Confessions and Closure

No I will not confess
But if you will ask me I will say yes
No I will not confess
Until society let me be my best

No I will not confess
The despair, the pain, the loneliness
No I will not confess
I am not a damsel in distress

I will fight my own battles
Break my own shackles
Look away, turn away
Focus on your own day

This is not a confession
This a mere distraction
A little happiness away from depression
This is not just an allegation

I don’t need any closure
I need relief from pressure
I want certainty in the unsure
Away from the sickness, the cure

These walls, the fence, all the enclosure
It guards dark secrets, words, and more
The only thing that I confess is I am not pure
I’m simply complicated, you need not know more.

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Mental Health, Society, and Law

Disclaimer: October is Mental Health Awareness Month, so here’s a little essay on my take on Mental Disorders. I’m neither a psychologist nor a professional, just a very concerned yet jaded law student who should be studying right now. I also reside in the Philippines, so yey context.

First let’s define things. What exactly is a psychological disorder? According to Ciccarelli et. al, there are many factors or criteria to consider abnormal behavior as a psychological disorder. Usually before determining whether a behavior is abnormal, psychologists and other professionals must answer these questions:

1.Is the behavior unusual, such as experiencing severe panic when faced with a stranger or being severely depressed in the absence of any stressful life situations?
2. Does the behavior go against social norms? (And keep in mind that social norms change over time—e.g., homosexuality was once considered a psychological disorder rather than a variation in sexual orientation.)
3. Does the behavior cause the person significant subjective discomfort?
4. Is the behavior maladaptive or result in an inability to function?
5. Does the behavior cause the person to be dangerous to self or others, as in the case of someone who tries to commit suicide or who attacks other people without reason?

These can be summarized into three factors: 1) deviance, 2) maladaptiveness, and 3) personal distress. If these factors are present, most likely there could be an existing abnormal behavior which could be a symptom of a psychological disorder. It is BEST to get a checkup and have a professional explain things but those are some of the basis. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) has been updated to DSM-V, so it’s really best to seek professional help when you feel that something is wrong.

What is deviance? Deviance is social norm deviance or when something goes against the norms or standards of society (Ciccarreli, 2012). Society sets the standard for what could be considered as normal. Before, having trouble breathing, self-harm, and ranting over small things would be considered as deviant when done in the extreme but today it looks like it has become the norm with the alarming increase in social media posts regarding such things. Memes like: “Please limit crying to 15 minutes” have become rampant. This might be a joke to some, but jokes are often half-meant and it is still very alarming.

What is maladaptive? It is anything that does not allow a person to function within or adapt to the stresses and everyday demands of life (Ciccarrelli, 2012).  The person is having a hard time to cope with the daily stress and ends up with extreme or risky coping mechanism like excessive drinking, etc.

What is personal distress? It is when a person feels subjective discomfort emotional distress when doing a particular thing. (Ciccarrelli, 2012). A person who suffers from fear of social interaction would feel great discomfort and emotional distress in gatherings and events, causing him or her to not go out at all.

Worryingly, a normal healthy person shouldn’t undergo excessive daily personal distress but as Philippine society stands today, it seems like the standards are changing as more and more cases of psychological disorders are being reported. Recent statistics point out that 1 in 5 people suffer from mental health problems. These are the reported ones; a person suffering usually hesitates to ask for professional for fear of stigma or lack of resources. The numbers are increasing even as I write.

So what causes these psychological disorders? There are many theories about the causes, ranging from biological to psychosocial theories. Recently, I’ve read an interesting article regarding neoliberal capitalism and mental health, on how psychological disorders could have stemmed from capitalism. The article is titled Capitalism is Despair, and it’s Time to Start Taking it Personally by Tom Syverson. Here are some excerpts from the article:

But what if your emotional problems weren’t merely your own? What if they were our problems? Instead of treating standard-issue mental distress as a natural biological condition, Fisher proposed, “we need to ask: how has it become acceptable that so many people, and especially so many young people, are ill?” What if the real problem is that we’re living in wrong society? Perhaps Theodor Adorno was correct when he said, “wrong life cannot be lived rightly.” (Syverson, 2017)

Isn’t that an interesting premise? That the existing psychological disorders is not the problem, but rather the society itself. That is where my concern arise for my friends and the people I know, for people who comes to me and ask for help regarding their mental health. Going to a professional would help others whose disorder stemmed from biological problems, but what if the cause is the society? How do we change that? How can we help?

