I’d be lying if I’d tell you that I knew how to start this post.
I started dozens of introductions but I needed to take a shower first to wash away the self-doubt that started to buzz around me like a tiny mosquito motivated to destroy my peace and the confidence I have been trying to regain.
I had thoughts that I already forgot how to draft an article after this break and three years into proudly calling myself a blogger.
“You lost weight.”
“How many kilos have you lost?”
“What diet do you do now?”
Mind you. I don’t follow any strict diet nor do any hardcore workout. I just started forcing myself to love myself the best possible way I can imagine.
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I have not published any article and podcast episode since April after I have taken my detox seriously. I purged a lot of things in my life again in order to honour my healing journey.
What I love about this life is that everyday might look the same yet everything can be different. We can always call every day our day 1.
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My healing became my full time job since March (actually since May 2020) that I promised myself that I’d do everything in my power to end a really dark chapter in my life and it is easier to say than to actually do it.
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It wasn’t just social media that I refused to touch. Later on, a break from my smartphone too. I also did juicing to cleanse my entire system. I also convinced myself to take a break from my blog and podcast until I feel more like my old creative self again.
“Reset,Refocus,Readjust,Restart– As Many Times As You Need To”
The Detox Trigger
In March, I started feeling like life was drifting me somewhere again. Where should I go and live next? What should I do with my life? What should I start learning?
These were the questions that felt needed my urgent answers whenever I’d go for my daily walks.
I couldn’t just ignore them. My life depended on it. My future depended on it. How will I spend the rest of my life?
I needed to audit my life again. I am tired of having no roots.
Read also: 10 Things That Changed Since I Lived Abroad.
When I started healing on the deepest level I could go, I realized, I didn’t really want to be a travel blogger or a digital nomad. I was just craving for a safe place where I can unpack my bags and call home and it doesn’t matter if I already have a blog that can already make that once an impossible dream come true.
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The concept of self-love and healing still weren’t as clear to me until I started looking after an old lady with mild dementia who was very hard to handle.
The good thing about looking after an old lady is that I need not do anything with urgency of course except if there is emergency. I need not jump from task to task and not remember what I did that time.
But most days, I could take my time cooking for her, attending to her needs and she’d actually call my attention if my swift young energy was making her feel dizzy. It taught me to be more present and more mindful.
Spending time with old people allowed me to have a glimpse at my future. When she naps, I had the time to catch my breath and ask myself how do I want my future to look like? This stint has allowed me to have every aspect of my life checked and see if they are still serving me and making me live a life true to myself.
I noticed, the more I heal, the less that I feel that I need to always work on my blog. What will I actually do from then on?
I realized that every person I meet now is meant to teach me something, trigger something in me that needs healing or discover more things about myself.
Our daily conversations in the few months that I spent helping her with her daily needs and the nights I slept over have turned to just be like therapy sessions where she shared everything about her that she could still remember.
In my head, I questioned her dementia but I never asked questions that would make her agitated, aggressive and violent like how she’d normally behave even without these questions or if she’s left alone. I allowed her to talk until her body felt tired enough to sleep. This meant less physical effort on my part.
Our talks made me realized that I don’t want to grow old not loving myself enough that I’d be bothered by my own company if I have the chance to be old.
Here I understood the lesson about detachment and how grateful I am that when I became a slave for my depression that I also counted all the things that I am grateful for until it became a habit and until it helped me reframe my mind.
I patiently lent her my ears as she unpacked the emotional baggages she’s still carrying at her age which I strongly believe she shouldn’t be any more if she was able to apply all the theories she must have gotten from all the spiritual books she has at home.
Read also: 10 Books That Dramatically Changed My Life.
She showed me that knowing the theories is far different from applying them.
She spoke of her pain. The pain that she couldn’t let go. Of the people and herself that she couldn’t forgive. Of childhood trauma she was not able to heal, herself that she failed to love, the anger and frustration that she kept on projecting to other people no wonder no one stayed. Her dementia made her forget things but not her pain and how they seem to always occupy her mind. Worst? She has all the time in the world to play and replay them in her head all day everyday.
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When looking after her started becoming a threat to my peace, I need not choose between my mental health and money. There were more questions about myself and my life that I needed to answer. I bid the stint goodbye. Hence,the start of my full time home retreat program and detox.
