Alone Time

Having quality alone time is a great way for relationships to recharge. This is true for any relationship – whether it’s a friendship, romantic relationship, or even family relationships. However, what sometimes goes under the radar is how important it is to nourish the relationship you have with yourself. Needing or wanting time to yourself does not make you a bad friend, girlfriend/ boyfriend, wife/ husband, mom/dad, etc. Sometimes the best way to reconnect with yourself is to disconnect from everything else from time to time.

It dawned on me not too long ago that I’ve never actually been completely alone for a long period of time in my life. I’ve always lived with my family, and once I moved out, it was with my significant other. When I lived with my family, going over Christian’s place was my get away. When Christian and I wanted to do our own thing for the day, I would stay at home. When I needed “me time,” I would stay in my room longer or try to get as much TV time in the living room as I could before someone came in and wanted to watch something. But I was never really actually “alone,” given that there were 4 other people in the household. Now that Christian and I live together, when we need space, we do our own thing. However, it can get tricky, given that we essentially have a 1 bedroom 1 bath living situation. So in that sense, having “alone” time is not actually being alone, but more so being left alone.

I feel like this is not a unique scenario. Commonly, we live with our parents and family until a certain age, then some move out to go to college, where they end up living with roommates, some move out with their significant others, some wait to get married before making the transition to live with their partner, some move in with friends to gain independence, and so on. It’s not uncommon to go from living with family to living with others, whether that be roommates by choice or for other financial reasons. And it got me thinking – Do I know what it’s like to actually be alone? And I’m not talking about having the house to yourself for a couple of hours, or being cooped up in your room avoiding the people you live with – I’m talking actually A L O N E.

I know there are some that do know what it feels like to live alone independently with no roommates or family. However, that ain’t me. I was brought up on the notion that you only leave the nest when you marry your person and start your life together. Traditionally in Filipino households, it’s not uncommon to stay under your parents’ roof until that time comes. That could mean living in your family home until you’re 35+, and that’s not considered weird. We were conditioned to think that in order to leave the family home, it meant that you’d be moving in with someone else to build a future with. Being alone is the exact opposite of what our culture would want – there is no need to move out on your own solo.

I feel like to an extent, that feeds into the notion that being alone is something to be feared, something that is taboo, something that you don’t want to happen to you. And like I said, that’s not only relationship wise. Being alone at a movie theatre, dinning somewhere to eat, going to an event solo, for example, are activities that some would never be caught doing on their own. If you would’ve interviewed me in high school, or even my first year in college, I’d be among the crowd that would say they would never be alone in public if they had a choice not to be. I would prefer to be at the mall or run errands with Christian, my sisters, or friends. I definitely would not dine out by myself, in fear of what others would think seeing me sit alone. And sleeping alone completely by myself in the house? Bitch, unspeakable because I’d be replaying every single ghost story, horror movie, and Dateline episode in my brain.

But as of lately, probably the last 5 or 6 years or so, I have been enjoying doing things solo. I think community college is really what set it off – because I literally had no choice. I enjoyed picking my own classes and making my own schedule. In the beginning I picked classes with my friends since we were all doing general courses. But once I started to pick classes for my major and to get me to transfer in time, we all kind of started doing our own thing. That meant that I was in classes with people I didn’t know and by myself in between classes. And I loved that shit. It gave me a new gained independence, where I no longer cared if I was eating at the mall food court alone, taking bus alone, or running errands by myself on my free time.

Especially the last 2-3 years I’ve been craving to have significant amount of time to myself. And it’s inevitable that you will eventually want alone time and space for yourself when you’ve lived with others your whole life. I could only recall one night that I slept in mine and Christian’s place completely alone when he had to attend an important event for a friend in SoCal. But even then it was barely a night to myself – I worked 8-5, was in bed by 11 PM, and woke up for work the next day at 7 AM. Lately, I’ve been daydreaming of what I would do by myself if I were to be alone for a couple of days. The Aquarius in me needs that alone time to reflect and recharge. And for once I wanted to get a taste of what it’s like to be alone with myself for days on end – an experience I’ve never had before.

Finally, the time has come for the long anticipated 2 week summer break. I have been counting down the months, weeks, days, and hours for this exact moment. When Christian told me months ago that he was planning to visit SoCal to meet up with friends, I highly encouraged that he go solo. In the past, I would tag along to some of his trips back home during our work breaks so we could explore and be together during our time off. Since he’s in the Bay Area, he’s around my friends and family majority of the time. Going to SoCal is not only a good change of scenery, but it allows me to see his home and those that are important to him. Orange County to Christian is what the Bay Area is to me.

This time around, Christian wanted to visit SoCal for a specific reason. Naturally, he asked me if I wanted to tag along, and encouraged me to come. Under the circumstances of why he wanted to visit home, I thought it was best he go on the trip solo to have that alone time with his friends. Being in a relationship for so long, I see the importance of being around your partner’s friends and family, but I also know how important it is to give your partner that quality alone time with them as well. Especially since I have my boyfriend living in my stomping grounds, I know how crucial it is to let your partner do their own thing sometimes. I internally cringe when couples can’t be somewhere without the other from time to time – but that’s a post for another day.

I also thought it was a good idea for him to go solo so I could finally have some alone time. And I mean that in the nicest way possible. We have been together over 7 years and counting, it’s crazy to think that I have seen him on such a consistent basis for almost a decade. And even though we have mastered letting each other do their own thing, I’ve realized that I’ve never really been completely “alone” my whole damn life. Now, let me clear this shit up right now – I’m not talking about relationship wise, ya girl was no stranger to being alone. I’m talking about being alone in the literal sense.

When people asked why I wanted to spend a chunk of my 2 week break alone, it was an easy question to answer. I explained it as such: When I visit home, I am surrounded by my family. They can be in their own rooms, living room, kitchen, backyard, bathrooms – the actual room in the house doesn’t matter. Basically – I am around others at home no matter what. That means being aware that I’m not the only one who wants to watch TV, shower, use the bathroom, play loud music, sleep all day, have errands to run, etc. When I’m at home with Christian, we are in the same room 98% of the time when we’re both home. We share the TV, bathroom, when his alarm goes off it wakes me up even if the alarm is not relevant to me, we take turns playing our own music out loud, we need to be aware of each other’s likes and dislikes when it comes to cleanliness, and how to spend our time together. This is all normal things of living with others, simply just being considerate of each others’ space, time, and likes and dislikes. All of this is completely fine. But I craved the idea of doing my own thing – completely – since I’ve never been able to do so in the past.

I’m so used to being around people all the time, whether that be at work, home, family life, social life, etc. And don’t get me wrong, I enjoy being around my family, friends, and loved ones when I’m not at work. But I realized the importance of knowing when to reconnect and spend time with yourself. I’ve had my alone time here and there – going to another room, having a couple of hours to myself, doing an activity or errand by myself, and so on, but never being completely solo for a significant amount of time. Especially when my work has long 1 or 2 week breaks, we always end up going somewhere, have the big holidays to attend, and travel. All of that is fun and what I crave from time to time, but it also makes the break pass by really fast. I wanted to take time to slow down, do things on my own time, reflect, write, and do all the things I wanted to do for so long if I ever got the time to myself.

And this break, it finally happened. 4.5 days with the house to myself for the first time in my life. And it couldn’t have gone more perfectly. I enjoyed every part of it. I wasn’t completely alone for the whole 4.5 days, as I had plans to meet up with friends throughout that time, but I cherished the late night hours I had to myself and the early mornings where I started off my day alone with my thoughts. Nothing feels better than having no alarms set because the day is completely yours. I did everything on my time, hung out with people when I wanted to, and stayed alone when I wanted to. I got the chance to enjoy our house completely to myself day in and day out. It was a new found independence that I knew I would enjoy.

I spent the last 4.5 days doing all the things that I wanted to do – write, take myself out on a Japanese BBQ date, finish Sex And The City and all the movies, eat bomb food everyday, see friends during the daytime for a change since I can only do dinners throughout the work week, get a massage with my best friend, have a relaxing bubble bath, and start a new project. I made sure to set aside 1 whole day where I had absolutely no plans so I could have the whole day to enjoy my own company. It was really important to me to have that whole day to just myself. It was the perfect opportunity for me to recharge and rest.

Life has felt like I’ve been on a hamster wheel ever since June 2020 when work reopened. I feel like life has picked back up, and I have yet to catch a break since. These last 4.5 days has been the perfect way for me to get back in touch with myself. In these 4.5 days, I put me first every time. I did whatever I wanted to do, did things on my time, rested when I wanted to, went out and stayed in when I felt like it. There was no schedule, no obligation to spend my time in any particular way, and it was amazing. I feel refreshed, more independent, and more connected to myself.

