1 Year Without Tatay – A Year Of Change & Lessons

It’s crazy to think that it’s been 1 year since Tatay passed away. One thing I’ve always known is the fact that time waits for no one. Whether we like it or not, life moves on with or without our consent. How is it possible for time to move so fast yet so dreadfully slow at the same time? I’ve always felt this way, but especially this year. So much has changed, is changing, and will change. I’m notorious for resisting change at all cost, but this 1 year without Tatay has forced me to accept the things I know I can’t change. These last 12 months without our Tatay Jack has had its ups and downs to say the least. The theme of the last 12 months have been: CHANGE.

For the first few months after Tatay passed, I had no dreams of him whatsoever. This may seem like a “…okay, and?” moment for others, but for me it was a big deal. I consider myself a very intuitive person, and have always had vivid dreams that I would read as signs either from the universe, loved ones from the other side, or things of that nature. I’ve always felt that I have a third eye to some degree. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve always looked for the deeper meaning in things and always believed in signs. I’ve always believed that those we love are still around us after they pass. For me, I’ve always got those messages through dreams. So I was devastated when weeks had passed by with no dreams from Tatay. I was pretty bummed that he wasn’t visiting me because I desperately wanted a sign.

It took a few weeks, maybe even a couple of months, for Tatay to start appearing in my dreams. When that moment happened, I was so relieved and felt an overwhelming sense of comfort and peace. If he wasn’t with me in the physical world, at least I could still see him again in my dreams. It’s a comforting feeling to know that he still lives on in my subconscious memory. Every time I have a dream of Tatay the night before, I wake up feeling content with life. Losing Tatay is the void that I will forever be trying to fill for the rest of my life, and dreaming of him makes this change without him a little easier.

Even though it took a while for me to dream of Tatay, once it finally happened, it happened consistently. Some I remember vividly, and some very faintly. You know that feeling when you know someone was in your dream the night before but you can’t really remember all the details? You just remember envisioning their face and wishing that they were there and it were real life. For a while though, I had a few regular occurring dreams of Tatay. This frequent dream, I admit, is a bit morbid, and I would wake up feeling like I wanted to cry each time.

I dreamt this regular occurring dream over the span of a couple months. I wouldn’t dream of it everyday, but I can think of 3 or 4 different dreams where basically the same thing happens. In these dreams, I would be trying to convince people that Tatay was still alive, that it was all a mistake, and if they’d only listen to me, he’d be back with us. Like I said, these dreams were pretty morbid, but they always ended the same way. The dreams differed in small ways, but it was always the same gist. It was always that Tatay’s death was a misunderstanding, and he was in fact, still alive. In some of my dreams, we were even at the cemetery, the digger present to reopen his grave. Sometimes, it would even be me digging his plot, anxiously trying to prove that Tatay was buried alive. I had no doubt in my mind that he would come out, living, breathing, and perfectly well – a huge misunderstanding that we could easily fix.

I would wake up sad as fuck, wishing that that was actually our reality. But I knew it wasn’t, and it never could be true. I had this dream in different forms for a long time. One day, I casually told my sisters about my morbid occurring dream of Tatay. My older sister said, “That’s your subconscious not coming to terms that he passed away.” And I knew that was the case. It took such a long time for me to process and come to terms with the fact that Tatay passed, how he passed away when the state of the world was in shambles and had many restrictions, and feeling robbed of more time. It took a couple months for me to accept all of these things, and I guess it took my subconscious even longer to register in my brain that he was actually gone. For me, my dreams are always revealing what I push deep down and avoid. Just a few months ago, the reoccurring dreams of me thinking that Tatay was buried alive stopped. I guess it finally sank in, 1 year later.

I will admit though, there have been plenty of times where I simply forget that Tatay has passed on, even 1 year later. It’s crazy because I think about him all the time – he’s one of the first things I think of when I wake up, and always on my mind before I go to sleep. But there are still times when I enter his home and think that I’ll see him. There are still times I think we’re going to get him bread and drop it off for a quick visit. There are still times I think I’m going to be welcomed by the smell of Vick’s and hear his cane coming down the stairs. My head has adjusted to the fact that Tatay has passed on, but my heart still needs to get used to this new reality. Different places, smells, and times of the year bring me back to different memories of Tatay.

These last 12 months have brought on so much change for the Cabillo family. Extended family are starting to relocate elsewhere, and it’s a change we all have to get used to. For all my life, the core of the family has been in the Bay Area. Tatay was in the Bay Area with 5 of his 7 children. We got so used to family coming in from Vegas for Tatay’s birthdays, Thanksgivings, and Christmas’, that it’s unfathomable to think that that’s most likely a thing of the past now. Things were bound to change – our family is forever growing – but we didn’t expect it to all happen so quickly.

I have never been one that conforms to change easily. I’m such a nostalgic person by nature – I’m big on family traditions, family time, and preserving things from the past. So when 1 by 1 we got news that family planned to relocate elsewhere, of course it made me sad. Because that meant that our family dynamic would soon be changing – everyone scattered around and no longer a short car ride away. But I’m aware that nothing stays the same forever, and if Tatay’s passing has taught me anything, it’s that. Change is inevitable, it’s a part of life, and it can be really sad. But in the midst of all this change, I’ve learned that it’s how you adapt to change that really matters. Feel those feelings and do whatever it takes to come to terms with the changes at hand, but pivot after and learn how to adjust.

Like I said many times, Tatay’s passing made me realize what and who is most important to me in this life. With Tatay gone, family moving away, and everyone doing their own thing, the family is well aware that we need to make a conscious effort to prioritize making time for each other to keep our family close. Effort and time is something that money can’t buy. The last 12 months without Tatay has taught me to be more mindful of being present for events for those I care about, even if that means expensive Ubers, plane tickets, and taking time off of work. Because at the end of the day, you can always make more money, but you can’t buy more time. Show people you care about them now, while you still can.