Blog and podcast pause
Who am I if I am not writing, creating social media content, designing art cards and graphics and editing podcast audio? Who am I when I am naked in the shower, alone at home, out walking in nature or not reading, learning and finding new books to read and new stuff to master? Who am I detached from all the other things? I suddenly have new questions to answer.
I was able to handle a breakup but not the fact that I wouldn’t create anything. Creating something whether a journal entry, a flat-lay for Instagram, an art card, a Pinterest pin or trying to bake something that reminds me of home has made me endure all the pain that my principles in life have given me.
But without doing all these, my hands felt useless. My brain seemed not working yet it felt like it’s overworked. I didn’t like this way of life but I know so well that if I refuse to do it, the more suffering it gives me. This is my calling and pretending that I don’t hear it only makes my life miserable. This moment I realized that I need to surrender even if I am not very happy to romanticize every experience in my life.
I didn’t just drop social media and creating for it, I also forced myself not to touch my blog, my podcast and my laptop and I am very proud of myself for winning it.
The first three days made me feel deeply for anyone who had addiction and trying to stop. This was how I felt when I was quitting smoking or probably even worse. My brain was looking for it. In between whatever I was doing and every time stress or boredom creeps in, I must light one.
Same with my blog and podcast. Every time an idea or inspiration hits, I must grab a pen and a paper or turn my laptop on so that I could catch the thought and turn it into a full blown article, podcast episode or create graphics for social. It was like trying to ignore a crying baby.
I know I have been using social media as a producer but I was addicted to work and I needed a rehab. My ex was right. But what can I do? I wanted other kind of life and I just couldn’t stop that part of my brain wired to overthink about every little thing, overfear something and overanalize everything.
I suddenly had so much time that I didn’t seem to know how to use it. Ugly thoughts started coming in and now I get to understand my younger impulsive self more. I wasn’t used to waiting and sitting. I always had the need to do something even if that meant sabotaging myself and destroying my own life and happiness.
Allergic to being
Why am I like this? Whose voice is this in my head that doesn’t seem to allow me to enjoy not doing anything and also make time for resting? My upbringing. I’d be called an ungrateful blaming daughter again for this but it is my cultural upbringing that I must always be doing something to be accepted and validated.
It’s hard to fight that anxiety coming from not being productive and not looking for something that will help me improve, evolve or anything tangible that will make someone believe that I am busting my as* working. It was also hard not to see myself as worthless. I didn’t realize how much of my worth was solely dependent to the amount of tasks I do, outputs I produce and how tired I am. And how much I wanted to defend myself when someone tells me they’re tired because they’re working all the time.
They didn’t mean to make me feel how much of an imbecile I was. It was just me and my issues not just with self-worth but also how I didn’t want to feel that I was wasting time by not doing anything to achieve what I said I wanted to.
Sure, that triggers me but as I heal, I am observing myself better as well as all the things that get reaction from me. If something made me react harshly or feel bad, I am learning to ask myself right away why such troubled me and how can I heal that so it will not have power over me any more.
It never occurred to me that I was working on myself full time and among all of the odd jobs I have tried to survive, it’s the most tiring and most lucrative full time job anyone could take on.
Life without my smartphone
I thought staring at blank pages to come up with a 1000-word article was the hardest that I have been doing in my entire creative life but actually, it was living without my phone.
I have been living my passion since I launched this blog three years ago and without this blog, this full time job of healing would have not been possible.
A year ago, I found myself in the most painful part of this new life.
And I have talked about this on the podcast.
This picture was taken exactly a year ago.
I was broken, broken-hearted, overfed, overworked, burnt out, stressed, burnout, worried about money, busy with two blogs, the e-book I wanted to sell on the blog and the book I always wanted to finish that I didn’t notice that I was gaining and gaining weight even if I wasn’t eating like an aspiring Sumo wrestler.
It’s only in June that I realized how stress triggers my hormones and even if I wasn’t eating that much, I was gaining so much weight.
I was so focused on my personal growth, on growing my brand and branching out that I didn’t realize how much I have been neglecting my body and how much that working so much to change my life also made my then boyfriend also felt neglected that lead us apart.
What will I do? I made so much poor life decisions that I was so focused on my hustle and I assumed we were okay. I made myself believe that we were okay. I thought that he saw my hard-work as one of the good qualities I possess that would actually make him want to continue fighting to keep me.
I was wrong to make him proud of me and love me by working all the time. Why did I make myself only worthy of love if I was working and achieving so much? My inner child felt that if I do, I’d be okay.