It’s important to nurture the different relationships you have in your life. But never forget to nurture the relationship you have with yourself. Like any relationship, you need that quality 1 on 1 time. Never stop dating yourself. Get comfortable being alone with yourself, your thoughts, and working on recharging your social battery. Sometimes when you feel like life is moving too fast, you need to take a step back and check in with yourself every so often. I’m glad I had the opportunity to do that.

The Willing Loser

One thing I have always prided myself on is the fact that I’m a very loyal person. If I fuck with you, I got you, no question about it. And if I don’t fuck with you, well, I won’t act like I do to your face to just show face. Loyalty has always been something that I take very seriously, even as a kid. I took that betrayal, small or big, to heart. And unfortunately, disloyalty doesn’t just stop at a certain age. That’s something you have to be aware of for the rest of your life, disguising itself in different forms.

I realized the hard way that not everyone has the same views as me when it comes to loyalty and having pure intentions. I would get my feelings hurt because I couldn’t relate to some people’s lack of ethics in different scenarios. And not to toot my own horn, but seeing that not everyone is a real one was a hard pill to swallow. So to all my real, loyal, genuine ones – this is for you. This is for all the people out there that choose to keep their circles small, distance themselves from iffy energy, and have no problem being a loser by choice. It is nothing to be ashamed of, in fact, it’s something that I prefer.

We have all dealt with our fair share of gossip and being gossiped about. It can be frustrating knowing that what’s being circled around about you is so far from the truth. You may feel the need to defend yourself or set the record straight, and it’s hard as hell taking the higher road and just letting people think what they want. Back in the day to play devil’s advocate, I’d argue that I’m just saying my truth to counter act the bullshit and lies that’s going around. I don’t know which came first, my age or me getting to a point where I realized trying to get people who are easily swayed and feed the gossip to continue to circulate will only do more damage than good.

It takes a lot to gain my trust in friendships and relationships. I get along perfectly fine with most people, and making new friends is not something I struggle with. I’m very social for an anti-social homebody. I can chop it up, make small talk, make surface level friendships, and be friendly. However, I am very selective when it comes to who has access to me. I’m very guarded with who I trust, who I tell my personal shit to, who I tell my next move to. Because I know from experience that not everyone that enters my life will stick around or have the best intentions for me. You know the typical joke, “who hurt you?!” to have all these trust issues, but it’s just fact. You can’t trust everybody and not everyone should have access to your friendship, time, or energy.

Because let’s be honest, the relationship is never really the same after you know that someone is being fake, betrayed your trust, or gossiped about you. I’ve been there and I’ve done that, I’ve tried to let bygones be bygones. Depending on what was done, sometimes it’s possible. But most of the time, and especially in this season of my life, 1 strike and you’re out. I simply do not have time to surround myself around so so wishy washy people. I for one can not fake friendship. I don’t have the care, the time, or the desire to put in effort where the loyalty is questionable.

People play both sides, and if you are not the one actually gossiping or being shady, but you play messenger and feel comfortable listening to others speak on my name, then the same goes. It amazes me to know how many grown ass people still put in effort and time to play both sides to just keep the peace or simply because they want to be liked by everyone. I have reached a point in my life where I don’t give a fuck if people like me anymore. As long as I know my heart is good, my intentions are pure, and I’m a good person who sticks to my morals and values, that’s all that really matters. If you don’t agree with how I go about things, keep it pushing and I will do the same.

I don’t think that I’m better than everyone else, so don’t get it twisted. But I am a firm believer of sticking to your gut feeling. So when my gut feeling is telling me that somebody’s vibe is off, if they don’t seem like good company to surround myself with, if I don’t agree with their morals and principals, I will distance myself. Protecting myself and my peace of mind is #1 always. I can “not fuck with you” but still be cordial, there is a difference. And it was not always so apparent to me in the past. Especially in our adolescent years, when shit goes sour with people, it can be beef on sight. But I’ve learned that you can cut off people but still feel neutral, not everything has to leave a sour taste in your mouth. It takes some time to process whatever transpired, but also a level of maturity.

If you’re still feeling salty and some type of way after distancing yourself from someone or a friend group, what it really boils down to is the fact that it still bothers you because you still care to some degree. I have been in this position many times where I realize a friendship no longer serves me and decide to cut someone off. When I would vent to people closest to me, I would say my truth, voice my concerns, but almost always end it with, “But whatever, I don’t even care.” But is it not caring if it’s still a topic up for discussion? It takes time to genuinely “not care,” especially when you are letting go of a friendship that meant something to you. Especially if you felt betrayed, and you’re trying your best to work through that betrayal.

It can be even harder when you’re cutting off a specific person, but you still run in similar groups. That’s definitely getting yourself into a pickle. In those scenarios, I think it really depends on the other people in that circle – if they can keep the drama genuinely out of it. I’ve come across some people that genuinely do not want to know the details, don’t want to get in the middle, and want to avoid any conflict between both parties. If the friends of friends can remain uninvolved, it can work out. If mutual respect and boundaries are present, handling the situation like adults isn’t too far fetched.

Being the careful person that I am, I definitely distance myself from others if I feel like their loyalty and intentions are questionable. I literally do not have the time to wonder who has my back, who is defending my name when I’m not around, and who is a real friend. I’ll make the decision easier and remove myself from the situation entirely. I have no desire to entertain fake friendships and iffy personalities. At this point in my life, I feel like a professional at keeping my circle small and my friendships choosy. I’d rather be a loser by choice than surround myself with fake people. It will always be quality over quantity for me.

One thing I can’t stand is fake friendships. In my life, I have shamefully played the dumb card way too many times – when you know someone or some people have gossiped about you, feel some type of way about you, and have so much to say to others about you behind your back, but won’t dare say it to your face. And then you’re put in a social setting where to your face, they’re chopping it up and acting like your bestie, and you sit there and show face and try to act like you don’t know all the things that has transpired up until that point. Fuck that. And I’ve allowed that many times in the past.

I used to think the antidote to dealing with scenarios like that was to confront them. If I don’t confront them, I’m being a pussy bitch. If I don’t confront them, I’m being weak. If I don’t confront them, they win and make me look stupid. I think in certain situations, confrontation is appropriate. But there are other scenarios where you realize that somebody else is so wrapped up in their own ideas that confrontation isn’t going to solve anything. There are times where you just know that it will be like talking to a brick wall. And if I’m being completely honest, sometimes it really depends on my mood.

If I feel very strongly about putting someone in their place when they have wronged me, I will confront them. But there are times when I get really worked up and want to confront someone but realize it would be pointless because I don’t want a relationship to continue after anyways, so I drop it. Also when I realize that my only motive to confront someone is to make them feel stupid or shitty, I’ll do my best to bite my tongue. Sometimes knowing where you stand is enough closure you need, and you just hope karma acts accordingly.

I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that being selective doesn’t have it’s lonely moments. You know, when you see those that you have purposely distanced yourself from be with the very same people you kicked it with. Knowing that in the past, you would’ve been there, but now, you’re looking in as an outsider. The feelings of FOMO get really real sometimes. And I feel like that’s what keeps people in toxic friendships and relationships – they’d rather ignore and avoid all the negative things, because at least they’ll still be a part of something. Everyone, whether they like to admit it or not, want to belong and feel like they are a part of the group. And it takes a lot of reflecting and realizations to be comfortable with the fact that you will feel left out sometimes. But don’t let that cloud your judgment. Don’t let feeling bored or lonely be the reason why you surround yourself with emotion vultures, fake friendships, and weird competition. It ain’t worth it.

The other truth about FOMO is the fact that you want others to see exactly how that individual / group of people truly are. “If only they knew,” you think. But in reality, only you will know your own truth. You can’t force anyone to see your side, no one is obligated to side with you, and at the end of the day people will do whatever the fuck they want and hang with whoever the fuck they want. It can be frustrating to see friends of yours chopping it up with someone / people that you don’t think are trustworthy. You may feel the need to be in their ear to warn them out with the best intentions at heart. But then…

That’s gossiping. We have all been there. It’s a vicious cycle. And no matter what, you will always believe that your gossiping is not as severe, because it wasn’t done out of malice, it was to vent, or you simply don’t see it as gossiping. There’s a very thin line between venting and talking shit. If something or someone is bothering us, it makes sense to talk it through with people we trust. They offer us some advice on how to handle it, and it gives us an outlet to express ourselves. But it can easily turn to gossip and talking shit, when there is no desire to vent, but just to mutually hate and talk shit about someone else. We have all been on both sides of the coin – being gossiped about and being the gossiper.