It has been a long, yet short, 1 year without our Tatay. One of my worst fears is that with time, I will forget tidbits of Tatay. From here on out, more and more time will pass. I had a hard time accepting the fact that my children will never meet their Tatay Jack in the physical world. But one thing’s for sure, my kids will hear many stories of their funny, gentle yet aggressive, animal-loving, likes things a certain way, Ray-Ban wearing Tatay Jack. 1 year ago, we lost such an important person in our family. But Tatay’s death has brought us closer in many ways. For my cousins and I, it definitely strengthened our desire to make the effort to keep our family close.

No matter what changes happen or where we all move to, home will always be where Tatay is.

POV: 2017

As I stood there impatiently, for what seemed like a 10 minute long wait to fill up my Hydro Flask, I thought back to what my reality was like almost 5 years ago. Even writing the title of this post: “POV: 2017,” I had a “damn” moment, realizing that 2017 was literally 5 years ago. I can’t wrap my head around that. In my mind, it still feel like I’m in the year 2019. 2020 at the very latest. I can’t believe such a significant amount of time has passed.

Anyways, there I was, standing in my kitchen on a Thursday night, thinking of all the work I had to do the next morning. The preschool is nearing the end of the school year. That means a lot of things need to get done to close out this school year before we shut down and we go on summer break. I thought about my current position at work and where I stand in my life in general. Even though the next day’s stresses were weighing heavy on me already, I thought back to a time where I couldn’t imagine being where I’m at now.

I thought back to 2017, and damn, it took me back. I had flashbacks of me sitting in that gray chair leaned against the wall of the Kid’s Club at the gym. Those 4 walls of Fitness 19 were my life from 2014 – 2017, and I ain’t talking about working out. I spent 4 hours a day in that little room, I’ll never forget that blue carpet with the colorful crayon pattern that, for some reason, went halfway up the walls. I had made that space my own – bringing in my own movies for the kids to watch so I’m not watching Frozen for 4 hours straight, even though that’s what ended up happening anyways. To this day, I can probably recite every word to Frozen, Tangled, Beauty and the Beast, and some episodes of Super Mario Brothers.

I had great memories working at the Kid’s Club – I took care of some awesome kids, befriended their parents, and had a lot of deep talks in that small room with close friends, new friends, and members of the gym. It was also the room my friends and I used to workout in when we felt insecure about being judged by the regular gym goers. I’ve had countless phone interviews for articles I was writing for Xpress Magazine where I sat crisscross apple sauce on that nasty ass ABC mat. It was the job I had while I was in community college, and for a while when I was at SF State. It was the job that got me by, and even though it just barely got me by, given that I lived at home and had no real bills to pay, it was a great first job to have. It reminded me of simpler times, where all I cared about was my social life, school, and having fun.

But clearly, working at the Kid’s Club at my local gym was not my dream job or end goal. When it got slow at the Kid’s Club, I have vivid memories of staring off into space, completely zoning out. Don’t worry – the kids were fine – probably watching a movie or playing amongst each other. But with 4 hours to basically sit and watch kids who have made friendships with one another and waste no time chopping it up amongst each other, it left a lot of time for me to sit and think. At times it felt like that room was my mental prison. I was always thinking of what the next step of anything would be – the next stage of life, the next stage of school, the next stage of my career, the next stage in my relationship, the future as a whole.

Now, I know I said the job reminds me of simpler times, which is true. However, that’s me in the present looking back at it now. Back then, I was equally as stressed out, just in different ways. The pressure of school deadlines, maintaining my grades, a social life, all while being broke as shit was no walk in the park. Looking at it now, I was just at the threshold of adulting, and if current me could give 2017 year old me any advice, I’d say that the current stresses in life would just be replaced with different ones – enjoy the mother fucking process. But 2017 me was 22, in the thick of my school career and on the cusp of trying to get my life together.

I enjoyed my job, but at the same time I knew I wanted more. Obviously working minimum wage as a glorified baby sitter wasn’t my dream job, but I knew there were other ways for me to feel more fulfilled for the time being until I graduated and figured out what to do with me life. 2017 Marinelle felt uninspired, lost, and burnt out working at the Kid’s Club. I felt the anxiety from deep within my soul when thinking about the future. I would sit on that gray chair, staring off into space, and literally wait for time to pass by.

One day, with the usual 3 favorite movie rotation, I managed to sneak in a movie other than Frozen. To my satisfaction, Tangled was playing in the background as I did my routine – kids comes, they play with each other and ignore me, I put on a movie for background noise, and I watch and manage the kids as my mind wanders. I can distinctly remember the next steps of my relationship was heaviest on my mind. At the time, Christian was going from living situation to living situation, staying in the Bay Area solely for our relationship. All first generation Filipino Americans can relate – moving out is a big deal. It’s not just financial independence and venturing out into the real world, it’s also nerve wrecking and a drama-filled topic to even bring up.

I knew the next steps in our relationship would be to move in together. But I was stressed as shit knowing that I was nowhere near financially able to do so. I wanted to do things the “right way,” and I was incredibly overwhelmed with the fact that we literally live in the most expensive area in the country. I felt like there was no “right way” to check all the boxes to appease everyone. I was stuck, emotionally exhausted, and I felt like my life was at a standstill. I dreamt of the day where I could say that everything building up until that moment was worth the struggle, the fight, the late night stress. I wanted more than anything to be done with school, start my writing career, and live a comfortable life. I had no idea how I would get to that point.

