how to be strong

Am I even strong?

There’s a lot I have to learn about strength, and I won’t pretend to have the worst experiences to back up whatever I have to say because I, most likely, don’t.

The last few weeks has been rough for me, and the only time I ever felt like this was 3 years ago. I remember shutting everyone and everything out when I crumbled because I was terrified of being judged, of being deemed as weak then taken advantage of, and I know a part of me didn’t wanna trust anyone anymore. I guess that’s why I ran; it wasn’t just figurative either.

When things started coming at me again about a month ago, I wanted to do the same thing. The feeling reminded me of my worst nightmares, not that I wanna wake from them, but that I wanna stay in them. Surely, they were all better than how I felt right now, but even that’s not an option because I’m stuck — again not just figuratively. This is where I grow a deeper fondness for John Green’s Papertowns. I wish I was Margaux Roth Spiegelman; I’d grab a backpack and a map and just go.

Leave.

It’s not always as easy or simple as uprooting your whole life and physically running from what you think is the problem. Sometimes the problem runs with you, not after you. You’re the key to the problem.

How you handle it lies in your understanding of yourself and what you’re facing. Trust that, and if it’s not too much to ask, trust the people who genuinely care about you too. I made the mistake of walking away when I could have had the support of those who didn’t leave when I was breaking. Not only did I make the the journey unnecessarily difficult for myself, I also punished them immensely.

I’m not suggesting to cling onto someone because I know, in times like this, you’d want to be alone and think, but don’t cut your connections because they may be your lifeline when you’re done facing your beast. Remind yourself that they want to be a part of your life, hardship or not, because they want you to be okay. Their means won’t always be what you need or want, but that doesn’t dilute the concern they have for you.

I won’t act like I have the answers because, if you’re going through a rough patch, we’re in the same boat, sailing similar traitorous waters. All I have to leave you with is the advice that I never got: strength comes in different forms. It won’t always mean facing the problem head on or running away from it completely. Whatever it means to you, remember that you have the power here, even when it feels like a free fall. 

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weight for me

Get it? Weight? Forgive me, my very patient readers, I feel unusually punny this morning.

I was still young when I first discovered the social standards of what’s an “acceptable body type”. Even then, it perplexed me. How can there be a standard for bodies when there are at least 7 billion people in the world, with obviously very different frames and figures? What’s even more confusing is the decreasing number on the scale that’s religiously celebrated by TV ads, magazines and fashion shows—soon enough in the streets of cities and the hide outs of far flung towns too.

Body image is both a personal and a social concept. Much of how we objectify beauty  is caused by the culture we live in. Beauty in an African town, not yet reached by the claws of New York runways, may be an exquisite, dark-skinned lady with a short, curly hair and hefty womb, ideal for child-rearing. In Japan, it could be captivating doll eyes and a petite frame, emphasized by a bright eye make-up and pastel, baby doll dresses. In fashion week, it’s a size zero, thigh-gapped, perfectly-sculpted, 5’7 and above model walking down the runway for some of the biggest names in the industry.

What’s my point there? That even in a very superficial and judgmental society,  beauty is and always will be relative.

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This isn’t the part where I say, well be unhealthy and and raise you middle finger in mock salute to those who eat greens. That’s not my intention.

If the world gets to set standards on beauty, so can you. Make it personal; make it about you. Embrace your curves, your slim figure, your bum, your muscles—everything about you. If you still wanna lose some weight, fine. Go for it! Before you do that though, make sure you love yourself first because if you’re counting on loving yourself when you’ve lost all the weight, it might not work. Often, body image issues aren’t even physical. It’s what you see, not what really is.

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I want you to look in the mirror and see someone beautiful.

I hope you’ll step on that scale and love yourself whatever number it shows.

I beg that you walk in any store and ask for your size confidently, not caring if it’s in one or two digits.

I pray that you’ll be happy with who you are, proud that you’re beautiful in every single way.

 

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a #dearme poetry

Because I know that 16-year old me will not appreciate a narrative advice from a 23-year old,

I wrote a poem that she’ll most likely pretend to brush off (but go back to when the lights are off).

So #dearme at 16,
you dearme copy

#SuicideAwarenessDay

That moment when you’re so eager to write about something you feel so strongly about that a million words are begging to burst out and be written but at the same time as the pen hovers over the paper, nothing comes out- not a single word, well I’m having one such moment. I’m just unsure of how to begin this. Do I start with statistics or quotes or pictures or my own experience or someone else’s that has helped shape my own? Something compelling enough to interest you but honest still that it remains as meaningful as it should. Let me start with this:

Suspend your judgments. Suicide isn’t just about statistics, it’s about stories.

suicide

Some of you will judge this entry the same way you judge every person who committed suicide or have tried to, with extreme prejudice and I ask for the sake of this day and this discussion that you open your mind to opinions other than your own. The fault of this bunch, which I don’t find a fault at all but many will, is how we see things. You see them at eye level, for what it is. We see them from overhead, standing on a table and seeing ourselves in comparison to others, in association with things we don’t have or the person we can never be, happy.

