The woman in Florida

In 2010, my mother dragged me to Florida in what I thought was going to be the best trip of my life. Disney world, beach, endless sunshine, palm trees, and no school-the ultimate vacation for a broke twenty-one-year-old. Little did I know that we were only visiting an old friend.

My mother’s friend, Josefina was seventy-three years old and although she can move around the house, she is sickly. Her daughter whose name I could not remember visits her every week and buy her groceries.

Later that evening, Josefina’s daughter drove my mother and me to her house to meet her husband, whose name I also could not remember. My lack of open-mindedness made me judge the couple. Here is this tall and slender woman with long black hair and smells like lavender whom by the way does not look a day forty-nine is sitting next to a heavy-set African American man who constantly judges me for having a sleeve tattoo. He was sitting heavily in his chair facing the computer showing me what my arm will look like in ten to twenty-years time. I simply smiled as I observed both of them. While we chatted away, I noticed Josefina’s daughter did not regard her husband much. She would cut him off mid-sentence and corrected him a lot. The husband laughed it off and would drag the conversation back to my tattoos.

The next day my mom and I met up with Josefina’s daughter to go site seeing downtown. This is the moment when I thought, ”yes! It’s finally happening. We’re going to Disney land.” To my dismay, we never made it past the highway. Instead, we were in some park overlooking the water.

The view was amazing and the breeze was lovely. Looking back, I wished I had taken a photo. The sun was out and I was in a place I haven’t been before. Josefina’s daughter was wearing a white dress, her hair down and a huge smile on her face. I thought she was smiling at the sight of us, but then I realized she was looking directly at a slender built man who seems to look a little older than her husband. They held hands as they lock eyes, her smile never fading away. He planted a kiss on her forehead as my mother and I tagged along behind them.

Confusing thoughts came over me and questions started to fill my mind. My mother must have seen my face because she elbowed me and gave me her signature look. Even at twenty-one I always feel like a child locking eyes with my mother’s glare.

Later that evening, we had dinner at this fancy outdoor restaurant with a live band. I have never been anywhere and being in a new crowd made me feel excited. I looked around me and saw beautiful people everywhere enjoying the breeze, the music, and the food. I glanced at Josefina’s daughter who is now leaning against the man we met earlier that day and yes, I couldn’t remember his name either. She smiled every time he looked at her. They traded kisses and held hands the entire time.

At that moment I was upset at her. I wanted to confront her and ask her why she’s cheating. Why is she ruining her marriage to a man she has a beautiful home with? Why lie? I remember feeling furious even though I just met her and know nothing about her life.

Looking back, I now realized I have been naive and have been a judgemental cunt. The memory of her staring at her man with pure happiness in her eyes made me regret that I didn’t get to know her as a person. My lack of life experiences and open-mindedness hindered me from gaining a new friend. She would have been an amazing mentor. I imagine her as this funny, smart, and fierce woman who break down walls and who is determined to live life happily no matter the consequences. I wished I got the chance to ask her my questions then- not in an accusatory manner but in a friendly way where she and I can share thoughts and ideas.

I will always look back at that summer night and try to remember her features, her smile, and her fierceness.

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Time

the indefinite continued progress of existence and events in the past, present, and future regarded as a whole.

You believe in the saying “time is of the essence”? As I grow older, I understand this saying more and more. I feel as though time quickly passes me by as I work, go to school, and take care of the family; all the while forgetting how to live, how to experience life, and how to embrace it. Instead, I’m too busy dealing with life’s obstacles and in any corner, there’s always something else to deal with.

Going to work has become a routine. I get up, shower, get dressed, and out the door. When I get there, I make my way to the staff kitchen and make myself a cup of coffee, and the rest of the day is history. Going out, however, I’m becoming aware of the fact that I’m having trouble getting my foot out the door. Literally. Even after getting pampered-up and putting on an outfit I don’t typically wear to work. Admiring myself in the mirror and seeing how good I look, I still doubt myself. I create scenarios that might happen and plan everything in my head which leads to disappointment because nothing has ever happened to any of my created scenarios; they only stay in my head.