In the thick of all of these anxious thoughts, the song, “When Will My Life Begin,” started to play in the background of the Kid’s Club. I’m a singer – not the best out of the bunch, but that never stopped me. I sing because I like to, not because I think I actually have bars. So like any other day, I sang along to the lyrics. Usually, I would sing the background song while casually scrolling through my phone, not paying too much attention to the meaning and what I’m actually saying. This specific day though, the Tangled sound track hit a little different. Singing the words, “When will my life begin?” hit me. Damn, that’s deep. I felt that shit in my soul. I couldn’t relate more. That’s exactly how I felt in that exact moment in time. I remember daydreaming about having it all together and figured out in the future, looking back to this exact moment. That’s what I wanted so desperately – to know that it was going to get better and things were going to sort itself out eventually. And it did.

I stood there, my Hydro Flask just barely getting to the top, finally. And I remembered that I would’ve never guessed to be where I’m at now back then. I remembered that what I’m living and doing right now is exactly what I wanted just 5 years ago. Sometimes I need to take that step back to realize that even though I’m not exactly where I want to be in life, in my career, in XYZ… I’m still making progress in the right direction. That’s not always so apparent from day to day life, but when you see the picture, you see how far you’ve come. I need to appreciate that life happens in mysterious ways. I can only imagine where I’ll be 5 years from now when I think back to this moment – filling up my water bottle on a Thursday night in 2022.

Land of The Free (?)

Land of the free right? Yeah, that’s not what it seems.

Is this what they meant when they said American dreams?

Now, before anyone twists my words, let me make this clear:

I respect and appreciate the brave men and women who have ever served this nation.

But this poem is dedicated to those women who want, need, and can’t get that operation.

What about any of this is okay –

to not give a woman the right to choose at the end of the day?

Women all over the country lost that right.

The right to control your own body was gone over night.

First women’s rights, who else’s rights are next at bat?

Second class citizens, now what’s more American than that?

How the hell do you force a woman to have a baby she doesn’t want to keep?

Don’t tell me it’s for your own personal beliefs, cuz it’s really not that deep.

What you believe and choose should be completely up to you,

the government shouldn’t have a say in what you choose to do.

This is so sad, America is truly going back in time.

This is a violation of women’s rights, and that’s the real crime.

I can’t wrap my head around it, cuz this is truly an outrage,

that they’ll make you have a baby at any fucking age.

It doesn’t matter which side of the argument you stand,

someone else’s beliefs should never result in a country wide ban.

My heart breaks for women all around the nation,

that are finding themselves in the middle of this fucked up situation.

It doesn’t matter what the reason may be for a woman wanting an abortion,

they have twisted it into something that it’s not and blowing it way out of proportion.

The whole argument of when does life really start –

some say at the time of conception, when they’re actually born, or when there’s a beating heart.

Some also believe there’s a gray area, like in instances of rape, incest, or illness,

but the truth is, it’s none of anyone’s fucking business.

The reason alone shouldn’t dictate if it is right or wrong,

the right to choose should’ve been the precedent all along.

I honestly don’t even know why this topic is up for debate,

but it’s so controversial that they left it up to each individual state.

Wherever you stand, don’t force yourself onto others,

just like how the government shouldn’t force women to be mothers.

So are we really that free?

When the government has control over your body?

So go ahead, light those fireworks, celebrate, wear your red, white, and blue,

but all over America, there are tons of women who don’t know what to do.

While some will celebrate the 4th of July into the next morning,

just know a great deal of Americans are sitting back and mourning.

We are supposed to be America, the “land of the free”…

But that statement is only true to some fuckin’ degree…

The Smiling Photograph

My dad’s mom, Conching, passed away during childbirth over 55 years ago. At the time, my dad was about 5 years old. Tatay was left to care for 7 children, ages ranging from about 14 to 2. Like their ages, what each sibling remembers of Nanay Conching ranges as well. Some remember the day she passed away vividly, some remember bits and pieces of isolated moments, and some remember nothing at all. Because my dad and aunt were the 2 youngest siblings, they heavily relied on the memories of their older siblings to get an idea of what kind of person their mom was.

From what I have gathered throughout the years, my grandma was a very kind and religious woman. She was the eldest of her siblings, and had a very nurturing personality. Every new piece of information lit up my family’s faces. Each story, memory, and photograph was like striking gold. My cousins and I wanted to know more about the woman that left such an impact on everyone that knew her. We have all wondered what our family would be like had Nanay Conching and my Auntie Merlinda survived. We’d probably have more aunts and uncles, more cousins, and a way bigger family – which is hard to believe, given that our family is already pretty large.

Since Nanay Conching passed away so long ago, and at such a young age, there are only a handful of photos of her that we’ve seen. I personally have only seen a total of 4 photos of Nanay Conching: a solo photo of her in a traditional Filipino dress, the picture of her and Tatay on their wedding day, a photo of my great grandparents (her parents) and all of her siblings holding a painting of her after she passed, and her and my aunt’s tomb stones in the Philippines. These are the only photos that the family has to remember her by. I’m sure that there might be more photos in the Philippines in the albums of very distant family members, but these are the few gems the family’s aware of.

My family is known to have a big family “story time.” We all gather in the living room – you know it’s about to be story time just from the vibe. They turn off the TV, everyone grabs a seat nearby, and it becomes a family group discussion. This usually happens when family from out of state visits the Bay Area – it would routinely happen during Tatay’s birthdays. I don’t know when these family story times started becoming a thing, but they seem to be happening more often as us “kids” start to get older. We feel more comfortable to ask the adults more thought-provoking questions on how they were raised, what they remember, and what life was like immigrating to a new country right after their mother passed away.

