09 September 2012

and the value of heartache is...

Getting this BBM reply earlier at 2.30 in the morning makes transitioning days more heartwarming:

Your love and support mean the world to me. :)

This is because the love and support of the sender also mean a lot to me. Always had, always will.

That from my New York-based superfriend K who just got married to her girlfriend of 10 years over the weekend. Who would have thought, eh? Love was her reason for dropping everything going for her here in Manila a decade ago, to follow her heart and make that leap of faith. Now, it's a new chapter of leaping. The roads going there may not have been utterly smooth -- which road is, in life, anyway? -- but it's always the journey and what happens in the now that makes it worthwhile. We all learn from jumps, from leaps, from moving, from loving, and from heartache. 

That's what you call life, and living. 

Seeing their photo made me think of a lot of things, but one thing immediately popped into my head: heartache. Particularly, overcoming it. See, I've been thinking of heartache since last Friday and I guess I still can't shake it off until last night. But now, it got me thinking of it two notches higher: overcoming heartache.

This week has been full of emotional tugs for me. My heart is extremely happy sometimes and extremely sad sometimes. Blame it on the weather as its schizophrenia also brings about this hot-and-cold tug within me. And past heartaches kept resurfacing.

Talking of heartaches, that merely doesn't mean suffering from romantic loss. Your heart could get broken in many ways. Usually, the spirit also gets affected by it, and the mind doesn't help in this department as well since it sometimes magnifies the emotion and leads to some sort of shut-downs in the body from time to time. That is just the worst feeling in the world -- to feel that the world has collapsed on you, making your mind, heart and soul falter bigtime. Oh, we have been there, several times in the past, who hasn't? But this week was a huge reminder of what I need to do in order to make the past irrelevant to my tomorrow -- most immediately, to my today.

This was a busy acad week for me. I only spend 2 days total there for classes a week but I had to go an extra day last Monday to conduct a make-up class. Then I went last Friday because we faculty were required to sit in the thesis proposal defense, a normal duty every semester. All is fair in love and classes but Friday was a different thing. But I'm getting ahead of myself. First, there was Thursday.

I was with my former women's NGO co-workers last last Saturday in a combined birthday party for many Leos in the office right now. They don't all exactly work there physically but are members of the NGO board of people who decide and govern things there, forgot what it's called. Anyway surprise surprise, they asked me to be a member of one of those board things a few months ago, and they surprised me last Saturday when they said I was chosen to be part of it. Well and good, whatever helps. So then, the chairperson invited me to attend more stuff. Thursday they held a special LGBT forum for an African queer woman to meet and interact/exchange with local LGBTQ peeps. Me included.

 This used to be my playground, di ba lola madonna? Those were the days. 
[September 2012 at Isis International Manila]

That was my Thursday night. Sitting there in my old office where I spent important years of my life learning more about women's issues in connection with the media and the world. It felt great to be back in some capacity in that office; my heart was happy, happily flashbacking to times when this office and its past inhabitants nurtured me during one of the biggest romantic heartaches of my life back then. Yes, all was well and good last Thursday.

Until she arrived.

Of course since this is a local forum, I was ready to face certain people in the queer activist community who did me wrong in the past. Oh, there have been several, and some are not that relevant to think about actually, and I could manage their presence around me nonchalantly. Except this one.

This girl is different because I treated her as one of my really good friends in the past. A really good and reliable friend. But due to some arrogant people in her org, she hurt me by supporting the arrogance. And I decided to distance away from her, from her org, and from the whole lesbian community in general, actually. The whole queer advocate circles actually, because of her. That was 2009. This is why I have never committed to anything major since then, because she broke my heart, choosing arrogance with blackmail over our friendship, during the time when she needed my help and I was selflessly giving it, for the sake of her org. But I guess some alliances are more important to her than friendship, no matter how shallow those alliances are, or how crappy the people there are. It was then when I saw her true nature, and how she "valued" worth in people -- a warped sense of valuing. But lately I've also picked up some new perspective about that valuing of hers. Like a recent lesbian friend assessed after I told her of what happened, there's something amiss if a person gives in to blackmail. Now I kinda get it more.