Take yesterday for example. I was craving Ramen and after dressing up, I made my way to the restaurant. I at least made it to the main entrance and before the attendant could speak to me, I turned around and head for the door. I gulped in the fresh air as if I’ve never inhaled and exhaled while in the restaurant. There were a lot of people. Of course, there would be-it’s a restaurant for Christ’s sake! My anxiety leveled up as soon as I heard people chattering away whilst taking a sip of their delicious soup. I thought to myself, ”look at that sad girl, what a loser!” I imagined myself sitting in the corner while the crowd sadly stare at me before bringing their attention back to their food. If I had stayed long enough, I would realize that no one was probably staring. No one probably gave a shit because they were too busy shoving food down their throat. But I didn’t so I walked home in vain. Mad at myself, I took a deep breath and move on.

This is a typical day for me at any given moment, wherever I may head to, chances are that I won’t make it. My situation reminds me a little bit of Sheila Gallagher from the critically acclaimed tv show called Shameless who is an agoraphobic, a type of anxiety disorder in which you fear and avoid places or situations that might cause you to panic, or make you feel trapped, helpless, or embarrassed. I’m not afraid to leave my house, in fact, I love going out to see places but unfortunately, when my anxiety and self-doubt comes, I always lose.

At the end of each working day, I ask myself why I never go anywhere. It’s always work, school, and family. Never a fun time for myself. When I finally do go out, my anxiety and self-doubt remind me of the reason why I stay home and time has slipped away and before I know it, I’m old, unattractive, and filled with regrets.

That darkness inside of us

There is darkness in each of us and there’s no denying it. At times we can control it but on days that we cannot, all hell breaks loose. Mean words are spoken and negative actions are made; regret and apologies then follow.

But what is it about us that makes us lash out and allow our anger gets the best of us? Is it because it’s in our nature as human beings? Is it because it is genetically embedded in our system? Is it a learned behavior? According to an article called Psychology Today,

Anger is a corrosive emotion that can run off with your mental and physical health.

The Hulk isn’t a real person but the emotion and rage he has in him whenever he transforms into his green self-are very real. That moment when you’re about to explode; that moment when you just want to destroy everything.

I now accept anger and rage. I accept this flaw because it’s who I am and I’m not perfect. What’s hard to swallow is the regret I feel after everything. I feel ashamed for having acted a certain way and feel sorry for the people I’ve affected. It’s even harder to swallow when people hate you even more for it. After regretting, feeling ashamed, and sorry comes the hardest part of all; acceptance. Owning up to your actions is tough and there’s no way around it but get through it.

If only I can turn back the hands of time to stop my demons. We all know this is impossible. All I can do from here on out is to learn from my mistakes and walk away to avoid stressful situations.

Giving yourself

Telling someone your darkest secrets changes their perception of you. I never knew this until I confided in my uncle who at the time was living in Saudi Arabia.

You are probably asking, out of all the family members you’ve got, you told your uncle? who is a man? Surely you could have found someone else, someone who will understand like a female relative. You see, my uncle Henry was the perfect person to tell my secret because for one thing, he lived far and no matter what his opinions are, I would never have to hear it come out of his mouth. Through a series of letters maybe, no pressure. Secondly, I knew him to be this loving, caring man whom I thought would sympathize with my situation and would support me unconditionally no matter what. Lastly, he has been living abroad ever since I could remember and as a fourteen-year-old girl I thought it was a brilliant idea to get to know him better through a series of letters or emails. Yes, I expected letters or at least one response. I never got one.