Each story told, each point of view shared, each memory ingrained in my aunts, uncles, and dad’s pasts, helps us understand their upbringing and how it has personally effected them as parents, partners, and individuals. Because we know our loved ones’ pasts, it brings to light all the unspoken emotions that their generation couldn’t find the words to express properly. Understanding our family’s generational trauma has planted the seed of change in my cousins and I’s heads. For me, love is many things, one thing that love is is wanting to try to understand. Trying to understand means that you not only want to listen, but that you want them to feel heard. Attempting to understand other people’s pasts and lives brings healing for them, and can connect the pieces in your own mind about why they are the way they are.

I’ve heard many sides and point of views of the day my grandma passed away. Some details vary from sibling to sibling, as time sometimes clouds the memory. One thing that everyone could agree on – regardless of what they remembered and how old they were – was the fact that my grandma’s death put Tatay in a frenzy. He was left widowed with 7 children to care for. Tragedy brought my family closer together and made the stitching of their bond to each other that much tighter. Because they lost a parent so early on in their lives, they cherished Tatay that much more, regardless of how flawed and irritable he was.

Now that Tatay has passed on, a lot of change has happened in our family in the last year. A lot of family are moving out of the Bay Area – something that I never thought would happen in my lifetime. For some reason, I’ve always believed that my extended family on both sides would stay in the Bay Area for life. Looking back now, I know that’s pretty unreasonable, but when I think of “home” I think of the Bay Area. As family starts to branch out outside of California, I think it’s important to try to maintain the closeness and bond that we are all so used to.

A few months ago, we took a trip to visit family that recently moved out of state. It was an amazing experience to explore a state we’d probably never think to visit otherwise. It was hands down one of the best family trips I have ever been on. When entering a home I’ve never been to before, I love to look at all the pictures that are up in the house. I feel like the pictures that are up in someone’s house says a lot about them and what’s important to them. I made my way around my uncle’s living room, dining room, bedroom, and anywhere with pictures up.

I analyzed all of the photos in my uncle’s home, each tucked away in a frame, some big, some small. As I admired the collage frame hanging next to the front door, I noticed some faces that looked very familiar at the top right. It was a photo of Tatay and Nanay Conching on their wedding day. But this wasn’t the wedding photo we were all familiar with, this was one I’ve never seen before. There in front of me was a picture of both my grandparents smiling ear to ear. It dawned on me that this was the first time I’ve ever seen a photo of my grandma smiling.

I immediately took pictures of the photo and sent it my dad and aunt who couldn’t make the trip. They also shared that they have never seen the photo before either. My aunt texted me, thanking me for sending it her way. Being the youngest sibling, my aunt was only 2 years old when her mom passed away. Her and my dad have no memories of their own of their mother. All that they have gathered about their mom has been stories passed down from their older siblings. She shared that this was the first picture she ever saw of her mom smiling, and it brought tears to her eyes. There is nothing that can fill the void of losing a parent so young, but a picture of both of her parents smiling was the next best thing for my aunt. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but this picture left us speechless.

It was a nice surprise to discover that photo that day. Especially with so much change happening, it’s nice to get those signs from the other side that they’re still around. Or at the very least, a reminder of the people that started it all. Sometimes discovering a photo that you never knew existed could really move you in ways that are unexplainable. For me, the smiling photograph filled my heart in many ways.

Summer Gon’ Get Whatever Body I Give It

Summer gon’ get whatever body I give it.

That’s a mother fucking note to self I need to internalize.

Please listen up, if you find that this applies…

Body positive, but the inner work is never done,

I say this because I hit an all time low in 2021.

My Tatay died, the pandemic continued, Tita-Lola died too.

My heart was broken, but I still had to find a way to get through.

I have always been a foodie, so much more in 2021 and now,

I had to pick myself back up and didn’t know exactly how.

I was depressed as shit, not really in the mood,

the only thing I found comfort in was eating bomb ass food.

Yeah, I’ll admit it, there is no shame in what I said.

Eating made me happy, it was 1 of the few things I didn’t dread.

On top of losing loved ones, the pandemic bloomed fear and uncertainty.

I feared I couldn’t get out of the funk I was in, and that’s what worried me.

I found joy in food, because it reminded me of better days –

of get togethers, pre-pandemic, family events, and many other ways.

If eating is what I enjoyed, it was okay if I was using it to not be so sad,

for I know I was using it to cope, and this solution wasn’t that bad.

But I was blocking out my emotions, emotionally constipated if you will.

I was using my love of food to hopefully get that void to fill.

Body positive, that’s what I strive to be,

trying to remind myself that my appearance and weight is not what makes me me.

But I’m human, insecurities are nothing new,

not to mention that it’s pretty clear I gained more than a few.

I wish I could say that I’m 100% confident and do not give a shit,

but it’s hard when I look in the mirror and don’t like how things are starting to fit.

Summer is coming, hotter weather approaches, and I shouldn’t get upset,

for this summer is gon’ get whatever body it will get.

In the past, I would talk down on myself and try to make me feel more low,

but now I’m kinder with myself and know that I can learn from this experience to grow.

My life is happening now, I’m not waiting until I’m fully happy with what I see.

I can still appreciate my body in the now, even if it’s not where I want it to be.

Body positive, but being aware that I can do better,

I need to feel comfortable with myself and know when I need to check her.

Be kind with yourself, and you yourself will blossom,

your body is beautiful in every stage, and that’s what makes it awesome.

Currently, my body reflects how I dealt with my sorrow for some time,

I gained some weight in the making and that’s not a fuckin’ crime.

I thank my body for everything that it was, is, and everything that it will be,

for this summer gon’ get whatever body I give it, and it will just be simply me.

