From the drafts

As I battle my fear of being seen, here are some excerpts from letters I wrote and never published. (Originally posted on Substack.)

March 2019

Things have been a flurry since January. High goals were being set left and right (I see you, Capricorn season) by everyone, it seems, except me. I made dreams, wishes, and plans that I – so far – have shelved or abandoned in favor of being a fixer. New things don’t work, but upgrades to the old ones meet the bare minimum. That seems to be the pattern of 2019: give attention to the things that are loud because it means they already exist. (I live on automated spreadsheets most days, if that tells you anything.)

Some weeks I think I’m doing fine – great, even. I meet the mark and have a few things to celebrate, even if most things just get a nod of quiet satisfaction.

Most days I look back at the calendar and try to remember what it was that kept me busy. What if one day my half-checked to-do lists are all the proof I have that the past two months existed? That I existed, even if that meant existing on autopilot.

I don’t read anymore. I barely write anymore.

What does an ideal life look like for me?

Golden morning light streaks through the bedroom, like a romance cliché. The love of my life lays on his side, facing me but very obviously spaced out. His mouth rests on a soft smile, white lights dancing in his eyes so I know there’s something good on his mind. So I know he’s happy.

Mornings are good.

June 2022

It’s been long since I truly, fully believed everything happened for a reason. I remember almost vividly, walking along the storm-torn campus with someone I now no longer speak to. I had lost my phone that day and told my companion, “I have to remember that not everything means something.” I lost my phone because I was careless.

Today, I lost a friend because we didn’t know how to be friends. It didn’t happen for any other reason.

October 2022

I hate admitting I am lost, even though I know with certainty it is what I am, and what I feel most of the time. I open a blank page, I try to start on any project or activity I know I love. I am overwhelmed with what I have to admit. No amount of self-awareness or transparency seems to add up to coping, acceptance, solving. I want something to fix me.

May 2023

Where I am, April and May mean the highest peak of summer. But in Manila, I don’t understand things like summer and spring. I only know the heat, the rain, and the heat when it’s about to rain.

Since life has started to move, I have developed a fear of it stopping again. The time goes by so quickly and so slowly at the same time when there is something I want badly enough.

I have four weddings to attend this year, in one of which I will reunite with some classmates I haven’t seen in a decade. I am looking at makeup, at furniture, at dresses and shoes, and I am thinking about learning to sing again. I have some ideas for a developer portfolio.

I have, basically, allowed myself to dream. And that makes me so, so afraid.

More than a month ago, I had my first therapy session since the pandemic. This letter is not about that, nor the events leading up to it. It’s about what the therapist decided I needed, after only 40 minutes of hearing me talk: inner child work.

This entire year – all four short months of it – I’ve had many past selves resurface. The one who loves coding. The one who leaves letters to her future self. The one who reads tarot. The one who gets tipsy and cuts her own bangs. And now, the one who writes for an imaginary audience.

A somehow surprising insight I picked up: my relationship with myself isn’t as bad as I thought it was. Or at least, not as bad as it used to be. I love each different version of myself that arises, and I’m always thrilled by how many selves I encompass. The inner critic I always thought was there? She hasn’t been around lately.

Not to say she isn’t there. I’m certain I heard her in January when I was job hunting, and I bet I heard her in the weeks leading up to therapy. But she is a lot quieter, a lot less powerful than I could have sworn she was.

September 2023

Been trying to write, been trying to express, been trying to get the buzzing sound of my thoughts out. And an odd gem stumbled out into my journal: “my inner writer is wounded.”

Huh. What hurt her? Who hurt her? Was it me? We can sit and wait it out, it’s fine.

Our wounds have always bled in ink and words, haven’t they?

Be back soon,

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