But I've managed to overcome this friendship heartache somewhat over the years. I decided that it's not really worth crying over a lost friendship especially if the person involved doesn't know how to define what real friendship means. A year after, a common friend was telling me that she was sending feelers to me, perhaps trying to reconnect what was severed. But as of today, nothing of that sort ever happened yet. In three circumstances since then, I've encountered her in common events, and in those circumstances, she tried to be civil and say hello. Really? This, after not saying anything concrete to me, after not trying to mend what happened between us, after not trying to lift a finger to nurse the heartache she and her org did to me? Wow. I'm sorry but I'm not like that. I can't pretend very well that nothing bad happened between us, to just smile in public and say hi, giving an appearance to people that everything's okay. I'm not that great of a faker, unlike she is. Yes, and that third circumstance happened last Thursday.

In spite of the earlier happy flashbacks in that NGO office, the old heartache of that faker episode weighed heavily on my shoulders until I got home. And then I suddenly realized that I forgot to do a promised duty to my current heart, my asawa, to send load to her kids. So I did just that and soon, a happy texting session ensued with one of the bebemons, his cuteness making my earlier heartache disappear. Yes, that's the thing with me: love could conquer heartaches, and seemingly small moments like that warm up my heart big-time. His mama was also dealing with some family heartache of her own that night, and I was also trying to reach out and help. This is what true care is: overcoming your own heartaches in order to make another heart happy, since your own heartache disappears when you make other hearts happy. Something like that.

And then Friday came and a lingering professional heartache just came back to me like it was 2009, the time when I first felt it hit me on the face, big-time. Sitting there in the middle of the campus made me realize that there is no cure to professional heartache other than replacing it with professional nurturing. And if I don't find that soon, then my soul will descend to another professional abyss like it did back in 2009. People have been cheering me up, backing me up, supporting me even, in order to recover and recuperate from this heartache, and one such major support manifested itself last week, making my heart happy and content. But still, I am wondering if that would be enough. And no, I know it's not, and with a heavy heart, I have decided to fix this heartache for good. I hope the universe is sending me the right signs and messages since I've been getting a lot of those since this year started. All I need now is a swift kick in the butt to act. I think I just got that as well.

 Sometimes you see the road better after the rains. 
Cleansing is clarity personified. 
[September 2012 at UP Diliman]

Then Friday late afternoon, I was able to test yet another personal heartache that made me depressed last year. One of my bffs -- or ex-bff I should say -- also teach there where I work, and seeing him occasionally these weeks is an activity I can't stand anymore. Yet another case of "money over friendship" thing ensued with this one, apparently the common theme of our college barkada over the years, when others in our group have also forsaken a friendship over the pursuit of money. I've long cried about this already in the past, and this heartache from him just takes the cake since we both promised not to carry on with that common theme, or we won't practice that with each other. But like lovers that made a pact and then breaks it, it got broken last year as he decided to secretly do things behind my back. More than a year and he has never done any move to dispel this, no real effort to reach out to me, even during the time I needed a bff in my life last year (when my Lolo died; never heard a word from him). Come on, who needs friends like this? I don't. And it was just automatic for me. Like what it says on FB: unfriend.

Seems like the past recent years, it has been a collection of heartaches for me. I'm not even counting the huge romantic heartache that my ex subjected me to a couple of years ago or the minor one someone subjected me to last year for being incommunicado and letting things hang unfinished between us. These heartaches are easier to walk out of; yes, been there, done that. I've had a string of "professional" experiences already in this department which makes it somewhat manageable. Somewhat. But still, we move on.

And since last year, I've also been trying to psych myself up to just continue and move on, in general. I really don't care anymore if people around me betray me, ruin my trust, malign me behind my back, speak ill of me to complete strangers, prevent me from professionally growing, make me feel like I am worthless and not worthy of anyone or anything. To this day, many people have been doing that. I've just learned how to shrug it off and move on. Except during times like this week when I am reminded occasionally of these part heartaches, I give in a bit; I am human after all, and emotions flare. 

