A Bowl of Memory

Yukgaejang, please.” I placed my order and listened to my family place their own selections. It was one of those Sundays at a local Korean restaurant. Yukgaejang (spicy beef soup) was one of the dishes that I would order aside from Jjajjang myeon (black bean noodles). The savory flavor was something that I grew to enjoy and crave on days when I just needed to clear my mind of the many things that bothered me. 

 Today, as I waited for my bowl of spicy beef soup, I thought about how different I was from when I first sat in this restaurant with friends. Years ago, all I knew to order was bulgogi and bibimbap, mostly because they were familiar rice dishes with meat. Today, I was guiding my parents with what they might prefer on the menu. I could even figure out which ones were the sweet dishes and which ones were the spicy ones. 

Food has a way of bringing back memories, and usually good ones. In this case, I was remembering good memories against the backdrop of a different reality. Same restaurant, different association. I suppose that’s how it usually is; you don’t expect things to change so suddenly. Or, at least, with a good meal, you don’t expect to ever leave the people who are sharing it with you at the time. 

When the dark times of my relationship had arrived, I could not accept it. This very same Korean restaurant was my respite. I would order yukgaejang, welcome its spicy flavor as a way of waking me out of my stupor. Sometimes I could not finish it, because I just could not taste it. It was within these walls that I had begun my slow unraveling, my changing, my decision to become a different person. For some reason, the food never changed, but this was a good thing. I needed something constant.

As I recalled those times, I could clearly see my friends who turned out to be nothing more than acquaintances. I still remembered their orders, the food that they disliked, the ones that they always got. 

We don’t talk anymore, and I don’t want to either. But for some reason, their orders are stuck in my memory, as one of those useless pieces of information that resurfaces unexpectedly.

The waitress sets a hot bowl of Yukgaejang before me, and breaks my train of thought. I welcome the meal with fresher senses, with a deeper appreciation for life. This same dish, I now enjoy in a vibrant reality. My family, does not enjoy spicy dishes at all… but try to understand why I like this bowl of soup by tasting it anyway. 

Just like that, I have new memories with this bowl of soup. 

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Hiatus and Recovery

What Recovery Looks Like

One of the things I had hoped to do since last year was to actually put my experience into writing. Over the past year, everything was about getting better– I even had a plan about it, from the goals to the deadlines.

Many times, I fell short of my ideal goals. This also helped me learn that the decision to be better required discipline and humbling. Along the way, I found a lot of reference materials and resources. It also helped a lot to go back to the classics, reading up on both literature and spiritual reading to keep me inspired and keep working towards my goals for 2017. It was even more comforting to know that I had a safe space, with friends and family who were also very supportive of me despite my many setbacks.

If there’s anything that I have learned over the past year, I’d sum it up in three items:

  • Falling back into old habits happens in a span of two weeks
    • The first week of working on a resolution is a make-or-break. But getting past two weeks towards a third week is when you know that it has become a habit
  • Goal-setting is a holistic process
    • You are a human being, a complex and rational being. Along the way of trying to become better, you’ll realize that there are many aspects of your life that you’ll need to resolve. This is also why you need an anchor, or a center that keeps you in check after the overwhelming amount of help that comes your way. In my case, I had to constantly review my “promise” when I asked for divine intervention to take me out of my situation.
  • Your idea of your best self has a better version
    • The best part of working towards becoming a better version of you, and of being accountable to something greater than you (in this case, I decided to become more serious as a Catholic), is slowly finding out that life has even more to offer. In a way, you just needed to be prepared for the greater things ahead.

So much of the amazing events within first half of 2017 were small miracles. Moving forward from discovering that I was recovering from Narcissistic Abuse has been challenging in ways I had never imagined.

The most difficult part is that not everyone can understand that it actually happens. Sometimes, they’ll say that it’s nothing compared to what they’ve been through, but most of the time they tell you that you’ll get better– and I guess that’s what really matters.

Within the past year, this was what recovery looked like:

  • not wanting to be avenged anymore, or learning to understand that it could have happened to anyone
  • learning that love finds it way to you, despite how convinced I was that I was meant to be single forever (happily single, not resigned to it. Haha!)
  • that while the fear returns every now and then, it no longer cripples me
  • and most of all, that I’ve been able to forgive my offender– and myself for failing myself.

In the process of trying to figure out how to understand what I was going through, I accidentally found this Youtube channel. It gave me a lot of comfort and realizations, aside from the prayers and goal-setting I tried to integrate into my journey to healing.

I’m sharing this here in case you also need to process things. Her videos are very patient and empathetic towards those recovering from narcissistic abuse. And as for my story, here it is… *drumroll*

The Back-story

(Basically, what I was recovering from in the past year.)

 

Continue reading “Hiatus and Recovery”

Why Write

I might have gotten off the wrong foot on why I should have a blog. This was something I had easily maintained back in high school and college life, but immediately stopped when I had began working. Mostly, I stopped blogging because I didn’t want people to easily read my thoughts, and maintain a professional relationship with them. On the other hand, I still wanted people to know what I thought.

In the end, I just had a quick attempt and a few (half-assed) blogs somewhere along my working years. Reading through them tends to leave me feeling hollow, though. As if I was not encountering myself, but a bot. Being someone who has a lot of opinions on various things– both the mundane and the abstract– writing about safe topics slowly killed my spirit.

This reminds me of a question I had asked a writer friend about being a writer. I told him that I wanted to be a writer, and that I know this deep down even if I still have a lot of work to do. It was because writing sets me free, helps me sort things out, and is the best way I can express myself; I am happiest when I am able to write well. The problem is that I already foresee how some of my thoughts might not resound with people. To that, he simply smiled and said, “such is the fate of a writer.”

That being said, perhaps part of being an authentic writer and a memorable one (at least in my opinion), is the capacity to take all the goodness and sh*tiness of humanity, be authentic about it, and turn it into something worthwhile. It’s not just about expression, but about creating something. Hopefully, something that can serve others in a way that helps them grow.

Talking to friends who manage blogs for a living has helped me appreciate their talent and time management. It has also helped me realize my limitations as a writer: brevity is the soul of wit. And in blogging, wit might be the only thing that keeps people coming back for more.

This is a step towards becoming the writer I want to be, and to reclaim my authentic voice as a writer. I need to stop filtering all the time (that comes later, with editing and much thought).

I begin with blogging again, a venue for expression in my younger years. Perhaps, later on, I can take on greater strides and actually put myself out there, regardless of what expectations others had of me as a person and as a writer.

This is about authenticity.