Relying on the work of psychologist Oliver James, Fisher noted a striking correlation between the rise of industrial capitalism circa 1750 and the growing normalization of mental distress. As capitalism became the norm, so did unhappiness. Daily misery is normal, because misery is what the system asks of you. Lifetimes spent in therapy, disastrous personal relationships, generations of hardening hearts, and private hells of hedonic narcissism: this is the price we pay for sustaining the impossible demands of capital. (Syverson, 2017)

It makes so much sense to me. I see posts on social media, complaining about the traffic, the work demand, their bosses, the insensitive and oppressive administration, other societal ills, and what have you. All those factors combined would naturally lead to a rise and normalization of mental distress.

To be sure, we court controversy with some of these points. Critiquing capitalism shades into a critique of the pharmaceutical industry, which slips into a critique of mainstream science, and suddenly one sounds like an anti-vaxxer. But the point is not to indict, as Foucault did, the entire field of diagnostic psychiatry. Rather, the idea is to consider that many forms of depression and anxiety might not be diseases with symptoms, but symptoms themselves—symptoms of a wider social disease called neoliberal capitalism. If chronic mental distress is the taboo byproduct of neoliberal economics, then it cannot be solved with neoliberal economics. Bourgeois unhappiness should be resituated as a socio-political problem with a socio-political solution. (Syverson, 2017)

As a former business administration, and economics student, I have always asked myself whether capitalism is good and sustainable. I have defended capitalism espoused by Adam Smith by saying that capitalism in its purest sense would have been better for the people right now but it was hijacked by selfish and greedy people.

Business ethics somewhat gave me hope, however, as things stand now, I am critical of the current capitalistic society that we have. Capitalism is really starting to look like despair to me, and I’m starting to take it personally.

So what now is the role of the law now regarding mental health and the society? Hopefully solve these problems. I have been a staunch advocate of the Mental Health Act since it was introduced by Senator Risa Hontiveros. The Mental Health Act (MHAct) reinforces and provides mental health care to those who would need it. I am cautiously optimistic about this because as previously mentioned before, mental health is a complex problem compounded by the current society. Execution of the laws are also an issue.

Whether the Mental Health Act would be helpful to those who are suffering or not is a question yet to be answered. Interestingly, there is an article about the effect of such special laws regarding disability. I would not delve into to the topic anymore for lack off time, and research, but the article is Plain Meaning and Mitigating Measures: Judicial Interpretations of the Meaning of Disability by Wendy E. Permett. 

I would probably write another article about it soon, if my resources (aka time and energy) permit.

Sources:

 

 

When I Disappear

When I disappear
There’s only three days for mourning
When I disappear
I don’t want people sobbing

When I disappear
I’m only a single star in the galaxy
When I disappear
I still want people to be happy

When I disappear
Would the world be a better place?
When I disappear
Would my loved ones find solace?

When I disappear
The world would still go on
When I disappear
They should still hold on

When I disappear
People should give kindness
When I disappear
Friends should still feel blessed

When I disappear
It’s only for a short while
When I disappear
Please still smile

When I disappear
I pray for understanding and empathy
When I disappear
I pray for peace and unity

When I disappear
Please know that I have loved and lost
When I disappear
Please remember me as I am

When I disappear
Please believe in God,
and pray for my soul
When I disappear
Please pray for everyone,
for the blessed, for the wicked

Kamusta

Uy kamusta? Ok ka lang?
Oo naman, ok lang ako.
Buhay pa.
Buhay pa habang ‘yung iba pinapatay,
namamatay, pumapatay.
Pero eto ako ngayon, buhay pa, okay lang.

