Activities · Self

The crosses we bear

A few days ago, I was torturing myself again. I felt like I was on the verge of depression again. I’ve had major depressive episodes in the past. It just kept on coming back time and time again. Every time it would come back, I would always be in a mission to wipe it in my life – forever. That expectation – that I can wipe it away forever – only made me feel like a failure every time it comes back.

I would go back to my toxic cycle of interrogating myself: Why am I depressive? Why can’t I simply be like those people who seem to just roll through in life, always bubbly and strong? Why do I feel so much? Why do I think so much? Why do I give so much importance to almost every single thing when other people can afford not to care? Am I ever gonna live without depression? Is it just part of my identity? And if it is, does it mean I am fucked up? Maybe I’m just an ungrateful kid? Why can’t I just focus on the bright side and religiously keep a gratitude journal? Maybe that’s gonna solve my problem?

It already sucks to be depressed. But beating yourself out because you’re depressed is just hell.

I no longer believe in an organized religion (although I grew up Catholic). But some religious teachings make sense to me. I am grateful for them and I allow them to guide my life.

Lately I realized that maybe some burdens are just chronic. Maybe we just gotta learn how to live with them. Maybe it’s true that each of us has a cross to bear. Maybe depression is my cross.

And while I’m not intending to romanticize depression (because it’s simply hell, period), there’s a part of me that believes that there is something good about it as well. I am depressive partly because I am sensitive, I am reflective and I care. It’s probably partly because of my upbringing as well, my genes, where I live and how my life has been. It’s also partly because of my sex and nationality. Would I change any of these things if it means wiping out my tendency to be depressed? I don’t think so. I can’t do that. I won’t wanna do that. Doing so would mean I’d have a different family, friends, different skills and different experiences in life. I won’t ever trade them for a life without depression even if it means that I’d have to be tortured for life. Having a different life would be worse.

Maybe to avoid feeling so defeated, maybe I just gotta accept my cross and learn how to live with it. Maybe this is also a part of accepting myself. I trust in my cross, I trust in my path, I trust that I can also turn this burden into my armor and a source of love and compassion.

Maybe through my struggle with thoughts of wanting to die, I’d find my own purpose and will to live.

 

People · Relationships · Self

What makes it worth it

Amidst my questioning of the meaning of life and whether all our suffering is any worth it, I realized that the opportunity to love and be loved unconditionally – which in my case has been possible by being blessed with the presence of my younger brother, DJ – is worth it.

My hope is that for each of us to experience this kind of love.

By having known Dj, by living life with Dj, by experiencing the world through him – it makes all the suffering and the pain of living worth it. Nothing can dim his light. Nothing can diminish his spirit. Nothing can stain his joy and wonder.

For this I will always be immeasurably thankful to God.

Self

This must be ennui.

Sometimes life feels like an obligation. It’s painful, unsatisfactory and totally pointless. Sometimes life just makes me feel tired.

Society says you gotta be passionate in your life. But when you care enough, you just get disappointed, betrayed or people just pull away from you. When you want to be seen, people disappear. When you don’t wanna be seen, people get clingy. People around you feel let down when you’re not happy, as if your feelings always have to be in relation to them.

You teach yourself how to take care of yourself so you can enjoy life to the fullest. But there are times when you ask why you wanna live longer or live in the first place. You try to make yourself feel better by thinking that you make a difference somehow, so all your hard work in becoming a better human and contribute to societal change is not in vain. But most of the time you know your existence doesn’t really matter. You can die any moment and the world won’t even notice. Sometimes you wanna live forever. Most of the time you’re just counting the days ’til you die. Sometimes this thought makes you hate the world, sometimes it liberates you.

The world is a fucked up place. And so are we.

Activities · People · Self

Some points of clarification from an introvert

The topic of introversion has been more popular lately, probably because of Susan Cain’s book, Quiet. I am an introvert and I have also written about this topic a few times in this blog.

While it’s good to know that people are becoming more aware of the different natures of our temperament, I feel afraid that we may be lumping definitions together in rigid categories.

Things are never black or white, and the purpose of this post is to clarify some notions about introversion based on my individual experiences and opinions as an introvert. 

Not all introverts want to be understood in relation to their introversion. 

