The Truth and the Lies of Therapy.

Not everyone needs therapy, but all of us could use it. Yet, those could benefit from it the most refuse to go. And that’s OK. One shouldn’t be shamed or forced to go to therapy. I had the fortunate and unfortunate privilege of being put in a situation where I almost had no choice. In other words, I was depressed and desperate, but it still felt like MY choice. However, if you are interested and just need a little nudge and support, I hope the following notes based on my personal experience eases any qualms you have.

Therapy doesn’t cure you. Well, if you didn’t want to go to therapy before reading that, I’m sure you really don’t want to go now. “What’s the point then?” you might be wondering. For me, therapy provided a safe space for me to pour my heart out – to vent and cry to someone unbiased without feeling like a burden. That alone was therapeutic, and getting to the root of some of my issues was an extra bonus.

Therapy is for “crazy” people. Possibly the most harmful of stigmas, this is what happens when you don’t normalize a clinically proven form of self-help. We can thank Hollywood and years of transgenerational shame and ignorance for this. Growing up, I thought only schizophrenics or the suicidal went to therapy. The truth is, you don’t have to be crazy to see a therapist, you don’t even need to be sad to. “Normal” people go to therapy and ideally, everyone would go to therapy.

Therapy is for the weak. The fallacy is you are weak for asking for help, when it couldn’t be further from the truth. It takes courage to walk into uncharted territory, it takes confidence to swallow your pride, and it takes strength to keep going.

Therapy is a last resort. While therapy may not be your first choice, it shouldn’t be reserved for only worst case scenarios. We all have our own reasons for seeking therapy, and they can be little or big. It doesn’t always have to be about childhood abandonment issues or a single traumatic event, it can be as seemingly straightforward as not liking your job. In actuality, nothing has to be wrong for you to reap the benefits of professional help. I like to think of it as maintenance.

Whether you decide to go now or later, I’m very proud of you for taking a step towards healing, no matter how big or small it is.

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i know i shouldn’t, but i do.

I know I shouldn’t do it, but I do – compare.
From the flatness of her stomach, to the curves on her hips – I am lacking.
The cleavage, the light eyes, the dimples, the curly hair.
But I have the crooked teeth, the wrinkles, and the dull skin.
When I want the long legs, full lips and perfect complexion.
It doesn’t end there.
I am sad with myself when I see them – snowboarding, riding motorcycles, and being mermaids.
Because I am too scared, too uncoordinated, too old, or too anxious.
Too this, too that, but never enough.
I feel bad when I admire their accomplishments, see their passport stamps, or hear them sing.
When I don’t own anything or inspire movements or even play the guitar.
Maybe what hurts the most and makes me feel the least,
Is not having had used the gift of my body to house somebody.
To have someone that looks like me look at me.
To have someone think the world of me without wanting the world from me.
I know I shouldn’t feel it, but I do – feel unremarkable.
Not all the time, not even most of the time.
So I apologize to myself and to you,
Because I know it’s not true.
Because I know there are others that still pray for the life I live.
Because I am grateful for all the things I am, and all the things I am not.
It’s just something I do, even though I know I shouldn’t.
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0 to 2 real quick.

When we’re starving, we want to eat. When we’re thirsty, we want to drink. So when we’re sad, we of course want to be happy. But it’s never as easy as stuffing our face with a burrito or chugging a tall glass of water when it comes to satiating our feelings.

Instead, we take drugs and drink alcohol. We start a new gym regimen or take up yoga. We immerse ourselves in a new project or find our next obsession. Maybe we even cut our hair, or splurge on something nice. The lucky and rare are cured, but for many of us, we still feel bad. In some cases we feel even worse, because a failed attempt at happiness is just a reminder of what went wrong to begin with and a confirmation of how we’re once again not good enough.

They say that when you hit rock bottom, the only way to go is UP. This is great, but when you’re only focused on the sky you can get blinded by the light. You make irrational moves in a desperate attempt to claw your way out of that hole. You slip, you fall, and you hurt yourself. We are always looking for a shortcut, but there are no shortcuts when it comes to healing.

