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Category Archives: inner healing

A LETTER TO MYSELF (and yourself, too)

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My dearest self,

We can make things happen. You are not alone. I am here for you.  Don’t run to people to help you get out of the darkness. It is our task to do that. Don’t blame a friend, don’t blame others if they cannot sit with you in your dark places anymore.

Find your clarity, your healing, your moving-on-choices. You are an unmarried woman. You have no one, in human form, you can really call your own. You were not meant for that. God called you to be his alone.

It is not true that you will not be able to rise above all these emotional turmoil. One day you will just realize that you are less hungry for connections. You will understand that true friendship defies space and time and you will see that all along it is about you and God.

Do not be afraid to enter this new life with yourself. Know your compulsions. Refuse to be enslaved by the terrors of your fear. Hold yourself and breathe as you self-soothe.  Recognize that   in all your tiny attempts to seek peace God is ever ready to supply all you need. At times the packaging is not according to how you would want it but He knows best. God gave you this part of yourself who is now writing this letter. I am your “sane” part, this part of you who carries the clarity of your every choices.

Well, you often do not listen to me but I am always here. I am this part of you who remains clear and trusting despite all that you went through in the past. I was unharmed by fear. God made it so. I was remain whole and safe within you.

I see you   fail again and again but I don’t hate you for that. I feel your every sadness and confusions but I never lost hope in you.  I know you didn’t know any better. You were consumed by your fears, and mainly by your mistaken beliefs about yourself.    I am grateful you are with me at this moment. Others say you can get in touch with me during meditation but it seems in your case we meet better when you write.

I am with you. I am yourself who will always help you get up and begin again and again and again. Let us both stand before your fears and see that you will be alright no matter where you are at this stage of your life. You are never on your own. Do not lose patience. I am here for you.    I am this part of you which was never distorted by your history of difficulties and false beliefs. I remain in God’s space of love no matter where you were back then. Unscathed. Protected. Safe. It was meant to be.  There will always be a part of every person which will not be harm by darkness.

I don’t know if you can call me your soul,   your higher self,   your essence. Whatever label won’t matter but what I want you to never forget is that you are never alone. No one has abandoned you even if your father died early, your mother left you for some time,   your “failed” relationships – these are not abandonment(s).   It has touched your life with pain but ultimately you were never abandoned because I have accompanied you all along the journey. You felt alone but in truth I was there. You couldn’t hear but I never left you. And I am still here and will always be here.

You have me already long before other friendships were given to you. Long before all the other “band-aids” were applied.   Try to use your remaining time wisely now. I can help you.

The struggle with loneliness will always be there but the intensity will change.   Trust yourself on this.  Remember that you have me. I am a spark of God’s presence in you. I have been taking care of you through the years and it will never change.

I hope you will always remember too as you enter another decade of your life that only when you find peace in “US” – yourself in me, in your true essence – intact, healed, whole, freed from fears and groundlessness – only then that your relationship with others can be really called true friendship. Empty of your need to be filled by them, to seek  refuge in them. There is no perfect life but inner peace is possible.

I can help you find that kind of peace.    I am with you always, 24/7.  Trust me with your tomorrow. Trust me with your today. Trust HIM who gave me to you.

 

 

 

 

LIFE DOESN’T FRIGHTEN ME

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My 8-year-old niece recited Maya Angelou’s “Life Doesn’t Frighten Me” for her English class subject. Her mom posted it in FB and I watched it in full admiration for her ability to memorize and say the words with clarity and expression.

Listening to her poem felt like entering a door inside me.

It was the first time I heard “Life Doesn’t Frighten Me” and it came at a time when life seems to be frightening me more and more.

The ongoing war in Aleppo, Mosul, Yemen and other parts of the Middle East, the genocide in Myanmar, Trump rising, chaos in the government, a plane crashing killing an entire football team and their coaching staff and journalists because of lack of fuel, earthquakes in Italy, Japan, Indonesia and elsewhere, the appalling migrant crisis in Europe, human trafficking and many other tragic news seems to pull me strongly to be scared about life.