I have known that I was an introvert even before I knew of such a term and even before it became commonplace. Even as a kid, I didn’t feel any kind of longing to be understood nor appreciated for being myself. Yes, my brothers felt curious about my solitary playtimes. They wanted to know what’s up with me so they’d take a peek into the window of my bedroom. Sometimes my classmates in gradeschool would make fun of me because they thought I was nerdy since I preferred to read books than talk with them. Even my parents and some relatives would find me weird because I rarely acted like a kid. I was mostly silent, reading, asking strange questions or creating things.

While it’s true that my introversion didn’t interfere with me having genuine and fun relationships with my family and friends and with achieving success in my goals, it has brought my life some pain as well like when people thought I was strange and funny.

But, so what? Don’t we all feel strange sometimes? At some point of our lives other people would make fun of us. We would do something different or totally absurd. It doesn’t even matter what it is.

I never really longed to be understood for being an introvert. In fact, I never cared about other people’s level of comfort when interacting with me. It’s not my problem if they find me strange. I never forced anyone to like my presence nor to be friends with me.

What I have always wanted was to be left alone. I am, in fact, most annoyed neither by those who make fun of me nor those who stay away from me but those who keep on poking me with the intention (probably genuine) of understanding me.

Anybody who does that to an introvert is obviously heading the wrong way. So for the record, not all introverts want to be understood. I, for example, am comfortable alienating others.

Sometimes the reason why an introvert dismisses you has nothing to do with introversion at all. Sometimes they just don’t like you.

I think, us introverts, are better at shutting people off, or cutting ties because we are aware that some relationships are just more pain than they’re worth and we can be blunt towards ourselves about it. We are more clear of what we need.

I actually find it fascinating that some people just don’t get it when I reject them. I think they find it unbelievable that a person can just cut them off without any evidence of guilt or confusion.

Yes, of course we can  dislike other people, too. Yes, sometimes, we can be very harsh, too. Yes, sometimes, we’re just better at ending things.

Introverts, don’t necessarily long for intimate talks either.

It’s a popular belief that introverts, generally, hate small talks. This might be true but it doesn’t mean that we prefer personal conversations instead. Since introverts, like me, are easily drained by other people’s energy, getting caught up in other people’s drama is the last thing on our bucket list.

Our temperament has nothing to do with our communication skills. I am in fact effortlessly good at small talks.

In fact, contrary to popular belief, I sometimes prefer it because of its shallowness. I can hide and rest beneath it.

Why would I want to have personal talks just with anybody I meet everyday? I would want to NOT establish a deeper connection with somebody I am not interested with. I would prefer that the people I don’t intend to keep in my life don’t know who I really am and I prefer not to know who they really are as well. I am also aware that small talks, can in fact, be very enjoyable, especially if it’s with a nice stranger. It can humanize our daily modern routines. It’s a good respite from our inner musings as well.

Activities · Relationships

What we do the morning after reveals more of who we are.

I’d like to reflect on one of Slavoj Zizek’s favorite argument about revolution. He says that the gathering of a huge number of people, all desiring for similar goals is relatively easy. You’ll feel your collective emotions and power together. You feel euphoric, united and larger than life. However, what really matters is the morning after. Months after the collective gathering, how have things really changed? Have they changed at all? Is it the kind of change the collective wanted? How did they feel about it? What are they gonna do about it?

Like in other aspects of our life, it’s relatively easy to do something out of passion, desperation  or inspiration. It’s a lot easier if there is some kind of momentum that pushes us in the direction we want to go.

However, what reveals our truth, what pushes our free will into full control is what we do the morning after. What do we do once our desperation ends and we feel safe in the achievement of what we want? What would replace that fiery, illogical passion once it’s attained its purpose? How do we appreciate our dreams once they’re actualized?

Do we start to take things for granted and mindlessly move on to conquer new territories? Or do we stay with the humble knowing that we have barely touched the surface and there is the infinite depth to be explored? Do we just rely on our emotions, our passions, our longings in manifesting what we want? Or are we capable of coming from a position of awareness of what we deeply find meaningful and what we believe we should do both in the pursuit and enjoyment of it? Are we fickle-minded and lazy, giving up in the first sign of the absence of emotional reactions? Or do we go beyond and take control of our emotions instead? Are we fleeting in knowing and pursuing what we want? Or do we stand on the firm ground of our being despite the temporary and confusing nature of our impulses? Do we even know how to make our emotions and our awareness of them work for us to begin with?

Activities · People · Relationships

This is fascism, too.

Fascism is not always overt. Most of the time it’s subtle and/or nobody openly discusses about it. No one is directly giving you orders on what to do or not to do. But this kind of fascism is actually more venomous.

