Some truth for Valentine’s Day

It’s been awhile. I can’t believe I wrote here only three times last year. I’ll talk about my reasons for my absence in another post (or maybe not if the past ten months are anything to go by).

What I will talk about is why I’m crawling out of my WordPress hibernation for.

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Coincidentally, my reading for today fell on 1 Corinthians 13. For those of you who don’t know, this is where the famous “Love is patient, love is kind…” verse comes from. So when I opened my Bible and saw this, my first thought was that I am too single for this.

But then, as most things are with God, He surprises me by dropping some knowledge when I least expect it.

I used to think that this whole chapter is basically what the pastor/priest/chaplain/minister says in every wedding I’ve ever attended.

False.

The first three verses of this chapter are just massive truth bombs. And with everything that’s been going on in the world right now, I genuinely believe that we are in desperate need to be reminded of this every day.

Whatever cause we are fighting for, we can always support or defend it with love and respect for our fellow human beings. Because in the end, no matter how witty or intelligent or amusing or impressive or catchy or persuasive or viral our words and actions are, if we do not have love, nothing happens.

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My twin sister is in love

She doesn’t know it yet. But I do.

Three days after I arrived here in California, Kat, my twin sister, brought me to her Bible study and introduced me to her group of friends. I went not knowing anything about any of them, and I left feeling something was brewing between Kat and one of the guys there named Adam.

It was the way their gaze always fell to the other when they talked. There was something in the way they looked at one another, like with a smile in their eyes.

Since then, I’ve seen Adam three more times and in those three times, I was left feeling more and more confident that these two not only like each other but also would be so insanely and unbelievably great for each other.

Initially, I resolved to keep my thoughts and observations to myself for a number of reasons. One, I didn’t want her to start feeling self-conscious whenever I’m with them. Two, Kat is the type of person who doesn’t talk about feelings and wouldn’t appreciate it if you force her to. And three, I wasn’t even sure if she herself knows she likes him.

Until five days ago.

She went go-karting with her Bible study group while I was at our cousins’ place. When we all met up for lunch the next day, we found out that she and Adam spent hours just talking at the parking lot of K1…until two in the freaking morning! According to her, they genuinely lost track of time. And we believe her, which is why the floodgates of unrelenting teasing and persistent questioning have been thrown wide open.

Yesterday, she finally admitted to liking him. “But just like,” she said. That I don’t believe.

She’s in love. I see it in the way she tries desperately to not talk about him, in the way she just lights up whenever she ends up talking about him anyway. I see it when they talk and she discovers they have another bizarre thing in common. I see it in the things that might be too little to be noticed by anyone else.

I can also see that she’s a bit terrified. I’m not sure what she’s more scared of – that he might not like her back or that he might actually do. And from what I’ve seen so far, I’m pretty sure it’s the latter. And not to brag or anything but I have correctly predicted my ex-boyfriend’s present girlfriend so I’ve proven that my gut feeling can be right.

I’m just genuinely excited for her. After years of focusing completely on her studies and career, she so deserves the butterflies in her stomach, the late night parking lot conversations and a chance at having a guy who is really good for her heart.

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My aunt, uncle and I interrogating her. Seriously.

Valentine’s Day: Why date a guy when you can have a date your sister?

I have the sweetest sister. Sure there are times when she terrifies me with her unexpected and very extreme mood swings, and sure her evil death stare can make anyone’s knees tremble with fear. But on her good days (which outnumber the bad ones), she is the sweetest human being ever. And Valentine’s Day is a good day.

After having dinner with our grandparents, Karen and I decided to go on a dessert date at a Gelato place nearby.

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And then she gave me this…

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As my best friend said, “The romantics department may be lacking at the moment, but I am never not loved.” I am loved by everyone who matters to me and that’s all I could ever ask for.

To the girl with the broken heart

*I wrote this years ago for myself when my boyfriend broke up with me after five years together. In my mind, I wrote this as someone who, I imagined, would be able to reach me in spite of the many barriers I put up around my heart. Recently, one of my best friends got dumped in the worst way possible by her girlfriend of seven years, and I thought maybe letting her read this can help her in some way. And I’m reposting this here just in case this finds its way to someone else who needs a hug.