When I heard my niece recited the poem I realized how this past months fear has crept in heavily on me.  Some are saying its best to skip the news and stay unscathed by horrifying stories around us. Yet this is not how I want to live. I cannot not read simply to protect myself from the pain of knowing.

With the advent of the internet though there is a tsunami of visual bombardment of graphic information. Some are really way beyond what the heart can receive. The other night I deliberately did not look at the video of a teen-ager in Mosul whose body was dragged before a tank. The article said it crushed the boy’s head.

Apparently it came from the very same photo-journalist who posted the iconic picture of a young boy from Syria who sat stunned, bleeding and motionless in an ambulance which captured the hearts of global viewers. If it was the same photo-journalist who participated in the death of an Iraqi teen-ager and in bringing out the iconic photo of a young boy in Syria to blame Assad’s regime then it is truly frightening. The media may not be telling the truth also. I also think of Bana Alabed, the 7-year-old girl mom who kept posting with her mom’s help from the war-torn Syria since September. I also am confused how could they continue to have a Wi-Fi access when everything else was taken from them by the atrocious civil war?  It frightens me to realize that we don’t really know what to believe anymore. Propaganda initiatives is making a fool of all of us if ever even Bana from Twitter is a fictitious character.

Life also frightens me knowing that Trump will very soon take office. It frightens me that there were really people who voted for him. For real.

Life frightened me recently too when I heard that my brother needed to seek a specialist for a health concern.

Life frightens me as I hear news of my mother having  forgetful episodes already. I think of the possibility of her having age-related illnesses such as dementia. I pray it will never happen. I know what ravages Alzheimer’s can do to a person having lived with someone for the past ten years and counting.

Life frightens me when I see an introvert, shy-looking teen-age niece who is studying in a Catholic school, suddenly posting a picture of her almost naked self in a skimpy swim-suit in social media. 

Life frightens me when a once bright-eyed, bubbly and highly smart  nine-year old girl I know as a baby  drastically  changed into a  violent, extremely anxious, verbally abusive and depressive person. Her inability to cope after a bullying experience at school and her teacher’s refusal to acknowledge the incident shattered her not even a  decade old spirit. She now  refused to step out of the house for months already and never went back to school. This week she has to be restrained and brought to a psychiatrist.

Life frightens me whenever I am having a chest discomfort. ECG result did not show a need for further test and a doctor told me it could just be an acid reflux. But it still frightens me as I still have the pain now and then.  I read that at times the first sign of a heart illness is death.

Where were the years when I don’t have these morbid thoughts?

Where were the years when I read or watch the news and not really feel affected by it?

Where were the years of my life when cholesterol, triglycerides, SGPT were not part of my vocabulary?

Where were the years when death is seen only for other people?

Aging, maybe aging is doing this to me. Now I know more clearly that death is real and time here on earth is limited. When your young life seems to be forever.

But who have I become through the years?

Why does life frighten me  when I’m supposed to be a woman of faith and with a life completely surrendered to God?

Is it because of my regular reading of news nowadays, both locally and abroad  which I was not really doing in the past?

Is it because I have acquaintances and friends near and far who had sicknesses or some even died already?

Is it because a most beloved friend/mentor is aging and I know I am apprehensive about being on my own when she dies because of  her silent heart related health issues?

Conditions may not also be according to how I wish things are at the home front and I may also be having a quiet, pervasive and long-standing down time. I know I am going through a deeper sadness in my own life as I enter my 50’s and yielding, struggling to the re-shaping of a deep celibate friendship as his life’s work and geographical move has to be respected.

Am I grieving for the seeming loss of a familiar regular conversations which circumstances is asking me to let go?   Am I in transition as I realized more and more that ultimately I am and will be ALONE? Yet I know this is what is being asked of me.  It’s  my  path towards my own authentic inner freedom and emotional/spiritual maturity at this time of my personal journey, this what I call yielding mode.

It’s been many months too since my last period. I may also be in a pre-menopausal chemical imbalance mode. I can also be affected physiologically and it may be coming out in my tendency to dwell on life’s harshness and attachments to old ways.

I don’t know but the truth is it feels good to be able to name all this. To say fully that life frightens me ironically feels freeing at the same time.

I am not ashamed to name how I feel.