I was wrong to make him my motivation, my rock, my strength and source of inspiration. I was wrong about so many things not just about him but also about so many things about love, relationship and basically about a lot of things in life that I now understand why the Universe shook my world again, why my world fell again and why I must take some time off to do another life assessment again.
Eating my heart out
After the breakup, it was when I ate my heart out. Eating was the only thing that gave me comfort. I gained even more weight that I couldn’t look at myself at the mirror and even if I was too ashamed and guilty for buying bigger clothes, I needed to or else, I’d be a more horrible sight. More horrible than I felt.
My self-loathe grew again but because it’s so easy to control what to post on social and our phone’s front cameras are designed to make us look good, I at least had the choice not to show the body that my depression, my hustle and my heartbreak gave me.
Not that I still cared so much about my looks like my younger years. Also, when I was in such pain, my only goal was just to be able to get up and go out of the house again. To basically just find reasons to want to live again even a huge part of me died. Again. I saw cooking real and nutritious food, eating, shopping, cleaning the house, sleeping, washing the dishes and my clothes as unproductive things to do.
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I just wanted to change my life and stop hurting as quickly as possible.
I was never lazy yet these little mundane tasks made me hate a lot of things in my life.
I was miserable but even if it’s very selfish of me to say this, I could only be thankful that the world stopped so I could hide and lick all my wounds.
I became more disconnected from my body.
I was just existing. I was not living.
I was on auto pilot again.
Life, I thought, was passing me by and it took me so long to notice it.
What am I doing?
Why do I seem to point everything to the breakup when it’s just one of the things that doesn’t align well in my life? I know so well that I was not yet ready to be in a relationship yet, I couldn’t stop myself from wanting to be with a man to make me feel that I was doing okay when it fact,staying single until I reached the point where I can say that I was mentally, emotionally, financially and spiritually ready to be in a relationship again is far way better.
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This home retreat program I designed for myself made me realize that no man owes me my happiness. It is all up to me to give me what I need and what I want.
I can’t believe that I will say this but for the first time in my adult years, I need not a man to make me feel that nothing is wrong with me and that I am okay and acceptable.
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All the men that I have dated were the reflection of my current mental state and I have attracted them because it was the vibe that I was sending off and energies don’t lie.
My greatest fear was that this pandemic ends that I wasn’t able to accomplish my mission of closing the chapter of my life where I lived so much in the past and worshipped my fears.
Social media detox
I used social media a lot but from a producer’s point of view and to promote my blog.
Not just that but also following people I look up to for inspiration and motivation.
I enjoyed scrolling because of that reason but I realized that though I was already seeing a lot of motivational stuff, it was adding to my pressure and stress.
These motivational content I was consuming was adding to the pressure and stress that I was already feeling.
Because they’re all about hustling, I had that feeling that though I already know that I was taking my time off to slow down, it wasn’t what I was feeling and these motivational pieces weren’t what I needed.
The first day of waking up without my daily serving of my motivational prompts felt odd. It was like my morning wasn’t complete though I already did my morning routine.
The first week was hell but I eventually started noticing that I was actually sleeping faster and longer because the light from my phone wasn’t giving me that distracted feeling.
This made me realize how addicted I was not just with hustling but also with my smartphone and that need to feel that I wasn’t missing out on anything personal growth, on being an entrepreneur, creative and everything that I wanted to build and become. It wasn’t also healthy and I can now understand my ex boyfriend when he said that I was just working all the time.
On my third week of smartphone detox, I already got used to just using my phone as an alarm clock. I would only turn the internet on for an hour and it became lesser and lesser that until now, I can go out for my morning walks without my smartphone. As my language preparation course started, I have met two ladies who didn’t understand fully why I was rarely online in this wild internet days. I also didn’t feel the need to explain further.
The Power of Small Daily Habits
September 2020 came, four months after the breakup and with the cooler weather, I started to walk everyday even for just few minutes. It was terrible. I couldn’t even last for 15 minutes. I was cursing more and panting harder. I’d still eat a lot but felt guilty. Guilt, turned out, was very bad not just for digestion but most especially for metabolism.
I still went on walking everyday and every week, increasing the number of minutes of my daily walk. I was still hurt. There were still questions in head. I was still living in the past.
I didn’t do hardcore diet and workout. I made a promise that I will take my time and I will force myself to love myself as hard as I could. I have heard and always read that the love that I am begging from other people to give me is the love that I must give myself.
