• Befriending Our Demons: Being A True Friend

    The real battle is within yourself. The real fight is befriending your demons. Befriending them won’t mean you’ll simply accept them by allowing them to dictate your actions. Just like friends, we accept them for their best versions as well as their twisted ones. We set boundaries with friends and we don’t allow them to dictate our actions especially if the repercussions are detrimental to the other areas in our life that the good in us are trying to maintain. We look at friends and then we look beyond their imperfections, we look at the best kinds of people we aim to be. Befriending our demons means that we give them the acknowledgement that they deserve for being part of us but not as what solely defines us. We don’t have to like them but give them gentle and compassionate attention to understand why they exist within us. By acknowledging our demons as part of us, we are taking authority over our way of life.

    By resisting our demons, we are ignoring them and allowing them to run wild at our expense and true friends don’t enable bad behavior. True friends bring out the best in us. So it is up to us to figure out how our own demons can make us better than someone who breeds hurt in the people close to us.

    Demons are born from the deeply wounded child inside all of us and can change somehow when we heal them. Befriending our demons doesn’t mean we give in to their whims. Befriending our demons means we stop seeing them as a threat and stop denying they exist by confronting the facts surrounding their existence in our lives. Befriending our demons means we are taking accountability for what is undeniably a part of us so we can grow and be better and not go the other way around.

    Ask it why and I hope you’ll find the right answers. All the best of luck. Stay hopeful.

  • My Side On Things: My Accountability, My Feelings, My Story

    My ex-partner always complained about how lazy I was and that I wasn’t putting enough on the table. I was overall an insensitive person who lacked the ability to pick up social cues and exhibit basic human decency. 

    That was the main problem. 

    I didn’t really do much to change that except when I actually remembered what was expected of me. It’s easy to say I just didn’t care. It wasn’t that I didn’t care, I honestly am just very forgetful (this is an understatement. I am planning to seek help about my forgetfulness, it doesn’t seem normal for a healthy human to be as forgetful as I am) and I have a nature of not demanding things so I thought it was okay to relax about it. I was wrong. 

    When I do accomplish what was asked of me, my act of redeeming myself would be called out as undoing. I ended up feeling invalidated which then caused me to become unmotivated to even try anymore. 

    As a result, I began to feel small, and incapable. The resentment started to creep in and the fights became more frequent. 

    There have been many nights when we would have a few beers together and have such a meaningful conversation. 

    Only when she’s had enough to drink would she take the conversation to hashing out my past mistakes and calling me out on her issues with my behavior. She would passionately criticize me and make me feel small. This became a pattern throughout our entire relationship and I had learned the skill to disengage and de-escalate it by implying that I didn’t wish to fight with her. 

    Most times, we would end up lashing out at each other and ruin what was supposedly a wonderful evening. 

    I’ve always wondered why she believed so much in my past mistakes and didn’t believe I could be better. When I needed compassionate encouragement to break my pattern of repetitive failure, she gave me destructive criticism as if the best way to end her suffering was to end the relationship there and then. I just wanted her to believe in me. But she chose to degrade me and I often retaliated with the same sentiments even when I knew I didn’t really mean it. 

    We have been in an open relationship since day one. I’ve made that compromise not solely for my own benefit but because my ex-partner warned me that she was incapable of staying loyal in an exclusive relationship and that I can’t blame her if she would eventually start cheating. 

    So I thought, “if an open relationship meant I could keep her, then so be it.” 

    Don’t get me wrong. I did enjoy having sexual activities with multiple people (sometimes simultaneously, even). But I never made any emotional attachments to them because I knew it would be unfair.  

    But farther into the relationship, she started to develop emotional attachments with the other guys. It got to a point where I was coerced to stay and participate in a throuple. I would get the exclusivity, but yes, there were three of us. Exclusively. 

    That was the only time I ever get exclusivity and I had to share it with a third person. 

    I allowed it… 

    But during the whole endeavor of trying to develop this new set-up, I had experienced being left out more times than I had imagined I could tolerate. 

    This added to my resentment towards her and I went through weeks obsessively thinking about breaking up. 