I don’t see your tears. I’m not there whenever you shed them. I don’t hear the achingly deep breaths you take, thinking it could lessen the pain that made your heart its home. I’m not there whenever you feel safe enough to tuck away the smiles you work so hard on showing off to everyone around you.

It doesn’t matter though. I see right through it.

I see because I’ve felt it – the feeling of giving your all and receiving nothing in return, of trying your hardest but always ending up second best, of loving so much while hurting even more, of knowing you deserve better yet settling for what’s there.

I know what you’re going to say, that I couldn’t possibly know exactly what you’re feeling and that circumstances are different for every person. And that’s true. Our experiences may not be similar, our pain not of the same degree.

But the remedy is.

Whatever he’s done and whatever he’s made you feel, in the end, it can only hurt you as much as you allow it to, as much as you let it. It all comes down to choice – your choice… which, truth be told, makes healing that much harder.

Because sometimes we choose to hurt. Sometimes, we’d rather lock ourselves in a dark room that was once bright, with pain we are so familiar with, instead of using the key we hold in the palm of our hand to open the door and walk out – all because we have not the slightest clue of what’s beyond it. We’re afraid to let go because we think that, if we do, we won’t find anyone else to hold on to and, more importantly, there won’t be another person who will want to hold us too. We’re afraid to be alone so we choose to stay with someone who not only hurt us but make us hurt ourselves and we rationalize it by saying, “At least he makes me feel, and feeling something, even if it is pain, is better than not feeling anything at all.” And I get that. The presence of pain may seem less unbearable than the absence of happiness.

It’s not.

It only feels that way because we also have the tendency to entrust our happiness to anyone besides us. So much so that when that person walks out of our life, he takes our happiness along with him and leaves us with a whole lot of nothing. We know it, we do, but knowing isn’t enough to change anything. We still choose to depend on someone else than face the possibility of being on our own.

Because it would be easier, wouldn’t it? To have someone else make us happy rather than to actually make ourselves happy.

But we can, you know. Be happy with ourselves. Granted it may be quite lonesome at times, disheartening on some occasions. But you know what? It’s worth it. Do you know what it feels like to suddenly find yourself genuinely happy and content and realize that, for the first time since forever, it’s not because of some guy? What does it feel like to be the reason for our own happiness?

Fulfilling. Uplifting. Worth it.

What not a lot of people realize, and what I hope you will, is that there is only one kind of love, aside from the love of God, that will never disappoint and that will never hurt – self-love.

So, at this moment, make your choice. Think about what you’re going through, what you’ll continue to go through should you remain in the path you’re in and choose.

Choose what your heart deserves, not what your heart thinks it wants. Choose to stop putting your happiness in someone else’s hands. And if you already have, don’t be afraid to take it back. Maybe falling for the wrong person was never your choice. But moving on is. We can allow the pain to consume us or we can choose to acknowledge it.

Let it hurt, let it out, then let it go.

And when you’ve let it go, walk away.  And as you walk away, know in your heart that while you may be walking away from something good, you’re sure as hell walking toward something even better.

Of music and breathing

I must confess. These past few months I have been struggling with the ever-changing frame of mind I constantly find myself in. Some days, I feel one thing, and then on others, I feel completely different. Then there are days when I feel such a conflict of emotions that I stare at the ceiling or at the wall and I just have to take deep breaths.

I’m not sure exactly when it all started, but I do know what triggered it. But that’s a post for another time.

Right now, I just want to share a few songs. The last time I wrote a similar post, my mood was a lot happier than how it is now. But the gist is the same.

Music keeps me going.

There’s only a few things in this world that can put back the gleam in my eyes, and music is one of them. When I strangle myself with life’s worries and the pressure to meet the world’s insurmountable standards, music helps me breathe.

Maybe some of these songs can help you breathe too.

I fall in love with this song every single time I listen to it. It reminds me that no matter how many times I fail or get lost or feel like crap, I always have a home to return to. And, I guess, in a world where loneliness and detachment are all too common, being reminded that you belong somewhere is always a blessing. I listen to this and I breathe a little better because I know I’m alright, and I’m alright because I’m not alone.

