a thought on love

                   1648

Love is not about just loving the person’s good traits and characteristics. It’s about loving the whole entirety of the person, the good and the bad, the strengths and flaws. So often we miss this, or even get it in our heads that we have the right to change the person and dictate how they should be. In the same vein, when you instead choose to ignore someone’s “flaws,” you are ignoring an inextricable part of who they are.

That’s why loving someone is a lot more difficult than many would like to believe or conceptualize. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, as are flaws. Loving someone’s “good” parts is remarkably easy because there is no battle to like them, if we already do. It’s when we are called to love the “ugly” parts of someone, to completely give up our desire to control or change the person, and accept and love the entire package. That is the struggle, and by no means, simple and easy.

In my mind, the arduous feat and miracle of loving someone certainly goes underrated. Perhaps that is why love is so powerful, bewitching, healing and exceedingly beautiful to all those who give and experience it.

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the dilemma

                 th

Amidst the wide expanse, she tosses and turns in her mind, drums her manicured fingers on her thigh. Boundless skies, open fields that stretch beyond what the human eye can see… any normal being would run freely a muck, or stand in quiet awe. Yet instead, she chooses to turn her eyes inward to unyielding boxes and humid caves.

It is too much. Where do I start?

There is a certain comfort in limits, in the knowing, even if it embodies so much lack. You can calculate, you can expect, you can pass your days with a general prediction of daily events, even if it leaves you with a nagging, empty, hollow feeling inside. It is why so often people avoid risk and the unknown. Many may have the thirst for adventure, but lack the courage needed to engage their whims. There is something to be said to take the well-known path.

I suffer a lack of imagination.

And the suffering is all your doing, your responsibility. I suppose there is comfort in that too. You are in control when you are within your four walls, even if you are beating yourself bloody with a sack of quarters. Even if you are starving yourself dead. Yet the wounds, injuries, are all mine. I do not have to live with doubt. I am the one with the red hand. You never have to live with suspense.

Is it easier to embrace the world and its risky possibilities, or to shun it for bleak assurance?

Jumping off the ledge into unknown territory opens our lives to possibilities that our minds cannot at present fathom. But there is probability for failure and experiencing a new kind of pain. If we hold a voracious spirit, perhaps we yearn to eat up and live up to all potential. In the same hand, uncertainty can be quite a ferocious beast.

And so here we stand, contemplating.

As I ponder this, I am struck with the realization that whichever vial we take, there is some measure of poison. In the first, fear, doubt, uncertainty. In the second, emptiness, restriction, inner death. In either vial, there is always pain. From what I’ve seen, people can and have made arguments for taking one or the other.

So, dear Reader, what is your poison?

reaching your potential

                          814

Are you squandering your potential?

This question reverberated through my mind as I was driving home on my last day of class. Sometimes we forget to see our potential when we get locked onto the past or even the present.

An epiphany had hit me. Memories fell out of my subconscious and onto my lap, forcing me to see the truth. I’ve been squandering my potential.

Like when I turned down a scholarship program. Or when I downgraded myself to certain part-time jobs because they were easier to get, rather than reaching for the ones that fit my experience, yet much harder to obtain. Or when I settled for dating men I didn’t feel much connection with, because they gave me attention. Or all of those times during my adolescence I never told someone how I felt and kicked myself long after with regret. Even with my attending a Master’s program, I always felt like a big fish in a small pond. My professor swore that I would’ve attended a Ph.D program.

As I sat with these choices, I began to see the common denominators: I did not believe in myself, or in my potential. I only saw the worst of me, and took that as truth. I was scared of change. The unknown. My fears had been ruling over me, taking control in more ways than I could imagine.

The truth was initially hard for me to swallow. But I told myself that this was a disillusioning antidote I had to take. I’ve been taking the easy route. Settling for small successes had been easier to me than choking down the possibility of huge failures.

Lately, I have been feeling dissatisfied with myself and my life… and I finally realized why. Contrary to what I believed I was doing, I was not living up to my potential.

I wholeheartedly believe that each of us are gifted in an infinite amount of ways, holding our own seed of potential. One person is not better than the other, just different… just as we see a myriad of flowers in the large garden, each holding their own kind of beauty. For most of my life, I saw myself as a tiny, negligent bud that no one gave much heed to. But now I see that I didn’t give myself a chance to grow, to bloom. Sure, I may have grew up in desert with minimal nutrients in my life, but I’m still here, alive, with a frantic need filling my chest, pushing to burst and bloom with all and everything in me. I want to live me.

I’m sure I’m not the only one. I bet there are others out there too who have felt just like me, telling themselves that they don’t have much to offer and they don’t have any potential. But those are all lies. You do have potential, and beauty. You just need to give yourself a chance. Maybe all of this time, you haven’t, and believed the lies some people told you. But you need to ask yourself if you are living the life you’ve dreamed of, that aligns all the way down to your inner soul… or if you’ve only chosen the easy route. Perhaps out of fear, or not realizing that you could do much more than what’s been in your comfort zone. But by taking the easy route, your potential never comes alive.

I now have my Master’s degree, but I have to keep going until I feel my vivid petals bloom fully and every inch of me touches sunlight. Even if it means having to face large failures. I don’t want to be dissatisfied with myself anymore, or keep feeling like I’ve settled. I have a lot of “ambitious” goals on my plate right now, but I’m sick of squandering my potential.