    I couldn’t handle the invalidation. I couldn’t handle being made to feel like I was only second best; I was just an option. An insurance policy for if in any case the throuple thing didn’t work out she still won’t end up alone because I chose to stay. There were even times prior to this when I had expressed my feelings of hurt towards the whole open-relationship situation where she would leave in the wee hours and I would wake up alone in the morning only to find out she went out to sleep with another guy and she would respond by telling me that I only felt bad about it because of the way I think as an individual. I didn’t have the right to feel jealous despite being the official boyfriend and that was my problem. She would even fight me over other guys as if I had no right to meddle with her affairs. I wasn’t entitled to the relationship as much as she was. She never saw me as her equal. She looked down on me like I was inferior to her. She had never even asked me what I wanted to do. Ever. I have been in a third-party relationship once with my ex before she finally decided to be with me. Even then, I was still just an option. 

    My ex-partner measured love by the way I returned favors like doing chores and doing what was asked of me. 

    When I failed to do these things my partner automatically felt unloved and taken for granted. 

    My partner felt like I had to do certain things to be assured of being loved back; that it was only mutual if I hit the criteria. 

    The more I failed to meet my ex-partner’s expectations the more her doubts about our relationship grew and it built a wall between us that was becoming more and more difficult to penetrate and it consumed us. 

    I think my ex-partner had this belief that we needed to so work hard to earn love. 

    What my ex-partner didn’t realize is I never asked much from her to earn mine. I was willing to share with her what I knew about life but she wasn’t the kind to be taught. She wanted to teach me to fit into her ideal version of who I ought to be. It hurt me to have to cut my corners and I was mostly resistant to it. She couldn’t control me. I let her do what she wanted and have anyone she wanted even when I had nothing. She gave me exclusion when I wanted exclusivity. She even slept with another guy just to spite me and it hurt a lot. In the end, I felt like she never saw us as equals. I could be wrong but that’s how I have felt.

    On top of that, I don’t think we loved ourselves enough for our relationship to work. We both had unhealed wounds from our own individual history of trauma and our issues with ourselves influenced how we approached our issues with each other. 

    What was bad about her was not good for what was bad about me. It just didn’t land. 

    Even then I still chose to stay. 

    These patterns of fighting and jealousy in our relationship continued. 

    Until one night… 

    We were hanging out with some friends at our apartment. I got drunk and she had left her phone on the table. A couple of messages popped up on her lockscreen and I read the messages from another guy who was expressing his feelings for being rejected by my partner since she was already into this other guy we were supposed to be in a throuple with. 

    I took the phone and told the guy texting, everything. My ex found out and got mad at me. Told me I wasn’t worth it. At that moment I knew we had to end it. She asked me why I wanted to destroy her. I never wanted to destroy her. I just wanted more truth in our relationship. That other guy texting her deserved to know the truth and to understand exactly what he got himself into. 

    That night was the end of everything between us. 

    Looking back, I thought maybe my laziness and forgetfulness made her feel unloved. I realized that, to her, if I followed her commands, it would confirm that I loved her and the less I did what was asked of me the more she felt unloved and that led her to feel taken for granted. Me doing what she wanted me to do was how she measured my love for her. 

    I know from her background that she was raised in an environment where she had to work so hard to earn love. She was testing me the whole time. She tested me everyday and I had failed to make her feel loved. But most importantly I had failed to remind her that she didn’t have to earn my love because I gave it freely and she never had to go through the pains of testing it. She was going about things the best way she knew how and it didn’t work for me. I also thought I was doing my part as a partner by granting her an open relationship. I did what I also thought was best for us by moving in with her so I could be with her everyday because I knew she couldn’t stand being alone. I had sacrificed my years to live with her and her family too, and got along well with her friends. I practically shared her world.

    Her parameters for love were in how often I followed her commands. Not in how much of my own life I have set aside just to be with her. 

    Not over 3 weeks after we had broken up, she told me that she and the guy we almost had a throuple with were now together. I was hurt to know it but it also didn’t surprise me. I accepted that’s just how she is. She constantly needs to have someone to survive. I hope to god she does survive. 

    I get that I didn’t address all her needs properly and It may have been a significant factor that led her to stop addressing mine later on in our relationship. I just wish she didn’t have to ask me to stay in the relationship while she did things in front of me with another guy just to show me how replaceable I was. I didn’t need that. But then again, I guess I did. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have learned my lesson.