This isn’t my favorite version of the song; I like the version on their album better. But anyway, OneRepublic has always been my favorite band and it’s because of songs like this that make them my favorite band. I played this song on the morning of my graduation day, on the night I resigned from my first job and basically every time I’d feel like letting the entire day pass me by. This song doesn’t just help me breathe easier, it picks me up and pushes me to keep going.

I’ve been single for about three years now, and I’m always being told by so many people that I should start going out and looking for a guy. And to be honest, there have been days when I’d feel lonely or insecure. But for the most part, I’m alright. I am firmly holding on to my belief that the greatest love stories don’t begin with me going out and looking for someone to have that with. I really do think great love stories just unfold on their own. And listening to this song reinforces that. It also warms my heart because I know that someday I’ll be having a love story that will be worth writing a song about.

Every time I go through bouts of fear and uncertainty, I always feel so incredibly small in terms of my faith. I forget that God is bigger than me, that when compared to Him, my fears and uncertainties are absolutely petty and insignificant. This song reminds me of that. It reminds me to pause and allow God to take the weight off my chest. Because, really, He’s the only one who can.

This is the live and shortened version of the song, and the only available copy of the song on the band’s YouTube. Again, the one in the album is much better. Whenever I play this song, I close my eyes and imagine God, my family and my friends singing this to me. And it lifts me up. Because I know that amid the pressure of accomplishing the goals I set for myself and the fear of not being able to do it, I am loved by some extraordinary people.
That’s it. Some of the songs that help me breathe. Do you have any songs that help you breathe?

Don’t cry, Mom. Dad loves you.

The last time I saw my mom cry was six years ago. I was sitting right in front of her when she broke down. My heart was breaking but I remained seated, unmoved and trying to seem unaffected, as I watched the tears fall from her face, all the while knowing that I was the reason for her tears.

What happened today is a bit different. As she covered her face and began to cry, as her shoulders shook from the sobs, I was right beside her, hugging her and telling her that things will get better. Karen, my sister, was there too. It’s a good thing my mom had covered her face with her hands because if she hadn’t, she would have seen us desperately trying to keep our own tears from falling.

My mom is a soldier, you see. Whenever something bad happens, she doesn’t get hurt. She gets angry. When there is conflict, she doesn’t run away from a confrontation. She makes a beeline toward it. My mom is a soldier. And just as seeing a soldier cry can so easily move people to tears, the same goes for me and my sister when we see our mother in tears.

Now, my father, on the other hand, is an excellent provider. He started working when he was still in high school and he hasn’t stopped since, even now that he’s  passed the retirement age. It’s crazy how hardworking my dad is. He doesn’t even work for himself anymore. He puts so much value in our (his kids’) prospects and future stability that, truthfully, I could stop working right now and I’d still be set for life. It’s one of the many things he has instilled in us – work for your children so that your children could start working for their children. Needless to say, my family has always lived a very comfortable life and a huge part of it is because of him.

But some time ago, I realized that there are times when being a wonderful provider can get in the way of being a wonderful husband.

It’s been years since my parents went on a vacation together. My dad’s work and his dedication to his work have kept them from going anywhere that would require a long-distance phone call to reach his office. So while my dad goes to work to give us an even better future, my mom goes to work and waits until my dad is ready. My mom, like I said, is a soldier. But even soldiers need leave.

For the past couple of months, my mom had been planning a trip to Japan with my dad. The trip had been set for June, my mom’s birth month. She’ll be celebrating her 60th birthday on the 18th of June and she had told us so many times that she didn’t want a big party.  I just want to travel, she said. So they were going to travel.

Except that earlier today, less than two weeks before the trip, I received a text from my mom. I am very disappointed, she said. It turns out my dad backed out. One of his employees informed him that she would be going on a vacation the same time they were. My dad decided to stay because he didn’t want the office to be short of two people.

My mom tells me she’s disappointed but really, it’s her way of saying she’s hurting. The fact that she texted this to Karen and me while she was at a church meeting meant that she was hurting bad. So when we finally see her, Karen and I ask if she’s okay and we tell her that we’re worried about her.

And then my soldier of a mom begins to cry.