I am not feeling apologetic too  that this is where I have found myself now. In a space where  I am not supposed to be “seen”as dictated by how others expects who I should be. As a nun I am expected to be without fear. Only faith.

I call this a home-visit. This is me visiting my own self and finding her afraid and yet it is alright. I know I don’t even need to explain myself to anyone. I just wanted to write and acknowledge that life frightens me. This is my own truth. Right now. I am grateful for having come across Maya’s poem.

As I listened to Maya read her poem in You Tube it has a soothing, calming effect on me. Yes, I have fears but here comes Maya saying that there’s another mode of living. She’s not giving a list of assurances of a terror-free existence in her poem. She’s simply saying it doesn’t scare her at all.

And if she can live that way I know I can too.  Maya has Faith in God. She has Faith in herself. She has Faith in LIFE.  Without needing to convince myself the words of Maya Angelou quietly gives me hope and an abiding sense that I am safe and will continue to be safe and need not fear life.

In life and in death I belong to God.

LIFE DOESN’T FRIGHTEN ME

Shadows on the wall

Noises down the hall
Life doesn’t frighten me at all

Bad dogs barking loud
big ghosts in a cloud
Life doesn’t frighten me at all

Mean old Mother Goose

Lions on the loose

they don’t frighten me at all

Dragons breathing flame
on my counterpane
that doesn’t frighten me at all.

I go boo
Make them shoo
I make fun
Way they run
I won’t cry
so they fly
I just smile
they go wild

Life doesn’t frighten me at all.

Tough guys fight

All alone at night
Life doesn’t frighten me at all.

Panthers in the park
Strangers in the dark
No, they don’t frighten me at all.

That new classroom where
Boys all pull my hair
(Kissy little girls
with their hair in curls)
they don’t frighten me at all.

Don’t show me frogs and snakes

And listen for my scream,

If I’m afraid at all
It’s only in my dreams.

I’ve got a magic charm
that I keep up my sleeve
I can walk the ocean floor
and never have to breathe.

Life doesn’t frighten me at all
Not at all
Not at all.

Life doesn’t frighten me at all.

– Maya Angelou

 

 

NEARING 50

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There is sadness.  I feel floating.   Not really lost but unfocused, scattered. I have no one to hold on to.

Is this midlife transition?

I don’t run after friends. I prefer to read a book, watch a movie, and be by myself.  I don’t go for connections. I am okay not to be in the know, not to be involved, not to be consulted, not to be a part of anything. I am okay to be just on my own.

I want to be quiet. 

My life is passing by. I am nearing 50.  

Is it also possible that my desire to retreat is out of fear of the pains of life and not out of love for life? 

Balance. This is where I want to be. How?

It is important that I come to terms with my own inner noises. I feel good learning finally to listen to what is most real and meaningful for me and not just let others define it for me. I don’t hold the complete picture but more than anyone else it is I who knows  myself  best.

As I near this 50 marker how do I continue living in this path of longing for that “space where there is nothing to prove and nothing to protect?”

Serenity is what I want but I don’t want a pale, bland, so-so serene life.

I know by now that life is not as simple as I wish it is. 

Serenity is not an empty, shallow, uncomplicated  space. It is actually for those who dare to be brave. Serenity sounds   peaceful and quiet but it is not really like that. It takes self-awareness, commitment and a lot of healing of our relationship with ourselves and others.    

  • to hold oneself in the midst of darkness and alone-feeling
  • to consciously opt for what we have chosen in spite of its unpopularity  
  • to gratefully accept that this is the life that has been given to us and to let unlived childhood dreams go by
  • to let go of all that is already shattered and all that will never be due to circumstances we cannot and have no control at all

… These among others are what I believe makes a serene life. It is not easy. No one told us it will be. The choices we are making in our late 40’s, in our 50’s to be happy, to be serene is NEVER easy.

Nearing 50, I hope I can really “practice” in real life what I am writing about serenity. There’s a huge gap between knowing and actually living. Right now I am grateful and serene.

 

 

A CHOICE THAT WILL AFFECT THE REMAINING YEARS OF MY LIFE

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In opening myself to this relationship I realized that I have made myself deeply vulnerable to all the inevitable challenges that goes with it.

