But what about me?

December 27, 2020


Have you ever lived your life for nearly 29 years when one day, you wake up (oh thank goodness you woke up), realizing—stubborn as people say you are (oh, the irony)—that you have completely lost sense of what makes you happy, what makes you feel alive, what your dreams are, who you really are because of how much you've adjusted to put your environment and the people in it first.

If someone were to ask, "What makes you happy?" You would respond with, "Seeing other people happy is enough for me." Liar. Okay, maybe a half-truth. If someone were to ask, "What do you dream about?" You low-key spiral to madness because you've let go of every semblance of the dreams you used to have.

You've become a doormat. A kind and generous doormat. A people-pleasing, mi casa es su casa kind of doormat. It's almost saccharine, it's—in Filipino—nakakaumay. You're the most stubborn pushover one could ever know. You thought you've got it all together, and you've convinced people to think you've got it all together, but the damned dam broke. You've had enough.

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Have you ever revisited your years-old blog and cringed at every single entry you wrote for the world to see, because you know better now. Not everything, but a few tiers wiser. You want to hug your past self for the outdated perceptions you held onto for eons. But that's growth for you. It is painful and nauseating, but you are in the midst of waking up. You have to be patient and you have to learn to accept it and deal with the pain and the shame. But how are you to deal with the shame? Will you start all over again? (Thank heavens Blogger finally added an Unpublish button.)

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I am currently in a tough place, still trying to figure myself out—as if I haven't been doing exactly that all this time.

Several meltdowns and hours-long conversations with trusted friends later, I realized how broken I've always been, carrying piles of unaddressed issues and traumas under my wing. I've never had a strong sense of self and I barely have any boundaries set because I made myself pliable and malleable and available; because from the very beginning, I believed my existence was a mistake. (It's an important life skill to learn how to choose and believe the narratives we tell ourselves.)

I have allowed others to step on me as long as it makes them happy. But the fault is not entirely theirs because I let them. But then, I didn't know any better. I had the mindset of a victim and a martyr (having been named Dolores—what's in a name?). I took it upon myself to take on the role of sacrificial lamb and  professional overthinker in charge of (over)thinking about/for everyone. I barely demand in the name of selflessness, but deep down, that gnaws at me, and I've had to learn to be good at pretending I'm okay with it. Ugh.

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I thought self-love was getting regular massages, discovering new places, working on myself, living life the way I want to—and maybe those are indeed valid acts of self-love, but not all there is to it. Self-love could be saying no, stop, not anymore. Self-love could be being okay with being deemed selfish without giving a f*ck about it; taking up space, lots of it; carving my own way, if I had to; and discovering what I want, not what other people make me think I want.

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So, what about me? For starters, I'll begin to ask this question more often and go from there.

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