One thing I know for sure – I no longer have the desire to keep friendships and relationships with people who are not loyal to me. I’m too old to be wondering if my friends are talking about me, defending my name to others who have heard otherwise, and being around fake people. My circle may be small, but I’m surrounded by individuals who undoubtedly have my back no matter what. Individuals that have the same respect, morals, and loyalty as I do.

I’d rather be a loser by choice than a fool involuntarily. There’s nothing wrong with keeping your circle small. When you are choosy about who has access to you, you’ll never have to doubt those you surround yourself with. I’d rather have a handful of people that know me inside and out, than a bunch of people who only stick around when it’s beneficial for them.

Forgiveness Without An Apology

One of the worst feelings there is is feeling like someone close to you did you wrong, played you, betrayed you, disrespected you, used you, took you for granted, and the list goes on. This isn’t just limited to romantic partners – there are so many more relationships out there that can have the same aftermath of hurt and bitterness equivalent to a break up. Friendships, romantic relationships, professional relationships, acquaintance relationships, family relationships, can all turn sour in the blink of an eye. But when someone, especially when it’s someone really close to you, betrays your trust or disrespects you in some way, it can be hard to forgive. Especially if you plan to cut off the communication and walk away from the friendship or relationship, it can get very complicated. You’re left feeling hurt and robbed in multiple ways.

How do you forgive someone that never gave you an apology?

This is one of those situations where you know the right answer on how to react and go about it the “healthy” way, but it’s so fucking hard to practice in real life. Scenarios like these, trying to forgive someone and heal without an apology, is the perfect example of “easier said than done.” You know that you’re supposed to take the higher road and just forgive and move on. But how do you forgive without an apology? Is an apology needed to get closure? Who is the closure actually for? What does an apology achieve? What if they don’t think an apology is owed?

This is a topic that has come up time and time again with my different circle of friends. Even though everyone’s scenario is different, forgiveness without an apology is a common pickle to be in. It got me thinking about my own personal struggles with forgiving people who never gave me an apology. It’s so much more different when you’re giving someone else advice about closure, moving past hurt feelings, and being the bigger person through forgiveness. Offering my own past and present experiences as examples has allowed me to see how the past me vs. the present me would deal with things.

I remember when I went through my first break up, which seemed like lifetimes ago, I was so bitter and angry. I had so much hate and resentment in my heart because I didn’t get the apology I desperately wanted… In fact, I didn’t want it, I needed it. I needed some type of acknowledgment, some type of break through lightbulb going off in their head moment, any sign of ownership in the hurt that was caused. At the time, I thought an apology would’ve brought me closure. Closure to leave things in the past, accept all the hurt that I went through, and move on with my life. But because I didn’t get that apology when I needed it, I used my deep feelings of hate and resentment to move on.

I ended up getting that apology about a year later. But in that year, I struggled with going through the motions of healthily letting the past be the past because I felt entitled to an apology that never came. In that time, I clung onto “It will give me closure,” for so long. I was over the relationship, but the bitterness and hate still lingered until I got that apology. And after the fact, and many years down the line, I realized that I gave someone so much power over me. It was crazy to think that I literally thought I couldn’t fully be at peace on my own without an apology from someone else.

As I got older though, I started to realize that my mentality for closure in any scenario was all messed up. It didn’t matter if it was closure I needed from a friend, romantic partner, family member, etc. In the event of feeling wronged by another, it wasn’t closure that was driving me. It was embarrassment. It was shame. It was pride. Especially in a situation where I feel disrespected in some way, my emotions are through the roof. It’s not just one emotion, you’re usually feeling so many emotions all at once that it can be hard to sift out every single one. I would be too prideful to dissect my feelings in the past. The most prominent emotion has always been anger. When I’m hurt or sad, I express it by being angry. Since it’s the most dominant emotion, I usually just focus all my energy on why a situation angered me, not really diving into the other emotions I’m possibly feeling.

If I’m being completely honest, this is the first time I’m actually breaking down my train of thought when it comes to needing closer. I was more than aware that how I dealt with certain scenarios in the past were coming from a place of hurt that was never sorted out. But putting words and feelings to the process is actually pretty helpful. When you feel you are owed an apology after a situation, the underlying point is that your feelings were hurt. All the emotions that are felt can all be explained by admitting that your feelings were hurt. But hurt feelings can be disguised into other emotions. For me, the feelings of being moded and embarrassed sets in the more I think and dwell on a situation.

How embarrassing and naïve of you to befriend someone like that.

You were played dirty like an idiot, you look stupid.

They don’t respect you or your feelings enough to apologize. It shows where you stand in their life.

After the embarrassment is felt, the shame comes. The humiliation settles into the crevices of your mind. You’re forced to fill in the gaps for yourself. You start overthinking everything up until that point. Your imagination and hurt feelings start creating narratives that aren’t even provable yet. At first, you start to blame them, but then you start reflecting on yourself.

Was it something I did?

I bet they switched up because….

They started acting different around this time, how long was there an issue?

Where did it go bad?

Then the pride sets in. And it’s the ugliest feeling of them all. It’s the side of you that wants to even the score. It’s the side of you that needs to be more hurtful because your feelings were hurt. It’s the side of you that wants to have the last word and end the conversation once and for all. It’s where self worth and ego meet. Even if you feel like you deserve an apology, and an apology is rightfully owed, your pride might tell you that it is something you deserve, something that is rightfully owed to you.

How dare they do XYZ to me and betray my trust?

How can they be so oblivious to how they mistreated me?

I can never forgive them without an apology.

If from a genuine place, an apology will benefit both parties. It’s good for people to acknowledge when they’re in the wrong and have caused some degree of hurt or pain to another. At the same time, it validates the other party – you were entitled to feel X, Y, and Z because I did X, Y, and Z. It lets them know that the other person is conscious of what transpired, and admits their wrong doing. It means there was some sort of reflection that went on behind the scenes, some sort of deeper thought went into it after the fact, and they were putting themselves in your shoes to some degree. Sometimes an apology is what can unfreeze a cold heart. At the end of the day, we just all want to be understood.

But if that apology is never given, you can’t spend your life in limbo angrily waiting for it. Forgiveness is something you do for yourself. A lot of the time, you have to forgive because it’s the only way to free yourself. It can be tough to accept that there was no acknowledgment, there was no acceptance, there was no closure. It may seem ridiculous to forgive someone that does not deserve it. But forgiveness is something you have to do for yourself to avoid that inner turmoil that can occur when you hold onto negative feelings. It’s harder to process hurt feelings when you feel like you need an apology from whoever hurt you. Without them acknowledging your hurt, taking responsibility for their actions, or seeing your side, you may feel like it’s impossible to forgive and find peace on your own. But the power of peace and closure is not in someone else’s hands, it’s in yours. In the moment, it may be hard to see the bigger picture – that you are letting someone else’s decisions dictate your ability to heal.

Many times, getting people to see their part in a situation is close to impossible. What gets my blood boiling is when I know I am owed an apology, but the other party is gaslighting and saying my reality was not valid at the time. What got me in the past, whether that be in friendships, relationships, or arguments, was the fact that I wanted my reality to be validated, I wanted my experience to be known, at the very least, I wanted acknowledgment that I didn’t deserve a lot of the things I went through. But to give another person or people power over you like that is exhausting. Your worth isn’t determined by someone else. Just like your ability to move on and forgive is not determined by someone else either.

Forgiveness without an apology is not an easy thing to do. And there are lots of people out there that have not mastered forgiveness for themselves. And that’s not to knock or diss to anyone who is holding onto a lot of hurt and hate in their heart due to someone else’s wrong doing. I’ve been there and I’ve done that. But allowing someone to fuck with you so deep that a part of you is still bitter is not worth it. At the end of the day, you are holding that negativity inside, you are feeling the resentment, you are taking the L because misery loves company. The hard truth is this: you don’t need an apology. You will live, you’ll move on. And as cliché as it sounds, the only apology you need is the apology to yourself, for allowing someone else’s actions to affect your inner peace.