What we fail to recognize and ultimately accept, is that it’s OK to take your time when it comes to healing. It’s not ideal, but it’s OK and it’s normal. It’s not realistic or sustainable to go from being in the depths of depression to Cloud Nine with a snap of the fingers. What is obtainable and less pressure on ourselves, is taking little steps to make ourselves a little happy. Or at the very least – a little less sad.

This is going to go against everything I’ve learned in the past few years, but next time you’re feeling like a zero, aim for a two instead of a 10. If at the end of it all you’re only at a one, it’s still better than feeling like a zero. Instead of beating yourself up for not reaching 10, feel proud that you went up a number.

When you really think about it, it’s annoyingly simple. Abraham Hicks’ Emotional Guidance Scale seen here is the inspiration. Next time you are feeling a negative emotion, identify where you are on the scale and then choose a thought or feeling that takes you out of it. Marinate in that new feeling and then repeat if you have the mental and emotional capacity to do so.

You can do this by playing your favorite song, watching a funny movie, taking a hot shower, watering your plants, calling your best friend. You can do this by simply taking deep breaths or just looking around you and recognizing that you have a roof over your head, clothes on your back, food in your fridge, and air in your lungs.

I hate for all you get out of this post is to aim low. One of my favorite cheesy quotes is even, “Aim for the moon, if you miss you may hit a star”. Just know that the view from a mountain top can be absolutely breathtaking.

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Apples and Trees.

A friend of mine started sharing random videos of cute babies doing cute things after she realized I held the same affinity for them. During one of our ovary kicking conversations, she expressed that she wanted to have a baby soon. However, she was scared to bring one into this crazy world. From as far back as I can remember, “I’m scared to bring a child into this crazy world” has been a common saying. Now, for the first time in my life I can say I don’t agree. 

This is a bold claim, but I truly believe that the kids of this generation are going to be the ones that change the world. I see them taking a stand, questioning the authority breaking everything, showing empathy, helping others, and am so inspired by them. I see children at peaceful protests and while some may be too young to know what’s going on, I know they will remember the experience.

On Easter I noticed so many videos of egg hunts and Easter baskets. It was as if Covid didn’t exist. The parents on my timeline did what they had to do to make sure they had plastic eggs, and chocolate bunnies and happy babies despite long lines, germs, and the stress of already having to be a parent working from home. My friends are some of the most compassionate, empathetic, smart, patient and accepting parents I know, and I am constantly in awe by how they are raising their children.

For the first time, I actually feel hopeful about the future. I’m so sure about this, because I know the PARENTS of our future teachers, doctors, therapists, counselors, leaders, thinkers, doers, and lovers. WE are the children stopping trauma from being passed down from previous generations.

The world can definitely be a scary place, but I guess it’s never the perfect time to bring another life into it. It is however, always the right time to kids to be more compassionate, confident and assertive. The best part is I’m finding that I’m learning more and more from kids instead of the other way around. So not only am I hopeful for the future – I’m excited for it. 

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you’re a bird.

The other day I was sad. Not sad, sad. Just little kid sad, pouting and stuff. It was 79 degrees and we don’t have a deck, or a balcony, or a backyard, or nearby beach or park to lay out in and we’ve been in purgatory for 53 days. You were waist deep in work, but looked at me sulking long enough to say, “You’re a bird, you need to be free”. And for a second, I loved you like it was the first time again.

You always get me, except for when you don’t. But when you get me, you get me. Like the time you brought home Humphry Slocombe “Secret Breakfast” even though you don’t like me eating all the sugar, or laying out my yoga mat and pausing the video right before the first pose starts. Or restringing the tie in my workout shorts, because I don’t have the patience to do it myself. Or when you make half the bed before you go to the driving range, so that I could finish making it when I wake up. 

See, it’s not so bad I tell myself. But sometimes, I hold on to the resentment so tightly, I let everything else slip away. I forget you’re trying too and don’t want it to be like this. So I pack your pills for you every Sunday, making sure to include two Pepcid’s in the morning and three at night. I squeeze you extra tight in between meetings even though you think I’m as affectionate as a pinecone. I drive around for 10 minutes looking for parking, yell profanities at all the one-way streets, and accidentally drive into a parking garage, because I know how much you miss Philz. And every night before I go to bed, I ask the universe to send you things you don’t think to wish for yourself.

