A Wake for my Weaknesses

 

“I would rather die a meaningful death than to live a meaningless life.”
Corazon Aquino
I am always first to admit when I make a mistake. I have no pride holding me back from recognizing that I am flawed. After all, I am human. But I am also divine. And I am now learning how to live from this divine nature within me…
For me this hasn’t been easy since I am someone prone to playing the victim role. There is always something or someone else to blame for what is happening to me…
I come from a line of toxic family beliefs: “money is the best indicator of success, vulnerability is a sign of weakness, honesty is cowardice, love is meaningless, time for leisure is laziness, etc etc”
For a long time, all I remember is how much I criticized myself for not meeting these standards. How well I put myself down, oh boy, I should’ve won some kind of prize. I didn’t appreciate any of my qualities. I always focused on what I didn’t have or what I was missing or what I had in excess.
It wasn’t until I discovered meditation that my old story and belief patterns were able to melt away and I could fall into the truth of who I am.
How you perceive yourself creates the filter, the lens through which you see everything… your entire world. How you see others is a reflection of how you see yourself. So if you see yourself as unworthy, you are going to seek worthiness in places and people…. and that just isn’t healthy. Trust me, I know.
But when we see ourselves as beings of energy, of love, of peace, beauty and bliss…. we allow ourselves to shine and we give permission to the other person to do so as well.
I now follow a specific spiritual path. Practicing Raja Yoga meditation, dedicating myself to serving others, having a focus of self-study and personal growth in order to be an example through my dharna. Being a part of a spiritual family and transcending the human form to become who we once were: Shaktis. This practice is my life and this is where the inspiration for my article comes from.

This path brings you face to face with the best and the worst in you. Your old story comes up and claws into you trying to hold on for dear life. This old story contains all our weakness and vices. All our sins and crimes.

It is not enough to just recognize them. The objective is to leave them behind. To destroy that which no longer serves you so you can make room for the light. To say it’s an emotional roller-coaster is an understatement. Fear  will appear like a knight in shining armor convinced that is has come to save you!
What I’ve found is that we can’t focus on our weaknesses, but rather our strengths. The stronger we are, the stronger the opposition. In order to stop identifying ourselves with our weaknesses we need to start to identify with our strengths, our innate qualities, our virtues, our powers. The more we connect with the wholeness that we are, the more we close the door to our faults. 
I have recently buried three very important weaknesses in my life. Each one of us knows who our monsters are and what they look like. These are mine. Thank you all for coming to their funeral:

My doubts


You are like this grey cloud in my head. Literally inside. And not only do you rain down on me, you constantly pass judgment! You are the birthplace of my confusion, my insecurity and my lack of decision-making.

You are the reason I always second guess myself. Why I don’t have trust or faith.

Where did you come from? Sometimes you feel like a lost boy. I wish I could get you home.

Sometimes you disguise yourself as intelligence (rational or emotional). But the truth is that I always see through you. I know you but I let you take over anyway. You always make it seem like I have more to lose than to gain. But I have clarity now, I have love and I have light. I have power. You feel smaller now, but you’re still there… surviving.

Maybe if you let go, it will liberate you. Maybe at the bottom of that abyss is your home, who knows?

I think you should go. I don’t need you anymore. Thank you for our time. You really forced me to fight hard against you so… thank you. But really, you can go now. I’ll be just fine without you.


My guilt


You’re like a husband I never had.

That old ball & chain.

I’ve dragged you around for as long as I can remember.

I sometimes think I was born with you.

But what good have you done me?

You come to me as self-pity and I wallow in you.

I used to consider you my conscience.

You’d be the one to tell me what was right and what was wrong.

But to you, everything I wanted was wrong.

You told me I was selfish. You even told me to stop wanting things. That I could live without having anything. That I had to learn to appreciate what I had. That there was happiness and reward in sacrifice. That by following you, I was being humble and noble.

What kind of bias conscience are you? My whole life I felt remorse for not doing or being what others wanted me to be and you… oh, you had a party with that. Every time I was about to make a decision for myself and my happiness, I envisioned how it would impact others and boom! You exploded like a supernova in my heart. Why couldn’t I just want what others wanted me to want for myself? You made me hate that I was different. What is so wrong with wanting to live life just for me? Why is it my duty, my obligation to fulfill all the expectations put on me? Last time I checked, I wasn’t a fairy. So why do you keep suffocating me? How can I fly with your weight holding my soul down like gravity? I don’t know how to get rid of you yet, but for now I’ve learned a neat trick. I learned that I can reverse you. Instead of feeling you when I let others down, I will only feel you when I let myself down. You will only haunt me when I am not being true to myself. To my beliefs. You will also have a companion from now on. Her name is compassion.


My fears


I have carried you around for so long. You’ve become like an old friend that’s no good for me yet one I choose over others who are more worthy.

