The Road to Recovery – The Beginning

I was able to support my family using all my strength and capabilities. My pride was taller than me and my stubbornness could test the patience of a saint. I refused to ask help from other people. I hated it when people criticized me. I disliked the feeling of being vulnerable. I have never shown my real feelings or told my thoughts and dreams to anyone.

My struggles made me strong. I have become robust enough to the point where I could no longer recognize what I truly feel. I have pushed my emotions aside; every feeling was buried down to the trench of my oceanic memory.

I have shut my feelings down and without realizing it, I already have made my own fortress. The wall was so sturdy that nobody can climb, break or even shake it. There wasn’t a single being that could penetrate it. I hid my real self and I kept people at arm’s length. I pretended that I don’t need anybody in my life; but actually, I was just frightened of getting hurt.

All of these changed when I met my husband, Ian O’Neil. He wholly accepted me. He loved everything about me. And piece by piece, he broke down my defense. The barrier which I carefully built for more than thirty years was destroyed. I have let my guard down. I opened myself up and shared my life with him. I have learned to depend on him. My trust was restored and my pride, if not gone was lowered. I was not worried about getting hurt again, because I knew he would always be there for me. I knew then that I have changed; he actually made me a better person. No… I have become a new person because of his love. And for once in my life, I was truly happy and contented.

Unfortunately, the Holy Angels took him back to heaven on March 04, 2015. My protective defence was gone and I was left open. All negative emotions poured at the same time. I saw myself being engulfed by darkness. I was shocked, lost, vulnerable, wounded, and weak. Grief was unbearable.

When he died, I died along with him… but I had to be strong. The wall that was once established and destroyed was then rebuilt in a matter of seconds. I immediately raised my shield to prevent me from further anguish. I was again expressionless. I neither cried nor smiled.

I became lifeless. I was like an empty shell for weeks. I have begun to regress. I felt my husband’s disappointment with what I have done with myself.

My family, friends and the whole Couples for Christ community were all praying for me. They have supported and helped me carry on since day one. But I knew that they too have their own lives to live. I cannot burden and oblige them to be with me every waking hour and listen to my forlorn story. I needed to stop feeling sorry for myself. I had to force myself to get up and take control of my life again.

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And then one blessed morning came. I woke up. I picked my tattered self up and I decided to start my journey to recovery.

My Search for Happiness

Time Check: 0620 hours. It’s time for me to leave the flat and start my day. After ten minutes, I reached the bus stop. I saw a new bus approaching; I immediately checked the route from the website and it was bound to the metro station.

I took the bus and then hopped on the train. I reached my stop at 0705 hours. That was fast! It was an express trip. My travel time was reduced to thirty minutes. As I stepped out of the metro station, I realized that I still have another half  an hour to kill.

It was a good opportunity to do a morning walk and at the same time my skin can still absorb a healthy dose of Vitamin D from the sun. Cool, right? And so, I’ve put on my headset, turned on the playlist and started walking leisurely.

As I was strolling towards the office, a trail of thoughts came. It arrived faster than the Busan train! LOL! My goodness! Here we go again. Well, what’s new? I can’t stop myself from thinking about a lot of things. Uhm, let me correct that- I’m unable to stop worrying about everything. Actually, worrying is now spelled as L-A-A-R-N-I. Sigh. It has been my struggle for as long as I could remember. I know that it is a sin. It’s an insult to God. It means I don’t trust Him because I worry.

I began to feel self-pity again. I thought, kainggit naman, buti pa si Papa Ian nasa langit na, samantalang ako ang haba pa ng lalakbayin para makasama ko sya doon [I envy my husband because he is now in heaven; whilst I still have a long way to go before I could be with him there].

A lot of things happened. I lost my husband and my kids. The happiness that I was searching for a long time was gone in a blink of an eye. Why am I left alone to face everything? What could be God’s plans for me? As human as I am, I sometimes can’t help but wonder why those things happened in the first place. I had a fair share of ups and downs in life. I have been through a lot of difficulties; and yet I have always received God’s helping hands. My prayers are always answered; He is my strength, my comfort and my shield. Who would have thought that a frail woman like me could surpass one challenge to another? It’s all because of Him! I always keep in mind that my trials are my testimonies of His love, goodness, and mercy.

I worked hard to make my parents happy; their happiness was my joy. My goal was to see them smile.