It happens when someone wants you to do something for their benefit, but the catch is, they don’t simply want you to do it – they want you to like doing it.

Anyone can act like that in relation to us – our boss, our parents, our partners, our friends, our siblings, our kids etc. We can be like that to anyone especially those we are intimate with or have the power over in a societal sense.

I don’t disagree with giving orders when we are in the position to do so. There is nothing wrong, for example, when a parent tells her kid to sleep early because she has to go to school the next day or when a traffic enforcer orders taxi drivers to unload passengers in a specific stations only. What I find disturbing is when someone wants to take control of your emotions, too. That’s when it gets absurd and fascist. Anybody has the right to feel all kinds of emotions in all kinds of situations. There is no inappropriate feeling. All feelings are valid.

Our feelings are none of anybody else’s business.

Furthermore, by expecting someone to feel in a way that we like them to feel (because it makes us feel good about ourselves if they do), we are only putting ourselves up for frustration and disappointment. Nobody wins.

Activities · People · Relationships

The debate on “forever”, which goes on forever.

During lunch, my mom enthusiastically mentioned about the break up of her gay friend with his boyfriend because of a third party. I noticed a certain kind of satisfaction as she was telling the story. It’s like she even felt triumphant to have proven her belief that “forever doesn’t exist”.

I kept silent about it. I didn’t agree nor disagree. I just shared my observation that I didn’t know of any gay man who is in a serious, long-term relationship. I once argued with my mom that maybe the reason why some gay men couldn’t end up in long-term relationships is because they don’t want it to begin with. I believe monogamy is simply not for everybody.

I used to straightforwardly say that I didn’t believe in “forever” that’s why I didn’t believe in marriage. Maybe that response was more out of bitterness and cynicism than an actual, well-thought of belief. Since I met my partner and since we had been together, I realized more and more that there are certain concepts that can only be left to our own faith.

No one can prove if an actual thing which we call “forever” exists outside our imagination to which we can aspire to. Making conclusions based on our limited experiences is obviously naive.

Another argument I would want to point out is that by presupposing that a separate factor exists independently (this time I refer to that thing called “forever”) regardless of our decisions, we are actually washing our hands clean and avoiding all responsibility for the outcome of our relationships. Creating a loving and strong relationship with a partner can be done regardless of the existence of an independent and definite fate. Destiny/fate is not even a part of the equation because nobody decides on how things turn out or how they mean to us but ourselves.

Good relationships are not simply handed down from the heavens and some people are not randomly lucky or unlucky in love.  A good relationship comes out of a deep awareness of oneself, of the other and of the world that we shape and that which shapes us. A good relationship is a result of a series of decisions borne out of this awareness.

Contrary to popular belief, I would say that we always, ALWAYS attract the right person for us. Our partner is our reflection. We attract them and they attract us because we are in alignment with each other. It doesn’t mean we deserve an asshole partner or a shitty relationship. What it means is that there is something within us that attracts them and there is a reason why we let them into our lives and have power over us despite the fact that they’re not good for us. It doesn’t depend on external forces like forever or destiny. It depends on self awareness and self love.

I understand that some people say they use cynicism to protect themselves or their loved ones from getting hurt. But I don’t think we need protection. What we need is empowerment. Blaming forever/destiny for our own poor decisions won’t be helpful as well. We’re just stripping ourselves of our own power by doing so.

Activities · Relationships · Self

The importance of difficult feelings

I woke up in the middle of the night. I couldn’t make myself go back to sleep and I was pretty inconsolable in my loneliness so I meditated and talked to Archangel Michael instead. I asked him the importance of experiencing the difficult feelings such as pain, loneliness and grief. This is what he said:

When we’re in any of these difficult feelings, we become more aware. We begin to ask questions, seek meaning and connections in things around us. Our hearts are more open because it’s crying, it’s bleeding and it asks for comfort. We reach out for help; we pray to God, we crave the presence of our family, our friends, our partners. We are more grateful for the little acts of kindness that we get from strangers. The peace and steadiness of nature comfort us.

When we’re in pain, we become small. We begin to see the importance of other people. In our deepest of hearts, we want to bond, we want to merge with others. There are certain things that we can’t provide for ourselves. That’s why we need those difficult feelings. They make us want to connect. They make us realize that what matters is life is not status nor wealth, but the quality of our relationships and the depth of the love that holds us together.