I will not generalize the neigh sayers, they come from different backgrounds and varied beliefs, nor will I stereotype those who have had this problem. Trust me they’re not always the guy with the heavy eyeliner make up and a blade pendant secured around his neck. It’s not as plain and black and white as that. Sometimes it’s the town’s golden girl who maintains straight As and is quietly drowning in the pressure of perfection or maybe the quiet kid who sits at the back of the class who is invisible to everyone but the restroom mirror where he spends his lunch dismantling a sharpener.

I'm scared | via Tumblr

To them suicide is a way out, not selfish but reasonable. To stay in a cycle where you’re constantly unhappy and alone, feeling either like a huge disappointment or anonymous is not worth living over every single day. That thought consumes you and dulls every form of happiness most people savor. TELLING US TO GET IT TOGETHER AND DISMISSING OUR WORRIES WON’T HELP BECAUSE REALLY WHEN YOU DO THAT, YOU’RE BRUSHING US OFF. Were you even listening or were you too busy judging us and labeling our problem  non existent because it’s not cancer or ebola virus?

I am in no way advocating for suicide, not because it’s cowardly but because YOU’RE WORTH A LIFE. Trust me when I say that no matter how bleak and dark your life is right now, I need you to hang in there. YOU ARE WORTH EVERYDAY YOU FIGHT FOR. YOU WILL FIND HAPPINESS ONE DAY AND IT WILL BE EVEN MORE WORTH IT BECAUSE YOU KNOW HOW HARD YOU FOUGHT FOR IT. I’m sorry you had to in the first place but trust that your strong enough to overcome this and know that wherever you are, no matter how alone you feel, you never are. 

And to those whose made it and are now happier and better, I am so proud of you. You deserve every praise for deciding to stay and choosing to stick with it every single day since. I wish you the happiest of days, you deserve no less for the courage and strength you’ve shown. There may still be rough patches ahead but find comfort in the fact that the enemy you fought already lost a few times before and you have the upper hand because you’re stronger than all you demons.

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My friend mentioned a few days ago how pointless suicide hotlines are because if you really wanna kill yourself, why would you want someone to stop you? She has a good point actually and I’ve considered coming up with alternatives. Although I’d like to think that it’s because most of them, deep down just want a reason to stay. Here’s one:

Everyone is worth saving. YOU ARE WORTH SAVING.

So be it on #SuicideAwarenessDay or any other day of the year, if you ever feel like throwing in the towel, talk to someone. Sometimes we only need reminding of how much we’re worth. There’s no shame in that.

And to everyone else reading this post, I hope you’ll find it in your heart to be nicer, more open-minded and understanding of people whose circumstances may be far from your own. Give that shy guy beside you a chance. Talk to the girl who consciously fiddles with her shorts at gym class. Avoid stereotyping the abrasive jock loitering the hallway. Tweet someone you’ve never talked to words encouragement when she seems down and ask about her day. Get to know to know them and give them more reasons to love the lives the they have and the people that they are. A simple act of care and kindness will go a long way especially to someone who doubts he’ll ever get any.

You matter.

#depression

I realised.. IM HERE FOR YOU ♡♥♡

One morning I woke up with an unfamiliar material draped securely on my back. It was heavy and cold and it very much resembled a cloak- like in one of those old Hollywood movies. The fabric clung to me like second skin, choking, smothering and weighing me down while it slyly remains invisible to the eyes of even those staring right at me. No matter how hard I fidget, move my body like a convulsing freak, grab at it, try to tear it away from my body with all the strength my man hands could muster, it remains rigid and unrelenting. There are days when I feel the grip tightening, leaving steady marks on my skin that will remind me of how it possessed me for as long as I live.

It’s daunting to admit how much it’s affecting a full grown person with rationality and control. The fear of judgment and ridicule in society where the easiest response would be to ask if the cloak truly exists or if I made it up because I’m either crazy or in CRAZY need of attention. Either way I will be labelled a freak and avoided like a plague or talked to behind my back. To the few who care enough to consider that there MAY be a cloak, they’ll look you from head to toe and when they see no physical manifestations of a life threatening cloak. They walk away claiming that you’re lucky it won’t require surgery. At that moment, I wish it did. Maybe I’ll get more help if people can physically see the pain an invisible cloak is causing me.

You might know the cloak by its common name, depression.

its not fair how i see everyone breathing.

Yes my lovely readers, how timely right? Just as the world is  confused, bewildered and pained by Robin Williams’ death, one caused by this cloak itself, I decide to write about it. Well to be honest this entry was inspired by him. I have been struggling to write anything on this subject for years, ever since I started this blog actually, but I never had the courage, words or inspiration to even start. That changed when I was aimlessly browsing through my twitter feeds and froze on one of the trends. I think we all know which trend it was.

