The Sacred Romance

New Year periods are always the ripest to look back and review – where you have been and simultaneously, plot out the outlines of the Future you’re looking forward to.

The past few months – heck this entire 2016 – was a constant struggle for me. In all aspects. Writing (the non-mandatory kind) has taken a backseat, thus cutting me off from my own voice, my inner Jiminy Cricket.

So I go back.

Found this in the archives, so beautiful I am placing it here (from “Pilgrim’s Progress” cited in “The Sacred Romance” (Eldredge, Curtis 1997):

Pilgrim lay in despair because he had forgotten.
Hopeful urges him to remember, both all he had been through as well as the assurances he has from the One who called him on the journey.
Life on the road requires recollection of our Love’s past deeds on our behalf and his promise of continued faithfulness to us.
We will need courage and patience and those are strengthened by remembering.
We will need memory, which is to say, we will need faith.
Faith looks back and draws courage; hope looks ahead and keeps desire alive.
And meantime?
To appreciate what it may be, we have to step back & ask, what is all this for?
The resurrection of our heart, the discovery of our role in the Larger Story, entering into the Sacred Romance – why do we pursue these things?
If we say we seek all of this for our own sake, we’re right back where we started: lost in our own story.
Jesus said…give your life away & discover life as it was always meant to be.
Self-preservation, the theme of every small story, is so deeply wrong because it violates the Trinity whose members live to bring glory to the others…We…give our glory to increase theirs. In order to fulfill the purpose of our journey, we will need a passion to increase glory; we will need love.
Sa last, it talks of darkness and how sometimes, it is a part of it all.
Our emptiness is often the first thing we find when we face honestly the story going on in our heart. It is the desert’s gift to us.
Our mind is busy with “oughts” …”while the heart instructs us on what is.
 If we allow our mind simply to listen, we perhaps begin to hear our heart speak – faintly,..It says “I am so weary, so lost. I have no energy to redeem myself, how I long for rest.”….
Resting in Jesus is not applying a spiritual formula to ourselves as a kind of fix-it.
It is the essence of repentance.
It is letting our heart tell us where we are in our own story so that Jesus can minister to us out of the Story of his love for us.
When, in a given moment, we lay down our false self and the smaller story of whatever performance has sustained us, when we give up everything else but him, we experience the freedom of knowing that he simply loves us where we are.
We begin just to be, having our identity anchored in him.’
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random rant

I don’t know what I want.

Maybe I want to get away.

But I know that only helps me escape temporarily.

The same issues stare at me from the void.

 

I’m not depressed, just pensive.

I successfully figured out that this “blah” attitude towards everything in general has been because I have allowed myself to become a stranger to myself. I know not who I am anymore.

That is why I have lost my gifts, slowly… slowly…

Fading until they are but remnants of their potential glory.

 

How do I get me back?

What is the FIRST tiniest step I can do… to get me back?

 

The first step is to connect back to the things that ground me.

Before my relationship, before my parents went home and injected their well-meaning (but often unfounded) advice, before ALL of that.

To be sure of my voice, what I want and who I am.

Dangerous as I am to morph into what the other person (in the relationship) needs me to be, to the benefit of them but to the detriment of my own Self, my own Esteem.

I somehow felt sad on Sunday after the priest’s sermon when he asked when have we been last embraced by someone who truly loved us for who we are, who welcomed us home.

It’s been a very long time since I was touched that way.

A very long time.

My mother hugs me, and I feel slightly amused and slightly nostalgic about her – how hard she has struggled despite her limitations. How strong and beautiful she is.

But I have been repeatedly hurt and shamed then loved again before, with her. It’s a cycle. I think she doesn’t want to do that, our parents (mine most especially) always have our best in mind. It is not intentional – her show of love then when we make a minor mistake, her outpouring of resentment, her “sumpa” towards us. I don’t think she means for her love to come out that way, but it does sometimes unfortunately.

So that we constantly walk a tightrope to balance what she wants or needs us to be and to become our own.

I have the gift of insight into this.

My problem is, I am very gullible and permeable. I allow people in, let them mess with my mind – all for that elusive love, all to please them and seek their approval.

My mother asks me why I constantly treat myself like that; my answer is “I’ve had lots of practice.”

When you’ve been shamed to your own self – made to feel like what YOU want, who YOU are, how YOU do things – is NOT acceptable, and  you LOVE this person saying that (be they parent or boyfriend or friend), you relent.

You give in.

You say “Ok, I will be who you want me to be because I love you” but there is a (hidden) sacrifice.

You eventually forget who you are.

Sometimes when you are made of stronger stuff, it works out.

Because we do have silly, immature notions of who we want to be (at times) and that shaming voice has a better grasp of what will work in the real world.

