Friday, November 30, 2012

A Life Learner's New Assignment

I believe that life is an everyday ongoing process of learning.  We are not mere sojourners in this life, but we all are learners.  We ought to live to and pass the test at our lives' final examination, when our time comes to face the audience of One.

Problems and trials are part of the curriculum.  Don't quit, don't drop out. Because just like some of the laws of physics that we have already forgotten about, these problems and trials fade away, but the lessons that we learn from them last a lifetime.

Life is not perfect and we may feel as if we have failed.  Chin up.  It is not failure, it is called experience.  A failure is only a failure if you have failed to learn the lesson.

It can be difficult to understand some of the life lessons that come our way.  Some things are not meant to be understood though.  They just need to be accepted... and perhaps, in time they will be understood.  And when you look back in to the future, you will soon be able to connect the dots and see the bigger picture.  It just takes time.  Life is a lesson of patience and endurance.

Remember, the hardest lesson to learn are those that our souls need the most.  We can't experience victory, if we have not encountered defeat.  We can't enjoy success, if we have not met obstacles. We cannot appreciate wealth, if we have not gone through a period of poverty. We can't celebrate love, if we have not experienced rejection.

The people we encounter are part of life's assignment to us.  We are here to support, help, inspire and motivate each other.  

More than ever, my experience has given me increased compassion and awareness of other people's pain.  I do not want to put my pain in vain.  There has got the be a bigger reason than this this.  Something bigger than myself.  This has catapulted me to step out of my selfish little world and put myself out there - to be of help.  Suddenly doors of opportunities for me to help has opened up. Friends from different parts of the world message me for help and advice.  Thanks to modern communications technology, we would usually chat online or exchange several long email messages.  

But one thing amazing is, the more I help other people with their problems, the more I grow, the more I learn.  Helping them is in a way helping myself too.  This is giving me brand new inspiration right now.  So much so, that I have created a new blog page (via Facebook), open for all my friends to access.  (I just cannot bring myself to share this Pink Patio blog.  I feel that this is too personal for me to share it to them.)

I have called it "Life and Love" and the posts are generally summation of some topics that I have shared and discussed with my friends, including nuggets of learnings that I have picked up from my own experience.  It has some slight touches of Pink Patio but I do not share the specifics. So far, it has not generated a lot of following.  But I do not mind.  My goal is not popularity but solidarity.  If I am able to speak to the heart of even just one person, one friend, who needs to hear my message the most, then to me, I have already done my part.  I have already said my piece.

I am a life learner enthusiast. I take notes and reflect hard. I am a day dreamer, a word weaver and a soul searcher.  I am starting to share my life's little notes to the bigger public.  Admittedly, I do not know the secret to living a happy life, nor the key on how to pass life's surprising pop quizzes, oratorical examinations and what have you, in flying colors.  But I know how it is to need that extra help to make it through. I have had some "failures" that I charge it to experience. Indeed, experience is such and expensive thing.  And if experience was a real transaction, I would be in debt by the millions by now. But my story does not end there.  I am learning to rise again from my fall.

I hope that through this, my friends may learn a lesson or two and will be motivated and inspired to pursue meaning in their lives.  My morale comes from a good heart, great intention to inspire others, and humble motivation to manifest God's greater glory.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Red Door

Yes, and so I chose to accept and try not to analyze the situation.  I know my task is to humbly accept and not understand the circumstances.  There is a reason behind his sudden silence  and mysterious disappearance.  There must be.  This is a journey of faith.  Let go and let God.

Yes, I do know and I do believe it.  However, the curious and inquisitive part of me wants to know and is craving for an answer.  And so that morning I held a special prayer request.

Dear God, I know have everything in control in Your great and mighty hands.  I believe that Your wisdom is upon this situation.  But is just seems unfair leaving me hanging like this. And I wish You would reveal the reason to me. In your time, You may or probably may not reveal the reason to me.  Either way, help me to remain faithful, humble and grateful to accept this gift that You have given me.

Just when I surrendered and gave up, unexpectedly the answer arrived.

Hours later after my prayer I heard from him.  He apologized for his disappearance and explained truth behind the veil which he has been keeping from me.  Without revealing too much information and to make the story short, he is currently battling with extreme depression catapult to the breakdown of his marriage 2 years ago.  They were high school sweethearts, got married at the early age of 17.  After 12 years of marriage, he one day went home to a literally empty house.  His ex-wife left him for another man with all their conjugal properties and bank account in tow.  He was left empty handed. 

He has his days of ups and down, but he feels he has never been better.  He feels lost and without any glimmer of hope.  He is a wreck and cannot dare to present himself before me as he is.  As much as he likes me and to be with me, he said he does not want to bring me down to his nightmares.

I silently listened and absorbed everything.  

