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Lifestyle Blog from the Philippines

Friday, September 10, 2021

Scarred

I’ve been planning to write this entry for some time now but I wasn’t sure how to say what I want without being cheesy or overly serious. I should probably put in a trigger warning for those who have had or are suffering from depression and the like. OK, you’ve been warned. Carry on.



Recently I have gotten to thinking about life scars. The things that have happened in my life on a physical, mental, and emotional level. Events and experiences that have made their mark in my life and how I have been dealing with them. I’ve realized that through the years, I have changed my outlook on life and how I look back on these scars/trying times in my life compared to before.

According to Charles R. Swindoll, life is “10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.”  I have to agree. The things that happen to us, especially those that we classify as hard times, often happen when we least expect them and we have no choice but to face and deal with them. It is our choice on how to handle it and how to live with the things that have happened to us. 

What are these scars that I am talking about? Here are some of them:


Physical

I was a sickly kid. I once fainted in school and we found out that I had a congenital heart disease that I still have today, among other things. Because of that, my parents often “protected” me from doing too many physical things. I felt that I missed out on a lot, and I felt weak growing up because of it. I even began to think as a kid that I would never grow up to be an adult. That was how weak I had felt.

I later tried to overcome that feeling of weakness by trying things that I always wanted to do in high school and college (mostly, dance). The experience taught me to learn my physical limits and how I should not see my heart disease as a weakness, but as something that I could live with, given the proper balance of things. My heart disease made me reflect on how valuable life is. Making the best of everything and valuing the opportunity in life that I am given every day is something that I appreciate and am grateful for.

As I have often mentioned in this blog, I also have a thyroid problem. At one point the doctor said it could be cancer, but thankfully, they were able to remove the parts of my thyroid that had issues and they were thankfully benign. I was depressed for a long time due to this, thinking I was going to die — especially in the months leading to my surgery. Looking back, the ordeal taught me how to deal with things as they came and to not overthink things. It taught me to take things one step at a time. The experience also helped me to appreciate life more and the friends and family who rallied behind me to get through it. 

One of the scars I have that I was bothered by for vanity reasons is the scar on my left thigh. It can't be seen when I'm wearing shorts, but I can't wear a swimsuit without it being noticeable. I have always been self-conscious about it and hated it when I was younger. According to my parents, there was an accident when I was a child and hot water was spilled on me as a baby, scarring my lower body in the process. Considering how things could have been worse, I am grateful now that the scar on my thigh is all that was left of that ordeal. The important thing is that I am alive, and most of the scarring, thanks to skin stretching as I grew up, had disappeared. All I have left is that scar, a reminder that I had survived something that intense when I was a child. It is a reminder that if I survived that, I am strong enough to survive a lot of the petty things I complain about. 


Mental

I am a Filipino. I am the eldest child. That means there is a lot of pressure for me to succeed and to support the family with that success. In my family, I was the first one to graduate from college since my parents both decided to get married and start a family before they graduated. When my family had financial troubles just as I was graduating from college, there was a lot of pressure for me to immediately find a job and help provide for the family.

The pressure that I felt at the time was intense. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve cried from it in front of friends, family, and even complete strangers. It was a difficult, humbling and stressful experience. I became depressed, and I had gotten to the point where I contemplated taking my own life — several times. I am just grateful that I have several friends who were there for me even at my most difficult times, even if I was probably such a downer to be with and who always needed mental and emotional support. It was these people who helped me to realize that I needed to put in the time to care about myself as well. As the saying goes, “you cannot give from an empty cup.” I was running on empty, and these friends were the people who were there for me to fill me up when I needed it most. I learned to, as BTS would say, “love myself,” and I am stronger for it. That’s not to say that I do not have weak moments anymore, but I have learned to face them and to remember that there will always be people out there I can turn to when I need them the most. 


Emotional

My friends in college used to call me “boy wonder,” because they thought that it was very easy for me to meet and get to know the boys that I was interested in. What they did not know was that as easy as it was for me, I hardly had any committed relationships at the time. To this day I can say that I have dated, but nothing ever became serious. I guess it’s because at 16 I had dated someone almost a decade older and it was a little too intense for me so I avoided getting in a relationship with anyone else ever since. I would date, but that would be the literal sense of it. Just a date. I was too afraid to go past that. 

I think I only fell in love once. I have not done so again. Not that I am still not over that one guy that I fell for, but that the experience taught me that even if we did not work out or end up together, it helped me to know that not all guys were not like the one I was with at 16. Even if that guy I fell for broke my heart eventually, that heartache came with a lot of lessons for me: I learned about what I wanted in a relationship, what kind of person I wanted to end up with, and how I wanted to be treated. I haven’t met that person I will end up with yet, but I believe in my heart that he is out there somewhere. We just haven’t found each other yet.


What exactly is my point? The point is that in terms of my physical scars, I could have chosen to accept weakness and waited for myself to deteriorate. I could have chosen not to go after my dreams and not to enjoy what life has to offer. That was an option that I didn’t take and I am better for it. With my mental scars, I can admit that the danger of falling into depression is still there, but I choose to fight it and I choose to turn to the people who care about me to help me to overcome it and get the help I need. As for my emotional scars, I choose to believe and hope instead of giving up on love. Again, it’s not to say that it’s easy, but that even during my low points, I choose to acknowledge what I feel if I promise to pick myself back up and try again the next day. 

What I am saying is that we have a choice. We can choose how we react to those things that happen to us that are beyond our control. We could wallow in negativity and allow it to make things worse, or we could face it and see how we move on from there with the people around us who are willing to help. Having that lifeline, that support is the most important thing. As difficult as it can be to ask for help because you are afraid to bring someone down, afraid to be disappointed and other similar fears, having people there to support you is very important. Depression will always make you feel alone. Your scars sometimes makes you feel that no one will understand you or be able to relate to you. That's not true. Find your people. They are out there. Those people will help see you through it. Mental health issues are not easily solved or fixable, but it helps a lot to have people who will be there to see you through them.

I may have been scarred by my experiences, but I am doing what I can to make sure those scars are reminders of who I really am: a survivor. Someone who has gone through these things and has survived. Someone who believes in paying it forward and being there for people who need me to be there for them as well. 

Stepping off my soapbox now. Hope what I said made sense.


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