So we succeed…. On the outside.

In real-world terms, we are happy.

But in our-world, we are not. The unhappiness escapes – we cannot help it.

We launch into addictions, we have affairs, we become this angry and embittered person — morphing and morphing, mutating until we reach the end of our life, wondering to ourselves:

Who was that?” and “How did I get here?”

 

There is a brightside, however. Into all of this.

We can put a stop.

This doomed trajectory isn’t our destiny, if we become conscious of it operating in our lives.

So then, how do we turn it around?

 

Claim our lives back.

Believe in ourselves again.

Get quiet and listen to our own voice.

Inhabit that glorious, cellulite-laden body.

We establish boundaries.

 

I think there is a Godsent reason I was single for a VERY long time.

Because He saw who I could become, if left to my own. Blazing and bright and beautiful.

If I was in a relationship earlier on, that Pauline would not materialize, so much wasted mission.

He made sure I had ample time to learn how to be generous to myself, before He sent people my way to be healed or to receive.

Medyo matigas lang ulo ko.

I said before that when the same life lessons are served up to you albeit in different circumstances, there STILL is a lesson to be learned that hasn’t been (by you).

And my constant seeking to find out WHAT that lesson is, reveals the lesson itself. How simple, if only we had the eyes to see. The ears to listen. The time to reflect.

Walang forever

Walang forever.

It’s a phrase that is repeated so often now that it has become the rally cry of many embittered ex-lovers. A phrase we ascribe to those jaded souls who have been unfortunate in the romance roulette and have resorted to the comfort repeating that phrase brings.

May forever.

I believe (based on my immature grasp of the real world) that there exists a rule that when you challenge the world, it challenges you back.

May – forever.

Beyond naivete, the word “Forever” is a hard promise to keep.

Everything changes. That is the nature of this world, and the people who live in it.

I think the reason why young relationships meet a sad end, is because of that.

We cannot keep our loved ones and who they are (and who they will become) in a glass bubble. To do that is sad, and is the opposite of love – being of a selfish nature.

We WILL INEVITABLY do any and all of the following:

a) fall out of love,

b) fall in love with other people or

c) not feel that love is that important a priority at all.

To have a partner who understands all of these going on hidden and unconscious inside you, is impossible. Even MORE SO when it is something we don’t talk about and expect the other to intuitively know, and get behind on.

Why should they? They too have the same hidden, unconscious longing inside of them as well, don’t they? Do we get behind that?

So the rift begins, the doubts creep up – that feeling of being isolated and a stranger in your own relationship.

The idea of a “one true love” and “a partner who can meet every need.” Why?

Because we think forever is what it is supposed to be. Sadly, we deprive love of all its mystery and eroticism when we think like that.

I, for one, am slowly changing my mind about that…. Ex-romantic moi.

 

I have observed a certain pessimism now – around myself. Pessimism towards the finer things in life but at the same time, a kindness and humility that still enables me to act in a way that will not add to that pessimism, already existing.

Forgiveness (Part 2)

The thing about Humanity sometimes is that we derive a sense of security in creating a Schema that we then cram all of life’s ups & downs into – because it is what we do to restore Order (inner AND outer). It is what we do to gain control, understanding, that feeling of having our feet planted firmly on the ground. Schemas are our searchlights trained towards the next certain successful step.

Life, on the other hand, in all its glorious organic (but necessary) disarray topsy-turvies it because if it didn’t, then our schemas would remain as small as when we first created them, as a child. The enlarging and the adapting and the assimilating and the redefining and the editing — it is the mark of Growth and Maturity. Something fundamental in Nature and (unsurprisingly) in Child Development as well.

I had hit a wall (see last post).  I was stuck. That knowledge didn’t come quickly though. Still frenetically using old formulas to solve new dilemmas, by the time September last year rolled in I had gotten into a really messy dating situation, alienated my friends and made so many careless mistakes at work, I marvel that I managed to get through that at all.

I slammed the Pause button and taking that sacred space-chalk I drew around my patients, I figuratively drew one around me. This time, I’ve decided to take a more open-minded stance about my past (and future) experiences in general.

To hold both Truths in my two palms – Having and Not Having, Happy and In Pain, Angry and Accepting – all dualities daily experiences or sudden life-turns can bring. Holding them and accepting them. That’s about it.

“Acceptance is a small, quiet room.” – Cheryl Strayed in Dear Sugar

The not-having-an-answer for Life’s fuck-ups are all part & parcel. I remember how Percy (an old dear friend and once-suitor) used to describe me – how I make things possible for others. And then I am forgotten once the “other” I helped has moved on. Yes, there were hard lessons to learn from my end. If I close my eyes and continue to deny that that was necessary, I am depriving myself of the growth it demanded of me. Every happening needn’t have to have a Reason. Life does not read our Schema Manual and follow suit.