I completely understand his situation right now.  In fact, I would be more in doubt if he says he is fine and has gotten over from his past at this stage. As if being betrayed and rejected is not enough.  But being ripped off with everything he has worked hard for is another thing.  And 12 years of marriage - they literally grew up together, sharing their most exciting transition stage from teenage years to their young adult 20's.  For him, she is the only woman he has ever loved.  

I can just imagine the horror he must be undergoing.  I may have never experienced divorce, but my gully the breakup I experienced felt like one. It ripped me apart and tore me to pieces... But mine pales in comparison compares to his.  If I were in his place, who knows in what state I would be in. I dare not say it.  Two years would not be enough for me to get over everything.

I sympathize with him and I do not judge him for the state that he is.  However, I disagree in his statement that he is hopeless.  I tried my best to reassure him that there is always hope and there always will be.  He just needs to take the journey to his recovery one step at a time.  

Nevertheless, despite my reassurance, he is adamant that he will never get better and that it would be unfair for me to be with him and bear the burden of his issues, blah..blah..blah...

We then subsequently had a ping-pong exchange of dialogues, with me trying to convince him that everything will be fine and that I am willing to help him see through the end of the tunnel, and him maintaining his stance that he is hopeless and could never change.

I did not want to drop the ball, but I did.  I ended up telling him that when I look at him, I do not see his colorful past nor his dire present, but I his potential and his dynamic future. I reassured him that there is hope and that I am willing to stick around to make him realize that hope.  However my help can only go as far as he would let me.  Life is about the choices we make in our lives.  I hope he chooses well.  I told him I will not impose myself on him.  I am offering my hand to go through this journey with him, it is up to him to take it or not - whenever he is feels ready.

Then again came silence.  And so he has gotten back in to hiding.  But I am not  going to look for him nor hound him.  After all, this is his battle, this is his journey.  I cannot do the fighting for him.  The best I can offer is my helping hand and listening ear, if he needs one.  And I believe I have made myself more than clear to him.  

Whist I now know the reason, I am not sure if I have fulfilled my purpose in his life.   Have I completely done my part already?  I do not know the answer.  And so I leave my doors open for him... just in case...

And while I am pondering on this thought, this somehow reminds me of God's love for mankind.  It is available for everyone. Sometimes our problem is we limit God according to our perception and understanding, that which prevents God from completing His work in our lives.  Just because we have problems extending love and forgiveness to other and even including ourselves, does not mean that God cannot love and forgive us. 

We do not need to have great amount of faith to make Him work through our life.  Even a faith as small as a mustard seed is enough already.  Because it is not by our faith, but by God's love, grace and mercy that moves the mountains.  Nevertheless, God can only work through our lives if we allow Him to.  

Here's a comforting thought, God's love for us steadfast. No matter how we mess up with our lives, God never gives up on us.  There is nothing we can do to stop God from loving us.  His love is relentless.  His mercies are new everyday.  His grace is limitless. But those who receive are those who believe.

We may close the doors of our hearts on ourselves; our capacity to change and be better; on others and the help that they are extending; and even on to God Himself. But God will never close His doors on us.  In fact, He sits right beside the doorstep of our hearts patiently waiting for it to open and welcome Him... Will you let Him in?

Thursday, November 08, 2012

The Pretty in Pain

Her voice was firm and she sounded stern when my boss made this mandate, "This client has deep psychological issues.  She is manic depressive.  No other secretary will talk to her, except for Rhyanne."

When she mentioned my name,  I was surprised.  I did not know that inherent part of my job description is taking full responsibility in providing personalized care for highly sensitive clients.  My initial reaction was to ask "why me?".  However, when I opened my mouth the only words that came out were, "yes" and "ok".

It did not take long for me to recognize the accountability given to me.  But instead of complaining, I accept the challenge.  In fact, I feel privileged to be given this responsibility to be of service in this capacity.

The mandate was  no surprise to some, as admittedly I have a natural knack for making clients open up on an emotional level.  I am known for taking in quirky client calls characterized by clients in tears. My boss once quipped that I should start charging for counseling fees as well. 

I am well aware of the fact that everyone has an underlying need to be heard, recognized and acknowledged.  So aside from trying to meet their practical needs, I endeavor to meet their emotional needs as well, even if they don't ask for it.  I just freely give it to them.

From my own life experience I have learned that everyone has a story to tell.  Everyone has a past.  Everybody hurts.  Everyone carries a baggage.  Others travel light, while some carry the whole truck load.  My goal is not to unload their baggage, but to at least make the journey and their encounter with me as pleasurable as possible for them.  

I am driven to help, because I know how it is be in need. For every cry for help, I see myself.  I have developed empathy for others and sometimes treat other people's grief as my own.  This is something that can only be gained through experience.   