You keep me in the dark, and the hardest part is that I know the light. I’ve seen it. I recognize it. But you make it seem out of reach for me.

How long do you intend on keeping me prisoner?

You take the joy out of life. You blind me. Turn me into something I’m not.

You make me ugly and small. I’m tired of waiting for you to release me. I kept thinking that if I grew up, matured, and deepened my knowledge in spirituality that you would let me go. But NO. Here you are.

Gate keeper of my happiness and freedom.

I now realize that it was never your responsibility to release me.

I had to release YOU.

I had the power all along.

But I know you. You’re going to try to come back to me. That’s alright. I’ll never forget whose boss again.

You are not my friend. You don’t keep me safe. You keep me locked in a cage.

I’m letting you go. I’ll take the risk of being hurt or rejected or unloved or defeated.

Whatever comes my way, I’ll face it. My happiness is worth the risk.

My freedom is worth fearlessness.
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Wake Up, Speak Up. {The Pain of Healing}

Life.

There are billions of metaphors about life.

Life is like a roller-coaster, like a tree, like a balloon, like a ship, like a winter coat, like a pet, like a Madonna song, like a mountain, like a river, like a bird and so on and so forth.

Today, life is like a war. You go in with an ideal, hoping to fight for something, praying you get it on your way out.

Usually, death is an uncertainty. We live in blissful ignorance about our expiration date. I don’t know if I have 5 hours, 5 days or 50 years left.

Some of us do know. It’s just the kind of hand we’ve been dealt. There are still incurable diseases out there. Huntington’s disease, Coronary Artery disease, COPD, Cancer, HIV/AIDS, etc. These diseases are death sentences.

Then there is something more subtle at play. An area I believe we don’t spend enough attention focusing on: Mental Illnesses. This includes anxiety disorders, eating disorders, bipolar disorder and depression. Diseases like this can cause the victim to take their own life.

According to a report by PBS, More than 54 million (or nearly one in five) Americans have a mental disorder in any given year. The risk of suicide makes untreated manic-depressive illness more fatal than heart disease and some forms of cancer.

I guess you don’t really take notice of certain things until they hit home for you.

On the 12 of March, 2015 one of my best friends tried to commit suicide. After 10 days of being in the ICU with burns covering 90% of her body, she passed away.

lety

My full of life, happy go lucky, dancing, dreaming, valedictorian, kick ass doctor friend chose to end her life.

Why? An acute postpartum depression that went unnoticed, among other things.

She gave birth to a beautiful baby boy in October. Add depression on to a preexisting struggle with OCD. You get a recipe for suicide.

For years she’s been struggling with OCD. I don’t think I ever understood the gravity of her problem. She always seemed to have it all together. When she told me she wanted to become a doctor after having studied two years of civil engineering I laughed because I knew that she would be terrific at it. When she told me she was taking flamenco and reiki classes because she didn’t plan to be a doctor forever I nodded and kept telling her “if there’s anyone capable of doing anything, it’s you”. I truly believed that. Lety was one of those people that inspired you. Her lightness and enthusiasm reminded you what being human was all about. She was someone you’d look up to. Today, I rummage through all the memories we built over the 17 years that I knew her. We went to high school together. She was always voted most pretty, most intelligent, most likable, most likely to succeed. There was no one in that school that didn’t love her. She had a soul that would shine right out of her eyes.

But she was secretly at war. At war with her mind. I know what it’s like, I’m always fighting to stay in control of my mind so I know what it’s like to be dragged down the rabbit hole against your will.

These last few months when she told me what was going on, I tried to help her. I shared any and every kind of knowledge I had with her. From Buddhist spiritual practices to Hindu rituals. From self-help to consciousness books. The power of our thoughts create our reality, our perception dictates what we see as true. I believe this. I tried to help her to see that. I tried every day for four months. Last month, for five days, I stopped. I took a break. She wasn’t budging. I needed to recharge. I dropped the ball. And now she’s dead. Now I will never get a chance to speak to her again.

And I have to say, it’s the most excruciating pain I’ve ever experienced.

I haven’t been taking her death as gracefully as I should, knowing all I know.

There’s this remorse, this guilt that eats at me. I didn’t take her suicide talk seriously. I’ve always seen her as a logical and strong woman. I never thought anything like this would happen to her.

Which is why I’m writing today. After the incident, several people around me came forward to let me know that i’m not alone. I was shocked to find out that there were so many people that had suffered similar situations and they only realized the gravity of the issue after it was too late.

self harm

Today, I want to encourage you, whoever is reading, to speak up.

Mental illness is a disease of the mind. We lose sovereignty over the organ that makes us who we are.

If you suspect or know someone suffering from a mental illness, do something about it. Do something as if they had a cut and they were bleeding out right in front of you.

The absence of physical symptoms makes it hard sometimes to recognize or understand the pain that a victim of mental illness suffers but believe me, they are very much suffering.

