknowledge that as you go through life, you will still meet more people who will size you up and judge you. Let them. Keep in mind that you can never really please everyone, and you don’t really, actually have to.

Cast away negativity, and keep yourself open to positivity, always.

I love you. ❤️


Flashback to a few weeks ago, I was asked to help ‘little girl’ review for her 3rd quarter exams. ‘Little girl’ had already failed the previous two quarters, with grades of 72 and 73, and needed to do really well in this exam to be given before the holiday break. So review we did with the very little time we had. ‘Little girl’ is very bright, who just needed a little bit of push, so I was confident that she would do fine. I left their house that Sunday afternoon with high hopes and my fingers crossed.

This afternoon, I received a text message from ‘little girl’s’ mom thanking me for the help I’ve given her. Turns out, ‘little girl’ had gotten an 84 for the third quarter. Definitely a huge leap from her 72 and 73.

The news made me smile, a genuine one — the first time in weeks.
I have been feeling kind of sullen the past couple of weeks. Nothing seems to cheer me up; Even the ones that usually do the trick can’t seem to work their magic. I have been feeling kind of lethargic and sad, unproductive, and feeling a bit inadequate like I’m not doing enough. Maybe this is midlife crisis? Nah, too early, too soon. I’m only in highschool anyway. Although there is no shame in feeling such, one should not dwell too much.

It’s funny how just when I was really being too hard on myself, yet again, for whatever reason or whosoever’s doing, I wake up and open my eyes — wide enough for me to see how foolish I have been. Through the kids I help study every weekend, their parents, and my family and friends, I was made to realize that I am not inadequate, and that I should not dwell too much on my sadness and hopelessness. I was made to realize that as little as it may be, I am of help to someone. I have a purpose.

It’s just like that most of the time, we need to be reminded of our value or worth as persons because unfortunately, we have a tendency to either forget or neglect, or someone fails to see our worth and makes us feel that way. And it shouldn’t be like that. Actually, we should not even rely on other people just to see our worth. 

I have been schooled again. Another day, another lesson learned. Taking baby steps to become much wiser every day. Borrowing the words of Og Mandino from one of my favorite books, The Twelfth Angel, “Day by day, in every way, I’m getting better and better.”

Yes, I am.


She’ll admit it

She holds so much anger
So much hurt and pain
So much regret and disappointment
All at herself
All because of him and what he did
He has broken her
Into small shattered pieces
Now she is lost
Clueless on what to do
Where and how to start
How does she put herself back
To how she was
He did this to her, and now
She’s left with a task
To live again
Trust, believe again
And eventually forget
Only then will she ever love again.



You wake up to mornings

Day after day —
The same sunrise, the same singing of birds
The usual scenery alternates at times
With the sweet-tapping sound that raindrops make.

Either way, you go about your usual routine
Taking the same walks, making the same talks
Same old, same old concerns
Day after day after.

There are days when it becomes over familiar
And you feel like breaking free —
Do something unusual or out of the ordinary
You are stunned, bewitched
And wonder at how amazed you feel
How that momentary diversion
Can leave you in so much awe
And give you quite the liberation.

You bask in that temporary bliss
Swim in the intoxicating glory
Try and retain the feeling
Until the sun sets yet again
And you prepare yourself to wake up once more
To the same mornings you’ve had before.

I Should Not


I thought of you today

As I always do

I wonder how you are doing
I hope you are well
And work’s been okay

I hope you are happy and content

I get tempted and wonder
Do you think of me, too
Do I ever cross your mind
As often as you do mine

I know I should stop
Keep myself from having these thoughts

Because that’s all they are and will ever be
Thoughts — all foolish
None of them will ever be true.