    My Accountability 

    She verbalized her needs and I have failed to address them. Ultimately, I neglected her needs. If I was willing to compromise to meet her need to sleep with other guys it shouldn’t have been hard for me to go another mile to assure her I loved her in a way she can understand. Her “commands” were just her needing to see I cared about her. I think it’s fair. 

    I’ve made the same mistakes over and over again even when I knew it was already threatening our relationship. I knew it was becoming bad for the both of us. I knew it was becoming the root of most of our frustrations about each other but despite apologizing, I went ahead and kept repeating my behavior anyway. I didn’t listen to my then-partner. I’ve addressed that I had a problem but I didn’t do much about it. I didn’t understand the weight of my actions. I didn’t listen to that little voice inside of me that told me to change my behavior or else things could go south. It didn’t scare me enough because I didn’t understand it enough. I just went on repeating my mistakes until it got worse and  eventually resulted in the end of our relationship. I knew what was possibly going to happen, I knew the risks… I knew… I just didn’t know enough. It had to take me heartbreak and the cold, hard grief of losing someone I loved to gain the right insight and realize that I should have gone about things differently. Only the end result of my failed relationship can make me say “I should’ve done things differently.” It’s because of that prior experience and its end-result that I had learned “never again… ” but before all that, I wasn’t ready to change at all. 

    I hope she finds what she wants in life even if it meant forgetting me. We’re all broken in some ways, I don’t expect everyone to agree with each other in everything anyway. We’ll all be different one way or another. It’s all a matter of how much you’re willing to compromise to be in each other’s lives longer and it’s up to us to figure that out.

    Only once we realize that we don’t want to live a certain way ever again or do certain things ever again will we ever know that we are ready to change.

    I didn’t change then because I didn’t understand enough which meant I wasn’t ready to grow. Wishing I could have done things differently would mean wishing I were a different person. Because the mistakes I had done then; the way I had behaved then were all limited to the confines of who I was then- I knew the risks but I went ahead and risked it anyway because I didn’t know better all because I didn’t have the right experience to comprehend the extent of the consequences of my actions. I acted based on my limited understanding of the situation- at that moment with my past self. I did things and it was all I would’ve done in this universe at that certain point in time. Only a different version of me in a parallel universe would have “done things differently” in that exact same situation. 

    Wishing I had done differently would mean wishing I wasn’t me at all. All my strengths and all my weaknesses, my identity, my upbringing; all the insights that I had in that specific moment of my past had led me to behave in a certain way that has put me in my current disposition, led me to who I am now- a version of myself that now understands what way of living it was that I didn’t want to have anymore. It had to take me a painful breakup to figure that out.

    My job now is to keep in mind that even though I had contributed to my relationship failing, I should not hate myself for it. I know now how pointless it is to keep repeating the words “I wish I had done things differently” in my head now that I understand that I couldn’t have done it any differently even if I could turn back the time. 

    If I were to reverse my personal growth back to that point in the past, It would still be the version of me who lacked the right experience to know better; it would still be that version of me who needed to go through such pain to fully appreciate the necessity to change. So, instead of saying “I could have done things differently,” it makes more absolute sense to keep saying “I have learned from my experience and what I can do differently in the future.” 

    I’m only me. In this universe there’s only one version of me. We are all bound to make mistakes because of our lack of knowledge and experience. Lessons will keep repeating in our lives until we are ready; until we understand that moving forward from that lesson will require us to hold ourselves accountable for our own mistakes and that only then will we ever get the chance to truly learn from it and realize how we can change to see a better outcome. 

    I get it now. I forgive myself. I’m not perfect but at least I know that I’m capable of learning. Maybe I didn’t show I was teachable back then. Maybe it took me this far to be taught a lesson. I know I’ve messed up. I wasn’t ready to change then but I learned my lesson and I’m ready to be better now. It’s going to be a life of learning, meaning, and evolving.

    As for the things that I may still not be ready to change in myself, I am open to receiving my lessons. My body and spirit shall withstand what it requires to be wiser for the universe knows I prefer to finish my life’s journey knowing that I’ve tried.