I see its difficulties and given the choice I will still have this friendship in my life.  I am grateful but I must admit it is hurting me.

To be deeply bonded with another is rare especially where I am.

I told him that I have reached my limit. I am already tired. I have come face to face about the uselessness of all my romantic illusions about us. All that I have in mind is useless because however I struggle we will remain this way. Always apart than together.

There is nothing to look forward to in the future. We are not going to get married nor do we have any future of being together.

I was able to share all this to him yesterday. He listened very well. As always.  He said I will still evolve and that no matter how I feel right now it is still a part of my life: the friendship that we have.  He said what is not good is to be angry with myself that I have this.

Yes, his presence is a part of my life.

I live this life with all my compulsions and awareness of having an illicit double life with him.

I told him this angst, this impatience with myself, this question of why am I allowing myself to go through all the longings and aches in spite of  knowing  that there is nothing to look forward to between us.  That I will just perpetually be in pain.

This is not about wanting us to be a “normal” couple.

It never crossed my mind   that we get married even from the start. He is happy and fulfilled where he is.  I will not take that away from him in the same way that changing path was never an option for me.   I know myself. Married life is never in my template.

We are really just good friends enjoying each other’s presence.   Ours is really just an unconventional friendship. There was attraction, an affinity of the mind, and later it blossomed into a beautiful uninhibited and soulful friendship. In choosing to have this kind of friendship, issues which in normal situation should not have been a part of my life overwhelmed me.  With it comes all the messy, thorny area of human condition: insecurities, emotional dependence, exclusivity, sense of entitlement and many other pain-filled issues.

What do I want then?

Should I choose to be devoid of aches and longings and be without a friend or have the friendship and somehow learn to live with certain “unsolvable” and “chronic” issues which unsettles my resolve to have a serene life? Guilt, long distance relationship anguish, trust, longings and all that comes with a man and woman relationship.

My choice now will define the remaining years of my life.  Shall I continue living this way? Always unsure whether to let go or to accept what is and simply appreciate what my friend and I have?

Can I just receive my life as it is with all its uniqueness and complexities and stop looking at it as a problem to be solved?

Should I just accept that there will never really be an “everything-is already-solved” phase and that all of us simply learns to balance and juggle with life’s is-ness?

But what if I am destroying myself by not letting go? What if all along I should not have entered into this double life with him?

What do I really want?

 

 

 

 

 

NOTHING TO PROVE – NOTHING TO PROTECT

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“Long for that space where there is nothing to prove and nothing to protect.” – Richard Rohr.

Through the years I have this feeling that she is ignoring me.  When we talk I could see the disinterested posture.  But I also see efforts at her end. Maybe my being aloof is quite apparent too.  There is something between us that makes me uncomfortable.

But as I aged I see this connection now for what it is and I have become willing to drop the drama. In life it is impossible to be friends and intimate with everyone. It is not obligatory to be friends with all. There will always be people with whom a smile and slight nod is enough.

In the past it felt like if someone is not friendly with me it means I am not good enough.  It makes me feel small and invisible. The rejection signal is up.

My discomfort with X is coming from a perceived threat which may or may not be real. Memories of the past may be influencing me. I cannot completely marked X with the past and even if this wavelength between us remains the same it is alright.  I always have the choice to step back and be aware of my own responses. We are simply not friends but we are not enemies too.

I wanted to write about this because of my need to remind myself not to cave in into this scenario again.

Growing up I now see that my need to be liked, approved of, accepted and all that feeling that makes me feel good about myself, dictates my serenity. Everything depended on how people around me behaved towards me. It doesn’t always show because I am good at pretending but I now understand how I lived all those years seeking for my peace in the eyes of others.

Do they show interest? Do they listen to me? Are they basically warm or nice to me?  Do they like me?

Bruised by my early experiences in life and human as I am, it is normal that I get hurt when there are situations that make me feel poor about myself but I now have a clearer mind to refuse to latch on those aches. I can nip it in the bud; let it go and refuse to make a drama.

In the past I rely on external circumstances to define the quality of my everyday life. Finally I have this inner shift. I see myself turning inward where true peace resides.

