Lurking in the Shadows (aka 50 Shades of Diva)

When I began blogging in 2009 my intention was for the blog to be a glorified newsletter for family and friends. We were on the verge of moving from Manila to New Delhi and there was just so much going on that it was easier to just post thoughts and travelogues online rather than send out email that would end up in the spam folder. The more I wrote, however, the more attached I became to this medium, finding it to be therapeutic as well as a creative and disciplined way to stringing my thoughts together.

Over the years readers and followers have written in comments, criticisms, violent objections, and viciously unkind reactions. Though it irked me at first, one of the fundamental pillars of blogging is the awareness that it all comes with the territory when you launch anything out into the worldwide web. On the other hand it isn’t all doom and gloom. For the most part, there has also been a substantial amount of praise, support, kindness, sympathy, and empathy that has come in as well, for which I feel incredibly blessed and grateful, even after I lost 8000+ followers when I walked away from the Facebook conglomerate.

It took me a few years to own up to the fact that my blog is indeed mine, and I write for myself and not to please others. I have been accused of arrogance, narrow-mindedness, insensitivity, stupidity, ignorance, naiveness, been shamed for expecting the best and ignoring the worst, and even chastised for expressing political opinions. Again, my blog, my opinions, take it or fucking leave it. While I gave in on rare occasions to some requests to write on certain topics for the sake of a particular audience, cause or movement, the blog has become a home for my soul rather than a hub for thoughts and opinions. And I stopped caring about the algorithms and numbers.

A personal blog also means that my life is basically an open book to the world.
Did I mind?
Do I mind?
Does it bother me?

I will be the first to admit a certain queasiness in the beginning, especially when touching sensitive issues such as midlife transition, menopause, divorce, depression, abuse, therapy, etc. based on my personal experiences. On the one hand it forced me to structure my thoughts in order to bring clarity both for the blog entry as well as my own emotions. On the other, at some point it became a personal mission to write openly about the darkness in the fervent hope that others who are perchance going through something similar can find some comfort in the fact that you are not alone.

One of the greatest lessons in this journey of blogging has been acknowledging that it is OK to embrace weakness, expose the torment, torture, despair, loss of direction, devastation – because life isn’t a damn fairy tale where everything is wine and roses, the wolf gets punished and Prince Charming shows up to save the day. The raw emotions and the sincerity with which it is all written has been difficult for me to handle alone, but by expressing my inner chaos into words or processing them into photographs has been cathartic to say the least. Does it heal anything or miraculously make the pain go away? No, and I won’t lie to you about it either – just because it’s exposed doesn’t mean that it will heal right away. Facing the ugly scabs is part of the process, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction.

As many of you have noticed, I have been very sporadic in terms of online presence the past three months. Yes, I am romancing some dark demons again, all fifty shades of them, to the extent that it has driven me back to therapy, albeit not as intense as previously. Avoiding all social contact, repeatedly cancelling appointments, and utter fear of public transportation were the telltale sights that I was in trouble again, and this time without the factor of abuse and fraud to contend with. I thus found myself back in the therapy seat, after mentally cancelling the appointment at least five times before leaving the house, but as you can tell by this blog, it as the nudge I needed to get back on the saddle.

Adverse effects of the COVID-19 vaccine, prolonged period of isolation, and emotional exhaustion make a nasty cocktail that have produced a cataclysmic writer’s block. It came to a point where even sitting in front of my laptop terrified me. So I hid, I hid from the world, from reality, and mostly from myself, but then I stumbled on a quote by Lance Armstrong:

“Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever.”

which has been reduced to a more popular version:

“Pain is temporary, regret is forever”.

Acceptance of pain and exposure of vulnerability requires strength and courage, because you have no control of what your soul chooses to prioritise. Making a conscious decision to write about personal issues and demons leads anyone stupid enough to embark on this journey down a thorny and rocky path that opens up into a field of insecurities, self-doubt, self-deprecation, and fear. On the other hand, three years of therapy have taught me that this is exactly what it is all about. You cannot possibly aim for the light without knowing that darkness and shadows are part of the deal as well.

Today is my mother’s birthday and had she still been alive we would have celebrated her 87th birthday. It is thanks to her that I have the courage to fight for that flame within me to keep going. It is thanks to her that I know that the wisdom and love anchored in family and soul siblings is the way, the light and the fountain. I miss her more than ever today, and would give anything to feel her arms around me, have her whisper that she loves me and scold me for being a jackass and dragging my butt for too long. I miss her snarky retorts, sassy remarks, unfiltered comments, but also her generous spirit and kindness to the world that had absolutely nothing to do with money. Below is a photograph I took on her birthday in 2016, not knowing that two months later she would be gone forever. She was unapologetic in the way she loved, but also in the way she fought to right the wrongs around her. She was a nurse who cured hearts and souls, and her bandaids were woven with love, sweat and tears.

Nanay Aug. 16, 2016 ©FrogDiva Photography

In the end, for those of us courageous enough to wear courage as an armour and write about the dark demons from a personal hell know that this is not the playground where cowardice is allowed. It is courage that fights side by side kindness and forgiveness, leaving cowards to fend for themselves. I would rather fight with the pain than live with the regret that I never even bothered to stand up again.


  1. Desiderata

    GO PLACIDLY amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.

    Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.

    Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

    Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

    Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.

    Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass.

    Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

    Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

    Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.

    And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

    By Max Ehrmann © 1927 Original text

    On Mon, Aug 16, 2021 at 11:59 PM FrogDiva Thoughts wrote:

    > FrogDiva posted: ” When I began blogging in 2009 my intention was for the > blog to be a glorified newsletter for family and friends. We were on the > verge of moving from Manila to New Delhi and there was just so much going > on that it was easier to just post thoughts and trav” >

  2. You are one of the very few I read. You truly are a gifted writer… writing from the gut and not afraid to say just the way it is. Praying for you, Tess. Don’t ever stop. Keep on keeping on.
    I love how mommy look in the photo! The dress matched her sunny and vibrant spirit!

    1. Thank you dearest Lea, for the time, the support and the friendship over the years. Am so blessed that you were able to share precious years with Mommy as well. Remember all the cakes she used to send to the office? Hugs. T

  3. I read and reread each word with zest . You have a lot to offer and I accept your words as a gift. Thank you for being you . K

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