Uy kamusta? Ok ka lang?
Oo, ok lang ako, lumalaban pa
‘Yung iba nanglaban, kaya pinatay na
Samantalang ako, tulog at pagod lang kinakalaban ko
mga demonyong utak ang may produkto

Uy kamusta? ‘Di ka pumasok kanina?
Ok lang ako, matraffic kasi sa may kanto
May nabaril na bata, ang daming naki-usosyo
Kaya ‘di na lang muna ako pumasok
sayang pamasahe ko

Uy kamusta? Kamusta? Kamusta?
Kasinungalingan, kagaguhan, lokohan
Pero d’yan naman tayo magaling ‘di ba?
Magpanggap na walang nakikita
Magpanggap na walang nararamdaman

Nabubuhay ng ‘di matiwasay
Kinakalaban ang sarili, inaaway ang mundo
May sakit, may trapo, may uto-uto
Ano ang magagawa sa nararamdamang ito
Lahat nagdurusa, lahat nalilito

Uy kamusta? Kamusta ka na?
Ito na sinasabi na ang katotohanan
Ok lang, ok lang ako, magiging ok rin ako
Magiging okay rin tayo.

I Wonder

I wonder what it’s like
To have your feelings returned
I wonder what it’s like
To love without being burned

I wonder what it’s like
To be your close friend
To talk with you for days
To listen to your stories without end

I wonder what it’s like
To see you smile and laugh openly
I wonder what it’s like
To be your companion in misery

I could only dream and wonder
You are, after all, only a stranger
A person with a mask
I’m full of questions I’ll never ask

And so I step back and feel
Some things are beyond my will
As I try to stop wondering
I’ll go back to fully living

Unsent Letter: Gratitude and Hope

Since my last checkup with my doctor, I lost hope with myself. I thought to myself if I had to chase after something at the expense of my health, was it really worth it? I was just so tired. If I could donate my life force to someone else, I would have.

Pagod na ko.

I just felt so exhausted. Guilt was eating me alive. Medicine in addition to my school fees are so burdensome to my family. I was backsliding. The current president of the administration is both a fascist and a bastard. Philippine society seems like returning to 1972 only worse. My family is a family of public servants and the current administration is taking its toll on us in ways I could not describe. Law school seems so pointless with the current disrespect for the rule of law.

I felt like a useless human being. I felt helpless. The doctor told me to stop saving others, and start focusing on my studies because I was already failing.  I was in law school not to spread peace and love but to study he said. He told me, I was still immature, I was too soft. I felt broken. Beaten. Ashamed.

I was bitter and devastated. Was I supposed to just let bad things happen in front of me? Was I supposed to be mean and cold? My university is supposed to be a training ground for the leaders of this country and yet sometimes they act so heartlessly that it tears me apart to think that they are the future. Intelligent but heartless people, to me is the worst combination.

I didn’t tell this to anyone except my best friend, I was giving up on law school. I was giving up on my dream. I was just going to do things one last time for closure, but I wouldn’t do anything too taxing anymore because I was already burnt out.

I was doing the same routine, but my heart wasn’t in it. I would go to class, listen to the professors, read cases and books, watch others get hurt. Most of the time I would console my classmates who are struggling, trying to hold on, and I would often think to myself, that maybe I’m in the wrong field. Maybe law isn’t for me, maybe psychology is. In the first place all I wanted to do was to help people. With the current administration, law seems useless.

The reality is, perhaps I am just too naive and idealistic. I have come to accept that, but I will never accept that I have to have a cold heart to survive this world.

This is all thanks to my friends and people that I meet that keep on reminding me that kindness and empathy is still a thing.

I am very thankful and grateful to my friends who told me that the very traits I secretly hate in myself are the traits that they admire in me. I am thankful for them taking care of me when I couldn’t. I am happy that somehow I am able to help them despite being me.

Nabuhayan ako ng loob.

I felt hope bloom inside me when I met this person. This person who both had the smarts and the heart for the people. I almost gave up on my law school, but then people like that person existed. I couldn’t believe it. My friends ask me, what is it that I found that made me feel this way.

I saw a person who gave me a chance to speak out when I feared for the worst.

I saw a person who barely even knew me, to trust me, and to believe that I can do something.

I saw someone embody the very principles of Honor and Excellence. I saw someone who I can point out as an example when people start asking me who could have both the I.Q. and E.Q. to serve the people. Someone who I met personally, not some celebrity or big-shot personality. I met a very humble down-to-earth person.

