😰

Tonight I read a Facebook post about children caught up in the war in Aleppo and it made me really sad. I hugged my daughter tightly, cradled her and reminded her again how much I love her. And I’m guilty that while I’m here in this part of the world enjoying the peace with my daughter, there are children in Aleppo who do not even know if they will live another night. And there are babies who are hungry. And little ones who have lost their parents. And it’s made me feel very guilty for my peace, my fortune, my daughter, our food, our lives. 

To be honest, I haven’t closely followed the news on the civil war in Syria or the politics behind it. I used to subscribe to Vogue magazine and I, like many others, had read the glowing article on Asma al Assad. And I was fascinated by her and had been Googling her a lot. That was many years ago when that article first came out in print in Vogue.

And then I read critiques of her and how that article was one-sided. I remember terminating my subscription to Vogue right away after that. But since then, I haven’t really been following the news coverage on the war that closely. I usually try to avoid the sensational articles and pictures about suffering children because it just depresses me. Until tonight.

So I take a break from my usual blog posts tonight and ask that we remember the children caught in Syria and other war torn countries. This is not politically driven. I don’t have time for politics. But atrocities committed against innocent victims are atrocities regardless of which side of the fence you are on. 

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Fake It Till You Make It

It’s Monday tomorrow. In my part of the world, it’s the Monday after a long weekend. For some of us, tomorrow will be a respite from the long and lonely weekend. For others, tomorrow may seem dreary as we go back to our routines and face the realities of life again. 

So for those of you who are depressed about tomorrow – or just feeling depressed in general, I would like you to do something for yourself – fake it till you make it.

Maybe I’m trivializing it – and I’m certainly no expert on medical depression etc., but I do believe that it’s all in the state of the mind. And I believe that if you put your best face forward, even when you are feeling crappy inside, it lifts your spirits – even for a bit and helps put you in a positive state of mind. 

I’m not asking you to present a picture of perfection for the world to see. In fact I don’t believe in picture perfections because it goes against what I’m trying to preach here – which is to live authentically. I’m just asking that even if you are feeling really awful inside and like all you want to do is to curl up under the covers and sleep your life away – to look decent and step outside to face the world – even if it’s just to get a cup of coffee or to grab the morning paper. Brush your teeth, brush your hair a little, put on some make up – feel good about yourself.

And then step outside and show to the world that you’ve got this!

You Control Your Own Destiny

  
We are still in the midst of the long holiday weekend here in this part of the world. People usually spend the long Thanksgiving weekend with their families and loved ones. The rest of us ‘orphans’ with no family here in this country are usually left behind. New York City has been so dead the past two nights because it is a city made up mostly of transplants who are mostly out of town spending time with their families. 

This is the first Thanksgiving that I am spending without my daughter and while I do miss her, I’m also grateful for the break from the day-to-day physical exhaustion that is single motherhood. So I had a ‘no human interaction’ day yesterday – save for dinner with a friend and plan on having a peaceful, quiet ‘no human interaction’ rest of the weekend. 

So more about my friend who I had dinner with. She’s been in this country for over ten years and has two small kids. She’s also just found out that her husband has been cheating on her with prostitutes for a long time.

Now this friend stopped working five years ago to be a stay home mom and wife. She used most of her savings to purchase the apartment which she and her kids (and until very recently, her husband) are now living at. Her husband verbally abuses her. She’s also had one episode of physical abuse where he dumped a hot frying pan of noodles all over her head. Whenever he gets mad, he empties the trash all over their kitchen floor. Since she’s found out about his cheating, he’s cancelled her cell phone, cancelled her credit cards, changed the locks on their door – did everything possible to make life a living hell for her. His parents are expecting her to just take it and stick on with their son because she doesn’t have any income anyway and “for the sake of the children.”

This friend is not a close friend though I’ve known her for about 6 years. I’ve only met her a handful of times and we’ve lost contact for many years. But two days after she found out about the cheating, she reached out to me. She’s seen my posts about my ex husband’s affair on Facebook and wanted advice on what to do next. So I’ve been meeting up with her a lot since then.

Yesterday she told me that she will file for a divorce this coming week. And let me say – I am so proud of her. It’s only been a month since she found out – and for those of you who’ve been cheated on before, emotions are usually very fraught in those first couple weeks or even months or even years. I’m so proud that she made a quick and firm decision not to live with this disrespect anymore and to protect her children even though she’s probably still hurting inside.