Sometimes I Forget

Saw something I knew you’d like,

so I thought I’d text it your way.

While I’m at it, I should also ask about your day.

It’ll be nice because we haven’t spoken in a while,

not anything to feel guilty about, that was always just our style.

When we reconnected, we always filled each other back in,

updating since the last time we spoke and saying how we’ve been.

I’ve been meaning to catch up, I’m sorry life’s been busy,

I’ll joke around and brag about how much I know you’ve missed me.

When the thought crosses my mind to reach out to you, suddenly it hits me and I feel dumb.

For I’d be waiting on a reply that would literally never come.

You’re gone, and it’s been that way for about half a year.

All that time has passed and in my mind it’s still not very clear…

You’re gone, and sometimes I forget that.

Still think you’ll show up at family functions wearing your SF hat.

Wouldn’t it be nice to joke and hang with you 1 more time, Tita-Lola?

We still had plans to get tacos, catch up, and entertained the idea of NOLA.

Crazy how life works, but I’ll be forever grateful for you.

The way your heart remained so pure, no matter what you’ve been through.

You were always down to listen, to give advice, and simply just be there.

I did the same for you, and could never guess the type of shit that you would share.

I could put you on blast right now, about the last thing you updated me on that had me cracking up.

I know your ass would surely haunt me if I did, so let me shut the fuck up.

Oh Tita-Lola, I’m smiling writing this now, thinking how I don’t even know where to begin,

laughing at the thought of all the awkward, funny, fucked up situations you always found yourself in.

But that was you – you did whatever made you happy,

We miss and love you dearly, don’t mean to get too sappy.

We’re still celebrating your life, your memory, and everything that is you,

I know you’re still around and still motivating me with whatever I want to do.

I’ll admit, maybe your death hasn’t processed in my head because it’s something I don’t want to be true,

It’s easier for me to think that we just haven’t spoken in a while, but you’re still out there doing you.

It sucks when something is expected yet so sudden,

But I know you still got my back, still lookin’ out for your little cousin.

So maybe I need to be easier on myself, and maybe not get so upset,

when I get the urge to text you, because sometimes I forget.

Boundaries In Friendships

If you ask anyone if they want to be a good friend or a shitty friend, chances are they’ll all say they want to be a good friend to others. For the most part, people don’t purposely go out of their way to be a shitty friend and make those close to them feel some type of way. But how people express friendship differs dramatically. You have the low-maintenance friends that go MIA for weeks at a time and pop up randomly on the group chats to send memes, the friends that need to be talking to you constantly or they think you’re mad at them, the friends that you try to keep in touch with because they’re awesome in person but are just dry as shit on text, the friends that you talk and send memes to everyday – and it comes as naturally to you as breathing, the friends that you don’t talk to for a while and then you link in person and it’s back to old times, the friends that you’ve outgrown but still keep it civil, and so forth.

I personally love me some low-maintenance friendships. It doesn’t matter how much time has passed, how often you text each other, or how many times a year you actually link up in person, when you do end up doing any of the above, it seems like old times. I love friends that pick up from where we left off. Because the fact of the matter is, life happens for all of us. And I don’t know about y’all, but I don’t have the desire to text every single close friend I have a detailed write up about what I’ve been up to. When it comes down to it, the important things will be shared, and anything else is just a bonus. I would consider myself a low-maintenance friend because I’m guilty of taking forever to respond. If you need me to respond to something, Instagram is probably the best bet because I feel forced to reply once someone can see that I “seen / opened” a message. I’m always opening messages and forgetting to respond. I wasn’t always like that, but like I said, life happens.

Friends are meant to be there to support you, add some fun to your life, and to connect with. The last thing I want is a friendship that takes way too much effort to maintain. The moment friendships start getting demanding, draining, and overbearing, that’s when I start to mentally check out. However, this was not always the case. In the past, I would try my best to accommodate everyone’s different friendship style. I explained it away as, “they’re just like that. Their friendship requires more attention.” But as life got more busy, and my time started to be spread thin, I started to realize that accommodating everyone else’s needs was leaving me drained and anti-social. Sometimes, when you take a couple steps to meet someone halfway, they instead expect you to put in a mile.

Everyone is entitled to having different standards in friendships. Some friendships work because both see eye to eye and have the same needs to be fulfilled in companionship. However, not every friend is going to be a perfect puzzle piece fit, and that’s okay. More times than not, we have friendships with others whose needs and personalities are different. This doesn’t mean that a great friendship is impossible to blossom, it just means that each side needs to respect and understand the others’ boundaries. And it’s totally okay to set boundaries with friends. It doesn’t make you a bad friend or person to set and act on those boundaries. How you express friendship may be completely different than your friends, and that’s okay. People need to keep in mind that their loved ones may not have the same social battery, time, schedule, or mental space for everyone in their lives at all times, and that doesn’t make them a bad person.

I know that the word “boundaries” can be very intimidating to some, but they can be set very casually. Verbal boundaries can look like:

  • Your friend telling you that they have been busy lately and hasn’t had a chance to catch up
  • Expressing that they’ve been feeling tired / stressed / drained and haven’t been in the mood to be social
  • Explaining that they set their phone on “do not disturb” after a certain time
  • Stating that they need some space or alone time
  • Expressing what actions or scenarios they don’t appreciate
  • Communicating their likes and dislikes
  • Sharing if hypothetical scenarios were to happen, that they’d appreciate if it were handled in a certain manner
  • Conveying their thoughts and feelings towards specific things

Verbal boundaries can even be set when nothing major or stressful is going on. This can be things you pick up over the span of the friendship, like being bad at texting back, prefer calls over texting, how they’re a homebody or love to be out, etc. Sometimes, boundaries are set without even being aware. A lot of the times, these are things that come up naturally in conversation. These life updates and personality preferences can let those close to you know what boundaries you have set in place without even realizing.

