Lonely and Alone

This one is tough guys. This one is hard to write. Last week, much to my amazement, I heard myself saying, “I’ve changed this year. I feel much lighter.” It was strange but I’ve never thought much beyond the changes that I had felt in my gut needed to be made. Neither did I examine the emotional reasoning behind logical actions such as leaving my former church. I guess you could say that in that moment, examining the situation too closely would have revealed truths I was in no way ready to handle. It was time for a self-discovery.

As I thought back on last year, I could clearly hear myself questioning the reason why I had so many people around me but only few realized I was stressed and unhappy. A lot were quite happy to add more drama to my plate. I looked deeper and realized that at that moment in my life, unhappiness was too mild a word, I was depressed.

Acknowledging depression is a hard pill to swallow because when you generally think of depression, the image of the girl with the bright aura and smile doesn’t readily come to mind. Instead, we generally visualize the emos, dressed in black, sullen, and looking for all the world to see “depressed”.

I remember a few years ago, I saw the story of a young woman who was dead in her apartment for two entire years before any noticed. I remember thinking, “How could that situation have happened? Didn’t she have friends, family, neighbors, etc.” I am afraid of getting there. Dying and no one noticing. At the time, I thought to myself, that could never happen to me. I have way too many people around me.

Yet, last year, I remember sitting down in church and on the choir, and wondering how could I be surrounded by so many people and still feel so alone. Aren’t these the same people who hugged me on a Sunday and called me “daughter”? Why did I feel so alone?

Why was my phone full of church contacts who, for the most part, only called or messaged me when they needed something? Why these numerous contacts only seemed interested in the wide white smile but none took the time to look beyond and see the sadness in my eyes? These were the persons I prayed with. These were the persons I sang on the choir with. These were the persons I joker around with. These were the persons I spent a large percentage of my free time with. These were the persons I thought of as friends yet when I needed, no one knew me enough to see.

Where were all my friends? Why didn’t my family notice something was off about me?

Honestly, I felt betrayed by God too. Where was He when I was internally screaming loudly? Begging Him for a physical sign that He had heard my cry? Begging Him for someone to speak directly to me, to my feeling during one of the Sunday messages. Where was He? Why didn’t he give me the sign I needed?

I can remember thinking to myself, “So many people but only a handful.” It was amazing that despite me knowing so many persons, only a few thought to check if I was okay when I went MIA. Even fewer thought to push deeper when I gave my regular “I’m okay” to the general polite question, “How are you?”

A part of me recognized that I wasn’t needed. I didn’t want to be in such an environment where everybody looked but few really saw. I recognized I couldn’t stay. My mitigation action was simple. I let go of my “BIG” church and a lot of acquaintances. I chose a smaller church and began focusing my energies on building strong relationships with the few friends who have shown themselves as being worthy of the title. I gave myself the permission to be free of the things I didn’t believe in at heart and focused on ensuring my emotional health. Eventually, I felt lighter.

In retrospect, I wondered how I got to the point of being depressed and yet no one or myself seemed to notice. The answer hit me. I was always the one who could fix it. Most of my acquaintances believed that I always had it together. I didn’t need help, instead, I was the one capable and always willing to offer the assistance. It just didn’t cross their minds that maybe I needed help of a different nature.

Guys, I hope my blubbering makes sense. I want to call you to action. I came close but I escaped from the clutches of depression. Don’t be one of the persons who looks but do not see. Care enough to stop and take the time to see beneath the surface. Care enough to ask deeper questions.

XOXO,
Chañel.

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I Don’t Even Like Wine!

Image result for i don't like wine meme gif

I guess you can say that the cat is out of the bag with my post title, huh? I remember the first time I had wine…my initial thought was “who in heaven’s name would drink this horrible-tasting stuff?” Well, hello, it’s clear that I did for years… Fabulous toast to my idiocy…?

After my first experience, everytime I found myself in a social setting, I opted to fit in, be polite and have what everyone else was having. Before I realised it, it was considered my drink of choice and I found myself buying wine to relax after a long day at work. Despite this, my tastebuds protested everytime I decided to take a sip but I kept at it! While some were better than others, acquired taste is a myth (well except for coffee)! It was simply a long journey of taste after taste! Acquired taste, my ass! 😂

Well, one day I woke up! As I held a glass in my hand, I asked myself, “why the hell do you keep having this stuff when it’s obvious you don’t enjoy it…?” I had no answer.