    ——–

    When I have a new relationship, I want to make sure to remind my partner that we are allowed to do other things to show our love. I can show my love in ways that don’t have to be in the way my partner had imagined. We can’t keep missing out on the little things that bear so much weight all because of how we idealize what love should look like to us and end up overlooking the pure and good intentions that our partner wishes to convey with their own actions.

    In My next relationship, I’d like to instill in my partner that lovability is not measured by how much we do for each other. But it’s how much we address each other’s needs by expressing them and not by testing each other. 

    The mentality of “if you love me, you would do (INSERT CRITERIA)…” must be replaced with “I’m doing this for you because I feel good doing this for myself too. I hope you’ll like it, if not, then we must talk about it.”  It’s the basic display of our own love languages and it only takes a discussion and willingness to understand for us to appreciate the way we communicate our love.

    In the end, I don’t hate my ex. We’ve both hurt each other in a severity only we would understand. We were supposed to be friends after the break up. I initially thought I was capbale of it but I later decided to tell her that I can’t do it. It just hurt too much. Being strangers would be the best move for me. Now that I’m not committed to her anymore, I’ve finally decided to be committed to myself now.

  • Exploring My Broken Heart: Grief, Anger, And That Relationship

    I have been struggling with the storm in my mind. The tempest of emotions furiously blowing about, the intermittent heavy deluge of anger and grief comes and strikes my whole body with exceptional precision and stealth and then just suddenly stops to leave me weak and debilitated, freezes me in time. Paralyzed.

    I know the things that I have accepted. I have taken accountability for my own faults. I have understood why I chose to end that relationship but for some reason I couldn’t stop going back-and-forth between anger, grief, and the gnawing feelings of abandonment and betrayal.

    So I’m writing this now hoping that somehow it helps my brain process whatever residual feelings I may still have for that relationship. I really, really just want to be okay again. For what its worth, I don’t feel the urge to reach out to my ex anymore. I don’t even want to have any form connection with my ex at all. In fact, I’m at the point where I’m solely determined to face my own thoughts and feelings head-on so I can give them their right names and know where to place them. I know I need to do this because somehow I get that when you’re able to define something that takes place within you, you have a bigger chance to finally know exactly what to do with it. It only hurts more than it should when it’s misunderstood and I’m done hurting this way. I need to be more active about certain things in my life especially if it meant giving myself a chance to achieve something, in this case, I just want to feel whole again.

    This could be it- my way towards having a deeper connection with myself and move towards healing. I was thinking that maybe I have not learned how to love myself to a degree which could’ve prevented this whole experience and that it was necessary to happen to me to realize that I need to do just that- to love myself enough. That’s what I think and it makes enough sense to me.

    Why Are You Upset?

    So now, I’m starting off with naming what needs to be named. The objective is to Identify how I really feel and replace that vague and general term “upset” with what it actually is.

    I am upset because I feel rejected, unwanted, unloved, left out.

    I am upset because, to an extent, I feel worthless.

    I am upset because I feel betrayed. I feel lied to for being led to believe that I was loved in my own perception of what love was and I feel humiliated and foolish for clinging to such an idea.

    I am upset because my insecurity has been touched and played with. I am upset because I was easily replaced by someone else in the end which I then took as reflection of my own worth.

    I am upset because I have been demeaned by someone I trusted to love me whole-heartedly.

    I am upset because I feel invalidated, unimportant, inferior.

    That’s all, so far. That kind of felt like I just took the biggest shit I have ever shitted out in my entire life. I’m a little exhausted and relieved at the same time. That felt good. Kind of like admitting something you’ve been lying about your entire life. Wow.

    I’m a little surprised that I didn’t cry while writing this. I just don’t pity myself like that anymore. I just want to heal. I want to finish what I have to feel and move forward in my life. I have a strong belief that better things are ahead of me and they’re waiting to meet me there. So, no matter how paralyzing it gets right now, no matter how daunting this big change may be, I want to believe in the hope that I have left in me. I want deal with things differently this time. I am done chasing people in the name of love. I don’t have to beg for love if I have enough on my own. I deserve love; the amount and quality that I know I can give myself. So no more begging, no more asking, no more chasing.