#RIPRobinWilliams

A thousand RTs, skimmed articles and a full blown movie marathon later, I decided I need to write something about this. Screw inhibitions and fear, depression is a real thing and it has to be talked about because more and more people are falling victim to it and very few seem to take it seriously. The most infuriating yet common reaction we get is it’ll pass or get over it. Those are the words of an ignorant person brushing off something purely because he has no clue what it is. The same words that will make the lot of us, already depressed, consider ourselves even bigger freaks than we already think.

I doesnt.

Depression, unlike physical illnesses with very visible manifestations, is often treated as a whim of some attention seeking person who is bored of his own life that’s why he needs to make up some disease that cannot be visually assessed. The truth however is depression gnaws at you from the inside, turning every thought, every memory, every experience into a black hole that sucks the life out of you while you seem completely a-okay on the outside. You feel disabled without the advantage of a parking space. In  two  very cliché words : it sucks.

so fucking true

There is no standard to depression. It varies for each one and I could spend the whole day discussing to you the many kinds but really what those going through this need from you is just one thing, your understanding.

UNDERSTANDING

It may sound so easy, so fundamental in fact but to truly understand someone who goes through that requires for you to suspend your prejudices and preconceived notion fed by some exaggerated movie or oblivious hearsay. We don’t all cut or binge or drink meds or listen to sad songs or plaster a frown on our faces. Often even a smile is the most believable lie one gets to tell. Funny though, almost everyone falls for it. Depression too is not to be stereotyped.

For those still trapped in their cloaks, hang in there and stay strong. Fight to be happy because you’re worth no less. Find comfort in the promise that you’re not alone and somebody on the other end of this screen understands and appreciates you.  I do care and I’ll keep fighting, I’d love for you join me. –winks-

perhaps?

how to give it to him straight

(no pun intended)

Let me start by saying this isn’t an easy post. I went back and forth. I finally decided to publish it after having a long talk with my cousin who convinced me that this is indeed AN ARTICLE WORTH WRITING and that I shouldn’t be scared about what people will say or how they’ll react because I never was before this anyway.

 

I know. I think I’ve always known you’re gay and a part me of thinks you’ve known for awhile too. I won’t insult you by describing the times you made me realize it but like Bobby’s mom said, ‘You always know.’ I don’t know if in the many conversations we had, you tried to tell me. If you did and it didn’t work out or I just wasn’t listening well enough, I’m so sorry. I can get caught up in the noise sometimes and you know we’re a noisy crowd.

There are days when I feel so helpless because I can’t just hug you and tell you it’s gonna be okay. You haven’t even trusted me with your secret yet so all I could do is wait for the time when you’re ready. I wanted to write this for when that time comes. This will be the proof that I’ve always supported you, whoever you are and whoever you choose to love.

It won’t be easy because we still live in a society where you’re an anomaly (that word hurts me more than you know). Trust me when I say it’s all gonna be okay. I’m here for you. We’re all here rooting for you. When the harshest, most painful slings from others and even from people you love come, I promise to stand beside you and just be around for whatever you need.

I want you to know how much I love you. I hope when you finally get to read this you’ll be a proud, happy and free man.

photo from comingoutjournal.tumblr.com

I am reaching out to all those who were in my position or those in his. What should I do? I don’t want him to think no one cares. WE don’t want to make the mistake of just ignoring it but in the end make him feel unaccepted or that he can’t tell us anything.

 

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Note: Bobby from the entry is a reference to Prayers for Bobby a 2009 movie exploring the life of a closeted gay Christian finally coming out to his family and how being ostracized drove him to take his own life.

 

 

 

pains and gains

We say that a different perspective makes all the difference or that tomorrow will be better. Okay, so what perspective should I take if my best friend for example is diagnosed with a rare disease and declared to only have a month to live? Do I take the God-is-great-because-it-was-not-me  angle or say thanks because at least I get to say good bye? How should I prepare? Should I spend every day with him or act as if nothing dreadful is gonna happen soon? Do I act hopeful or realistic?

Either way, it’s still painful and difficult. It will still break your heart a thousand times over and no amount of preparing will ever make it okay. That’s probably why I hate it when people tell me everything’s gonna be brighter and better in the morning, when it’s all over. I shouldn’t worry about what’s happening and just forget about it. It downplays the power of decisions we make during the tough times of our life and exaggerates on the promise of a better day. If we do not learn and mature during these times, if we don’t live in the now no matter how tough it is, we will never grow. We will never see tomorrow as bright as when we have endured. People look forward to being okay again they forget that it’s tough times that shape us and make us the people we want to be in the future. It’s okay to get hurt, to feel pain and to relish in it. Agree that it’s difficult.  Don’t deny it. Don’t pretend that you didn’t have a tough time.

Tomorrow is great but it is only as great as how much endure and overcome today. Don’t let the promise of tomorrow excuse you from being complacent towards dealing with your pains today.