You can cling onto wanting an apology for so long, but sometimes, an apology doesn’t mean shit. We’ve all heard the stories of people that have been so badly scarred by another, that even if given an apology, forgiveness is so far out of the picture and unfathomable to even do. And honestly, sometimes people are justified in feeling that way. There are scenarios where people do malicious things that are just straight up unforgiveable. There are times where apologies don’t offer any closure at all, and the absence of an apology does absolutely nothing. It is in these moments that some will realize that the deep desire for “closure” by hearing “I’m sorry,” was never in the other person’s court at all. The ball was always in your court.

So what is closure? And why is closure and apologies so closely tied together? Does one not exist without the other? I used to think that I needed certain things to be known, said, or acknowledged to have closure. I wanted my point to be known, I wanted my side to be heard, I wanted to voice my opinions – that to me was closure. And if I didn’t get that opportunity to straight roast someone, say some smart ass shit I thought up after the fact, or have some fire comebacks that make me sound like a boss ass bitch for me to drop the mic and never say another thing to not taint my victory – it wasn’t closure. For me, I had to make an exit like a boss for closure.

Sometimes, you want that apology so bad that you overthink it. You overthink what an acceptable apology is. You play in your head the ideal apology you would like to receive. But often times, if there is an apology given, it’s not as satisfying as the one you conjured up in your head. Because only you know what parts need to be addressed that hurt you so badly. Which is why the power of healing should not be in someone else’s hands. You need to come to terms with the circumstances and how everything played out. You need to find peace in knowing the part they played as well as the part you played. Only you can give yourself that clarity.

Forgiveness without an apology may seem impossible. But it’s the kindness you show to yourself that is the real test. Most of the closure you need will be found within yourself. You don’t need an apology from someone else to find closure. Closure and forgiveness are actions you take to protect yourself and your own inner peace. The ball is always in your court if you want it to be.

Improving Communication

I’ve realized lately that I’ve been more detached and have adopted the “go with the flow” / “I really don’t care” attitude, which is a big improvement since I’m usually an over-thinker that exhausts every scenario and question in my mind. I don’t know if my aloofness is due to pandemic fatigue, getting older, being busy, or just not giving a shit like I used to. What I’m currently working on is realizing that I am not responsible for anyone’s actions and emotions, except my own. Yes, in theory, that seems like a given. But it is something that I’ve struggled more with in the past. I’m learning to set boundaries with people around me, and removing myself from people or situations that don’t make me feel good. Over the past year, this is the area that I have grown and improved in the most. Being aware of how I communicate and how I choose to react has helped me see what I need to improve. It has also helped me see the flaws in others, and not letting their poor communication skills, or how they choose to project their feelings, effect me.

It’s a no brainer that everyone – regardless of who you are- deals with their own inner turmoil and demons. I will be the first to admit that there are still so many aspects of me that need healing, more self-work, and reflection. I know I’m not perfect. Self-work is an emotional journey. It’s a mix of shame, regret, sadness, and hope that there are better days to come. It’s never a straight path journey. It can be a little discouraging when you are doing so well for a period of time, and then something happens where you say something out of anger, or act a certain way that you’ve been trying so hard to avoid. At those times I get frustrated with myself, thinking that my progress that I worked so hard on is suddenly down the drain, and instead of progressing and going forward, I took a couple steps back. I feel emotionally drained knowing that I start back and square one – or at least it feels like it’s back to square one. Being aware of your bad habits and communication style is step one. Trying to unlearn all the bad habits and re-train your brain to react differently is a lifelong journey. I can only control what I choose to do with my life and time. And that also includes how I choose to react, or not react, who I choose to let in my inner circle, and what I will allow and not allow.

2020 was a bit of a shit show. But at the very least, it made me be more aware of how I communicate. When I really put my communication skills under the microscope, I felt ashamed and wanted to take the next steps to be a better communicator. It’s funny because in the professional sense, I am great at communication. I can keep it professional and say what needs to be said without hurting anyone’s feelings. But in my personal life, my communication is not that great. I’m very blunt, and I find it hard to cover up my annoyance, anger, and frustrations – it just results in being snappy and yelling. I’ve always said that I believe I’m a writer because I can’t communicate my emotions verbally without sounding like I’m all over the place. Writing it all out gives me the opportunity to revise my words, being extra careful to get all of my points across, leaving nothing unsaid, but at the same time giving the right tone. Verbally, I’m quick with my words, and I’ve come to realize over the years that my come back game is strong, but it can be very hurtful.

But I also understand that I can only control myself, and not others. Being aware of my own actions and trying to change my ways has forced me to see where others fall short as well. I reflect a lot on who I choose to surround myself with, and how certain relationships – whether that be with friends, acquaintances, family, and other people that I have to deal with day to day – can negatively impact me. Over the years, I have found myself cutting ties, letting friendships naturally drift, and setting boundaries. But it was not always that easy. It has taken years to finally set some boundaries for myself for what I will allow and will not allow into my life.

At this point in my life, I have tried to take more responsibility for how my words and tone can escalate a situation. Sometimes that even results in me staying silent to avoid an even bigger argument. Growing up, verbal fights weren’t over until there was an obvious winner or loser. This usually meant that someone said something so hurtful that the other person was in tears. You “win” the fight, but in the end you’re the loser for stooping so low. So now as an adult, I have to give myself constant reminders that a conversation can be had with disagreements without turning into a fight or argument. I try to apply this when I have a disagreement with my significant other, my sisters, sometimes even my parents. Like the saying goes, “it’s not what you say, but how you say it.” The importance of communication is undervalued, but I have seen instant improvements when I shift my tone or how I word things.

However, communication is a 2 way street. I can work on myself all I want, but I can’t control how others choose to communicate. How someone treats me is a reflection of themselves, and that is a pill that is hard to swallow. The truth is, not everyone will like you, and not everyone will be in your corner. How people act towards you when you are genuinely trying to better yourself is a reflection of how they feel about themselves. I’ve learned to just let it go, cut it off, and remove myself from those type of situations. Everyone has had some relationship, it could be romantic or not, that has been very negative and overbearing. It can be a relationship with your parent, or sibling, or friend, or co-worker, or in-laws, that just drains you. It can be anything from talking behind your back, saying hurtful things on purpose to hurt you, ignoring you on purpose so they make you feel like you owe them something, things that just don’t make you feel good. It may be sad to know that you are not for everyone, but it is also an eye opener to realize that not everyone is for you. You don’t have to have a relationship with people who constantly make you feel bad about yourself.

Everyone is dealing with something, but it comes to a point where it can’t be an excuse for how you treat others. That’s when cutting off, drifting, or setting boundaries comes into play. At this point in my life, I don’t have time to wonder if people are speaking ill of me behind my back, I don’t have time to argue with people who refuse to see my side or even listen, and I definitely don’t have time for people who don’t have the best intentions for me. It’s good to set boundaries with others, but also with yourself. What you will allow, and what you won’t. At the end of the day, you can only control how you communicate with others. And if you don’t like how someone is communicating with you, unfortunately, you can’t force someone to fix something they don’t think is broken. That’s something that they have to want and do for themselves. You can’t force someone to realize that they can be shitty at times. At those instances, it is best to remove yourself from that situation, or break that cycle.

The lesson of communication has taught me that not every person is going to be along for the ride with you forever. There are friendships and people that you just have to leave behind to move forward. It can be pretty sad, but it does bring a lot of peace of mind knowing that you have surrounded and hand picked every person that you chose to be in your life. And dealing with toxic / problem relationships without cutting them off is another story. Sometimes we are put in situations where you can’t really “cut off” the person that is bringing you so much negativity. I have found a middle balance of keeping it professional, but also keeping it moving. My feelings don’t get hurt anymore if someone is being shady because I’ve literally learned to not give a shit. I’ve learned to look past my own hurt and not take it personally. If you’re treating me some type of way, I know that it is something that you are dealing with within yourself. Awkward silence is no longer awkward for me, and letting someone else’s mood affect my mood is only giving them the satisfaction – misery loves company, and I got other shit to deal with.

2020 forced these things to light. “That’s just how I am,” is no longer and excuse or pass. Nobody is perfect, and we are all a work in progress. But, being aware, and attempting to re-learn is what’s important. You can’t control how someone reacts, speaks, or treats you. You can only control how you act, react, speak, and treat others. Understanding this has made it easier for me to weed out who I don’t want in my life. Setting boundaries has made me set a standard for what kind of people and energies I want to be around. I’m aware that I’m not perfect, but being aware and conscious that my communication skills need to be improved. It has brought on a whirlwind of emotions, from shame, anger, embarrassment, and everything in-between. There will be times where the progress feels stagnant, and like you’re fighting an uphill battle. There will be times where you mess up and go back to your old communicating style, but it’s all a part of the lesson. Understanding my emotions, and the root of why I react the way I do, has been a journey on it’s own, “that’s just the way I am,” is something I’ve been trying to take out of my vocabulary.