Where things go sideways is when boundaries are trying to be set non-verbally. But to be honest, I can see both sides. You know how the saying goes – communication is key. That I can agree with. You can’t expect people to know what you’re thinking and how you feel if it’s not being communicated. Nobody can read minds. However, non-verbal signs, body language, and actions are pretty fucking comparable and come in a hard close second place to verbal communication. As the other saying goes, it’s not the words that matter, but the actions. And I feel like there are some personalities out there that are perfectly capable of reading the room or scenario, but still choose to go about it how they feel they should. Some people don’t communicate when they need space and you need to read the room. If you’re being ignored, or if someone clearly need space, that doesn’t mean bombard someone even more. There are times where non-verbal boundary setting is just as effective, if you know what to look for.

Non-verbal boundary setting can look like:

  • Not responding to messages
  • Not going to certain outings and events
  • Not picking up the phone
  • Putting your own wants and needs in front of others
  • Prioritizing your time with what you think is important
  • Wanting space / being detached
  • Not wanting to talk about certain topics when asked

You know boundaries need to be set when you’re making yourself so available to others that your own social battery is on low. When you’re constantly trying to give everyone access to you, even if it’s people you love and care about deeply, you can still be left feeling depleted. There’s a difference between giving others advice, being the shoulder to cry on, and always being there, versus carrying the weight of other people’s burdens and problems on your shoulders. You don’t have to always make yourself available to friends and acquaintances that constantly leave you feeling emotionally drained. In order to be a good friend to others, you need to make sure you are okay first.

Don’t get it twist, I’m not saying don’t be there for your friends. But you should pay attention to your own limits. You can try to be the best human being and strive to be the best friend you can be to someone who needs you, but if you’re constantly feeling drained by negativity and gossip, it only leaves you feeling drained in the end. Everyone complains, everyone vents, everyone has their own issues that they deal with – it’s normal. But when you are constantly bombarded with those problems, sometimes by multiple people at a time, it can sucks the energy and life out of you. You need to take that shit in moderation and know when to set boundaries with energy vampires. It’s usually the one-sided friendships that leave you feeling drained and like your battery is on low. Reminder: it is not your responsibility to make someone else feel whole with your companionship.

For me, good friendships should feel effortless. You shouldn’t have to force yourself to do anything – reply, put in effort, or make plans when you don’t want to. Friendships that take a lot of effort suddenly feels more like a job or an annoying responsibility. If people can’t respect your boundaries and have a problem with you making sure that your own glass is full, they’re not friends worth keeping. In the event that someone tries to make you feel bad for putting yourself first, maybe reconsider why you were trying to distance yourself in the first place. Are they draining you? Are you feeling drowned by their problems? Do you feel like your mental health isn’t being considered? Is this a one-sided friendship?

Real friends are the ones that don’t make you feel bad when life gets in the way. They’ll never make you feel bad for being busy, not having time, or taking much needed time to yourself. Real friends will respect your wishes and know when to give you that space. These are the kind of friendships that you should hold dear to your heart and nurture. The kind of friends that know you inside and out and know when you need to recharge. You make time for the people that are important to you, but never feel bad for making time for yourself and making sure you’re okay as well. Supportive friendships will encourage and uphold your boundaries, so don’t be afraid to set them.

IDFK

They say there is beauty in the unknown,

but we just don’t realize it in the moment.

Sometimes I wish I had crystal ball,

to take a peak into the future I desperately want to see.

Is it everything I hoped it would be?

Are my efforts being made in vain,

or is it all working toward the bigger picture?

I don’t know.

I’m unsure.

I wish I knew.

I know there is beauty in the journey,

but I hate the unknown.

I hate not being in control,

But ironically, I am.

I want to be in complete control,

that is, until I hit a fork in the road.

Then I don’t know what to do.

Because I hate being wrong.

Instead, I choose to detach,

that’s one thing I always end up doing regardless.

There’s beauty in this, in the now.

I just need help to see it.

See the bigger picture, think ahead.

I need a sign to let me know

which direction to fucking go…

Until then, I just don’t fucking know….

Easier Said Than Done

Advice. It’s the thing that friends come to me for, and what I seek from them when I find myself in a difficult situation. It’s ironic, because for the most part, I feel like I give pretty level headed good advice. Maybe the reason why so many people confide in me is because they see that to be true as well. And I’m sure others can relate, but when you yourself are in a pickle, it seems like all that good advice that you give others goes completely out the window. At some point, everyone has asked themselves this irritatingly true question:

Why is advice so easier said than done?

That’s something that will probably be true for the rest of our lives. I guess the reason why it’s so easy for me to give others advice is the simple fact that I’m looking at the situation from the outside. Everything is different when you’re not involved. That’s mostly part of the reason why we seek the advice from our closest friends and family, because they’re removed from the difficult situation and can offer (hopefully) mature advice. It’s way less complicated to be an outsider looking in. It means you’re more detached from the situation and don’t have the emotional component that makes it so hard for people to listen to their heads and not their hearts.

Sometimes you just need to hear the harsh truth, and hopefully, you have great friends that will let you know when the problem is you. But at the same time, they’ll still root for you to do better and encourage you to handle future scenarios better. I have amazing friends that do just that. Because there are times where you just need people who will listen to you bitch, cry, and cuss every other word if you need to. The kind of friends that will pick up the phone call, pull up and take you on a late night drive, or let you send100 texts per minute explaining in detail everything that went down.