If you are someone who is struggling with a mental illness, speak up. Tell someone. Seek help. You’d be surprised at the love, support and understanding you can find from a stranger. It is not too late for you because you are still alive and you can make the choice to stay that way.

And finally, if you have lost someone to an illness and are grieving like me, then, let it out. Take your time to make your peace. Don’t lie to yourself. Don’t tell yourself its okay when its not.

A lot of people have been giving me unsolicited advice. Advice like “it’s a part of life, it will pass, time will heal” I’m not saying its wrong, its just something I’m not ready to hear right now. The death of my friend has shook me down to my core.

Poetry is my current outlet for getting out all my pent up emotions. The advice I got stirred a rage in me I had to get out.

She knows me. I’m not one to reply with a fine, thanks.

She knows I am a hurricane that shakes the honest awake.

When i’m not okay, i’m not fucking okay.

And it’s okay to not be fucking okay.

Its okay to say you’re not fucking okay.

“A little bit.” I say. “Im worn out.”

“Why?” she asks.

It’s hard to say.

“Just how I feel” I reply.

“It’ll pass” she asserts.

It’ll pass.

Let me tell you about a few things that will pass.

An airplane passes the Atlantic to arrive in Europe, Troy is always frightened it will fall out of the sky.

Easter passes every year, Maria is scared she won’t get enough chocolates.

Children worry about passing their exams.

My mother prays she lives to pass 80.

There are few things that when they pass you can get over without much distress.

Missing an appointment, being misunderstood, not having a cent to your name.

However, they are other things that we must respect,

And we must understand, even if we don’t.

Things that we cannot take lightly.

My best friend is dead.

She died.

She took her life.

That is not light.

There is nothing light in my life right now.

Only heavy.

So please, dear God, allow me to be worn out and worn down.

Allow me to speak it.

To share it.

And recognize my scars.

Let them be for the time being.

For I also know that time will play a tune

And eventually make it all alright again.

But don’t minimize this pain,

This howling grief inside my bones.

It is the only companion I have.

The only truth I hold.

I pray for a world, for a future where a broken heart is treated just as gently as a broken arm.

Where we don’t need bravery to stand up and say to someone else “I’m not okay”

A future where our health plan includes mental sick days.

None of us are really, truly okay. We’re all just trying our best.

Falling down and getting back up again.

Let’s be more compassionate.

More honest.

More open.

You never know, you could save a life that way. It could be your own.

Video

What doesn’t kill you…

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger
Stand a little taller
Doesn’t mean I’m lonely when I’m alone

What doesn’t kill you makes a fighter
Footsteps even lighter
Doesn’t mean I’m over ’cause you’re gone

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, stronger
Just me, myself and I

 

That which doesn’t kill us makes us stronger is a famous saying by German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. This quote has reasoning that suffering is an inevitable part of life thus human being have developed many ways to try to ease it–one of which is bestowing upon it transformative powers.

The quote talks about experience. If you survive a challenge, you come out physically and mentally stronger.

Stronger.

Strength.

Let’s talk about that for a second.

What does it mean… To be strong?

We think we know the right answer. But if you really think about it, what we really know is what the wrong answers are.

Being physically strong, for example, is a wrong answer. Being Stone Cold like Steve Austin… also a wrong answer. Is it about being mentally strong? Or emotionally strong? Being able to resist a temptation?

what is TRUE strength?

To me, true strength lies in being vulnerable. In accepting your weakness and learning from your fears. It is standing at a tip of a mountain with no guarantee that the wind won’t blow you over.

To be strong is to embrace the weak in you and carry it with love.

To be strong has nothing to do with strength at all.

Video

Strength in Vulnerability… And Love!

Just thought I’d share this with you.
What Portia says is something so profound. Take a minute for this quote to resonate with you:

“I used to think that the way to be strong was to be tough. I used to think that to be independent was to not need anyone. But she’s taught me that the more vulnerable you are and the softer you are and the more you allow people into your life and into your heart, the happier you are and the more valuable you are to other people.”

 

I couldn’t have put it better myself. We spend so much time putting up walls and keeping our distance from people so we don’t get hurt, but by doing that we deny ourselves the ability to achieve true strength and happiness. And I know it’s not easy, believe me I know. But it’s worth it =)

I also have a confession to make.. I’m a BIG fan of Ellen & Portia. They’re both just amazing, beautiful people. I was maybe like 8 or 9 years old when Ellen was doing stand-up but when I got older I used to watch her comedy show, I found her ridiculously hilarious, I remember her on Oprah when she publicly came out, starting her own show, meeting Portia and everything since. I think she’s an amazing woman…truly. And Portia as well. I just became aware of her book Unbearable Lightness & I will definitely be reading it soon! I admire their courage and beliefs. Ellen helps people everyday to achieve their dreams and spreads laughter. And isn’t that what life is all about?