I know it doesn’t work that way, but I do it anyway. ‘Cuz “if I’m a bird, then you’re a bird too”. 

giphy

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QuaranTime.

It is now officially Day 40 of shelter in place (SIP), although technically Day 48 for me. I suppose it’s now appropriate to call whatever the fuck is going on “the new (but don’t forget temporary) normal”. While I never thought shit was a joke, I initially and naively rescheduled a March 14th dinner reservation to April 19th with an overzealous optimism. I’ve since cancelled it as well as the rest of my life for 2020. I also gave in and ordered some equipment for my work from home station aka my dining room table. If you can’t beat them, join them, and now panic ensues every time I have to eat dinner on my light grey couch. 

Some things have changed since the first day of SIP, and some things remain the same. While everyone is still adjusting, it’s also getting easier. People have found their stride and created routines, which is great, but also a little bittersweet.Information is constantly changing, because no one actually knows what the fuck is going on. Everyone is learning as we go along, and we are all just trying to do our best. It’s like we’re living in this weird purgatory, where we have to put our life on hold in order to actually live it. Unfortunately, time stops for no one. Not even Covid.persistenceofmemory1931

You see, time be hitting different under quarantine. You no longer have to commute, yet there seems to be even less hours in the day. Oddly, you’re working longer hours, because it’s harder to stay focused. I can’t even imagine how it is for people with kids. It’s as if time is suspended and you’re in limbo. This “extra” time, doesn’t really feel so extra – it feels sparing. The days pass by and no matter how creative you get, you still find yourself waking up to brush your teeth just to brush them once again at night. Most of the time, the in between is all a blur. The days are fast, but the progress is slow and I constantly wonder how much of my life am I wasting in quarantine?

The cruel part is THIS is what we’ve always wanted – just not the way we wanted it. People, therapist, friends, memes, THE WORLD has been telling us to stop and smell the roses. Now we have all the time to do so, and some people still aren’t smelling them or are tired of smelling them. Maybe some of us will never be content. The Greek philosopher Heraclitus (I really would’ve changed my name) said “Nothing is permanent except change”. I know first hand that even good change can be scary.

Everyone deals with things differently. Some people thrive in this type of situation. They bake, do yoga, make arts and crafts with the kids. While others cry, they gain weight, and binge watch Snowfall. Some do a combination of all these things on any given day. I have no answers. I don’t even really have a point or ending for this post. I’m just over here in limbo with the rest of y’all. I might as well make it fun and grab a rum punch while I’m here.

Editors note: It’s now Day 86 since this sat in my draft box for weeks.

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Day 68 – The Isolation Journals: The Unlearning

Your prompt for today:
Reflect on the first time you became aware of race—either yours or someone else’s. What meaning did you make of it then? How has that meaning evolved?

I was lucky/privileged/blessed – whatever you want to call it, to have never experienced racism growing up. At least not knowingly. No one ever called me a “chink” and I was never hit on by men with “East Infections”. I was aware of other races and cultures since moving to San Francisco from the Philippines when I was two, but the two instances that immediately came to mind when I saw today’s prompt are from high school. 

I went to Philip & Sala Burton. I don’t know what the actual demographics were when I attended, but I remember it as predominately Black, Latino and Asian. I never felt like the minority. Burton was known as the school for smart people who couldn’t get into Lowell. My Freshman year was the first year they adopted uniforms and dismantled ROTC. I was bummed about both. 

I remember one year walking through the halls and hearing a black student speak Spanish. Wait, what? But he’s black? I was dumbfounded, it also never crossed my mind that he could’ve just been a black person that knew how to speak Spanish. Come to find out he was Cuban. Up until that very moment, I hadn’t realized Cuban people came in a plethora of colors and sizes just like how I didn’t know Brazilians could also have blonde hair and blue eyes. I was so intrigued, and for lack of better words, I thought it was so “cool”.

The second instance, and probably the one time in my life I felt even remotely judged because of my culture was in my US History class – honors, thank you very much. We had a multi-cultural potluck where we were supposed to bring traditional family dishes. My mom made pancit and I remember her complaining about it the entire time, so I was more than grateful to actually have something to bring.