I think I’m getting carried away by fangirling, but really, I just feel lucky and grateful that I met that person. Thank you for existing and fighting.

I was also very inspired when another one of my newly found friend told me this. I felt flattered and moved.

So, stand by your principles. We already have too many bright lawyers but we have very few people like you who have the courage to speak from the heart and fight for your causes.

Thank you so much for believing in me when I myself have a hard time doing so.

Kindness and empathy can really go a long way. 

I find myself once again being grateful and feeling hopeful. I find myself inspired.

I thank Allah (SWT) for these people and the opportunities I was given to meet them.

Alhamdulillah (thank God) for everything.

PMC 2017: Opportunities and Realizations

So. I joined this event called Philippine Model Congress or PMC 2017 last September 9-10, 2017. (No, it’s not a modelling contest where people walk on a runway and strut their stuff. God knows how I lack the looks and grace for such things. Hahaha.) It’s an event which tries to simulate the actual Philippine Congress when it comes to passing laws.

I joined the event because I was curious, and I also had a lot of time to waste so I told myself why not? I was also feeling stagnant with my life. I have no organizations, no work, and I only do free consultations with my friends (a.k.a, they tell me their problems so that I can support and help them). I don’t like studying much anymore. I would often stare at my books and feel tired without even opening them.

I went to the event alone, I did not know anyone there except for some online friends. Surprisingly, I didn’t panic and shy away from people like I usually do. I observed the place, and everyone was mingling with each other. There were a lot of people who already formed their own groups. I was fine with being alone and just watching people. That was my plan anyway, to just observe, and to study for my other subjects while people battle it out (LOL).

The main reason why I went there was for the Disability Awareness in Schools Act of 2017. I am a mental health advocate, and the proposed bill was very much in line with my interests that it caught my attention. I stalked the author of the bill before hand (Shush, don’t report me). I couldn’t add her on Facebook because of her privacy settings. Hahaha. When I saw her during the event, I immediately went to her and congratulated her for the wonderful bill. It takes a lot of time for me before I warm up to anyone but again, much to my pleasure, we were able to click with each other. I told her I would support her and her bill, and I did.

It was really fun, the lively discussions about the current affairs with the youth (Lol. I’m getting really old). However, things started to go down hill. The Disability Awareness in Schools Act of 2017 was not received very well by our co-delegates. I understand that people are not that open yet to the concept of Persons with Disabilities. I noticed most of the delegates lacked research and knowledge on these things. On the bright side, it passed in our committee by a small margin, and I was very happy for that.

Much to my disbelief, there was a bill called Anti-Domestic Violence Act which seeks to amend the current R.A. 9262 or Anti-Violence against Women and Children by widening its scope to include men in its protection. I was quite confident that nobody would support such bill. Haha. Unfortunately, the world loves proving me wrong. Lo and behold, majority of the committee supported the bill.

I was too stunned to do anything about it at first. During the debates all I could do was make horrified faces (or alternatively face palm). I felt my heart breaking and my hands were shaking. I couldn’t stay silent. My constitutional law professors would not let me. My conscience and principles couldn’t let me stay silent. I am not even a feminist, I just support rights for the those are part of the minority and oppressed. “Those who have less in life, should have more in law.”

For the first time in my life I chose to fight against something for fear that it would pollute the minds of the youth that men and women in status quo have equal power in the society. Such an idealistic notion that I wished to break. I was forced to speak up and face my fear of public speaking. It was a good thing that the Chairperson of our committee was very kind and gave me an opportunity to against the bill. Despite my bumbling and stuttering, I was able to at least say a coherent sentence to go against the bill. Sadly, it was not enough. The bill was passed by our committee.

It was time to choose between the Anti-Domestic Violence Act and the Disability Awareness Act. The Anti-Domestic Violence Act won, of course, because of the endless lobbying of the author of the bill, and the mistaken conception of the people of the concept of equality and equity, and even much more sinful to my eyes, the gross misunderstanding of the concept of equality or Equal Protection Clause under the 1987 Philippine Constitution.