Jonathan Safran Foer wrote: Sometimes I can feel my bones straining under the weight of all the lives I’m not living. All those could bes are heavy. Don’t let the weight break your spirit and soul. Believe in yourself. Become all that you have the potential to be. Don’t let anyone hold you back, not even yourself. Live the life you’ve dreamed of.

depression the beast

                             shado

Depression is a scary beast.

I know, not only because of my work with clients who suffer with depression, but because I struggled against the beast myself for 9 years of my life. This entry is an attempt to integrate both my professional knowledge and personal experiences, in case there are others out there who are looking for enlightenment.

My beast’s name was Dysthymia, often morphing occasionally into Major Depressive episodes (i.e., full blown depression). I thought I kicked it out of my life for good six years ago, only to have it come back this summer, rearing its ugly head and stomping over all the good I had been building in my life. It sucked energy and motivation out of me, squeezed out tears, took away hours of sleep. It whispered lies too, that I’m not good enough and I never would be, that I’m ugly and invisible, and not doing anything great with my life… even though logically, I saw that I was a therapist and doing much good. It even pushed me further, murmuring, “Maybe you should kill yourself. No one wants you. You’re not important. Why not just die?

In one of my classes, I learned that having had one depressive episode before in your life increases the likelihood of you having another episode.

Before my class, I thought because I was high functioning and doing well, I probably wouldn’t have depressive feelings again. I’m optimistic, I seek to see the glass half-full, and view failures and letdowns as opportunities to learn and grow. But looking back in retrospect at my depression this summer, I see how much I used my “optimism” to push away and deny my feelings. Pretend everything was okay, when subconsciously, I was in deep pain. But it was to no avail, because the pain eventually took over. It was so overwhelming I couldn’t keep smashing it down anymore. Soon my optimism was nowhere to be found, and I was buried underneath the shit pile of my negative beliefs and heavy, painful feelings.

I’m the type of person who learns things after she has gone through the experience. And one of the things I learned from this struggle was this: While having the guise of safety, in truth, denying our feelings hinders us, and really, makes the problem worse. I wish I could bold the last sentence 10x more, because this is so important. I see it in all of my clients and in the support group that I lead, this tendency in society to ignore our feelings (with the exception of the “happy” variety) and pretend problems do no exist… whether it is due to ignorance, shame, or a whole host of reasons. But just because you sweep something under a rug, doesn’t mean it disappears. It grows bigger and bigger, until it controls your behaviors, your perceptions. Akin to a cancerous cell, it will keep growing and if we choose to deny or do nothing, it will wreak havoc and may even take our lives.

My beast almost did when I was young. And it tried again this summer.

I realized that I couldn’t keep running away. I needed to face my feelings head on, even if it scared the crap out of me. Because the more I tried to kick the beast out the door, the more it tried to come back in. Hell, kicking it out gave it more power. Our fear of our feelings and emotions only fuel their control over you. The only way to regain control, is to stand face-to-face with your beast and deal with it. That’s the first step we need to take to get better; we will not go anywhere unless we face it, make eye contact with it, and say, “I won’t let you rule my life anymore.” I’m not saying it is easy. It’s fucking difficult. But the things worthwhile in life are never easy. And contrary to our happy delusions, life is full of struggles. Either we deny that fact and consequently suffer, or rise to the challenge and choose to live in the face of challenge.

I ended up seeking help, and was better off for it. I am consistently pushing myself out of my comfort zone, and still working through my issues. But now I’m allowing myself to feel, and telling myself it’s okay to feel. I’m human, and in a constant state of growth. Even though I had some good coping skills before, I need to build more to live healthier, and better equip myself if the beast comes back. Even if it does, it’s okay. I’ll be okay. I’ve made it this far, and I believe I will overcome. The beast loses power when I tell myself these things, and refuse to believe in its lies.

Seek professional help. Build a support system of people who can be there for you, including your family and friends. If depression is also your beast, I guarantee you that you are not alone in your struggle against it. It may not seem that way sometimes, but the thing is, a lot of us are good at faking it. And society encourages us to. But don’t keep smashing it down anymore. Allow yourself to feel, to be. Most of us can’t fight it on our own. We need to get help in learning how to fight.

80% of people who seek professional help are able to overcome their depression. And you can too.

diary entry

                           The-Simple-Act-of-Loving-Well

There’s this guy at Starbucks that I have a big crush on. Every Monday and Tuesday, before I head to work, I see him.

Most of the time, the extent of our conversations are if I want sweetener in my latte, or honey with my tea.

Once I tried to strike up a conversation with him. My heart pounded in my chest, I swore he could hear it, and I felt vulnerable, bare, and stupid.  We just talked about sprained wrists.

Whenever I see him, I wonder if he feels attracted to me too, or if I’m just spinning fantastical fairy tales in my head as I’m prone to do, or if I’m just a regular customer to him, another face in the crowd.

He remembers my name.

But that doesn’t mean anything.

He looks so calm, cool, and collected. So it makes me want to play cool too.

Yet to what end? Here I sit, here many of us sit, chewing on our feelings, putting up a “cool” mask, holding back for the sake of social propriety, saving ourselves from the risk of being vulnerable because it fucking sucks to hurt.

I wish I didn’t have to hold back. I wish I could just fearlessly say what I really feel. I wish vulnerability wasn’t seen as so ugly or scary in society, but seen for what it really is: real, genuine, and beautiful.