We can’t help but tell the story biasedly when it’s from our own perspective, even though I really try not to. I will even try to play devil’s advocate every now and then to attempt to see someone else’s side. Most of the time when I seek advice, I want my friends to help me see the other perspective because I’m so wrapped up in my own head. When I think I’m right in an argument, I don’t back down. And when I really can’t shake something off that’s bothering me, I look to those around me to help me navigate those feelings and hopefully, uncloud my judgement.

The best advice anyone can receive is the truth. I realized I had real ones in my corner when they started to call me out on where I went wrong in a scenario. And that’s the same advice I try to give those around me. There’s no point in just saying what someone wants to hear for advice. Becoming an echo chamber of ideas where nothing is being challenged or thought over doesn’t help anyone. Because hearing someone else’s take on a problem you’re having can be just the thing that you need to have that lightbulb go off in your head and for everything to connect and make sense.

In my lifetime I have found myself taking on the role as personal therapist and advice giver by choice. People of all ages, all of which are at different stages in their lives, have come to me for advice. And I love to give my 2 cents for the people I care about. It didn’t matter if the topic was about relationships, family, divorce, scandal, trauma, and all the chisme in-between, I have given my advice when it was asked for. Depending on the relationship with whoever is asking for my advice, there were definitely times where I felt frustrated and too involved in a scenario I had no business being all up in. It would get to the point where I would give my unsolicited advice when it wasn’t asked for because I was already so invested in the topic at hand.

But since advice is just that – advice – sometimes it can be hard to take in, especially if it’s not something someone wants to hear, aren’t ready to hear, or can’t process at the moment. You can give all the right, mature, and supportive advice all you want, but at the end of the day, it’s up to whoever is seeking the advice to do as they please. As an outsider looking in, the obvious answers or ways to go about a situation may be completely apparent to you. And when you find yourself giving someone the same advice time and time again, it may not make sense to you why they find it so difficult to take the advice they were asking for.

You may find yourself getting frustrated when the advice you give is not being executed. I have been in this situation plenty of times. It can be easy to think someone should do this, or do that, or handle a situation differently. The frustration comes from a good place because you care and don’t want to see them in a difficult situation. But I’ve learned that there’s a thin line between giving advice that is wanted and overstepping your boundaries, causing you to give unsolicited advice. There’s a difference between looking out for those you love and being overaggressive with your opinion. You can only give advice to an extent. After that, you have to realize that it is not your job to make sure people act on the advice you give. At the end of the day, advice is easier said than done when you’re not the one emotionally invested.

When I find myself getting overly aggressive with my advice, I have to remind myself that my role is to be supportive, give good advice when I can, and just be there to listen. I can’t force anyone to act accordingly to the advice I give, because at the end of the day, people are going to do whatever they want. Someone can give great advice time and time again and have it fall on deaf ears each time. People have to make and choose their own decisions. It can he tough to watch sometimes, especially when it’s people you care about. But that’s life.

I have never been one to back down from my opinion, especially if it get’s me riled up. It can be really hard for me to tone it the fuck down when I feel some type of way. Even if I’m far removed from the situation, if it involves someone I care about, I can get pretty passionate about the advice I give. Recently, I have found myself bombarding a best friend of mine with questions about their scenario. Each time they gave me an answer, I would fire back with more facts and logical reasoning.

“It’s easier said than done,” they had texted me.

I felt really bad. They sounded so defeated and lost, and I was just adding to the chaos. It made me super sad, because I have been on that side of the fence in the past – where you just want advice because you’re stressed out and then you feel attacked. I had to take a step back and see what I was no longer being helpful. Because it’s true, advice is easier said than done. Sometimes taking the “obvious” advice can be scary. Since I was so emotionally detached from the scenario and was an outsider looking in, it was easy for me to give drastic advice. Regardless if my advice was the right choice or not, and for the record, it was lol, I had to be a good friend and support them through the difficult time, instead of being overly aggressive with my opinions.

I have been on the other side of the spectrum where I ask for repeated advice and do the exact same thing in the end. So I’m sure there are those that were annoyed of me and the advice I refused to take from them. Advice is definitely easier said than done. When you’re not actually the one in the situation, yes, the answers may be more obvious and clear to you because you’re not as emotionally invested. The advice and the push for others to take your advice comes from a good place because you never want to see those you care about in a shitty situation. But sometimes advice is just the cherry on top of someone being there for you and just listening to what’s on your mind.

Roe v. Wade – The Right To Choose

First and foremost, I think it’s actually ridiculous that abortion is still a “controversial” topic in 20 fucking 22. It’s crazy to think that the government can actually have a say in what you choose to do with your life and your body. As a woman, I’m outraged and annoyed that this is still something up for debate. It’s simple – you don’t have to agree with abortions, but it is not anyone’s place to tell a woman what she can and can not do with her own body. Each person is entitled to their own choice, and to take away that choice is unfathomable. For a nation that pride’s itself on being “free” and preaches freedom every opportunity it gets, this is as unconstitutional as it gets.

I grew up in a Catholic household. I attended Catholic school from Kindergarten through 8th grade. I remember being excited to learn about Sex Ed for the first time in 5th grade because it seemed like such a taboo topic that we would finally get to dive into. Since we were a Catholic school, they were so dramatic that each child needed a form signed by a parent stating that it was okay for them to learn about Sex Ed. For those that don’t know, Catholic schools are under the private school category, which means by law, they are not obligated to fulfill any state or national curriculum. According to the California Department of Education, “Private schools select and provide all curriculum, instruction, and instructional materials to students.”