I wrap my arms around her but only for a few minutes because after awhile, she tells us she’s okay and asks us to leave the room. So we do. And then we go about our afternoon like we just didn’t see our mother in tears.

For hours now I’ve been wrestling with myself about whether or not I should do something. I want to talk to my mom about it but she’s made it pretty clear that she’d rather not. I want to try to convince my dad to follow through with their trip but I know that the possibility of him agreeing is very slim. The idea of telling my dad that he made mom cry has crossed my mind but doing that feels wrong.

So what do you do when you see your mom cry? What do you do when you know your dad’s the one who made her cry?

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think the answer is nothing.

No matter how badly I want my dad to take my mom to Japan, no matter how much I want to stop my mom from being disappointed in my dad, I have to accept the fact that it isn’t my marriage. At the end of the day, I choose to have faith in my parents’ love for each other and their commitment to each other.

But then again, it wouldn’t hurt to say a prayer for them.

The one where I correctly predict my ex-boyfriend’s future girlfriend

It happened three years ago, a couple of months after we broke up. I remember it so clearly because I was so sure of what I was saying. Our conversation that night was one of the most honest conversations I’ve ever had with him because, although we weren’t together anymore, we were at that phase where we still acted like we were, so saying what I said felt like a pretty bold, albeit weird, thing to do.

I was walking with him to my car. It was eight in the evening and I just finished my last class for the day. I’d been thinking about telling him this for quite some time already but I never had the chance. That night, she somehow popped into our conversation and I finally had the opening I was waiting for. So before we reached the car, I turned to him and said, “You know, you’re going to end up with her someday.”

I’ve thought about her many times before that night. She was a really close friend of his and while she never became a close friend of mine, she was someone I liked a lot. Whenever they were together, they were happy and genuine. There were no pretenses, no fake laughter at an unfunny joke. Everyone could see how great friends they were. And then eventually I came to see how even better they would be as a couple. And what I saw was definitely better than what we ever had.

To be honest, that realization was more reassuring than I could ever admit to him. Up until that point, I was constantly exhausting my brain and heart with questions I probably knew the answer to but never could confess. What are we exactly? What are we doing? Is what I have with you right or just convenient? So when I was finally faced with the answer, it was more of a relief than anything else. It’s nice to be given a clear answer – even if that answer doesn’t seem to work in your favor. At a point where all I’m surrounded with are maybes, what ifs and I don’t knows, it felt nice to be given a definitive NO.

So when I told him he was going to end up with someone else while we were still, I don’t know, whatever we were back then, I didn’t say it to be reassured or coddled. I said it out loud for myself. I said it to pave the way for an end… an end for him and me – which was something I think I needed more than he did.

He dismissed what I said, of course. He said it would never happen. I asked him why, thinking (or was it hoping? I’m not so sure anymore) that maybe I was the reason, that his feelings for me would never go away. I don’t really know what I wanted his answer to be, what I do know is that I heard what I needed to hear. He said it would never happen because he would never want to jeopardize his friendship with her. She had never been in a relationship and so he didn’t want to be the first one to hurt her.

I knew then that I was right. It took three years, but I was right.

Last week, I was browsing through my Instagram feed when I saw a photo of the two of them with a heart and one of those smiley kisses for its caption. And you know what my reaction was? I was happy. Honestly. Although I don’t really know which one made me happier –  the new couple or the fact that my prediction had come true. It’s probably the latter.

And I guess I’m also proud of myself. I’ve always wondered how I would feel when he’d find someone new. I kept telling the people who would ask that I wouldn’t be affected at all if he found someone else because I honestly believed I wouldn’t, but in truth, I was secretly afraid that, when the time would come, I’d only prove myself a liar. I wasn’t afraid of feeling bitter or jealous. No, that was never the case. But I was absolutely terrified of finding out that he had found someone and then being consumed with one devastating question, Why haven’t I found mine first? I think a lot of times that’s how people usually feel when ex-lovers find new lovers. I didn’t want that. I didn’t want his newfound happiness to ignite a petty insecurity in me.

And it didn’t. I was just happy.

For him.

For her.

For me.

Mostly for me. It’s a good feeling, fate proving you were right all along.