Pushing Forward

For the sake of the individual’s safety and privacy, they have chosen to share their story anonymously.

Do you ever think back to the times before something very significant in your life happened? You can remember the exact moment when someone entered your life, and little did you know at the time that life as you knew it would never be the same again? This is one of those stories. Their story started with a handshake.

It was kind’ve awkward to be honest. Jordan said hello, but Alex stayed mute, keeping their eyes down to the ground, and finally they shook Jordan’s hand. At work, they befriended the same people and were in the same department. They were bound to have conversations and bump into each other regularly. Alex started to notice that Jordan was taking an interest in them, maybe even trying to pursue a relationship. Jordan was very flirtatious, and Alex didn’t know how to feel. Alex definately thought that Jordan was out of their league – there was no way a romantic relationship would develop between the two. But Alex started to feel themself getting attracted to Jordan’s charming ways. Alex really liked that Jordan’s presence came off as “in control.” One day Alex caught a glimpse of Jordan’s eyes in the sunlight, it was a done deal.

From there, the couple moved pretty fast. They moved in together about 6 months into their relationship, and they were already planning a wedding by the end of their first year together. Alex describes everything in their relationship as “moving fast.” From “I love you’s,” to moving in, to taking “what’s mine is yours,” very literally, and so on. At the time, Alex didn’t see that as a red flag. And why would Alex second guess Jordan? Jordan swept Alex off of their feet and played the part well – making their love look so real, and making Alex feel like their love would last a lifetime. Alex was ecstatic, they never thought that a person like Jordan would be in a relationship with them. However, moving fast in the relationship was just 1 red flag of many. And unfortunately, Alex’s happiness did not last very long.

Alex explains that initially, these red flags didn’t even come up as red flags to them at the time. Why? They were so wrapped up in the “bubble” of happiness and the relationship, that they didn’t think twice about the manipulation. In fact, it took almost a decade later for Alex to understand that they were a victim of domestic abuse. Alex’s therapist helped Alex see all of the red flags that they missed throughout their 8 year long relationship. Moving fast in the relationship, Alex learned, is a tactic narcissist abusers use to start controlling their partners. But Alex was so caught up in the bubble, that they didn’t even realize Jordan’s actions were signs of control.

Very early on, Alex would hear the way Jordan would treat and talk to their ex-partners, since Jordan had children from previous relationships. Alex would always try to get Jordan to see the ex partners’ side, especially since Jordan had to co-parent with them. Jordan would boast about having children with different partners, and how there were probably more children they didn’t know about. Alex thought it was odd that Jordan would take pride in that, but brushed it off. 7 months into their relationship, Alex and Jordan got news that they were expecting. Alex never expected that co-parenting would soon be in their distant future, and they would be in Jordan’s exs’ shoes.

As soon as their relationship started, so did the rules. Jordan didn’t like the fact that Alex had personal social media accounts. Alex was forced into deleting their personal accounts, and had to replace them with joint accounts that they shared with Jordan. The people that they followed were mostly Jordan’s family and friends. Every friend / follower was approved by Jordan. Jordan got to choose who Alex interacted with on social media, and made sure Alex wasn’t searching or interacting with anyone they didn’t approve of. This meant that Alex couldn’t keep in contact with their own friends if Jordan didn’t approve of them. The first round of cut off’s happened with social media, and Alex didn’t know that they’d lose a lot more friendships due to Jordan down the line.

Jordan wanted the joint social media accounts because they wanted to keep tabs on who Alex spoke to. The agreement was that both of them would delete their personal accounts and just have the joint relationship account. Alex discovered that Jordan had personal accounts of their own. Alex couldn’t believe it, they thought it was bullshit that Jordan went out of their way to control the followers and accounts, only to have their own accounts secretly. Alex was pissed, so they decided to make their own personal accounts again. This would only add more fuel to the small fire already burning.

Alex started to lose a lot of friendships quickly. Some ended because Jordan demanded Alex end the friendships, and others ended because some friends were trying to tell Alex that this was not a healthy relationship. Alex would blame themself for the way Jordan treated them – not trusting them, accusing them, and controlling them. When Alex would vent to friends, their friends would tell them how the relationship wasn’t normal behavior. Alex would brush it off and try to justify Jordan’s actions, being oblivious and in denial about their reality. Jordan didn’t approve of Alex’s friends that were of the opposite sex. Jordan forced Alex to block and cut ties with many friends, but the rules never applied to Jordan. They were still friends with people of the opposite sex, and being very suspicious with a certain classmate. It was a double standard, and Alex was the only one having boundaries and rules.

Jordan started to accuse Alex of cheating. To make sure Alex’s self-esteem was low, Jordan would verbally put Alex down – commenting on their appearance, weight, and claiming that they could sleep with anyone. It was ironic to say the least because majority of their fights were due to Jordan’s flirtatious ways. Sometimes, the flirting would happen right infront of Alex. But when Alex would get upset, Jordan would brush it off as Alex having jealously issues. No matter what, Jordan always made Alex feel like they were doing something wrong and sneaky.

“No matter how many times I defended myself, I was always wrong in (their) eyes and I was the cheater,” Alex recalls. “I was upset of course. I could give reason – a valid reason – but (they) would never accept it as the truth.”

Jordan never let up on accusing Alex of cheating their whole 8+ year relationship. But there were multiple times where Alex caught Jordan cheating on them. And everytime Alex would confront Jordan about it, Jordan would say Alex is delusional. But the proof was in the pudding – all the messages, lies, and things not adding up. This put Alex in a difficult situation because by this time, they had a couple of children together already. Alex was tired of Jordan putting them down for things they were not guilty of. The least Jordan could do was admit their wrong doing, instead of projecting it back on Alex.

But that’s what Jordan was best at. Jordan would emotionally abuse Alex by not validating their feelings, ignoring them when they needed support, being very detached from the family. Alex admits that almost 9 years together and they still didn’t feel like they knew much about Jordan. Jordan kept to themselves, and didn’t give too much detail about their personal life and upbringing. This sense of privacy angered Alex because they just wanted to bond. Alex felt as though they only knew snippets of who Jordan really was, and there was no sign of Jordan budging or letting anyone in. They knew the basics of Jordan – like their favorite color, simple likes and dislikes, food, but anything passed that, Jordan kept Alex in the dark.

“8 years with (them), I’m assuming I was the only person who stayed the longest, and I learned about (them) from others,” Alex said.

Throughout their relationship, verbal abuse was very common. Jordan would call Alex names and put them down all the time. Everytime Alex tried to confront Jordan of cheating, even having valid evidence, Jordan would resort to name calling. Psycho. Stalker. Crazy. The list went on. Jordan would comment on Alex’s appearance, saying they gained weight, they should work out, they should do XYZ to themselves. Threats, insults, name calling, and being put down was common in their household.

On top of the verbal abuse, Jordan was notorious for their gaslighting. Jordan was constantly lying, making Alex believe the things they claimed – even if Alex had solid proof. Jordan’s go to defense mechanism was to deny deny deny. Jordan would deny saying something, even when Alex recalled the conversation and the details. It seemed like everything Jordan was guilty of, he would just project it back on Alex. Any questions Alex may have had were always met with accusations of Alex being a cheater, liar, and being at fault for causing a fight. Alex was miserable, but at the same time desperately wanted Jordan’s love. It was a love hate relationship, and that’s what made it all the more confusing.

Alex kept all these red flags from her family. They didn’t want their family’s perception of Jordan to change. Alex was protecting Jordan’s honor, and wanted their family to still see Jordan in a positive light. Therefore, Alex dealt with the abuse alone. Alex’s mother was extremely fond of Jordan. From the moment Alex brought Jordan home, Alex’s mother thought Jordan was great and really loved them. For 8 years, Alex’s family didn’t know how tumultuous their relationship was. On top of that, Jordan started to shit talk Alex’s family. Jordan would categorize them with certain stereotypes, and would judge them. To make Alex more insecure, Jordan would say that Alex’s sibling(s) wanted to have sex with them. Jordan claimed that Alex’s sibling(s) have mentioned it/ have hinted that they would be down for a sexual encounter. Alex didn’t believe what Jordan claimed, but was weary. Alex no longer wanted their sibling(s) around Jordan, fearing that what Jordan claimed was true. Alex started to distance themselves from their siblings.