It hurt. Badly. It pained so much that I was literally shocked with what was going on. During the event I remembered all of a sudden why I quit debating in high school. I couldn’t handle speaking with stubborn people, and I abhorred them for their arrogance (some, not all).

With a heavy conscience, I confess that my support for the Disability Awareness in School Act was not enough. I did not do enough. I could have lobbied the Act to my fellow delegates but I couldn’t. My disease which I call energy gap to hide its severity hindered me. But no, that is just an excuse. I was just being a stubborn person who thought that the bill would speak for itself.

Stupid.

Naive.

That is not how politics in law making works.

Then and there I realized that logic is not enough to convince and persuade people. Well, I’m sorry for not being charming enough. I’m sorry that I dislike talking to people. What use is my knowledge in law when I couldn’t even convince majority of the people to my cause. I was so used to speaking in technical legal terms that I forgot most of them were not familiar with how the legal system operates.

I do not even want to think of how the author of the Disability Awareness Act felt when more people voted for the other bill. She researched for her bill, and interviewed a lot of experts, only to have it ignored in favor of another bill which I’m sure did not even reach the same level of effort to write as the previous bill author (sorry not sorry). I was only an (unofficial) sponsor of the bill, and I was already disheartened. I tried to hold back a lot of ad hominem comments and other offensive remarks which I would not even mention anymore for fear of cyber libel.

Our committee session adjourned. Our committee was very lucky to have a sensible and intelligent chairperson who made a speech and reminded the delegates to make laws which have the interests of the Filipinos in mind.

During the plenary session (which still caused me a lot of heartaches and headache that I was tempted to just walk out and do an impromptu crying session but thanks to years of training I didn’t), the bill was not passed because of the delegates who understood what is the reality and intent behind the creation of R.A. 9262. I do hope there comes a time that we wouldn’t need such act, but I really believe that is not today. It was also then that I fully realized that silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.

Other than that harrowing experience of trying to argue against a bill which goes against everything I believe in, I’m happy to report that the plenary was able to pass Online Disinformation Act, SOGIE Implementation in Junior High School Act, and Hijab Act. My faith in the youth is restored.

The awarding ceremony came, and they awarded two honorable mentions and one best delegate per committee. I was happy for the two of my co-delegates in my committee because they really deserved the award. The time came for the awarding of the best delegate award. I already knew who was going to be awarded so I just clapped politely without paying attention much but then again, as I said before, the world really loves proving me wrong. The chairperson named me as the best delegate, and all I could think was: “Wait. What? Ako? Me?”. #shookt

Aside from the embarrassing and awkward moment that happened during the awarding because I really have problems with accepting things which I personally believe that I do not deserve, the overall experience was fun. All I can say is that I wouldn’t have received that award without the support of my co-delegates and friends.

I met a lot of new people, and I was able to make new friends who share the same interests and advocacy. It was a valuable learning experience which I could not have gained if I just stayed in my classrooms. I am really thankful for the opportunity that was given to me.

I want to thank the author of the Disability Awareness in School act, and the chairperson of Committee 2, and all my co-delegates for making the experience meaningful. Thank you also to the organizers for giving us the opportunity. I also want to thank my friends who supported me, and encouraged me to attend despite my doubts about joining. Special shout out to my ambassador friend who shared the PMC event which was how I learned of it in the first place.

And of course, thank God for everything that has happened.

Sadly, I now have to face my reality which is law school, and I was so tired because of the event that I had to take a breather because I was overwhelmed by emotions that only came after the event because I was trying hard to repress them.

I have hopes for the future.

Passion without action leads to frustration. We all have our passions, and it is never to late to act on them

 

 

The Tragedy of Suicide

Suicide.

The act of killing yourself because you do not want to continue living, according to Miriam Webster dictionary.

Killing one’s self.

There are so many ways to kill yourself. People often ask why. We rarely find any answer, we barely understand it.

It’s a complex issue that most people often mistake as a simple scenario where a person just snapped and offed himself or herself.

It’s not.

People must understand that it is not a snap decision. Call it selfish, call it cowardly, but it is not impulsive. It doesn’t happen right away, it happens over time. It must be realized that it could have been prevented. It should have been prevented.