That meant that certain parts of Sex Ed could be removed from the lesson. For the most part, we went over the basic anatomy of the male and female bodies, how a sperm meets and egg, and how conception happens. It was very textbook heavy, and didn’t really go into detail about the act of sex itself, but more so that sex leads to a sperm and an egg meeting in the uterus. I’ll never forget the video we watched for Sex Ed in the 8th grade. It was a documentary of a boy who was the result of a rape. Instead of his mother having an abortion, she chose adoption. Of course, being a Catholic school, it made sense why they were showing pro-life propaganda. However, at the time, I remember thinking how messed up it was to use religion and hell as a guilt trip, especially in the instance of rape. I remember thinking the opposite of their point to show the documentary. I recall thinking how if I was his mother, I wouldn’t want to continue with the pregnancy.

Abortion is so controversial because people can’t separate religion from politics. Other people’s religious beliefs should not play a role in law making. Everyone is entitled to religious-freedom. Believe what you want to believe, worship who you would like to worship, and live by any teachings you think is necessary in this lifetime. However, how you choose to express your religious beliefs should not be forced onto someone else. What a woman chooses to do with her own body has nothing to do with you or your own personal beliefs. Just like how you are entitled to choose what you want to believe in, all women should be entitled to choose what they do with their bodies and lives. This includes terminating a pregnancy if they don’t wish to be pregnant.

The reality is simple. Don’t believe in abortions? Don’t get one. Don’t have a uterus? Shut the fuck up. Think abortion is murder? The blood’s not on your hands or your conscious. That’s what it boils down to, but people want to over complicate it. The problem is that people don’t stay in their own lane. Instead of focusing on themselves and making sure they are living according to their own beliefs, they’re too busy making someone else’s life decisions their problem. All one can really do is make sure that they are making their own decisions based on what they believe and feel to be the right choice for themselves. The women that are actually pregnant know their circumstances better than any outsider that tries to tell them otherwise. Any decision they make regarding a baby growing inside their body should be entirely up to them, not the state.

What a woman chooses to do with her life and body is entirely up to her, whether people agree with her decision or not. And it should stay that way. No law should force a woman to keep a pregnancy she does not want, can’t afford, or is not ready for. Whatever the reason may be for why a woman wants to terminate a pregnancy is honestly nobody’s business. Other people’s beliefs, religion, and personal biases should never be the reason why women lose their right to choose. To those that are in favor of Roe v. Wade being overturned, I have this to say: Others do not have to believe the same things as you, worship the same God as you, or even have the same perspective in life as you. And it’s not your job to try to change their minds. So it’s actually really simple, if you don’t believe in abortions, don’t fucking get one. A woman is just as entitled to terminate a pregnancy as another woman is entitled to keep hers. Everyone should have the authority to choose for themselves.

There are some people that are entirely against abortions in every unfortunate scenario possible. To some pro-lifers, it doesn’t matter if the mother was raped, if their health is in danger, if the baby is a product of abuse or incest, if the mother’s not ready, not financially stable, or not in the position to care for a child. In this instance, the stance is that an unborn, unaware, unconscious life is worth more than a living, self-aware, cognizant being. The embryotic baby who has never experienced life outside of the womb has more rights than you and I. It seems like so much attention is focused on keeping unborn babies alive, but the truth of the matter is, when those unwanted babies are born, then it’s completely up to the mother. It’s no longer, “all lives are precious,” but, “That’s your child, now you care for it, even if you didn’t want to proceed with this in the first place.” Once the baby is born, all the rallying is over. There is no support post-birth.

Some think abortions are only excusable in extreme circumstances. Those exceptions usually mean when a woman is raped, or when the pregnancy poses a threat to the woman’s life. I saw a post going around on social media saying that this mindset is saying that a woman only has a say when her body has been violated by another. And I couldn’t agree more. If a pregnancy is not wanted, the reason for why a woman wants to terminate a pregnancy should not matter. She does not need to be taken advantage of or have her body violated to “earn” that right. Everyone should have the freedom to choose.

Overturning Roe v. Wade does not eliminate abortions. Just because something is illegal, doesn’t mean it will not take place all over the world. Making abortions illegal will just make it harder for women to have access to the right treatment. Not only will it be harder to terminate a pregnancy, but others may try to take matters into their own hands. This can lead to unsafe methods that can completely be avoided. Taking away the right for a woman to choose if she will or will not reproduce only effects low-income households. Rich women will not be effected because their money will grant them more access to safer procedures. The fact of the matter is, abortions – whether legal or not – will take place. People will always find a way. And if they’re going to happen regardless, we should have proper procedures and protocols in place.

You can be pro-life but still support pro-choice. Just because you believe every woman has the right to choose for themselves doesn’t mean you personally would get an abortion. You could never want / get an abortion in your life, but still think abortions are okay. It’s okay to disagree with abortions but realize that it is not your place to tell a woman what to do with their body. Pro-life doesn’t have to mean anti-choice. I say this because I feel like a lot of people out there personally don’t agree with abortions, so they feel like they need to personalize the topic. By saying and confirming that THEY would never get an abortion means that they don’t believe others should get it. And that’s not true. If it’s not the route you would take, that’s understandable. But just because you can’t relate to a woman’s choice to terminate a pregnancy doesn’t mean abortions should be banned.

For those who have ever gotten an abortion, there is nothing to be ashamed of. And there is no shame in supporting those who have gotten abortions either. This is a very pivotal moment in history, and there will be some that will try to skew the narrative. Just because you support every woman’s right to choose, doesn’t mean you don’t value life. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad person if you see nothing wrong with a woman terminating a pregnancy she doesn’t wish to keep. Everyone should feel like they are in control of their own lives. The government should have no say in whether or not a woman reproduces.

I can’t believe I’m writing about this in 2022…