Alex believes that this is part of the reason why Jordan wanted to move so far away from their family. Alex now sees, over 10 years later, that this was Jordan’s way of isolating them from people they were close to. They moved to another state – far enough that Jordan was confident that Alex’s family couldn’t afford to visit. They moved around a lot because Jordan was never satisfied with their location. Within 2 years they moved 4 times, from apartment complex to the next, to out of state, and another relocation after that. They finally settled in California. Alex had no family and no friends near by. All they had was Jordan, their kids, and Jordan’s family and friends. Alex felt alone throughout their relationship, but this time, they were actually alone, with no one to turn to except their abuser.

Alex was really lonely in California. Jordan would tell Alex that they were boring, and would act as if they were helping by forcing their family to hangout with Alex. In reality, Alex knew that they were just a burden to Jordan’s family, and Jordan forced others to hangout with Alex so they themself wouldn’t have to. Alex’s main and only concern were their children. But it seemed like Jordan always put their family last. Alex had enough. They were tired of the mind games, the name calling, the abuse, the cheating, not feeling good enough, they didn’t even recognize themself in the mirror anymore. Alex hit their breaking point. The relationship was going on 9 years, 9 years too long.

“I wanted to be loved, noticed, valued, and appreciated… but I wasn’t,” Alex shared. “I know now that I will never get those things from (Jordan), (they’re) incapable of it. Instead, I felt like I was a chess piece in (their) mind, just waiting to use me for (their) personal gain.”

A month before their 9 year anniversary, Alex made the decision to end their relationship. Alex was in the shower, taking extra long to avoid their reality. Something about that shower made Alex realize how unhappy they were in the relationship. It dawned on them that they were in a relationship with Jordan for almost 9 years, and never really knew the real them. Alex got out of the shower, and Jordan walked in the room with their phone in hand. Alex knew they had to end it.

“I don’t want to be with you anymore,” Alex told Jordan.

“Okay,” Jordan said.

Not a week later, Jordan was in a relationship with someone else. Alex was heartbroken. Jordan didn’t hesitate to say “okay” to not being together, and didn’t put up a fight for their family. And just like that, Jordan was repeating the same cycle with someone else, saying “I love you,” fast -less than 1 week after breaking up with Alex. On top of that, their lease was ending. Alex wanted to stay in the apartment and was going to take full responsibility of the rent and bills, and just needed Jordan to sign off on the lease. But Alex knew they couldn’t depend on Jordan, so Alex started to look for short term residency for themself and the children, not waiting for Jordan’s response.

Jordan didn’t come through with signing on another lease. This left Alex and their children homeless. For a month they lived in a motel, while Jordan moved in with their new significant other. When the children would go with Jordan, Alex would crash on a friend’s couch. Jordan never offered for the kids and Alex to stay with them in the meantime. Eventually, Alex found a place for themself and the kids. But California was just too much – too expensive, too stressful, too much for a single parent. Alex and the kids had to move back to Alex’s home state.

Alex and the kids moved out of state, and for a while the two were co-parenting from a distance. Alex finally decided to seek help. Therapy was Alex’s way to regain control of themself again. Alex felt lost, they couldn’t eat, they couldn’t sleep, and they wanted to find another way to cope with the failed relationship. It is at therapy that Alex learned that they were in an abusive relationship with a narcissist. They couldn’t believe it. When the therapist pointed out all the red flags and all the ways Jordan manipulated and abused them, Alex broke out into tears. 8 plus years of abuse validated. The therapist was confirming that Alex wasn’t crazy, they weren’t psycho, they weren’t making things up and misremembering information. It was abuse.

For a while, Alex felt like they were in a better place mentally. Their progress was tested when Jordan moved to where Alex and the children were after a couple of years of co-parenting from different states. Alex and Jordan became fuck buddies, and with time, it started to give Alex hope. Hope that they could possibly be a family again, or atleast co-parent respectfully. Alex was wrong. They realized once again that Jordan would never be the partner they wanted them to be. Alex admits that the fuck buddy system was put in place only because it was familiar.

The two stopped being friends with benefits, and Jordan found another partner to move in with. After all these years, Jordan was still pulling the same tactics. But even though Jordan has a new love interest, that doesn’t mean they’re over playing mind games with Alex. Jordan brings up occasionally how the two should try for another child. Alex thinks back to the crazy custody battles and how difficult it is to co-parent with Jordan, and shuts down the idea.

To this day, Alex’s family doesn’t know the truth about Jordan and their relationship. Only one of Alex’s siblings knows the truth. When Alex’s mom boasts about Jordan doing a good deed or brings them up in general, Alex can’t help but roll their eyes. But they don’t divulge their deepest darkest secrets, they don’t try to get their family to hate Jordan too, they don’t tell a peep about anything from the past. And in a way, Alex still fights this battle alone. They notice a huge change in the person they have become, but still won’t share it with the family.

And the same goes for friends. After Jordan and Alex broke up, Alex tried to rekindle the old friendships they lost. Sometimes it was successful, and sometimes it wasn’t. They acknowledge that these friendships ended due to Jordan, but sometimes it didn’t seem worth it to rekindle. Long absences usually calls for catching up, and Alex didn’t want to explain the past and relive what they went through. It was their business and they didn’t feel comfortable to share. They also didn’t feel like they needed to explain themself.

“I reached out to them, sometimes it worked and other times I realized it wasn’t a good situation to rekindle anything,” Alex said. “When you’re forced to remove friends from your life and you go back and rekindle things, you face judgments and you go into catching up with them. Oftentimes, there are questions, and I didn’t want to answer any of it so I just left it alone and left the friendship alone.”

Alex’s advice for the outsiders worried about a friend’s relationship is to be understanding. They advise that you hold your judments and opinions, and simply just be there for your friend. It’s easy to say and give advice when you are an outsider looking in, but when you’re actually in a toxic abusive relationship, it’s hard. Yes, give your opinions and voice out your concerns, but don’t make the person feel worse about themselves.

Alex and Jordan was in a relationship for almost 9 years, and they will have to both be in each other’s lives to an extent for their children. Alex has lost hope that they can co-parent peacefully with Jordan. Alex sees how happy their children are to have Jordan back in their lives, and they say that’s what made this journey worth it. But Alex does admit that co-parenting with a narcissist is nearly impossible. They feel as though they’re being sabotaged majority of the time. Alex doesn’t know yet if they’ll ever tell their kids the truth about Jordan. Their main concern is to protect the kids from the illusions Jordan tends to paint.

Alex has come a long way with working on themselves. They put up boundaries, and try hard to not let Jordan’s words get to them. Alex stressed the importance of thinking before reacting, and that has saved them a lot of tears. But of course, there are days when Alex just can’t stand Jordan – they break, they cry, they yell, they blast music to try to remember the bulletpoints of how Jordan tries to manipulate and control situations. There are days when Alex just writes. They write down all the negative things they want to say to Jordan until they feel better. They’ve put up walls, and they know they’re not the same person they used to be. Alex is at a constant battle fighting for themself, their mind, their heart.

“After the relationship ended, it took a while for me to accept what I went through, what my kids went through,” Alex said. “Now I accept it, I no longer deny my experience and my past. It is not my fault. What I went through was never my fault.”

Toy Sounds In The Night

As we get closer to Halloween, it’s only appropriate I share a spooky encounter that happened a few weeks ago…

I’ve always believed in the paranormal. Since a young age I’ve been interested in the after life and what happens to us when we die. I feel like it’s either you believe in ghosts or you don’t, and it’s hard to find people that are inbetween. It’s safe to say that I 100% believe in the paranormal. I enjoy watching TV shows of people telling their real life experiences. I get so engulfed in it, but at the same time I spook myself out. It’s one of those things where I think it’s so fascinating, but I just hope nothing creepy ever happens to me – unless it’s a departed loved one of course.

I believe that people can communicate or give signs even after they pass away. To me, things like dreams, little coincidences, butterflies, a song playing during a significant date, etc, could all be messages from the other side. I know there are people that agree with me, but at the same time I know there’s a huge chunk of people that think I’m out of my fucking mind. And I’m okay with knowing that there is a 50% chance that half of y’all think I’m a lunatic. To me, knowing a loved one is still having your back and is somewhat still with you is cool. But the ironic and funny thing is – I’m easily frightened.

I’ve always wondered what I would do if I lived in a “haunted house,” since I am a believer. Christian, on the other hand, is not. I always tell him about dreams I have, butterflies being my “Mama” and “Tatay Celso” (my grandparents that have passed), the volume on the TV going significantly higher or lower, etc. He’s 100% a skeptic, so he would look at me with a raised eyebrow trying not to be rude. But it would beso obviously written all over his face that he thinks I’m trippin’. We have had multiple talks on multiple occasions where I give him a million different scenarios.