It was frustrating. I felt like a loser for attempting to give myself this love because it meant that nobody wanted to give this love to me. But I also realized that maybe no one was giving me that because they sensed that somehow, I didn’t have that much regard and respect for myself that I was willing to settle for even the smallest amount of leftover love given to me. I accepted it even if I know that I was giving more hoping that they will realize one day that I also deserve to be loved too the way I wanted to. They smelled my desperation for love and affection. I couldn’t blame them if they thought it was creepy. It still gives me the creeps until today.
I created better morning and evening routines and part of them now is detox smoothies. I thought it was just taste fatigue but actually, I felt that the time I can spend in cooking healthy meals could be used in hustling and doing more productive things that will help me reach my destination faster. But I realized that reaching my destination sickly and without enough energy doesn’t sound so enticing.
I started making better food choices and substitutes that in April, I have purchased a smoothie maker to take this life detox a notch higher by replacing my morning and evening meals by green detox smoothies.
Making them was a pain not to mention that I don’t have a car so carrying all the fruits and vegetables when I go to the supermarkets was also not a lovely thing. I also want to skip all the peeling, all the mess, all the trash, all the cleaning and the fact that fresh produce get spoiled fast compared to the canned goods and boxed pizza I used to buy and loved to eat but also made me feel more tired, sluggish and moody.
I told myself that if I want to feel the best version of myself, I must also eat food that will make me be at my best. I know so well which food I should be eating but laziness has always stopped me no wonder why I gained so much weight.
A month after I started taking my detox smoothies, I have noticed that my cravings for chips and anything with sugar just stopped and that I now want to eat food that make me feel good. I am now walking longer and even running too.
I also noticed that my clothes started fitting better and that I was actually sleeping better. I noticed I had more energy that even if I have declared that morning workout wasn’t really for me, with my detox smoothies and all the gut friendly food I am now consuming, I can now do sports even in the morning.
I started reading about the benefits of these smoothies and how I can make my smoothies less boring. I have also started reading about gut health, its connection to mental health and weight loss began making more conscious decisions.
Two months into the detox, I have noticed that I need not remind myself to do it because it has already started becoming a habit. Not only that, I love how I feel when I start my day with my smoothies that I also started to replacing most of my meals now with foods that are easy to digest.
I don’t restrict myself. I eat whatever I want and how much I want but because I am now better at listening at what my body says, I can now hear and feel better when my body has enough fuel to help me get through the day and my activities.
My mood has improved too. I have also noticed that something in me changed too. I am even attacking my own anxiety attacks. It’s still me but it’s not me any more but I feel like there’s a part of the old me that’s coming back but I am not like that any more. Quite confusing but a really good confusion.
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I want to enjoy life more now. I am allowing myself to sleep more now too to make up for all those years that I feel like I have deprived myself of the rest and relaxation that I needed just to survive.
Change of Reading Materials
I didn’t read so much during this time even if I wanted to. I also stopped myself from looking for new books to read. Anything that overwhelms me needed to stop and I can’t express my gratitude enough for this blog for allowing me to do whatever my soul wished to do.
With all the stores and restaurants closed, I’ve got nowhere to go and nothing to do. Having nowhere to go to didn’t bother me as much as not having anything to do but deal with myself, my thoughts and how they make me feel.
I dropped my personal development books and started reading spiritual books because all of a sudden, personal development books only made me feel more stressed and pressured. Spiritual books made me realize that personal growth books contradict with spiritual books. Personal growth books and all that motivational shit gave me the feeling that I must always rush and be hustling all the time despite exhaustion just to succeed. They made me feel so guilty about resting and enjoy being that I bought a book that will actually teach me to stop and smell the flowers.
These spiritual books are making my slide into the new chapter smoother.
Cutting my hair short
On my second month of detox, I suddenly felt a jolt of excitement and something that wanted to burst inside me but couldn’t understand it. I felt that I suddenly want to cut my hair. The thought thrilled and scared me at the same time. The salons were still close but I have been trimming my hair since 2005 and never allowed anyone to touch my hair.
When I couldn’t sit still any more,I took a pair of scissors and started cutting my waist-length curly hair inch by inch. I never thought about it because they’re always frizzy when kept short but I told myself Fuck it! If they would not behave nor look good on me, I would shave them all off. They will grow back for sure. I knew my lessons on letting go has been learned and I have conquered my fears of not looking all polished and perfect.
