This post is long overdue. No, it’s not a matter of “better late than never”, but because it’s been difficult to get myself to type everything out.
The past few years have served me some of the most challenging moments in my life. I’ve reached the deepest lows, been in the darkest corners, and felt the loneliest even among a crowd filled with familiar faces. It’s just been tough, for so many reasons, for so many years.
You see, I haven’t been okay. Yes, I’ve seemed strong. I have placed this façade of me being in control, and being perfectly capable of handling all the stress and roadblocks. But, the thing is, I haven’t been as strong as I’d like myself to be; as strong as others would want me to be. And even across people reaching out to me, affirming that I could go to them when I experience difficult times, I resort to just bottling everything inside. What do you expect from a butterfly, after all? I don’t really know what it’s like to have a ‘support core’. It’s just always been me.
So, you could just imagine the difficulty as well of people always just quick to label me as someone who is “toxic” and someone who is “problematic”, because I encounter “too much negativity in my life”. Painful even how some people I considered friends decided to distance themselves because they couldn’t stand me airing out to the world the difficulties I experience.
I am sorry if rant tweeting is what I used to resort to because I’d run out of pages in my stacks of journals and diaries, and because I don’t know who to go to for support. I am sorry that the pain I felt and that my difficulties inconvenience you; that they seem to bother you.
I have learned to then hate myself. I practically developed this resentment towards myself because of these people. At the same time, I hated how I have apparently unlocked this “repelling feature” because when I wallow in despair, I annoy people, and when I celebrate some wins I come across gloating. I didn’t know where to position myself in anything so I kept a lot of things to myself. To my journals and diaries. To my Notes. To my unsent messages. To the wind I just whisper things to.
And at one point, I just started to cave in and believed in those people who labeled me. I tell you, it’s painful, and it’s such a depressing feeling.
For the longest time I cried in the shower and in car rides, I’d even cry myself to sleep, because I started to listen to those whispers in my head that I’m a mess, that I’m inferior, that I’d never be good enough. I’d be crippled, really, because of the million thoughts that run in my head.
I’ve developed insomnia and it’s such a terrible feeling of wanting to sleep and shut everything out but unfortunately we’re not machines. I chug a lot of caffeine to keep me awake—whether the caffeine actually works or it’s psychological is for another discussion—because for the most part I only have few hours of sleep everyday. There have been instances when I get anxiety and panic attacks in the morning that I would have to excuse myself from going to work, or I’d come in a bit later than my usual.
I hate it. I hate the feeling of not being at my best. Or, well, not being able to achieve the same 100% as I used to.
Recently, I experienced such a low late last year and it dragged til middle of this year. I really doubted myself. I questioned everything I thought I was sure of. A flood of regrets started rushing in and I reached a whole new level of exhaustion: physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I was at the point of giving up. I was at the point of just throwing the towel because there was nothing in that chaos that allowed me to see even spot of hope. Everything just dimmed. The lights were out and I was just ready to go away forever.
And for the longest time I’ve put on this brave face because I knew that when faced with adversity, I just can’t simply back down. It’s a disservice to how I’ve been brought up, a disservice to the very few people who believe in me more than I believe in myself, and a greater disservice to the even fewer people who want what’s best for me.
I have been seeking for help. Yes, this almost perpetually independent person has been going through sessions to help manage my anxiety and every other potential mental health problems I have yet to “discover”. I’ve been understanding myself better, triggers, and what are some things I could do to be in a better situation.
It’s okay not to be okay. One of the things my psychologist said during one of the earlier sessions which I have kept with me. To accept oneself is accepting the entirety of oneself; not just the best parts. Self-care. Self-love. It struck me so much so that I thought of getting it inked to serve as a reminder.
In my recent birthday trip, I scheduled a session with a French illustrator-slash-tattoo artist months before I even arrived in Paris. It was pretty interesting that he knew my story before you, really.
His studio, Boniments Bleus, is located in Saint-Ouen which is in the northern part of Paris—further up from the Sacré-Cœur, even.
His studio was charming and not intimidating at all. It looks more like a gallery, really. He was intentional in designing it as such as he wanted to make his place more inviting than the usual tattoo parlors.
Even the actual area where one gets inked was more hipster than intimidating. It was my second time getting inked and it was definitely not as painful as my first. It was over in just 30-40 minutes, which also didn’t feel that long given that we were just chatting the whole time.
The finished product: this minimalist tattoo which easily reminds me to take care of myself, to love myself, to become the best version of myself without putting myself down; ultimately, to choose myself. In a Universe filled with so much uncertainty, there is nothing so much more important than to look after myself.
Months since my first session again and I’m still a work in progress. I’m still discovering how to go about navigating the world with as minimal anxiety and panic attacks, with minimal self-doubt, and with fewer encounters with the occasional sad thought. I’m traversing Universe with company this time around. I’ll make it happen someway, somehow. More than doing this for myself, I’m also doing this for the very few people who are counting on me.