“What if our future house was haunted, would you believe me?!”

“What if I experienced things but you didn’t, would you take my word or you would think I’m being paranoid?”

“You better not treat me like I’m crazy!”

He’s the type that needs proof for everything. To him, and many others, things can be explained away as a coincidence or have a reason for what is happening. Christian likes to make sense of the situation before jumping to paranormal conclusions. I, on the otherhand, will see two butterflies and claim dead grandparents right off the bat. I guess a part of me always wanted to open his eyes to believe that there is some things we just really can’t explain away. And maybe – just maybe – I could change his beliefs of life after death. However, I didn’t think I would prove my point in our new living situation…

When we first moved into the new space, we were excited and getting used to the new living situation. It was weird for me because I have lived in the same house my whole life. But now, I was in a new environment, living in an old Victorian San Francisco house. I was so used to seeing the house in the daytime, that it was so weird being in the house at night. In fact, seeing the house in the night time without all the lights being turned off gave me an eerie feeling. I had to learn all the new noises and creeks of the floor and walls. I had to learn to be comfortable and not get scared off of every little thing. It was just a lot of change mixed with all the scary shit I would watch on TV.

The first couple of days, me and Christian would hear noises that we couldn’t explain away. Surprisingly, I was the one saying things like “it’s probably just the ____” or saying it’s because the house is old. And to add to the surprise, Mr. Skeptic was the one getting freaked out. I was surprised to see that Christian was the one that was more spooked from all the noises. I was a little scared, but I knew that it’s an old San Francisco house, and we weren’t used to it yet. I was shocked to see that the man who was certain he wasn’t a believer was suddenly having a change of heart. And to be completely honest, I didn’t play my usual scaredy-cat role because I figured, “Fuck, we can’t both be scared!” A part of me was really scared when he would say things like, “did you hear that? What is that?” But I didn’t want to acknowledge it, fearing that it would suddenly manifest into something bigger. Ignore, ignore, ignore, was my mentality.

What was the absolute cherry on top was when I noticed something had fallen off of the wall. It was in the morning, and Christian had already left for work. I walked passed the living room to get to the kitchen, got my breakfast and walked passed the livingroom again. This time I noticed it. The little foldable roof topper that connected to the wall was on the floor. This wasn’t unusual. The topper gets heavy and sometimes rips the 3M hook right off the wall. But this time was different. The foldable roof was neatly flat on the floor, and the 3M hook was still on the wall. How could this be? I touched the 3M hook in disbelief. How? The hook was about 1.5 inches facing up, there was no way that thing could come off on its own without the 3M hook coming off as well. But yet, the hook was still completely stuck to the wall. I asked co-workers and Christian later, and everyone had no explanation. No more ignoring – I was thoroughly creeped out.

To be sure and for some peace of mind, I invited my best friends to come over to help me sage the place. It was getting to a point where Christian and I were a little nervous everytime we heard something we couldn’t explain. Justine bought me a “palo santo” stick and a crystal, and we used the oven to light it. Justine and I went through every part of the house, saging every room, closet, and crevice, speaking words of positivity and affirmations that only light and positivity was welcome. All the while a pregnant Cam chilled in the kitchen typing out her pregnancy reveal post for Instagram and Shonalyn stayed in the livingroom staying on a roommate call that lasted about 45 minutes.

I don’t care what anyone says, it worked. I felt so much lighter after we saged the house. The house itself felt so much lighter, quieter, as if the air had been lifted. After that day, we didn’t hear anything that had us on edge. It gave us peace of mind. Over the last couple of weeks we have been getting used to the new living situation and most importantly, living with each other. We have been together for almost 5.5 years, and we know each other pretty well. But living together is a whole new thing. We now have the opportunity to see how each other really live. And thankfully, we could do that peacefully without thinking our house was haunted.

A couple of weeks ago, on a Saturday night, we were chillin in the room. I told Christian to light our candle because the house smelled like the dinner we just finished eating. Since we just moved in, we didn’t have any lighters or matches. So Christian used the school’s birthday candle that he lit with the oven to light our fragrant candle. Christian played Fall Guys with his brother on the PS4, and I was sitting hunchback hovering over my 20 pages of notes for Blog Post #60. Y’all remember how long that story was, so I was hard-core typing, trying so hard to write atleast 15 paragraphs by the time I fell asleep.

About 30 minutes into writing, I heard a toy going off in the next room. I got a little scared, since it was about 10:30 PM and the all the lights, except in our room, was off. I knew exactly what toy it was too. It was a toy structure that you could race 2 little toy cars down, and it made car engine / beeping sounds. I ignored it. I had 15 paragraphs to write, that’s equivalent to atleast 5 pages on Microsoft Word. I continued on with my writing. About 15 minutes later I heard the toy go off again. Just something about night time makes everything seem a thousand times scarier. Christian had 1 earphone on and was talking to his brother playing the game. Something in me didn’t want to acknowledge it, nervously thinking about what could happen if I say something and it keeps happening.

For anyone that isn’t familiar with “Fall Guys,” it’s a game that basically reminds me of Ninja Warrior but with 60 opponents. Your character is a little, short, chubby chode looking jellybean that you get to dress up in funny outfits. It starts off with you and 59 other people, and you have to complete an obstacle course. If you complete it in time, you qualify to move onto the next obstacle course. Slowly, people get cut off and you don’t stop playing until you lose or you win the crown, meaning you were the last one standing and won the whole thing. Christian has been obsessed with this game recently, and I know that it gets intense where he can’t immediately get up and do something if I ask. I bet other gamer girlfriends can relate *rolls eyes.*

Anyways, when the toy went off the 2nd time I was like oh hell nah. I was getting pretty sleepy, and usually when I set a paragraph goal for myself I always take breaks inbetween – which is honestly annoying as fuck of myself because I have to regain motivation to write again and stop messing around. So, I sprawled out on the bed and began to close my eyes and dose off a little bit. I heard the toy go off. I don’t remember which came first – if I told Christian about the toy going off before or after I laid down. But I heard the toy and got up immediately, wide awake no longer about to fall asleep.

By this time Christian was aware of the toy going off. At first he didn’t hear it, but then it started going off more frequently. “Oh yeah, I hear it now,” he had told me. He explained to his brother over the mic that one of the toys in the school was going off and he needed to turn it off after the game, but he couldn’t because he was still in the competition. In fact, he had the audacity to tell me to turn it off as he played. I refused. I was not about to confront whatever was making that thing go off on my own. We agreed to go together once the game ended.

But the toy was going off every minute. I don’t think Christian got how nerve wrecking it was for me since he had 1 earphone blasting the Fall Guys music and also hearing his brother. I got so anxious. “Do you not hear that?!” I frantically asked him. He told me he did hear it but they were still in the game. My heart was beating so fast. Then it seemed to be going off every 30 seconds! *engine turning on sound* *chuga-chuga-chuga-chuga-beep beep!* I was terrified.

“Christian!” I felt like I was on the verge of having a panic attack. All the while Christian is having a conversation with his brother about them barely making it to the finish line. My heart was beating so fast and his frantic “omg we’re not gonna make it!” type of dialog added to the anxiety I was feeling.

“Yeah I hear it,” he said inbetween talking to his brother, “Yeah dude one of the toys is going crazy right now.”

By this time there was no pause inbetween. The toy was going off repeatedly non-stop. I felt like crying. I didn’t know what to do. I was fucking terrified and felt like I was gonna go into fight or flight mode. Was I going to run in that room and see what was going on? Or was I going to call an Uber back to my parents’ house and get the fuck out? Waiting for Christian to be done with the game seemed like a lifetime. I wanted it to stop. I needed that toy to stop. Hearing the sound going off non-stop had me mentally fucked. I was so scared.

“Oooo! Ohhh! Fuck yeah! Yesssss!” Christian is yelling outloud, qualifying for the next round as his Fall Guy makes it over the finish line.

The upbeat tempo was making me anxious as hell. Everything from the toy going off non-stop, to Christian yelling and winning on the game, to me sitting there being over stimulated with all the commotion. When I thought I couldn’t get any more creeped out, the toy started to freak out even more. It went from going off non-stop, to being so frantic that it wasn’t even completing the full audio anymore. It went from *engine sound, chuga-chuga-chuga-chuga-beep-beep!* for what seemed like a lifetime to *engine sound, chuga-chuga-chuga-engine sound-engine sound-chuga-chuga-engine sound- engine sound, chuga-beep-beep!* As if someone impatiently had their finger on the button and was ringing it non-stop, so much so that the full audio wouldn’t play, and instead kept getting cut off.