If they don’t want to behave then so be it. I am tired of beating myself up for not appearing flawless and so put together just to be accepted. I am tired of hiding behind my hair. I am accepting myself and every part of me wholeheartedly.
Healing is expensive
I would probably feel a little better if I am doing this and there’s wad of cash in my bank account. Probably. Or probably not because if I had that fat back account, I’d probably be doing other things and not not doing anything.
Despite all of these unpleasant thoughts and feelings towards myself, I continued to occupy myself with myself, being still, enjoying silence, listening to my breaths, moving, shopping for fruits and vegetables, fasting, doing detox and cleansing, journaling and just meeting the younger version of myself that needed my attention, love and affection.
I kept on doing this every single day that after two months, I started feeling something strange but also really very good.
There’s a box of my old clothes that I saved when I decluttered and gave my stuff away. These were my most favorite items that made me feel really good when I wore them. They didn’t fit anymore but I still kept them even if I wasn’t sure if I could wear them again or if I’d find that motivation to return to the hardcore workout and dieting I once knew.
Two months into this full blown detox, I opened this box and I couldn’t believe it when some of my old favorites fit again when all I did was to love myself a little harder.
I suddenly don’t want to be a minimalist any more.
I want to see and enjoy nice things around me.
I want to wear nice clothes like my old young self before I left my job and my life and before people accusing me of being crazy for following my heart.
I suddenly realized that I want to live again and by that, enjoy every little thing I can now and not later. I can my old self laughing louder and smiling more often. I even installed and finally gave Tiktok a try and it’s fun. I am enjoying it. It’s good for my mental health.
Now I understand my ex boyfriend and why he was doing what he was doing trying to enjoy life. Life must not be so complicated.
He probably couldn’t tell me that he’s just enjoying the fruit of his labour and if he did and could, I probably wouldn’t have understood it then because I was blinded by my sorrows and my constant need to work.
These three months, I spent more than I have had in the last five years but I am not calling them expense but rather investment and rewards to my hard-work. I have invested and been investing in myself and whatever I have sacrificed for wouldn’t make sense if I wouldn’t go all out for myself. What will be the point of starting and struggling if I would just come back without actually having what I wanted when I went out to find it?
The little big things
Supermarkets and stores that sell man’s basic needs were the only ones open but I looked forward to the simple joy of shopping vegetables and fruits. I never saw that I’d actually feel immense joy while choosing fruits and vegetables, putting them in my cart, paying for them, imagining the recipes I could cook with them and the walk carrying them home.
I never saw that I’d be looking forward to making smoothies and cooking medicine for food. I never saw myself researching health benefits of every fruit and vegetable I’d buy and how they’d make me feel.
My new weight lost actually is just due to dropping everything that weighs and slows me down. I am celebrating this lost. I have not yet achieved my target weight but I already feel successful because of the peace that I feel. And actually, I have no more target weight. It is now the wish to continue taking care of my body, my soul, my brain and my heart and to always nourish it with the nutrients they need to be able to show up every moment fully and to enjoy each “now” without the fear of the future knowing that doing my best now will make sure that the future will be different and better.
Entering this new phase of my journey that is more spiritual than personal growth made me understand that the bigger the damage,the greater the challenge or obstacle is, the more profound lessons I am about to learn. That the more hardships I face, the more wisdom I will take with me that will equip me for the next level of the journey I started even if I didn’t remember asking for it.
The Universe knows
The Universe knows this and will keep on giving me challenges to prepare me for the life I have wished to have even if I still sometimes have the tendency to play a victim and ask why things happen to me while I’m on it.
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Everything that is happening is meant to take me to where my soul is intended to be even if I am not aware that the pain and suffering is a part of it.
I didn’t know I will say this but the more challenges I face, the more alive I feel because I know that I am growing and evolving to a better version of myself. This stopped me from feeling stuck especially during the pandemic.
Everything looks different but everything feels different. It amazes me that everyday looks the same yet different because of the thoughts, emotions, and feelings that I have the chance to work on.
The more that I go deeper into understanding myself, naming all my emotions and triggers, the easier it is to heal my traumas, face my fears and deal with other people. This gives me patience and the challenge is to also give other people the patience that I am giving myself knowing how frustrating it is to not be able to find the right words to express emotions.
And taking the time to fully heal has prepared me to start a new adventure. I stopped asking “Dear Life, where are we going?” instead, “Dear Life, I am excited!”