I do not support suicide, but I also do not want to condemn those who committed it or thought about doing it.

I cannot and do not speak for others, I only speak for myself. I believe that it is natural to fear death, because there is the fear of the unknown. If a person starts to fear living more than dying, then I believe that it is an indication that there is something severely wrong.

Countless of times I have wondered why was I born, and most of the time I wish I could just disappear. Sometimes the desire is so great, yet I am aware that I cannot do it. I cannot kill myself, because I know it is wrong. I remember wishing for death so badly. Shame filled my body at that time, because I know it is wrong, yet I wanted to die. The desire and inability to fulfill the desire caused a lot of dissonance within me. I felt devastated. My doctor asked me why I felt that way. I could only cry, because I could not pinpoint a single event that made me wish it. A lot of things happened, and I couldn’t tell which of them triggered me.

A lot of people would do everything in order to stay alive. I know. They know. That’s even more painful, because we already know it’s wrong and yet we somehow still wish to die. When people try to prevent them from doing it by adding even more guilt and pressure, I would believe that it is very counter-productive.

There are others who romanticize suicide. Stop it. It is not beautiful. It is saddening. It is not the way to send a message, it is not the way to ask for help. There are others who criticize the person who died. Stop it. Some people say that it is a form of victim blaming, and I agree with them. There are ways to stop it, and you are not helping by criticizing it. Give ways to help people who are alive right now, who are contemplating committing it right now. Help by doing what you think should be done. Read up on mental health and illnesses, try to understand it. Try to understand people.

Empathy and compassion goes a long way. Lend an ear to a stranger, give a hug to a friend. Say a good word here and there. Those little things mean a lot in the long run.

It has to be understood and realized that sometimes, they aren’t enough, that professional help is required. The stigma against mental health has taken and ruined a lot of lives. It could have been prevented, it should have been prevented, and yet here we are in our society where people die because of their own hands.

Some would say that suicide is caused by lack of faith in God. In Islam, suicide is condemned. I don’t want to judge, for I believe God has the final say in everything, and indeed He even provided a prayer against suicide.

“Oh Allah, keep me alive until life is good for me and give me death when that is the better for me” [Bukhari, Muslim]

But not everyone has the luxury and blessing of faith. Sometimes, it just get really difficult. That is why realizing and accepting that mental health has to be taken care of is very important.

I dedicate this post to Chester Bennington, who I do not know personally, but his songs have touched my life in ways I cannot describe. He was an artist who spoke from the heart. There is both a tragedy and irony in his works. The world has listened but did not understand.

This is also for all the people who have thought of doing it, and still does.

To all the people suffering out there, there are those who still care, if we could only just reach out.

And you’re angry, and you should be, it’s not fair
Just ’cause you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it, isn’t there

If they say
Who cares if one more light goes out?
In the sky of a million stars
It flickers, flickers
Who cares when someone’s time runs out?
If a moment is all we are
Or quicker, quicker

Who cares if one more light goes out?

Well I do

Help other people, and at the very least, please help yourself.

Always at the Crossroads

Last year, 2016, I was at the crossroads. I couldn’t enroll in my current law school because of certain complications and I was forced to decide whether to continue studying law or not.

I find it funny, that again I find myself waiting and trying to decide again whether to continue with it or not. I thought it was over. I thought I just had to look forward and move, but I hit another dead-end. It’s like a game that I keep on playing, with my character that keeps on getting beat up and dying. After that the screen is asking “do you want to continue? yes or no” with ten seconds left before automatically making a choice for me.

Life is like that, isn’t it? It’s a game. A series of choices that would lead you to somewhere. Some people know where that somewhere is, I don’t.

I’m in danger of trashing my lawyer dream once again. I can’t help but laugh bitterly as I ask myself what is it with me that I keep on failing. Is it really not for me? Is this a sign? Is it a punishment for believing that I could do it when I clearly cannot do it?

The other day, our professor talked to us when we chased after him to plead our case. He said no of course, then after that he went on to lecture us about life, about how we could find other things to do, that what happened to us was not fatal and we should stop if it’s really not for us then it’s not, that what we did was undignified. He said a lot of things that were pretty inspiring and at the same time annoying. Annoying because I already knew them, annoying because some of what he said were untrue.

