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!

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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.

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.

A Ziplining Lesson

Recently, I went on a work trip. Part of the trip took us to Y.S. Falls where I tried 5 ziplines for the first time. Like any first experience of that active nature, I didn’t quite know how to feel but as the experience continued, I picked up a couple lessons on the way.

Before we could start, we were locked into the relevant gear including helmets. As we stood waiting for all our team members to be geared-up, we had a couple of persons who had done it already and they were the ones who tried to alleviate some of our fears. However, in talking, these were the ones who made facing the experience even more fearful.My level of fear was slowing vamping up as I stood listening. I realised then that whilst God has not given me a spirit of fear, fear could be found within the uncertainty of excelling at the unknown and from external factors like well-meaning individuals. At that point I stopped listening and told myself that I could do it.

The walk to the first zipline was long especially since I haven’t done any exercise in months. Again I found myself wavering as my lungs struggled for air and my knees protested and threatened to buckle. Just when I was about to give in to my wavering mind and protesting body, I reached the top and it was beautiful! From this experience, another lesson emerged. The hardest step to fulfilling your dream is the preparation stage to beginning. Sometimes everything will seem to be against you as you try to put things in place. You may even consider giving up but if you hold out, your destination (starting point) will be incredibly beautiful. With everything in place, you will be filled with an incredible pride and satisfaction as you stand on the brink of conquering the world.

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Really? But I Don’t Want To!

I recently had a fight with an acquaintance. We both have strong personalities and let’s say, when we disagreed, we ended up in a cycle of being stubborn and wanting to win. None of us wanted give in, lose or be wrong. We were both too full of pride. Following this, we both walked away.

A few days after that fallout, I came across something, that I knew upon reading, that the person would be interested in. Now don’t get me wrong, I wanted to pass it on but my pride spoke quite loudly, “if you send it, the person may feel that you are giving way or chasing them.” I hated that thought and so the internal debate began.

After an hour, the debate was no closer to a close. I decided to ask God for His input using the Gideon technique. Going to bed, my two options to Him were:

  1.  Send: Wake me before 5am ( I was tired enough to sleep the entire night.)
  2. Don’t send: Let me sleep without waking throughout the night.

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A man after God’s own heart

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I don’t know about you guys but this summer seems to be the engagement season! I turn my back for a few seconds and by the time I turn around, I hear that another friend or acquaintance is married! Okay, okay, maybe I’m exaggerating but you get the point.

In recent times, I’ve not been really concerned about marriage but this season have found me giving the entire institution some thought. This is due primarily to the fact that persons have suddenly seen it fit to constantly remind me that I am now nearer to 25 than 20 and thus, I needed to get cracking.

As I knelt praying, early Monday morning, I found myself thinking about how my perception of my perfect guy has changed over the years. When I first discovered guys, I envisioned my ideal husband to be all looks and no substance. I had it all planned and nothing else mattered as long as we both looked good. As I grew older, I started to realize that the substance mattered and my prayer changed to focus not so much on looks but more on his substance and character. By this point it was all about WHAT I WANTED.

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The TEST will end after you PASS.

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I found myself thinking about God’s tests for us yesterday. The Lord reminded me that in the same way that trials come to make us stronger, tests come to hone us. The key thing about tests is that once you are given it, you have to pass it in order for you to move on to the next level. The thing that happens to most of us is that as Christians, we all want to get to the next level but few of us want to experience the tests that the Lord use to get us there.

I am writing to tell you tonight, if you want the fruits of the Spirit, you have to pass your test. If you want the spiritual gifts, you have to pass the test. If you want to get more blessings, you have to pass the test. If you want to go to new spiritual heights, you must pass the test. The Lord’s tests are just like SAT or CSEC, there is no if, nor but, nor maybe, you have to pass the test in order to move up. In fact, if you fail, you will continue to resit that exam until you do pass.

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