It has been my parents’ dream to have a doctor in the family. To be honest, I wanted to be a journalist. I wished to become a television news anchor someday. Since I found that out, I have decided to fulfill their wish. I have chosen BS Biology as my pre-med course. However, on the last year of my degree, my father’s business went down the drain. His health was greatly affected. If I remembered it correctly, he was confined at The Philippine Heart Center some time from October 1998 to April 1999. We have spent birthdays, Christmas, and New Year celebrations, and even my college graduation in the hospital.

My mom and my brother accompanied me to the school. And then we went straight back to the hospital after the program. Since my dad was admitted, he failed to attend my graduation. I knew he was regretting it, but I assured him that it was fine and I certainly understood the situation. Till now I could still recall his reaction when I showed him my dean’s list certificates, college diploma and my medal.

As soon as I graduated, I searched for an employment. I needed to find a job immediately to support my family. I have put on a brave act and I became their pillar. My bravery was all but an act and eventually it became a real.

I officially became a member of the working society on 04 May 1999. I started as a laboratory analyst in a pharmaceutical company. I was assigned to test the presence of pathogenic microorganisms in the medicines made for human consumption. It was exhausting but I truly enjoyed my post. I may not be able to be a doctor but at least I had a chance to apply my acquired knowledge when I worked there.

I was proud of myself. I have found a decent job and I was happy helping my family. In addition to this, there was this one guy who made me feel special. Actually, he patiently waited for me to finish my studies. And when I did, he began courting me.

I grew up with strict and conservative parents and I made a vow with them that I would not enter to a relationship while studying. And I stayed true with that promise. Hey, don’t raise your eyebrow, I did keep my word! LOL!

The company was strong and stable. Unfortunately, the management decided to stop the regularization of their employees. As a contractual staff, my manager could only extend my term. Since I didn’t see a clear future with my position, I decided to look for another job. And on 11 October 1999, I permanently hang my laboratory coat inside the closet of memories.

The following day, I began my training as a call center: customer care representative in a mobile company. I have handled all types of inbound calls, such as: inquiries, complaints, billing and requests. I received a huge shock during the first few months working there. I have lived a sheltered life; I have never received insults, curses and the like from anyone. Unfortunately, those customers whom I didn’t even know, cursed me from head to toe!

On the first few months of my employment, I used to mentally shout these lines to my irate clients: Hay naku! Tama na, pwede?! Manahimik ha na!!! Sino ka ba?! Anong karapatan mong pagsalitaan ako ng ganyan?! [Oh, puh-lease, will you stop it?! Shut up!!! Who do you think you are?! What right do you have to speak to me like that?!] I hope non of my clients will recognize me, shhh… LOL!

I used to have nightmares and I would usually wake up crying. To toughen up, I made a personal mantra: para sa pamilya ko ito, kailangan ng daddy ko ng gamot, ayokong mag alala si mommy, at nag aaral pa ang kapatid ko [this is for my family, my dad needs medication, I don’t want my mom to be worried and my brother is still studying]. I used to tell this motto to myself almost every minute in the office. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but I think I was hired to solve their problems and to be their professional punching bag, a cute shock absorber! Hahaha!

After some time, I became immune with those irritating transactions. I was no longer affected or influenced by their frustrations. I have developed patience and my understanding  broadened. I learned the art of customer service and practiced reverse psychology. I began to love my job.

In addition to this, the camaraderie between me and my officemates has developed into something priceless. I met few good friends. I have considered them as friends for keeps. And till date, each one of them holds a portion of my heart.

A fateful day of July 2004 came. I received an email from my cousins who were both working in the land of oil and gas. They have asked me to visit them. Once there, I could look for a job. I have never imagined myself working in that part of the world. If given a chance, I would rather work in a four- seasoned country.

Anyhow, an opportunity knocked and I wholeheartedly opened the door. And so after four years and ten months working in a mobile company, I submitted my resignation. I have put down my headset, shut down my computer and logged out on 05 August 2004.

On 12 August 2004, I flew to the foreign land and fifteen days later, I began working as a receptionist in a real estate developer company.

It was a struggle, but I have grown both professionally and personally. A number of things happened here in the desert. I was promoted a few times. I have gotten over one failed relationship. And of course, I was able to support my family.

I have fulfilled my dream of making my parents happy. I have done my part. However, I felt empty; that something was missing in my life. I was not happy. I prayed to God to give me the happiness that I deserved.

One unexpected day came. I met my husband, the answer to my prayer. He was God’s greatest gift to me…

He was my happiness. My Papa Ian…

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