Nightmares, Insomnia, and Burnout

Last night I woke up abruptly from sleep and habitually picked up my phone to call my father in Manila, where it would have been 4:30 in the afternoon and he would have finished his brunch and golf, likely to be relaxing on the couch. It was only when I had his name and number selected on my phone that I realized that he has been dead for a year and a few weeks. I held the phone at an arm’s length, silent, not breathing, staring into space while sitting on my bed hunched over. I didn’t want to hear the phone say that the number had already been disconnected, nor did I want to hear someone else’s voice on the other end of the receiver.

A similar moment happened in Manila last year as I was there losing him, when I had been gone from the hospital for a few hours, and the name on my phone screen said “Dad” and my heart jumped for joy: he was calling me, he had recovered and was okay, and wanted me to come and pick him up. To my horror and disappointment, it was his ex-girlfriend calling–she had hung onto his phone, wallet, bank cards, and safe deposit key, just checking in on me. It was the most horrible, painful moment I had ever experienced, realizing how he wouldn’t come home, while at the same time, that terrible woman was taking everything she could from us.

I’ve been reliving 26 years of my life over and over again the past few weeks. Every mistake, every bad thing I’ve done, stupid decision, regret I have for what I did or didn’t do, and all the other things that happened to me that hurt me and pained me until the moment I died on the hospital bed last July. My life has definitely changed since that girl woke me up and I decided I wasn’t ready to join my father. In spite of the changes, somehow, these past few weeks, I have had a hard time coming to terms with myself and the past.

There hasn’t been a moment of rest for me the past year, as it’s been a constant struggle to make sure I never go to the extreme of sleeping on the streets again. I’ve had a chance to pursue many of my interests I neglected, whether it was music, acting, or parkour.  I’ve been building up my skill set with the paralegal program and grad school. Now I am just finally realizing I can be everything and do everything I want to just by standing up and doing it. There is a lot of good going on, however, it’s that fear of never having that chance to do things again should I die or grow old that I overexert myself and die like my father. The ironic thing: I’m spending no more than five hours on things outside of school and work.

School and work are my life, and work includes financial planning, setting goals and tasks to handle, going to networking events, researching and writing in order to prepare myself for my career and multiple streams of income through writing, international relations, paralegal work, and acting. I know what my primary source of income will be, which is in the legal and international affairs fields, but having the connections through writing and entertainment are to give me options to use the other talents I have, and it’s burning me out trying to make sure I have options to keep me alive and successful. I can’t rely on anyone or talk to anyone about my problems anymore, I have only me. Yes, I am happy to help others and it’s nice to know others offer help, but all of my problems can be solved by time and money. Right now, I need time off to recover from last year and this year, time to relax, and time with good people in a better environment. I need money to do all that, otherwise, I’m begging for help.

I’m remembering the words of my friend, whose words recently became my own after too many people come to me for help, yet they don’t realize I haven’t had a chance to help myself.

“I tried to understand people and be more compassionate, open-minded, and loving. Does anybody do that **** for me? Hell ****ing no. Did anybody listen to my **** when I needed help? Hell ****ing no. People told me to shut the **** up and stop whining like a little *****. So no. I don’t know what it’s like to tell people my problems [especially about being a TCK] because a) nobody ****ing cares, b) if someone did care, they don’t have the life experience to know half the **** of what I’m talking about, and c) I would rather do something about my problems than waste my time talking to someone about them since nobody ****ing cares or understands. Nobody can help me but me, and for those who do want to help, they don’t have what I need. And those who say they can help? They expect way too ****ing much in return, when all they do is talk about themselves and their lives. I don’t need to hear about them or their ****, I need to be left alone to take care of my own ****. “

These people asking me for help are divided into two groups: A) people who know what I went through and see how I am ambitious, driven, and disciplined so that I may be successful as a result of not wanting to be a failure, and B) people who see that I am ambitious, driven, and disciplined to be successful, but do not know how or why I chose to be this way. What many in both groups share in common is that they see what I am doing and where I am going, and ask for my time to help them with their problems. People in group A think if I can solve all those problems I did last year, then I can solve theirs too. People in group B think I am perfectly fine and don’t have any problems, so they want to emulate that and have me take care of it for them. So because I tell them no, suddenly, I’m a jerk. Can you blame me? I spent five minutes telling them that they can do these tasks such as networking, talking to boys, finding a job, or whatever simple task their professors, their colleagues, even Google all have better answers for, yet they want my help. I’m no expert and I don’t know everything, I’m busy, yet they want my help.

Yes, I’ve done one stupid thing as a result of blowing up and burning out, in response to some girl who had the audacity to insult me and slander me for the past year when I had done her no wrong, I erupted in violent anger, and I posted a video trash-talking her, before realizing what I did in response was wrong and completely uncalled for. Even though I took it off after less than 24 hours, the damage has been done, and I lost some of the progress I made over the past year, which includes the friendship and respect of some people I fought to earn. The one good thing about this is, it was only one stupid mistake I made, the bad thing is, reputation takes a lifetime to build and a moment to destroy, which means you accomplish a hundred great things, but most  people will remember the one screw-up instead.

I have to keep reminding myself that nobody knows and nobody cares what other people have gone through, what’s important to them is who we choose to be and how we choose to act. The world doesn’t owe us anything, and there is no excuse or justification for doing ignoble acts, especially those that put down others. Had I maintained discipline, I could have maintained this momentum. This isn’t a fall, more like a trip, a stumble, and with a little time, I can get back up to speed.

So after some time, I went from being violently angry, to being sad and shut off from the world. I know what’s coming up in my life in terms of progress: more school, my career, and opportunities. That’s all good. But emotionally and socially, I have no idea what will come, as it’s all very uncertain. I still feel there’s nobody out there for me, and even if there will be friends, lovers, or my mother, all of whom care for me very much I am constantly afraid that I will hurt them.

The one hope comes from the laws of energy and the universe, which my old taiqi instructor reminded me of the other day, as I told him how grief-stricken I was about losing my father. “Energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only be transformed. Your father may have lost his corporeal form, but he lives on somewhere, probably right here with you. Even if it’s just in your thoughts, habits, or values, he’s here, just like your energy stays on with others, whether they love you or hate you, because the worst thing to happen is for people to not care about you. Love and hate, however you exist in either form in a person’s mind or heart, your energy lives on.” Taking this a step further, this means I can transform all this burn-out into something greater. As I write this, I still feel sad, but I do feel a little more hope upon realizing that even if I’ve done one bad thing, I rectified it, learned from it, and am moving forward.

Let’s see what tomorrow brings, for tomorrow is another day.

In other news, I’m finishing up my cleanse now, and will be purged of the liver toxins and some intestinal parasites tomorrow, then it’s a two-week break before the next treatment. It’ll be nice to finally be able to do a pushup again–this is weakening my body so much I can barely do any physical activity. It’s not the weariness I have from before I was diagnosed and found that I was full of toxins and parasites, but just complete weakness. It’ll be over soon enough, just like everything else.

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