I don’t know what happened this semester. I have no one to blame but myself. I can’t help but feel disgust every time I am reminded of my disorder that the society doesn’t acknowledge, and they even consider it as just a part of imagination. I hate using my disorder as my excuse, but I also hate knowing that it may be imaginary for other but it is real for me and it may have stopped me from living fully once again. I hate that I forgot that I have it, that I couldn’t control it to save myself. Most of all, I hate having it.

I hate how I tried so hard to save others, that I forgot to save myself. I hate the feeling of resentment that I have against the people that I have helped when they succeed and I don’t. I hate the feeling of disgust and self-hatred when I know I have no right to feel such emotions. They didn’t ask for it, I gave it. Willingly. I hate it, I hate it so much, thinking how my doctor and others would berate for giving too much while receiving almost nothing at all. I hate being normally self-contradicting.

I didn’t help them because I wanted to be paid back. I help people because I want to, because it makes me feel better, because it distracts from how much of a failure I am. It doesn’t hurt that they don’t appreciate me or say thank you, but it helps to feel appreciated. It hurts me when I ask myself why am I such a failure, and what did I do wrong? It hurts to hear people say and point at me, making me as an example of why people shouldn’t be too kind. I don’t understand this thing, about being too kind when in my mind I’m just being a decent human being. Isn’t it sad that most people nowadays would applaud nice acts like it isn’t expected and normal?

Now I don’t know what to do. I know what I want to do, but we don’t always get what we want right? Like I said, I’m at the crossroads again. Life is just really tiring. I guess I’m just a perpetually exhausted pigeon, not that phoenix that I fancy myself to be rising from the ashes.

Law school and life has beaten me again, and again, and again. The question is: will I continue?

I want to, oh how much I sincerely want to that it makes me want to vomit. I value this opportunity so much, and I know how much blessed I am with this privilege, more so than anyone else because of my experience. Last year, I have felt bitterness when I heard of people quitting and wasting the opportunity they were given.

I guess it’s karma that I might become the people I have resented. I am just so tired and exhausted. More than that, I don’t know how much I can take anymore. I have been pushing since day one, and I want to do more. I want to give more but I feel myself burning out, I have burned out.

I don’t think my friends and family realize, how I think that if I choose to continue it would be too selfish of me. I want to stop not only because I’m tired but because it costs too much. It’s expensive, the tuition, the time, the medicine if I want to keep my sanity, and all other costs I have not accounted yet.

Yet, I still want to continue. I still want to try. I still want to ask God, God is this for me? God will you let me? God please?

I have been asked by my parents previously to stop. I can’t describe how much it hurt, how much it pained me to hear those words from them, because it merely enforced the idea that what I did, what I’m doing is selfish, and that I can’t do it.

Despite that, I still want to try, to see where I could go. Despite being berated by our professor for our actions, I don’t regret anything. I felt happy that we tried. We had our closure for that certain subject. People don’t know how much I am glad, that for once I have fought. I have failed but I have fought.

I am honestly still scared. I am scared to learn that it’s not really for me, because I know it will hurt. I will be satisfied knowing that I did what I could, but it will still be painful.

I guess we really have no better choice in life but to move forward like always. Yes, I want to continue.

I’ll have to see whether God will let me. It will hurt, it will burn, but maybe a perpetually exhausted pigeon that is burnt can rise from the ashes and become a phoenix?

Wishful thinking, but we have to see don’t we? Assuming I don’t become fried chicken instead, ahaha.

I might always be at the crossroads, always getting lost. Hopefully, someday, I’ll get to my destination.

 

Aloe’s Wishes

“Aloe, smile!”

A seven-year old Aloe blinked then smiled a toothy grin at his mother, albeit some of his tooth were either missing or still growing. His black eyes bright with wonderment as he heard a click coming from the machine his mother was holding.

“I wanna try! Momma!” Aloe exclaimed as he waved his hands and tried to touch the camera. The castle he was trying to build with his Lego blocks was ignored in favor of the new contraption in his mother’s hands.