It wasn’t until he came home to his family years later and when we saw each other that I realized that he is just one of many relatives I have who judges me and looks at me with great disgust. We hugged, smiled, and nothing more. He entertained everyone but never asked me once about that letter I sent him. Sure, he must have forgotten, but I can’t help but ask myself, how could he forget about a letter from me saying I like both men and women? I was crushed. I watched him from the distance as he smiled and laughed with family and friends. I stood by the door with my heart shattered. At first I couldn’t fathom what just happened. That first night he was back I thought I would give him a day or two to settle down, see his long time friends, let him relax and have him feel completely at home. Unfortunately, days turned into weeks and before I knew it, it was time for him to go back abroad.

How naive of me! My expectations crumpled. Hope all lost. Disgusted with myself for being what I am. Hated myself for being so stupid to tell a secret like that. I realized that my uncle is a stranger whom I see every other year and barely speak to. Being in this awkward situation has made me grow up, value self-respect, relationships, and most of all, has made me stand up for myself when no one gave a shit.

I guess this is why people build walls around themselves to prevent heartache and disappointments. Having family with deep cultural values and religious beliefs is very tough to share shit with specially when your beliefs doesn’t coincides with theirs. To this day I haven’t told any of my family members. I came to a realization that not everyone needs to know. Only those who stuck around long enough to deserve my true self. My siblings know I’m sure, but we definitely don’t speak about it.

The struggle is real

We’re all connected in so many ways if not by blood then definitely through our daily struggles, our fears, and anxieties. Today I watched a friend struggle with her eating disorder. While I thought this issue is more on the physical, I later found that its more than just the appearance. One’s way of thinking plays a huge part in this illness. I spent a week with this friend and even though we’ve discussed what’s expected to happen, I still found myself in disbelief for the friend I knew to be fun, loving, free spirited, positive person is curling up next to the toilet-crying! I asked her “how can I help?” Rather than asking her “are you okay?” Because right when I saw her I knew right then and there that she’s not okay and that she not only needs my help to get cleaned up, but most importantly to get professional help.

Just when I thought I’m in the worst situation in my life and I find out someone else is struggling with something even far worse than I do. We all have some kind of pain, daily fears whether it’s a small thing, a big thing; it’s there. Hindering us from living. Just over two weeks a go I had suicidal thoughts. I tried literally looking for ways to end my life and the only thing I saw before taking a whole bunch of pills, before drinking bleach, before cutting my wrists, before driving my car into the cliff, is the faces of my nephews. I asked myself, “why?” And all I could do is cry because I don’t have an answer. I want those two boys to remember me as that fun, loving aunt who took them places. Not that suicidal aunt who was depressed.

My friend and I are relying on family and friends. We have a long way to go.

A terrible thing to waste

To type it all down from the very beginning isn’t enough. I not only want you to understand my pain but also feel it. It’s been a struggle to be honest. I tried so hard to find things that are conducive to my well being. Nature walks, running, photography, family, work, school, and really submerged myself into not thinking about taking my own life. But that thought always comes back to me when I’m all alone at night. It’s calling my name and pulling me towards it’s strong energy as if I am to float towards it. Do it. Do it! I can hear it in my head demanding me. I’m scared. I haven’t seek for help because I know I’ll be advised to do what I’m already doing-which is to find things that I love and pursue them. But I’m trapped. I’m helpless. No one can help me. The mind is a terrible thing to waste. With it we are invincible. We are capable of doing great things. We adapt to change and we move forward. But Not me. There’s nothing good up there. My noggin’ is a dark place where bad thoughts circulates. All I do is curl up and cry. What hurts most is that when my nine-year old nephew grow up and look back on all of his accomplishments and memories he will unfortunately remember me as the aunt who tried to kill herself. She said so in the car ride home after school. I’m sick. I’m disgusted. I’m a problem. And no matter how many times I’ve apologized to him he will always have that memory of me. I need not to be around love ones so I don’t disappoint them. So I don’t remind them of death and depression. I want to go away and try again. To live. To laugh. To smile. To be happy. To be genuinely happy. I want to feel that way again. But I’m drowning. There’s no more air left in me. There’s no hope left.