I realized something though. I had developed this attitude towards quite a few things in my life. I did them for the sake of acceptance or just to fit in… Like the times I:

  1. Kept silent about something because everyone seemed to be on a different wavelength and I didn’t want to be the dissenting voice.
  2. No longer recognized myself but clung to the version of the person everyone expected me to be while I slowly felt like screaming inside.
  3. Refrained from saying no although I felt like I was constantly being taken advantage of.
  4. I refrained from voicing how I felt about the action of others because it offended others or resulted in argument that I couldn’t foster the energy to fight about.

All these are done at a cost to myself! These costs added up! Everytime I bit my tongue, I embraced another aspect of timidity and lost a piece of myself! Everytime I said yes when I wanted to say no, I lost the opportunity to do something I really wanted to do. Only to do something I had little desire. And everytime, I chose to cling to a older version of myself, my evolved self screamed a bit louder.

There has to be a tipping point though. I had to seriously ask myself: “How much of myself was I willing to forsake and sacrifice in order to fit in?” Mine took a while to come but when it did, I realized that there was no law that required my continuous agreement with everyone but myself. If I didn’t like something, I had the power to either accept it or walk away. I also realized that I didn’t have to be loud to be heard because my actions spoke volumes. The hardest part about coming to that conclusion was taking the first step. And even after the first step, it is still not easy when everytime you are faced with a situation where you are forced to make a decision about putting forward something the majority would agree with or putting a foot forward and being willing to say what I think and feel. It’s hard to consciously chose you!

Step by step. Day by day. I have decided to choose me. Be true to myself. Will you join me on my journey of truth?

XOXO,

Chañel.

Self-Honesty

I am an hypocrite. In fact, if many of us should stop and think about it, we are very hypocritical when it comes to being honest with ourselves. By extension, we become hypocrites with God and others because frankly, in order to be honest with God or others, you must first be honest with yourself.

I look back on some of the years I once deemed as the best of my prayer life. These were the years I spent talking to God about others and their problems. I never spoke to Him about myself beyond the face value stuff. Back then, I believed my prayer life rocked as I spent time loading on the godly platitudes, raising prayer requests and reciting all the lovely turn of phrases I had heard during service at church. I was a living-walking modern-day hypocritical Pharisee.

I look back now and laugh because I realize that in those instances I treated God as an acquaintance. I also spent a lot of time running from myself. But how could I be honest that I did not love all my neighbors? That there were some persons I truly disliked despite trying hard to find the good in them? How about areas of the Bible that I struggled to obey? How about church rules that I disagreed with and felt really strongly about? How could I acknowledge my struggles to myself much less voice them to God or anyone else? How could I bare my soul to God when I didn’t have the courage to bare it to myself? It was far easier to pretend that everything was hokey-dokey than be the sole representation of imperfection or voice of dissent. It was far easier to pretend to be the perfect Christian. Everybody else seemed to have it together, why shouldn’t I?

Those years helped no one. I know they certainly didn’t help me or my relationship with God. One of the reasons I love King David is because of his brutal honesty to God about his nature, even in moments when he is not quick on the uptake. It takes a lot to be able to acknowledge that you have messed up or that you were wrong or that you are not perfect and need help. Moments like those require you to be brutally honest with yourself and humble enough to make the acknowledgement.

Frankly, that’s the way I want to live my life. I choose to be an active participant in my life over the casual observer. I choose to be introspective and insightful. I choose to be more than the regular indoctrinated Christian. I choose to be honest with myself, God and others. I choose to live a life of honesty.

I would like you to join me in making a commitment to ourselves:

We will take the time to discover our true feelings and be honest about them to ourselves so that we can be honest with God and others.

XOXO,
Chañel.

Complaining…

As my vacation came to an end, I spent long moments reflecting. These moments were quite different from the first half of my vacation. Those were days I spent on a cruise mingling, making new friends, enjoying the entertainment and exploring new locations. These were all activities designed to feed my outgoing side. The only times I took for deep introspection were pre-dawn when I religiously got up to catch the sunrise. These were some of the most beautiful sunrises I had ever seem. As I stood on the ship’s deck and gazed at the sun rising from the horizon, I couldn’t help but feel in awe of God for His majestic works.

My latter vacation days were totally different. I spent hours on introspection as I thought about who I am and my year. I guess you guys can call this my year in reflection post. For the first time in many years, I can honestly say that I cried a lot this year! I cried during movies, I cried when I felt hurt or overwhelmed and I laughed until I cried. The difference though was that I ensured that for each of those moments I cried, I found even more powerful and soul-cleansing moments to laugh and smile about. So even though I cried a lot, I also laughed, smiled and played a lot.