    I am creating a special graveyard for all of these feelings and, in time, I will bury them one by one with their cute little tombstones. I know It’s going to be a process but like I’ve said before, I am determined to come out of this in one piece. This is my road to wholeness.

    Now that I think of it, “Goodbye” is such a holy word in times like these but you have to work hard to be able to use its power. All the best of luck to all of you who need to work hard enough to be able to say “goodbye” and really mean it. We all deserve to be whole and free.

  • Ode To The Sufferer

    I wrote an ode to myself as one of the many people who has endured/enduring the grip of challenge and suffering. Fight for hope. It is our ultimate power. It is our title to our existence. Pen name: folasko

    Look around you and be grateful.
    I know the world keeps acting like it wants eat you alive every time you step out into the sun to feel the warmth of the day.
    I know you just want something so simple like a bit of peace and quiet.
    Remember that you deserve all these simple things you long for and it is being offered to you too. You just need to look around and see with new eyes.
    Soon you’ll thank the world for being cruel enough to gouge your old perception out of your skull and finally grow a new pair of eyes that see the actual light of hope that has been there all along. Hold on to it and it shall stay with you.
    You are greater than the suffering that threatens your peace.
    You are full of power.
    You are full of light.
    You are capable of learning how to use all of it if you’ll humble yourself to the wisdom life has to offer.
    Take it. Take it all.
    It is yours.

    Stand in your battlefield unmoved and emanate the naked light of your rediscovered strength and write your story with meaningfulness and vulnerability that no one would dare expose for themselves… because you are uniquely strong and have endured the wars in your mind and against the minds of other people long enough to know that this too shall be over and no matter how the monsters tear at your flesh with the sole objective to mangle you, you will always come out in whole. Reborn, resurrected, stronger.

    You will always have victory in wisdom, in the truth, and in being free from the chains these people have woven from their dark and wicked hearts to bind you with.

    Be grateful… For you are you. – folasko

  • Dealing with Regret: A Break-up Story

    Backstory:

    So I’ve ended a roughly two and a half-year relationship not over a month ago. I’ve never told anyone in my immediate family or friends from home or anyone that was practically involved in my life from back home.

    They had only found out about it when I opened it up to them when I got back from the other city. I didn’t want to receive any elaborate reaction from them so I didn’t really divulge too much information.

    I was in a different city when I was still in that relationship and when it ended that was when I’ve decided to move back home.

    At home I had so much time for myself. I had enough space to just be myself until the days started to grow slower each time and the sadness and regret started to creep in.

    I’ve found myself wondering about “what-if’s’ and started to develop thoughts of “if I had done things differently maybe things didn’t have to end this way.” It was a pretty recurrent theme that lasted for days. I think it has been 2 weeks now and I have to say that shit’s exhausting.

    I kept thinking about my ex almost everyday and it can be quite debilitating. I barely get anything done within the day once I’ve been hooked on one thought after another about the whole relationship and how it got to where it did. It was draining me to the point where I didn’t have enough energy to function productively. It was unhealthy.

    Today, I woke up late and the first thing I did was to check my phone for any messages that I was hoping my ex might have randomly thought of sending me only to see nothing there which only made me feel worse. I have just gotten out of bed and the first thing I had actively done was to feel bad.

    Then I realized, I wasn’t taking care of myself like I thought I would. I was being absolutely unfair to myself by not putting in the right work towards moving on. Then again, It’s so easy to say it but it’s so hard to do.

    I went to use the bathroom. As I was sitting there I was deep in thought and really just exploring my feelings about the whole thing. I realized that what I was feeling was regret. Yes, as ashamed as I am to admit it, I do have regrets.

    What Do You Regret?

    I regret not putting in enough effort and patience in our relationship when I still had the chance.

    I regret not trying to be more understanding.

    I regret prioritizing my anger over my partner’s feelings.

    I regret saying hurtful words that I can never take back.

    Mostly, I regret breaking up and losing my chance to work it out with my ex.

    Compassion and Understanding Towards Your Regret:

    I think It’s normal to think about all of the above mentioned. I’m considering my disposition now and how I got into this predicament. It needs to be addressed. That’s what I’m doing now.

    I’ve read somewhere that we ought to give ourselves some compassion and understanding in dealing with our regrets about a past relationship. So that’s what I’ll do.