We placed all of our dishes on a bunch of desks pushed together to make a buffet table. As I was getting food, I saw and overheard two other students – friends actually, screaming over the dish I brought. One of them pointed at one of the shrimps in the dish that still had its head attached and screamed, while the other one laughed and yelled, “Gross!” I don’t think I said anything, but I wish I had. I just felt so hurt, my focus was on trying to keep my tears from falling.

It wasn’t so much that I felt they were being racist, just insensitive. I felt bad, because my mom put in all this work (and trust me, she rarely did that when I was younger) and these two assholes were not just unwilling to try it, but were making fun of it. The irony is one of the girls is half Asian, and the other is now married to a Filipino man. So what did little, introverted, hates confrontation, but hates inconsiderate people even more high school Abi do? I proceeded to grab a heaping serving of the pancit in front of them. And you best believe I had a shrimp head in there. 

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IMG_9603

Dear Black Kings and Queens,

I feel unqualified to write anything, but how can I NOT write something? For now, I just want you to know that I see you and I am here for you. YOU ARE INVALUABLE.

Love, Me

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Feel Me.

I used to pride myself in being able to write what other people felt or thought, but could never quite articulate. I struggled for a while to find validity in my writing, wishing I had real talent. Something quantitative, like being able to play the guitar by ear or effortlessly snowboarding down a black diamond. No one tells the room to quiet down, so people can gather around – eyes gleaming as they watch you type on your laptop. No one gives you a standing ovation and tosses you flowers after writing a blog. But that’s not why we write is it? Enabling sympathy and empathy is a talent, even f I still have to convince myself it is from time to time. Now more than ever do I have to convince myself it is.

I’ve been experiencing a new kind of writers block. One where I feel like I’m no longer relatable, because I’m no longer relevant. What do I write about? No one’s breaking my heart in a volatile fashion. My life is no longer messy in an entertaining way. I’m not dating different men with new dicks and new antics. 

I don’t have kids, so I can’t relate to parents. I’m no longer young and dealing with fuckbois, so I have nothing in common with 20 year olds. And I’m not married, so why would someone with a ring on their finger listen to me? I’m not a successful entrepreneur or business owner, or even “Insta-famous”.  

Then, the other week someone reposted a blog I wrote from 2009 saying that even after all these years it still makes her cry. The minute I read the post, the memories came flooding back. I remembered who it was about, why I wrote it, and the pain flowing from my heart and into my veins that fueled that dark time in my life. “Same girl, same” I replied.

You see, people with kids once only hoped for them. People who are married fucked a few frogs before finding their king/queen. And every successful person has sacrificed before they flourished. We always remember our first love. Our last love. The moment we found out we got cheated on. The moment we realized we were in love. The times we almost gave up. The people who made sure we didn’t. 

We may forget certain details, like the exact words that were said or who hung up first. Maybe even the who what or when, but we never forget how we felt during these times in our lives. We will always remember how sad we were even if we’re happy now. How low we were, even if we’re on cloud 9 now. We will always remember the feelings, I just hope that I get to be one of the people who helps you remember. Writing might be a talent, but it’s also subjective. I’d like to think of it more as a gift, meant to be shared and given.

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Murder She Wrote.

She is a writer and she is a warrior.
Carrying a machete full of metaphors and shield of similes.
With her pen, she can blow minds and slash tongues.
Make men rub their chin, make women clutch their heart, and make black hearts bleed
Blood – black and blue, spilling my guts and my heart out to you.
Staining coke white lines darker than doubts.
With her fingers on the keys, she can start fires or soothe sleeps.
In your bones, rubbing salt in wounds you thought healed long ago
And kiss cuts you thought would never feel good again.
She will make you feel things.
Tickle your brain and whisper all the words you never knew you wanted to hear.
Thoughts that can’t escape you.
No rebuttal.
With a flick of the wrist and lick of the lips, she will suck the words out of you.
Do not start a war with a writer, because she will never let you forget
The electricity of your first kiss, or the agony of your last heartache.
Periods and apostrophes razor sharp.
She spits fire. Wordplay daggers penetrating your limbic system
YOU WILL BEG FOR THE STICKS AND THE STONES.
Even the Devil doesn’t want to dance with her.
And when all is said and done,
She will write your ending, so that you could relive it over.
And over.
Again.

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