Holding on to that Mistake, holding on to any Mess and welding it to My Schema keeps me from seeing beyond this – that I can fail without being a Failure.

 

This break-up really called me to reexamine what kind of partner I wanted for myself. I don’t think we really would have lasted had all factors been in our favor. It was a dramatic “train-stopping” kind of distraction. And it served its purpose. It did divert a future trainwreck from happening.

And the way it will work (for me) is to really relish this awareness. Of how FREE I really am.

Life would seem a little easier if we assume that people generally are doing the best they can.”

– Brene Brown, Rising Strong

Forgiving him, forgiving myself – placed everything under a different light. It ignited understanding & compassion, before judgment and self-righteous anger. Not just a statement I apply to my recent heartbreak but to the daily heartbreak I experience over expectations not met, over little failures I had no control over but readily assumed responsibility for.

It was liberating.

We never really get to have the closure our heart desires.

Just like I had none with D. I never knew whether he really loved me, or was only confused himself – not intending to lead me on.

I will never know with M – whether he overlapped me with other girls, which one of us he actually loved, if he actually loved any of us more than himself.

Just like I will never know with the ex. How much of what he said or did was real or not. The betrayal rents more than any other, threatening every good thing we enjoyed together.

But there it is. I can never undo it.

The more I need to rely on Tolle’s words:

The past has no power to stop you from being present now.. only your grievance about the past can do that.

And what is a grievance?

The baggage of old thought and emotion.”

The more I feel ready to accept that, is the more I can really say I am really moving on and moving forward.

My advantage here is I have had the time and the courage to look at these ugly, horrifying, shameful insecurities and fears deep within me and plow through it. If I truly stayed true to the kind of person I have become, this was one thing I would not deprive myself of. Not because I am a masochist but because I know deep joy can only come after deep pain.

I am brave enough not to live only on the surface. To truly and sincerely say I have plunged into Life and it has plunged into me.

 

Forgiveness (Part 1)

You cannot truly forgive yourself or others as long as you derive your sense of self from the past…. This renders the past powerless, and you realize deeply that nothing you ever did or that was ever done to you could touch even in the slightest the radiant essence of who you are.”

The Power of Now – Eckhart Tolle

I am a lover of old things.

Though my work is with the youth and with the kids, I see the romance in history – in doing things the slow way, in handmade artifacts however clumsily-done, in back-stories that reveal that behind that beautiful, glittering, awe-inspiring facade or structure or organization, there was a long string of variegated personalities, horrible mistakes and re-edits done.

My love for history and connecting-the-dots has been helpful a lot of times. It has given me this gift of patience, of listening.

For most of my youth and now (pretending to be) adult life, I thought “everything for a reason, and a reason for everything”. So I looked HARD. At the “hidden” reasons why such-and-such had to happen, why this-and-this needed to occur, what made so-and-so say this.

As the circles I became involved in (personally, professionally) started to enlarge however, and the risks I took entailed more & more responsibility, the Reasons sometimes did not tally.

I was frustrated. If it did not make sense, then what am I doing wrong? (Yes, I have an internal locus of control a.k.a. things are always MY responsibility.) I am speaking in general, but it has taken a TON of journal entries to arrive here. To see this pattern repeat in so many areas of my life – the strong core belief that if I could fix or identify that one knot, I would unravel the mess and life would turn out as it should, beautiful and smooth.

Hence I always went back, back to History (mine’s, the patient’s, my parent’s, the exes and almost-weres) to figure out where the “bends” were and to hammer them straight again. The problem was, Mess is always part of the equation.

The internalization of my “find it-fix it” nature had then become so ingrained that I swallowed the Mess and the Brokenness. I made it Mine to fix. I gave it my name, my identity.

That is where things started to become a little too muddled.

Around a year ago, the first real relationship I had after a long spell of Singlehood (or more accurately after a lifetime of Singlehood) ended. Looking at the bare facts, it was a railroad crash everted. Four months, no permanent damage done, didn’t sacrifice character nor my integrity for that.

However, the “Ms Fix-It” in me hit a snag. This was not anymore (glaringly obviously so) MY fault. Or was it?

Even my grief and mourning was put into question – by family, by friends.

“You should be HAPPY , celebrate that you got out of that!” “Thank God THAT ended.” “You deserve better.” “He’s going to carry that regret for the rest of his life.”

And though it did contain some truth, it did not make me feel better about myself. I did not want revenge, I wanted a Reason.

And the Reason my internally-focused (ir)Rational Mind came up with was that it happened because I allowed it. I had missed seeing all the Red Flags and due to my stubbornheadedness, got myself in this funk. It was a terrible thought, but it was nonetheless true.

