The breath of relief that washes over you when the storm you felt coming easing into the new year, was every bit as terrifying and exhilarating as you sensed it would be. And then to feel the storm pass and knowing that the worst is finally over?… It’s a feat that only the Gods could witness and fully understand. The overcoming of obstacles that were once mountains, and now, you’re the giant that moved them with all your driving force and tenacity that only the human spirit could conjure. But we all know that the worst is never really over, we just become stronger through it.

The picture above perfectly exemplifies what 2016 has meant to me. This stone engraved “FAITH” was chosen for me for my graduation by my Mental Health Court program panel, who have been watching over my progress for the last two years of this journey. To put a long story short, in December of 2013, just days before my son’s 4th birthday, I spent 24 hours in jail for a domestic assault charge for an incarceration that got reaaal ugly with my little sister. Little did I know at the time, this event would become the catalyst for everything I’ve worked so hard for to this very point in my life right now. It all served its divine purpose regardless if I knew or was even aware of it at the time.

Even almost three years later, the current state of my heart still yearns for that feeling of reconnection… but deep down inside, I’ve finally come to accept the hard truth that my sister may no longer be a part of my life ever again.

And that is finally ok.

For the years I spent mentally and emotionally beating myself up in the background, appointment after appointment in counseling asking myself what was wrong with me, why am I such a problem everywhere I go, “Why am I like this???” and the short yet excruciatingly heart aching amount of time I spent in 100% complete and constant rejection from her, to come to this point of finality has been a huge feat all on its own.

I am finally learning to forgive myself, and move on with my life.

As I’ve written before,

“Moving on and moving forward must always be the constant..
Because the world keeps moving even when you don’t participate,
And people have to go even when you don’t want them to leave the very most..”

And with that being said, it has been a lonely 2016 learning how to be alone. My parents finally sold the house we grew up in, retired and relocated in the Philippines where they are finally happy and stress-freeas they should be—and I made the decision to stay here. I knew what kind of lifestyle I would be giving up by not moving with them like I had originally planned, but something within me knew that there was an opportunity to grow waiting for me here by toughing it out on my own without them. Sure, my life would have been a lot easier and I would be well taken care of, but would I truly grow? And on my own  accord? The most uncomfortable moments we find ourselves in are the ones that give us the most profound life-lessons that could only be taught through personal experience: I found myself homeless and living out of my car until I found an apartment to open up for me. I needed to look for jobs to ensure my ability to pay for my apartment, gas, bills, my son’s daily needs.. I kept priority to keeping up my appearance to avoid seeming “homeless” in my professional jobs. Everything about the middle of 2016 was literally the eye of the storm where my sanity and my resiliency was tested to its core and where my true strength emerged.

And “faith…”

Faith is the wings that allow you to fly even when you are unsure of the destination or the “safe landing,” which we all know is never guaranteed. It is the invisible fuel that allows you discover what is really important to you and let go of all that has been holding you down and holding you back from truly soaring. It’s what compels you to jump off the edge, knowing you have wings, but only suspended in mid-flight learning how to use them. And one of the scariest things about faith is the inevitability that yes, You are going to fall. You are going to get hurt. You are going to crash into almost everything you come across that gets in the way of you reaching new heights, and for many, the idea of failure is humiliating and unbearable. But, it is the most humbling and trusted teacher you could ever ask for.

Even now, my heart breaks at even attempting to count how many times this year I’ve had to bite my own tongue till it bled, be patient and calm in my decision making and wait for faith to finally step in. But that seems to be the thing about the teacher— it rarely shows up only until you’re ready to learn and accept the lesson.

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