I have a confession to make. This year, especially towards the end, there were many times I felt tired and ready to give up. I had some serious lows.

  1. Early in the year, my sister and I met in an accident with a Leyland truck on her way to drop me to work.
  2. My youngest nephew ended up in the hospital twice this year.
  3. While learning to drive, I hit someone’s car.
  4. I lost a close friend.
  5. I had my first failure to effectively close out a project. 
  6. While dealing with the ending craziness of that project, I received news that my grandmother was in the hospital and could have died. 
  7. While dealing with the craziness of the project, I got ill. My anemia started acting up to the point where I shivered constantly even in warm weather and fought waves of nausea and dizziness. As if that wasn’t enough, I also had to deal with issue that had affected me emotionally. In truth, #6 and #7 left me an emotional wreck.

In those moments, I can truly understand if God felt a little exasperated with me but through it all, He patiently taught me to focus on the silver lining that existed in each dark cloud.

  1. Both my sister and I escaped the accident without a physical scratch. We were alive! The car got fixed!
  2. My nephew is home, happy and well. None of his illnesses affected him long term.
  3. We got the man’s car fixed although he was a bastard about the issue.
  4. Maybe that friend was not supposed to be a part of my life beyond that point. My life now has less drama.
  5. The project gave me a lot of experience that I can use to effectively build my career. I also got a chance for a do-over.
  6. My grandmother is now home and recuperating.
  7. That period gave me the chance to see what I am made of. Despite being ill and feeling intimidated at times, I was not built to break.

You are not built to break either. Don’t waste time and energy complaining! Even in the darkest of storms, you can find the light. After all, with storms come the lightening. Loves, you are stronger than you think because it is in your weakness that you will find God’s strength.

XOXO,
Chañel.

Zoomers Moments

A few nights ago, unable to sleep, I found my thoughts wandering. These wanderings took me down memory lane….

I was in my first year of high school when we were given a group assignment to present on various themes in the book, Silver Sword. As a natural leader who hates inactivity, I ended up planning a production. We were going to do a talk show with the book characters. After all the planning, I realised, much to my dismay, that I had planned out myself! I had totally forgotten to give myself a part!

Now note, if you did not present, you did not get a grade. I returned to the drawing board. We couldn’t change the production at that late stage but there must be some element that I had missed. During lunch (whilst eating one of my favorite cheesy snacks), an hour before the presentation, an idea took root. In the middle of the presentation, we had an intermission and I delivered one of the best impromptu Zoomers ads ever seen by man! 😂😂😂 (or so I like to believe…)

We got the highest grade for that assignment!

This memory reminded me of a couple lessons, I had learnt early in life.

  1. In moments of crisis or pressure, your levels of ingenuity will surprise you.
  2. In life there will always be Zoomers opportunities, you just have to be willing to open yourself to the possibilities.
  3. When faced with challenges, embrace your “I CAN” and “There must be a way.” attitude.
  4. Your belief in yourself and capabilities will take you a far way.
  5. Never plan out myself.
  6. Self-doubt gets you nowhere!

    What are your thoughts? Have you ever experienced a situation which required you think on your feet? How did it turn out? Let me know in the comments below.

    XOXO,
    Chañel.

    Dating the Dozen

    Can I tell you guys that I started year 24 with a lot of hope. I was determined that it would be my best year yet especially, as my supervisor reminded me, it was my year according to the Chinese. Year 24 has been challenging, frustrating and rewarding. Most importantly, it is the year that I’ve learned to be brave and to find, define and focus on the positives.
     After almost three years of chosen singleness, I felt ready to be open and step out again. Fear and indecisiveness ruled me until my friends took matters into their own hands. Before I had time to think, I was agreeing to do to something different. My friends would ensure that I went on at least one date per month! 
    That challenge was successful in a way that I didn’t expect! It turns out that my friends’ taste in men may be as atrocious as mine but these were experiences worth having. I didn’t find “the one” but some of these experiences forced me to find positives in some very dark clouds.