He stood up excitedly; his height reaching up to the waist of his mother. His mother laughed and let the camera hang around her neck to crouch down and look at Aloe in the eye. Aloe clearly inherited his mother’s beautiful onyx eyes.

She pinched Aloe’s cheeks and kissed his forehead. “Nope, this is for grown-ups only.”

Aloe pouted and wondered why his mother wouldn’t trust him with the gadget.

“But, I won’t break it,” he promised earnestly at his mother. His mother giggled at her son’s persistence. “I promise! I’ll be careful!” Aloe’s mother could only smile gently at his begging. She just ruffled her son’s jet black hair and pinched his cheeks again.

“Still nope. But I’ll give you something else,” she started to rummage something in her pockets. Before she could find it and give it to Aloe, she was surprised by her son’s words.

“Momma, the dentist said no chocolates for me yet,”

“Oh,”

“Yup! He said it’s bad for my teeth,”

“But let’s just keep it a secret between us, ok?” she whispered to him as she placed the chocolate bar in his hands.

When Aloe turned ten, he couldn’t understand why people acted so differently from the way they think. Even though he was smarter for his age, he really was still a child, confused by the complicated way the world works.

“Mom, why did you say you to the lady that you liked her dress when you clearly don’t?“ Aloe turned his curious eyes at his mother. His mother, clearly flustered, breathed in deeply to compose herself then smiled sadly at him

“Dear,” her mother hesitated. “There are things called white lies. Sometimes they’re needed to be polite and to avoid hurting anyone. Sometimes it’s necessary.”

“So, it’s okay to lie if it doesn’t hurt anyone?

“Yes.”

Aloe frowned and turned away from his mother.

When Aloe turned fifteen, his parents made the first major lie to him. They have never lied to him before about big things. He didn’t understand why they would.

“Mom?” Aloe cautiously approached his sobbing mother, who was frantically wiping away her tears.

“I’m okay,” his mother immediately said before he could open his mouth again. Aloe narrowed his eyes at his mother’s words. He waited for her to calm down, then what she frantically vomited the words as if she couldn’t hold it in anymore. “I think, I think your father is having an affair.”

Aloe felt blank. He, for a second, wished his mother had lied to him and kept her pain to herself. He was immediately overcome with the feeling of self-hatred and shame for his thoughts.

“Don’t say anything to your father!” His mother suddenly realized how Aloe could react to what she has just said. Aloe felt the tears fall before he realized he was crying.

“Aloe even if he doesn’t love me anymore, he still loves you, you’re still his son, so just do your best and always make him proud okay?” His mother whispered through her sobs. Aloe hugged his mother, and made a promise to himself.

Later that night, he heard his mother confront his father at the living room.

“Where were you? It’s already night,” His mother’s voice was heavy with accusation.

“I was at the meeting!” Aloe flinched. He didn’t know what to do anymore. Lies are wrong, but he was taught about white lies. He drowned out the rest of their arguments.

Aloe heard the door to his room being opened then closed quietly. He looked at his mother’s shaking body.

“Aloe, where did he really go?” His mother stared at him, her eyes begging him to say something. Aloe stayed silent.

“Please, where?” Aloe felt conflicted, but he had no choice. No, he had a choice but he knew what he had to do.

“He didn’t go to the meeting,”

Since then he stopped talking to his mother about his father.

When Aloe turned nineteen, he was told off by people. He tried to disagree with them, but he often found the world proving their words right.

Aloe gazed thoughtfully at the paper in his hand. The score written on it indicated that he passed. He also noticed that it was wrongfully counted. If he had it corrected, he would fail the course.

He approached his professor. “Ma’am, my exam score is wrong, it should be lower.”

That sealed his faith. He slowly walked back to his seat, mindful of what he just did.

“Stop being too truthful, you won’t survive the real world that way,” His classmate told him after having approached their professor.

“I’ll live, you’ll see,” Aloe coolly replied and promptly ignored him.

When Aloe turned twenty-one, he was already exhausted and jaded. His black eyes stared tiredly at the people walking all around him inside the coffee shop. He quietly observed all the people having conversation around him, and he couldn’t help but to feel the resentment.

“I wish that people would be more honest”

“Even if just to themselves”

“I wish to tell the truth”