    I think one must forgive oneself from his/her own shortcomings. Not only is it fair, it’s also necessary albeit immensely difficult sometimes. We have to if we want to move forward. After all, It’s only human to make mistakes. I’ve made mine and now it’s time to learn from them. Ultimately we have to realize that it’s just how it is. We didn’t intentionally want to hurt the ones we claimed to love, we only did what we can to protect ourselves the best ways we knew how and somehow it ended up being for the price of hurting others but we didn’t really mean for it to happen that way. It’s a human flaw and I believe that in the greater scheme of things and in the overlapping complexities of the human mind that mistakes and misunderstanding among ourselves are bound to happen eventually. That’s why forgiveness exists. If we can learn to forgive those who have hurt us, maybe we can try to forgive ourselves for making choices that have led us to a place of hurt just as well. It took me this far and deep into the pain of losing someone to realize that forgiving oneself is just as necessary. It doesn’t mean we’re incapable of feeling any guilt or remorse for our wrongdoing but it means that we are not going to allow ourselves to be limited by the mistakes we have made in the past and prevent us from doing better. So with this, I forgive myself. I know it hasn’t been easy and I know I wished I had done better but now it’s all in the past and all I have right now is today and I know I am capable of doing things better TODAY (not in the past, not in nonexistent future, today); of doing things differently than before. I promise not to neglect my power of self-awareness and commit to strive in not recreating my past. I didn’t know better and I understand, I am forgiven.

    If You Could Do It Again, What Would You Change?

    I’m sure that in the future I will encounter similar scenarios where my patience will be tested just as much as it was tested the last time. On that note, If I were to be in another argument with someone I love, be it family, a friend, or a lover, I will put my anger aside and prioritize empathy as much as I could to prevent reflecting the feelings of invalidation that I used to so readily devour in times of a heated exchange. I know that it is a cliche and it may sound so simple but the reality is this type of behavior and self-awareness is not easily practiced among many of us so I think it deserves the top spot.

    I would also like to express more sense of acknowledgement towards my other half. I want to amplify an atmosphere of caring and nurturing. I would start with the littlest things as I have experienced firsthand that these can amount to so much through the days that we’ll be together. I want to always wonder how my partner would feel if I did or didn’t do something and the goal must always be to make them feel important because ultimately, they are.

    I will build a place of comfort surrounded by love and support and acknowledge that keeping score isn’t the best way to measure someone’s love for me.

    I will always remember that it is one thing to call my partner out on a bad behavior but it is more important to encourage them to do better. I want my partner to realize that it’s okay to make mistakes, and that my partner is teachable and capable and our flaws will not easily stand in the way of our love for each other.

    I will always remember that there’s a way of talking things out without aggression as anger does not provide solutions the way compassion and empathy can. Talking it out is not enough, however, because words don’t create results, actions do. So I want to make sure that my actions will resonate our agreements.

    I will require that boundaries and needs must be clearly established and respected. Compromise must come gracefully with no grudge attached. Something I understand that only the individual has control over.

    What Can You Do Now To Find Wholeness?

    I will focus on my career this time. Pour all of my efforts into passing the board exams so I can have my license as a medical doctor and have my own income.

    I will stay in touch with the friends I’ve made in that city because God knows they’ve filled my life with memorable adventures and lightness.

    I will return to practicing drawing and enhance my skills. I might even try to play the piano again and continue the pieces that I was in the process of learning when I had suddenly stopped.

    I will allot my energy in more creative writing/journal in the hopes to inspire individuals who may be going through similar situations that I may be in, both happy or sad.

    I will focus on my health. Try to eat healthier, read more, rest enough, get fit.

    I will practice a more thoughtful lifestyle by being aware of where my mind is and focus on being grateful and positive.

    Conclusion: How Will This Shift Your Movement From Unhelpful Thinking To Having The Power To Change?

    By following through and being gentle with myself and my own grief. I claim responsibility for my own thoughts and feelings and I cannot afford to discourage myself otherwise. I understand that with all great things comes great work and I am willing to exert the necessary energy to fulfill my goal to be the kind of person that I deserve.

    Until then, I know it will be an uphill battle of self-love and acceptance. For now, I am determined to put in the work and time to achieve my purpose.

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