I do not want to flatter the ex for triggering this, but it did bring to light many instances I thought that “if only this, then this” and the “if only” always pertaining to what I lacked or missed or f***ed up. This year, however, the Ms Fix It in me decided to step back, to question the truths she often swallowed whole – hook, line and sinker.

**

Once again, salvation coming from an unlikely source.

I listen to my patients all the time beat themselves (or their kids) up – why is he still a pain in the ass? Is it something I did? I’m such a failure of a mother. This is my punishment. 

I spent more time counseling and comforting and re-orienting than I did talking about the diagnoses most of the time. Sometimes the answer to “Why?” instead of “What?” was what tripped my parents/ families up, gets them stuck, paralyzes them into the illusory thought that they have failed somewhere – in raising their child.

What did I do? To the best of my abilities, I gave them an alternative to that script.

A space – a sacred, inner circle drawn with invisible chalk on the ground surrounding us that declared their thoughts/ emotions valid, that acknowledges not only what was happening wrong but that their struggle and their cry for help – was actually a step in the right direction. “You are halfway there. That is why you are here. Welcome. ” 

That the gloom-doom scenarios playing in their head as they stared at their child need not be true. Especially when it came to the question “What happens next?”

**

My programming need not dictate my prognosis then. But then, that’s nothing new.

Anyone who has tried quitting an addiction knows knowledge doesn’t directly translate to action. What was the missing link?

 

 

 

 

Thoughts on…

My problem with Dev Peds only enlarges as the days go by.

With my drive to seek better questions (rather than settle on What do I want? Or What to do next? ), you start to ask bigger ones.

What kind of system of health care would I want to be practising in such that what I do in a small way (in the clinic) will outlast that interaction and extend/ influence through to patient’s and their families’ lives?

Going down many routes to consider, I start to rack up a list of knowledge bases and skill sets one should ideally be equipped with to answer such a question. One of the main answers (I think is most important) is experience.

And experience isn’t really confined to actual “internship” or practicum-style experience, but even so experience of that of others. And I come across such an “answer” to my Dev Ped dilemma in (weirdly enough) an article Dean Zosimo Lee earmarked re Poverty and its causes. It says this:

The key distinction to be made here is between poverty’s upstream sources and its downstream effects. The upstream sources are simple…the downstream effects are, by contrast, indeed complicated and multifarious. When people issue the platitude that “poverty is complicated,” they’re confusing the causes with the effects.

And so I realize this crucial link to my conceived IDEA of where I should focus my efforts TOWARDS (with regards to Dev) – do I focus on the upstream or downstream?

I realize Dev Ped is very much a downstream, specific way of thinking about development. Of concerning one’s self with testing or classifying which “diagnosis” one belongs, sometimes without much consideration as to how this would impact a parent/ family’s pakikitungo towards their own child.

I envision a kind of practice that DOES make an impact towards the positive – and I don’t mean the kind of fancy-schmancy new play therapy or CBT (Cognitive-based therapy) <slash> evidence-based research that somehow will demand a parent to devote the rest of his/ her life to becoming a scholar in such a specific kind of therapy or discipline only to find out months later that a new one has come up and trumped what he has just mastered.

We owe it to parents. And to their children. Not to wilfully lead them towards something not even science can guarantee will work. We can only show them their options and teach them to appreciate what could be neglected or highlight what is already a strong suit in their relationship – to be able to arrive at a kind of “working” intervention that the families could appreciate and apply. Consistently. Without even realizing it as a huge endeavour on their part.

Breaking Fast…

…Over not writing.

I read a very beautiful article on Journaling here and of course, the idea of restarting this Blog came to me again. The gap between my last article and this feels so WIDE, one of the reasons I had difficulty restarting is I didn’t know where to start.

Isn’t this a GREAT excuse to have though?

For procrastinating.

For not starting that BIG project that seems so far away and so insurmountable. For waiting for the PERFECT time to ask him/her out. For asking for a raise. For taking that vacation. For cleaning up my impossibly haphazardly-organized corner of the room.

The funny thing about a “thought-hoarder” like me is I don’t allow myself to tolerate that kind of excuse. Such that an itch (harder to reach and harder to satisfy) starts to make itself felt until I take a step towards action in (literally) ANY direction.

It is both a curse and a cure.

Everyday, I tell the patients and their families that to go a step beyond addressing the kid’s weaknesses, we should also never forget to offer ample opportunities to discover strengths. Whenever I let loose things like that, it isn’t really about me doling out “sounds-comforting-but-is-totally-irrelevant” advice from my hoity-toity Ivory Tower of Medical Knowledge. It truly is something I personally believe in as well.

Hence, this long introduction to my breaking the writing slump.

Let’s start over.