I have known defeat, loss, rejection, and suffering.  I was at the brink of depression.  I know how it is to live with a feeling of as if life is without any hope.  I was running in circles and could not see any light at the end of the tunnel, and that is if there really is an end to the tunnel.  

I wanted to escape from it all. I was tempted to seek comfort in things that would give me immediate satisfaction but temporary relief.  However, I was more concerned of the lasting effects and consequences.  Before long, I realized that the healing of the heart cannot be achieved by a quick band-aid solution of escapism.  True healing only comes from embracing and confronting the pain, not avoiding it.

That's right.  Pain is our friend.  Accept it. Face it. Tolerate it.  No matter how difficult and painful it is, it can be endured. And no matter how dark the tunnel is, at some point there will always be an end to it. When you break through the bottom of sorrow, light floods out.

As they say, what does not kill you, only makes you stronger. Pain refines our character,  it strengthens our soul, it builds our faith and increases our tenacity - IF we only allow ourselves to it.  We have a choice to either let this grieving moment make us bitter or better.  Me, I choose the latter.  

The most beautiful and influential people I have known are those who underwent through the deepest pain and found their way out of the depths.  These people have an appreciation, a sensitivity and understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness and deep loving concern.  I want to be that kind of person too.

I use the pain to enable me to look at the world with a compassionate and caring lens.  It has taught me to be patient, tolerant and forgiving.  I may be broken, but I am not useless. Instead, I want to use my brokeness in to usefulness.   I want to learn from all my experience and use the lessons to help others, reach out to them and hopefully inspire them to be better persons as well.  

I do not know how, but I will start by making myself available and by giving more of myself to others.  So help me God.  Not by my own wisdom and strength, but only from Him - the true source of love, peace, hope and joy. 

Saturday, November 03, 2012

The Preview

Funny how a seemingly insignificant incident can turn someone’s situation around for a lifetime; and how a simple gesture of kindness can touch someone’s life for good.

This story happened to me.  I consider myself lucky enough to experience a situation-altering incident of which I am the fortunate recipient of someone’s random kind gesture.

For the past seven months since the break up, crying has been one of my favourite past times. Anything sad is enough to bring me to tears.  I guess, I’m just looking for reasons to cry. Friends tease me that I have such overactive tear glands.  In fact, Bestie has re-named me to “Cryanne” and composed a limerick for me: “Cryanne, Cryanne, why are you still cryin?”

Weekends are pretty tough for me, because I get a break from work and I am left all day long with my own musings to think about the beautiful and happy memories of the good old days, what could have been and what we might be doing now if we were still together, etc, etc…  This particular weekend was one of the toughest.  Bestie was interstate. I was on my own.  To top it off, I just received a rejection letter from the dream job that I was applying for.   Adding more drama to the equation was the gray cloudy and chilly air.  It is supposed to be springtime already – but it felt more like winter. 

I had my Friday night well laid out.  I intended to go home straight from work, call it an early night, dash under the bedcover and have a self-pity party.  However a random invite from an acquaintance prevented all that from happening.  He casually invited me for coffee after work.  And without thinking, I agreed to it.  I don’t know why, but I just did and I did not even pause to think.  It was a spur of the moment thing and I was just equally responding to spontaneity.  Maybe I was sad.  Maybe I was feeling lonely.  Maybe I was vulnerable.  I could come up with a thousand list but all maybe’s.  One thing for sure, he was at the right time, at the right moment.  He was there when I needed someone, even without him knowing it.

I did not expect anything much from that coffee invite.  I even did not question his motives.  I was just too immersed with my own issues. He provided me with the escape that I needed.  Upon reaching the coffee place, much to our surprise, his brother and his mother was there.  And so we had to sit with them.  His brother was pleasant and his mother was oh so lovely.  We had our introductions and exchanged a few stories to amuse ourselves.  It was fun talking to them.  I did not feel awkward nor self-conscious. I felt no malice at all and it seemed like I was talking to good trusted friends.

I went home that night with a smile.  I went home pretty late that after I donned on to my jammies and said my night prayers, I immediately fell asleep.  Self-pity party no more.  Yes, that is him.  He wiped my tears before they could even fall.  I consider him my angel.

The next days were followed by consistent and subsequent exchange of text messages and a couple of dinners together.  The most memorable for me was when he surprised me again for a barbecue dinner at his parent’s place.  His family was very sweet and hospitable.  They all gave me such a warm welcome, everyone of them including their adorable three pet dogs.  His mother was very sweet and accommodating, while his father was funny and entertaining.  I really felt like I was a guest of honor.  Having dinner with them reminds me of my dinnertime back home.  And yes, I really felt very much at home.

Suddenly, without me knowing it, I felt my heart was slowly drawing closer to him.   Damn!  This is not part of my plan to open my heart and be vulnerable again.  But I am.. slowly.  But wait, this should not be.  I do not know him too well just yet.  We have just been with each other’s company – as friends - for like just almost a month. So soon….  Who’s to say that what I am feeling is real?    What if I make another mistake? Oh no, I cannot afford to make another mistake!!!