It is so freeing not to allow others to dictate my inner weather. No one outside of me can define me anymore.  Wanting to be liked, accepted and approved of is a basic human need.  I am referring to excessive and unhealthy needs here. Sometimes we can get ruined by a slight word of    criticism   or when others simply blocked or fail to approve our friend request in FB.

It is refreshing to finally understand that it is not compulsory, it is not obligatory that everyone likes me. The world owes me nothing. People owe me nothing. Not their time, not their attention, not their friendship, – nothing!

I know I will still get slighted at any sign of being ignored or being made to feel invisible but hopefully I can already cut it short and be mindful of the truth that what I can already give myself: A healthy self-esteem, a positive self-regard, a sense of calm and balance rooted in my own center and not on others.

Long for that space where there is nothing to prove and nothing to protect.

I pray that I have already entered  this space where  there is nothing to prove and nothing to protect.  There is nothing around me that should make me walk on egg shells.     I don’t have to please anyone to feel safe, to feel good about myself.  On my own I am safe. On my own I am good enough.

And if I see others stepping back from me or not being warm with me, (for varied reasons I shouldn’t fabricate a story about) I will not to see it as an attack against me. I will try my very best not to equate others reactions towards me as due to my not being good enough. Most of the time, their reaction is about them and not about me. I am not the center of the universe. If people around me opt not to gravitate around me it is okay. I can lighten up, secure in this space of not needing to prove anything to anyone, not even to God. (He loves me just as I am was a cliché when I was younger, now it makes sense to me!)

The bottom line is: No one owes me anything. I am not entitled to anything. And it also helps to remember that people are intrinsically good. Except for completely warped personalities people are basically good and loving.  They too are just caught up with their own personal struggles and self-esteem issues.  Sometimes we can spend so much energy worried about what others are thinking about us when in reality we are not at all in their coverage area.  And those others can go through the same scenario: worrying what we think of them.

When we enter that space where there is nothing to prove and nothing to protect silence sets in. Our need to uphold an image melts down. The need to define our everyday life as good and bad ends. We settle down. No more defenses, no more pretensions, no more stars, no more dots.

Silence, calm, serenity sets in.

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE PRIVELEGE OF A LIFETIME

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The privilege of a lifetime is to be you. – J. Campbell

Blogging is giving me the space to be me but obviously I cannot completely expose this “ME.”  How I wish I need not hide behind an anonymous blog.   Nothing beats openness and raw honesty.   But then life is not as simple as that.  For me.

No matter how I want to   connect openly   there are areas in my life that I need to keep to myself.    Maybe others can easily label this as an inability to take a stand and to be held accountable   but it is alright with me.  When we awaken to a felt sense and conviction that no one can  obliged or demand anything from us, and when we have this readiness to be free on how we feel, think and express ourselves we are entering the “privileged realm.”  And in this realm I set the tone and no one can dictate anything to me. I am free.

In my desire to live a serene life I am realizing more and more the non-negotiable truth of being myself. This is a truth that sinks in clearly only around midlife time I guess.  That  I am not going to be like  my mentor,  my friend,  a favorite saint or celebrity or whoever I admire out there. I am not definitely going to be like God!   I will be me.

 As I aged, as issues quiet down, I am surprised how I am becoming more and more my own ally.  I can already “companion” my own self in this gentle awakening towards self-compassion and self-acceptance.  The usual routine of a down time especially when the “you’re not good enough” feeling hovers around is lessening.  I am learning to be kind to this emerging me. It has been a long journey for me. And now it is hard for me to “judge” others whose lives are in chaos especially the young people in my life. It took me over 40 years to begin understanding my own self! What can I expect from my teen-age niece?

I am grateful that I am awakening to the truth that life can be okay even if there will always be inconsistencies. Even if it is a constant rise and fall.

I am grateful too for this  time to go inward. To be quiet as I think of what I am thinking about, to be accepting of the present moment as I   gather again and again my scattered self.   

Praying as in just being quiet in the chapel and not necessarily rattling with words, decluttering, walking, taking a long bath, just closing my eyes and taking a pause are some of the practices I am doing to go inward but mostly it is through journaling like right now.  Writing reconnects me with what truly matters to me and it is in this space where I meet my own true self.

