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.
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.