Only you yourself can spell the real you. What they see is a mere perception of you, 
hence the errors. Don't take it personally. There are others far better than they who misspell. 
They could serve you better, and care for your more, even when you think they don't. 
You'll be surprised. [September 2012 at Starbucks Pearl Drive]

But I guess that's also why I've been perfecting that mentos quality of me some friends have tagged before during college. Oh you know, that "hard on the outside, soft on the inside" bit. That's me daw, miss mentos. I guess given the kind of environment I've had all my life -- from growing up insecured while listening to a litany of negative words from some family members to finally finding my own slowly, painfully, breaking out of that shell to shed that insecurity despite of stumbling blocks along the way, I was also reminded last Friday that there's more to life than wallowing on these heartaches: finding people that make your heart sing.

This just simply means that I should again slowly but painfully try to ignore the heartaches, these heartaches, because there are always other people around who want nothing more than my heart to be happy. My superfriend K is one of them, and that is why that BBM message was an important reminder to myself that I still have many people in my life who are worth spending time with, like her, because she loves me and she has my back like I have hers, all these years. A recent friend also made me feel that way last Friday as I spent a few hours over coffee with her after I decided to escape from the campus. Catching up with each other made my heart feel renewed, comforted by the fact that even if my great friends are so far away physically from me, they are still that: great friends. Friends who, unlike the earlier ones I had, will reassure me that heartaches come and go, but they could be relied upon when these things come and go. 

We all get lost in any journey. 
But there are people out there who help us find better ways. 
Trust them more. 
[March 2010 with superfriend K in a New York subway]

Sometimes people surprise us this way. Like last year, I was in a meeting with a very old friend, my superfriend M and another recent good friend, when I just started losing it: cried buckets in the middle of Gerry's Grill because of a four-pronged heartache I was trying to hide from them but eventually they got it out of me, and tried to mend where the piercings entered my heart. And right there and then, the universe reminded me that no matter the heartache, there will always be really old friends and really new ones who value me more than the people who caused me heartache. 

I guess this is why we have scars. To remind us that once upon a time, something was there and it hurt like fucking hell. But the body was able to fight it off and heal. And now, the scars give us bragging rights that we lived a life worth living. And the scars aren't there to mar the beauty of our beings but to serve as decorations for it, designs that make us more colorful, more interesting. I remember that Sex and the City episode where Aidan the furniture maker was telling Carrie that it's the flaws in the wood that make it beautiful. It's the same with people. Flaws don't define who we are, but how we overcome or live/carry on with those flaws is what defines us even more. 

 When it gets tiring, we rest. And we later pick up. 
But the journey, it continues for us both, together.
Unlimited...together we're unlimited, remember? 
[February 2012 defying gravity somewhere in Singapore]

And these heartaches, they give us dents, give us flaws, but who cares? The point of living life is not to achieve perfection, but to undergo constant improvement. Our past gives us character, but our present should not be weighed down by our past. The past has no more bearing in our present other than to give us current perspectives, and these perspectives are what we fuel our life with in the moment to move on to the future.    

Yes, the past still exists in our mind, but only as mere memories; they shouldn't occupy our soul as worries. And more importantly, they shouldn't reside in our heart as defeats. Oras na para itaktak 'yan palabas, parang pagdighay lang o pag-utot lang 'yan ng masamang hangin sa sistema. Kasi kung hahayaan natin 'yan sa sistema, tayo rin ang unti-unting mabubulok at malalason. Oo, maraming nananakit sa atin pero marami ring nagmamalasakit. At dapat itong mga huli ang pagtuunan na lang natin ng pansin, at hind 'yung una.

Life is short. Let's learn, and then live, and love. 

Repeat to fade.         

Enjoy the trip. At least try.
[September 2012 somewhere in Paranaque]

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