I tried to hide my panic attacks before him.  I managed to wear my cool, calm and confident mask whenever I was with him. But deep inside I was afraid and confused.  I did not know what to do.  And so I prayed.  I prayed to God for His protection and for God to please give me a sign.  If he is the man for me, he will pursue me even further.  If not, then God will make a way to make him stop.  Make him stop, before I fall for him even more and before it will hurt me too much the point that I can no longer bear it.   I surrendered the situation to Him and claimed His will to move in to our situation.  Not my will, but His be done.

I prayed… And God listened.

Days went by.  Our planned dinners and outings one by one got cancelled.  So many distractions came up which prevented us from going out.  He was getting busier and busier with work, whilst he had some family emergencies as well.  Slowly his text messages were becoming less and less…Clearly, he must be under a lot of stress.  I definitely do not want to add to that pressure. I tried to suss out more information about how he is coping amidst all these issues.  In return, I only receive one-liner text messages. Until one day, two days, three days…his messages stopped coming.

At this stage, I think the greatest help and support that I can give him is his space.  And so I stepped aside.  I am confident that I have given him enough reassurance to let him know that even in silence I remain a friend, and that if he needs one (maybe not now but perhaps in the future), and when he is ready – he knows where to find me. 

Of course, a part of me wants to know the reason why.  A part of me wants to understand what’s going on.  Did I say something wrong?  Was it something that I did?  Maybe I was becoming boring for him?... Typically, this situation would call for me to grab my trench coat and magnifying glass, and start my detective work.  That was the old me.    The new me now choose not to seek the answer anymore. I choose accept the situation at face value and I do not want to think any possible underlying factors anymore.  I choose to embrace the situation as it is, with no expectations, no judgement, no assumptions.  It is what it is.  Period.

I survived far deeper heartaches in the past to make this situation break me.  My bluebird heart has endured so many battle scars to let this situation pierce me.  This brings me to another revelation of myself… Hey, I am stronger now!  No more tears.  No more dramas.

My confidence is anchored on my prayers.  I go back to my prayer and the request that I asked for. I am confident God has heard my prayers.  I claim God’s will and receive His blessings including the ones in disguise, albeit painful and mysterious disguise.  I think I did my part already, the best that I could.  The rest, I leave it all up to God. 

Things happen for a reason.  Who am I to accuse him with anything.  I am giving him the benefit of the doubt.  I just hope he is coping fine.  Nevertheless, for all it’s worth I still am glad to have met him and spent time with him.  Within our few weeks together, he has taught me a lot about myself and my past relationships. More importantly, he has given me the gift of possibility.  For so long a time, I never imagined myself to be able to open my heart anew to some other guy.  I thought I already locked the chambers of my heart and threw the key at the bottom of the deep blue ocean.  He has shown me that given the right man, the right timing, the right opportunity, and the right moves, this dear old achey breaky heart can still after all dare to find itself opening anew.  Yes, it is possible.

Without him, I may have never realized this.  Yes that is him.  He taught me a brand new lesson.  I consider him to be my teacher… Probably his role was just to teach and nothing more.  And now after successfully doing his part, the time is ripe for him to leave.  Sad, isn’t it. But I accept that.  I have suffered enough heartbreak already to remind me that if things are meant to be, they will be… naturally... eventually. On the contrary, if they are not meant to be, they never will be.  And the more I try to force the issue, the more that it will only hurt me in the end.  And so I let it be.

I focus now on the present and remain an attitude of gratitude.  I thank him for the gift of possibility.  Indeed, he had a pivotal role in helping me turn my situation around and gave me a shift of a brand new perspective.  He has shown me a new feature of myself that I never imagined I was capable of being able to do – and that is to open my heart anew. 

He may or may not be that man, but one thing for sure, he was the one who provided the key.  He has provided me with a preview of what is to come ahead, now that I have started to open myself to any possibilities.

As for him, I hope he is coping well with his situation.  Will I ever hear from him again?  I don’t know.  But I am not expecting, I am not assuming, I am not anticipating.  If he does, oh the joy to be reunited with a long hibernating friend!  If not, then I sincerely wish him all the best.  I still consider him my friend at a season, for a reason that has marked an imprint my lifetime.  For this, I am ever so grateful.... And someday, someone is going to thank him as well for taking good care of me while he is still finding his way to me, and for paving the way in preparation for his future coming. :)  

At the same time, I also hope that I too, was able to accomplish whatever role I was supposed to fulfil in his life.  I can only wish.  It is his journey, not mine.  Good luck to you my friend, and thank you for everything.  I once prayed to God to give me someone who can help me in my situation.  And God gave me you.  Thank you.