    1. Mr. April, a friend, reminded me to listen. I was blown away by the simple yet considerate touches he made to ensure our picnic date was memorable. Read more about that experience here.
    2. Mr. May, the lawyer who boasted constantly about himself and his successes reminded me of the grace and dignity which exists in being humble. 
    3. Mr. June, the guy who felt the need to tell me exactly where he thought a woman’s place is – in the home and breeding – reminded me of the importance of chasing after what i believed and never letting anyone, but God, stick a label on me.
    4. Mr. July, the guy who made me laugh until I cried, reminded me of the joy that came with smiling from within and being silly just because and the joy that exists in sharing that light. 
    5. Mr. August, the guy with the gap in his teeth who tried to grope me, gave me two lessons. The gap reminded me of a close friend I had a few years ago who disconnected when we had a major fall -out. Realizing how much I missed him, I reached out and we reconnected. He also reminded me of the importance of treating persons in the way that I expected to be treated. I walked away without giving him the kick my indignation said he deserved.
    6. Mr. September taught me to be open to expressing myself and slowing down and taking the time to savour the things I enjoy. I now ensure that I take the time to stop and smell the roses and, most importantly, to relax.
    7. I didn’t go on a date with Mr. October but, whilst he intrigued and challenged me and made me want more, he also served as the biggest and most painful lesson of all. Crying, even in bathrooms, when disappointed or hurt is not an indication of weakness or defeat but of strength, especially when after you are done, you get up and get back in the game swinging with all your might. Weakness is your unwillingness or inability to deal with the hurt/disappointment and allowing it to take root and fester inside. He reminded me to BE BRAVE!
    8. Following Mr. October, I took November off to ensure that I did not suffer any emotional ill-effects. I stepped back in the game after meeting Mr. December on my cruise. He reminded me to embrace the woman I am but not be afraid to let my inner child out to play. Guys, being chased, screaming and laughing in the rain is exhilarating! An added bonus is when, though you are soaked, the guy you are on a date with catches you and then looks and proclaims you the most beautiful sight he has ever seen. In that moment, I found myself wishing I could bring him back to Jamaica with me.

    More than 3/4s of my experiences so far haven’t been anything to write home about but they have been very eye-opening. In fact, I look forward to continuing the challenge right up to the end of March 2018. You see guys, no matter how despairing, disheartening and disappointing the situation may seem, it’s all about perspective. 

    I prefer to believe that there is a good reason or positive light to every negative. God has too much in store for you for you to only focus on the negative side of any experience you have!

    The glass is only half-empty if you choose to see it that way. As for me? I prefer my glass half-full with a lot of room for possibilities, opportunities and…good wine. 😉 What about you?

    XOXO
    Chañel.

    What Letting Go Has Taught Me…

    After a long week, I took some time to just reflect on life and where I’ve progressed to since the year began. I realized something about myself. Many of the persons I had started the year with, has disappeared. This made me pause and reflect on how I felt about their disappearance. I realized I was okay.

    A few months ago, I wrote a post about keeping persons to your standards. A confession, sometimes I write very good advice but I am generally the last to take it. What do they say about the counsellor? They need the most counseling… For weeks after that post, I would find myself getting annoyed with myself when people walked all over my standards and I kept them around. Frankly I was miserable and I decided to actively do something about it. I must say that once you begin to stand up for yourself, you will be amazed how quickly persons either pulled up their socks or disappeared.

    Some of these persons tried to reappear later but I stuck to my mantra and eventually they would leave for good once they realized what I now stood for. I can’t moan about the disappearing acts, frankly, good riddance.

    Another thing that changed was that I stopped allowing persons to drag me into their drama. I am a regular Miss-Fix-It. Maybe that is why I make such a good Project Manager… It is simply amazing how much energy it takes to deal with other persons’ drama. What makes it worse is when sometimes, these are the persons who you can never depend on. It made me wonder, what was the use, if these persons were only in your life to drain you. Now, whenever I want to say something or intervene, I beg the Lord to hold my tongue or simply walked away.

    My final habit that changed was my “Superwoman mentality”. This on many occasions caused me to burn out and persons often took advantage of my inability to say “no”. I have begun to say “no”. Frankly, it feels good to be able to have time to myself and be able to do the things that I want to do. This meant that a lot of people walked away once they realized I was no longer available to be twisted around their fingers. Frankly, that set leaving was a breath of fresh air.

    Friendship, I found, is never about quantity. It’s simply the quality. I would rather have a few good friends who look out for me than an entire army of friends whose actions are a guarantee to my destruction. I prefer to walk into my peace. Don’t you agree? Let me know your thoughts on the subject in the comments area below.

    XOXO,
    Chañel.