I am grateful to be me.

 

 

YOU ARE NOT DEAD YET

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“You are not dead yet, it’s not too late

to open your depths by plunging into them

and drink in the life

that reveals itself quietly there.”  -Rainer Maria Rilke

I just finished reading David Benner’s Soulful Spirituality and the poem he quoted on Rilke hit me hard. I am not dead yet, it’s not too late….

The other night I also finished Sue Monk Kidd’s new novel, The Invention of Wings. I could relate with Sarah Grimke.  Her character was based on the real Sarah Grimke who fought against slavery. It took her years to find what she’s meant to be and do in this life. It was not an easy journey but in the end she found her voice, she grew her wings. She soared and not just fly.

In my younger years I thought I have already found my path. Partially I was right. I came here. I stayed. But now I am asking myself if I am not wasting my life. What am I doing here? Is there someplace else where I can find more meaning?

I am not dead yet. I can still choose.

Is it really a question of being happy and serene?  What is contentment? What is a meaningful life?

This maybe the stirrings I am having now. After reading Soulful Spirituality and The Invention of Wings here I am asking myself if my life has a certain value, significance. Am I without focus, without a particular cause or project to devote my energy with?

At this moment what am I really passionate about?

How am I living? Am I living well or am I just bumming around seeking for this and that  and then eventually die of whatever sort of illness or accident?

What is my life about now that I am older? What truly matters to me now?

in creating this blog I am expressing my need for serenity. I want a peaceful life. But is this a self-centered peace. Just for me. Outside this need what else is there to live for?  What do I really want to do for this remaining second half of my life?   What direction must I take in this second half marker?Sometimes it feels too self-absorbed to have this kind of moment with the self. But this is my life and this where I am again.

I know I can only contribute according to my human capacity but I cannot entirely be in control with how my life unfolds. Looking back it was never planned that I will be where I am now and yet I am here. But from this end I can make choices to live a well-lived life. Like Sarah Grimke I want to know where to put my heart and soul clearly. I want to find what is truly meaningful for me.

Even at this age I have yet to find that one passion where I can invest all that I am. Writing is my way to it but what is that “IT?”  I feel I have something to do, something to give but I have yet to know what it is. Maybe this is a common angst  among mid-lifers – to redefine who I am now in a more relevant and realistic way, the actual me in the here and now.

I want to have a clear purpose, a direction I am fully committed to.  In my younger years I thought I had this. But there seems to be a gradual shifting. What I thought then was me and how I thought life would be is shifting or maybe until now I haven’t really found my own voice the way Sarah sought hers for a long time.   I am not dead yet. I can still listen …

“…to open your depths by plunging into them

and drink in the life

that reveals itself quietly there.”

It may not necessarily be a drastic change of the basic posture in my way of life now. Maybe it’s a shift in perspective, in focus, in where I invest my time, energy, my very soul.

I really want to do something that will give a me a sense that I am not living this life in a cocoon, –  sheltered, apart, unmindful of the real world.   I want to reach old age, or simply just to live my everyday life  with a sense that  I have found that  One Task custom-made for my unique life path.  This One Task, which most likely be unnoticed in the quiet corner where I am, is not about being satisfied that I hit it right.

It’s not just about wanting to succeed in this putting-my-life-in-order drama.  It is a response to a basic yearning, a primal longing: to live well, to be at peace with what is, to be able to come to terms with the truth that even if we were not able to do it all perfectly at least we tried. And I want to try living well, with all its ups and downs, gray areas and all – at least I tried. There will always be  inconsistencies and concerns which  I may not be able to fully managed or resolved and this too is accepted as part of serene living.

This may all sound too self-absorbed but in the end this is not just for me or about me. Every effort to be at peace with myself will be a gift to those whom I will come in contact with and even with those I will never meet in this lifetime.  The gift of positive energy.

And even if no one else knows about this,  it doesn’t matter. My very own self-awareness and desire to  be focused on how I want to spend the rest of my life is its own reward.

It’s true.  Midlife is the authentic beginning of the rest of our lives.