Retrospective is everything

“Every five years or so I look back on my life and I have a good laugh” – Indigo Girls, Watershed

“Perspective is everything” – Aimee Mann, Invisible Ink

My friend Foxglove surprised me with a phone call one day. She’s a special ed teacher who deals with challenging kids all day and while going home she was thinking about how the parents of her students were going to manage over the weekend. This led to thinking about parents and parenting and how difficult it was to be “on call” 24/7, and her various friends who were now parents.

Gusto ko lang sabihing ang galing mo!” (I just wanted to let you know that you are awesome!), she had said, and when I asked where this was coming from she went into a discussion of Katie and me and all we’ve been through and just that she was happy about where we are and what we’ve become. “Biruin mo, a few years ago kung san san lang kayo nakikitira tapos ngayon.. basta ang galing mo!” (A few years ago, you lived from friend to friend and now…you’re just great!). Thanks Foxglove!

My friends have always been encouraging, and are the type to freely give a kind word. But lately, these affirmations have been resonating. It’s always pleasant to hear and gives me a certain high to be told I’m a good friend/listener/mother, and that someone believes in me especially from people who know our story. But for some reason, I feel I am really only hearing and believing this now that the shitstorm we went through is over.

The thing about difficult situations is that it is hard to find their value while you are in it. Five years ago, I didn’t think I was a good person– I was dragging my almost 2 year old from couch to couch, scrounging for food money, wallowing in debt and self pity and all I could think about was how to get to the next day and that I would have to do it all over again. I felt I was being unjustly punished. I felt bitter and that life would never be the same. I felt hopeless and that I would never be happy again. More days than not I contemplated “the end” and the relief that ceasing to exist would bring. I prayed I wouldn’t wake up. I prayed my ex would be struck by lightning. I prayed one day that God would stop hating me.

Dark days indeed.

During these days my therapist would tell me to focus on what I was doing as accomplishments. I was navigating a system foreign to me, as best as I could. That I was in an temporarily unpleasant situation but was doing extraordinary things. That I was doing the right things: getting help for depression and trying to get our life on track. That time would bring healing and that someday I would look back at all of this in awe.

Just as the newborn days are a haze of sleep deprived never ending hours where much happened and little is remembered, so are my dark days. We survived with the help of many, but also (as bestie Maya often reminds me) through my sheer determination and stubbornness. Now, 5 years later, I feel vindicated, validated and strong. Above all, I feel more human: more able to accept my mistakes and more likely to reach out to someone else who might be in the middle of their own dark days.

This is not the last shitstorm. Things won’t be smooth sailing forever. But retrospective is teaching me that life isn’t crummy all the time. And that somehow you become a better person because of what you’ve endured.

Handy Sunday

I have to admit it: my housekeeping skills are disappointing. In fact one of my life upgrades this year was regular housecleaning. Right now my biggest problem at home is a mountain. Literally.
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Katie says: I don’t want to be in this picture!

By the way, all this laundry is clean. The main reason why it hasn’t been put away is this: 20130721-181412.jpg
I love Ikea. Most of our furniture is sourced from there whether bought directly or second hand on Craigslist . I love Ikea so much that I refer to the furniture by its name in the catalog that has a semi permanent place in the bathroom for reading and browsing purposes. The above is a representative picture of the interior of my 6-drawer Malm dresser which I bought for $40 from a desperate-because-I-have-to-vacate-my-apartment-by-midnight student. Katie’s clothes are in a similar dresser with have the same sagging phenomenon.

Fortunately, this problem is a pretty easy fix (not duct tape, although I had already tried that). About 3-4 months ago, I got some little plastic parts (free when you ask) meant to go under the bottoms to support the now saggy shelf with the full intention installing them immediately. In the meantime, my (clean) laundry has reached new heights. I was pretty proud of myself for figuring out to rotate the shelf part of the drawer so the saggy part goes in the front where there is more support. After the first 2 drawers (there were 7 that needed refurbishing), I kind of knew what I was doing. With a Philips and straight screwdriver, a moderate amount of swearing, and some help from little hands, our clothes receptacles are good as new.
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My next projects: the supporting metal rails under my bed and putting together a Bjursta table await. Meanwhile, planning to have a GoT marathon while folding and putting away.