It went like this for about a minute. My heart was pounding out of my chest and I really wanted to break out in tears. Meanwhile Christian is yelling in excitement because he just finished the whole game and won the crown. Finally! He could come with me to turn it off. Once Christian won the game, and he told his brother he was going to turn off the toy, the toy stopped going off. Just like that. We both got up and made our way into the dark hallway.

I knew exactly what toy it was, but Christian was heading the wrong direction. When he headed for the wrong direction, the toy went off again. Almost to signal, “hey, wrong way.” We looked at each other. I was more nervous while he was still on his adrenaline rush from winning 3 or 4 crowns just in that night. I turned on the light in the livingroom, but the room was completely silent. I knew what toy it was, but couldn’t get the words out of my mouth to tell Christian which one it was, as he lifted the cover on the toy shelves to try to find it.

“I don’t know which one it is,” he said.

As he looked through all the toys, I looked passed into the kitchen, which lights were still completely off. I peered my head at an angle, not knowing if I would see someone or something or… honestly I don’t even really know what I was expecting. But when I looked into the dark kitchen, I saw something glowing. The reflection in my air fryer showed something glowing blue. It all started to piece together. Blue glowing light? Reflection? That means it’s across? That means…. that means the stove is on? I stepped foot into the dark kitchen and quickly turned left to look at the oven. One of the oven burners were on. I gasped and turned it off.

“Christian! The oven was still on!”

“What?” He came into the kitchen. I angrily explained to him that he left the burner on when he lit the birthday candle to light our fragrant candle.

“I feel like whoever was making that toy go off was trying to tell us the burner was still on,” I said. At that exact moment after finishing the sentence, the toy went off again. *car engine, chuga-chuga-chuga-chuga-beep-beep!*

We looked at each other and I immediately took the toy and turned it off. I wondered if it was Christian’s grandpa, who passed away just a few months prior, giving us a heads up that we were about to burn the whole fucking house down. What initally had me scared out of my mind, suddenly brought me comfort, thinking if it were my loved ones, or one of Christian’s having our back from the other side. I wondered what would’ve happened that night if that toy didn’t obnoxiously go off that night. It was close to midnight, so we probably would’ve just went straight to sleep after I hit my writing goal and Christian was done with video games, without even thinking twice to go back into the kitchen. I look back and realize that the toy started bugging out once I took a break and started dozing off on the bed.

I truly believed whoever was responsible for making that toy go off, was looking out for me and Christian. That was something not even Christian the Skeptic could explain away. It seemed too much of a coincidence to just be a random occurrence.

30 Years Married – The Pandemic Anniversary

For as long as I can remember, my family and I have always celebrated my parents’ anniversary in Reno. We would get so excited that we would pack days in advance. My sisters and I would wake up early on those Saturday mornings and prepare for the long drive with snacks. That’s how you know we were going on a trip – when my mom bought the family size bags of all our favorite snacks. That 4 hour drive used to seem like forever. Getting to the rest stop in the mountains was a sign that we had less than halfway to go. I can still see me and my sisters waiting on the side of the lobby as my parents checked in, fighting over who has to hold the Beauty and the Beast suitcase. I can still remember those late nights at Circus Circus, playing the games, winning stuffed animals, and watching the live shows. Then, before going back to the room, getting ice cream would be a must. Me and Merl would play with the stuffed toys we won, and we would stay up late watching TV. That’s how it’s always been, until we got older and turned to the pool instead of Circus Circus. But with the current pandemic, this time around we skipped our annual tradition and kept it local.

This weekend we celebrated my parents’ 30 year wedding anniversary. “But 36 years together!” My mom always adds in. 30 years married and 36 years together, since their wedding date and official date are 6 years and 1 day apart. We’ve always celebrated their anniversary together as a family. But this anniversary felt different. There’s something about every tenth wedding anniversary that gets to you, it’s one of those big milestones. 3 decades married made all 5 of us feel old in our own way. Especially since we weren’t celebrating the way we usually do was definitely a sign of the times. I got my parents, but especially my mom, these orchids because “if someone gives it to you, it will bring good luck.” Haha.We’ll forever remember that their 30th wedding anniversary was during a pandemic. But still, 3 decades is definitely something to celebrate, even if we’ve all been pretty good about distancing and avoiding crowded public places.

We decided to keep it local and celebrated at Pier 39, a place we used to go to when we were younger. If I’m remembering correctly, this is the first family outing we have been to since the shutdown happened in mid-March, aside from drive through birthday parties. I had my first outside dining experience since COVID-19, and it felt a little weird being out again. My dad made it a point to say that he would not eat inside a restaurant. Thankfully, it was a sunny day in San Francisco and outside dining was pleasant…. for the rest of the family, while I – of course – sizzled in the sun because my seat wasn’t in the shade. We had the table furthest from everyone else, with the view of the water and boats. I was blind and slowly baking in the sun majority of the time, but it was still nice. After Pier 39, we played tourists in San Francisco, passing Ghirardelli Square, going down Lombard Street, looking over the city at Coit Tower parking lot since it was still closed, and riding through Chinatown. And apparently my dad took us to where he and my mom had their first date.

My dad and uncle were best friends in high school, and that’s where my parents’ love story begins. Without Uncle Rey, my sisters and I probably wouldn’t be here! They were always at the same functions since my mom and uncle were brother and sister and ran in similar friend groups. I’ve heard about the late night hangouts, bowling, picnics, and all the places they used to go to to meet up with friends. It’s kind’ve crazy to think of my parents as teenagers / young adults. My little sister described it saying, “isn’t it crazy that mom and dad have always been a part of our lives but they had a whole other life before us?” Something that I’ve always thought of, but more so now as I enter into my adult life and think of my future.

Anyways, my mom always tells us how she knew my dad was a good guy because of this particular story. He asked to take her out and she said yes, but only if her home girls could come along too. He said yeah and treated them all out. To my mom, she saw it as him being a very generous guy because he was kind to her friends even though he originally only asked her to hangout. Long story short, they started dating. 6 years into dating, they decided to get married. It’s so crazy to think that my mom got married when she was 26. To put it into context, that would be like me getting married next year. Growing up, I’ve always put my mom’s timeline along with mine as certain age “markers” to eyeball when it would be appropriate for me to do the same – like get married, move out, have kids.

It’s crazy to think that they’ve been together for that long! 30 years married, 36 years together. Damn. Growing up, I thought nothing of it. But now as an adult, I’m more at awe when celebrating their anniversaries. Especially since I see now how a relationship is hard work. If you want something to work, you really have to work for it. My mom was 20 when they first got together, and that is a lot of changing, evolving, and growing together over the years. And it’s sweet to know that they’ve been there for each other through every stage of life. My parents’ marriage taught me that no relationship is perfect, there will definately be disagreements, but if you’re really committed to someone, you find a way to make it work. My parents are definition of ride or die for each other.

I like how after all these years, we still come together as a family for their anniversaries. When we were younger, our trips to Reno were the vacations we looked forward to. Our parent’s anniversary was like a holiday to us. We got to celebrate and get treated out. We got to play games, win prizes, and spend their money. As we got older though, I will admit that Reno and Cache Creek hotels lost it’s touch. We were starting to be in our late teens and early 20’s, and Circus Circus just didn’t have the same effect as it used to. I think this time around, with the pandemic and all of us being young adults – 29, 25, and 23 – we are seeing that these anniversaries are important and… dare I say… limited.

As I grow older it makes me melancholy knowing that not everything lasts forever. So I’m cherishing these moments more because I never know what life will be like 1 year from now, 5 years from now, 1 decade from now when we’re celebrating 40 years of marriage. Now it’s our time to give back to the selfless parents that chose to spend all of their anniversaries with their kids. Now we take them out and treat them out for their anniversary. Oh how the tables have turned, but I like it better that way. They made us happy taking us places and starting traditions since we were kids, so it’s only appropriate that we return the favor now that we are older.

My parents’ 30th wedding anniversary will definitely be one for the books. The pandemic anniversary. Haha. But I’m glad we got to spend it all together as a family. “ThAnK yOu, gUuUysSS!” My dad said in a dumb voice as we drove off leaving Pier 39….We all broke out laughing. That’s the Cabillo’s for ya – can’t show affection properly but be feelin’ all the feelz.