And to add to that – she’s in a – what would be perceived generally as – powerless position. She doesn’t have a job. Her savings are mostly gone. She lives in one of the most expensive cities in the world. She has two small kids – one who is not even 1 yet and the other who has early childhood development issues. And her husband is antagonistic and working against her. A lot of people would have felt powerless and would have either just accepted it and hoped for the best or waited it out. But she is choosing not to.

I asked her what she was going to do about her living situation. She said she will find a job that would be flexible enough given she will be a single mom to two kids. And she will downgrade to a smaller place in a cheaper neighborhood. She will do anything – even if it means life will be harder – because she believes she will be much happier leaving this situation.

And this, my friends, is the key message I wanted to say to you today. You are in control of your own destiny. Yes you couldn’t control what happened to you. Yes you couldn’t control the people who treated you badly. But you can control what you want to do about it. And you can control the outcome. Because you are the pilot of your one life and you chart your life course.

Even if you feel powerless in your situation – there is always a way out. And others don’t know you and they cannot tell you what you can or cannot do.

I hope this little bit of positivity gives you the hope and motivation you need to seize control of your destiny. And I wish you a good rest of the weekend. 

Kindness

Before I wrap up this amazing (late) night, I just wanted to write a post about kindness. Sometimes the most unexpected people will show up for you when you are at your lowest. And the ones that you think are your closest will run away from you. But that’s one good thing about being in a bad situation – you really know who your truest friends are.

About two months before Thanksgiving, I was worrying about what I was going to be doing on this day. I have no family living close by except for my daughter who was going to be spending Thanksgiving with my ex and his family. My ex’s family had actually invited me to spend Thanksgiving with them but I wasn’t comfortable doing so. And I didn’t know if I was going to be ok spending it alone.

So I asked around some of my friends to find out what their plans were. This friend who has always said she would be there for me – but actually hasn’t really been there for me in recent times, wouldn’t give me a straight answer. But this other friend who I’ve sort of lost touch with invited me to a Thanksgiving event in the afternoon. And another friend hosted a small get together in the evening. So I ended up having a jam packed day with a very full stomach. Which took the edge of my loneliness during the holiday season.

Friends come and go. And friends also change. You can’t control them. I had always thought the first friend was a true friend but in recent times, I’m starting to think otherwise. Paying lip service is easy. Actually showing up takes effort.

Recently an acquaintance reached out to me for advice on what to do. She’s just found out her husband has been cheating on her and she’d heard about what happened to me and needed someone to talk to. I’ve known her for 6 years but I’ve only met her a handful of times during those 6 years. But I fully understand what it’s like to go through those first couple days of finding out you’ve been cheated on. I fully understand the heartbreak and the disbelief and the wavering emotions. And I also know what she needs most is someone to talk to. So I show up for her. 

Kindness begets kindness. And kindness is also what brings positivity out of a bad situation. So show up for someone today. 

Gratitude

In my part of the world, it is Thanksgiving today. When you are going through hard times, the holiday season can be particularly rough. Holidays are usually about families and get-togethers and huge meals and for those of us who are going through break ups or illnesses, holidays can make us feel alienated and lonelier than ever. Hence it’s easy to feel despair during the holiday season.

I would like to remind you that you are in control of your feelings. And I would like you to turn those negative thoughts around just for a second and remember all the good things around  though you are not feeling good inside. Pause the grief for a moment, reflect and think of things to be thankful for. I’m not discounting your sadness. I’m not ridiculing your feelings. I would just like to inject a little positivity in the spirit of thanksgiving. And if you think hard enough – you will find that you do have things to be thankful for – and that in the grand scheme of things, what happened to you is not as bad if you frame it in a positive context. It could be something as simple as you are thankful to still be breathing and alive. You are thankful for blue skies. You are thankful for another day. You are thankful for your kids. 

I am thankful for a good life. It is not perfect but it’s good enough for me. I’m thankful for a healthy child and peace in my part of the world. I’m thankful for inner strength. I’m thankful for the opportunities that I have been fortunate enough to have. And I am thankful for family and friends who have stuck by me and who have in each of their own way, taught me something about myself and about life.

Happy Thanksgiving one and all.

Experiences Not Mistakes

  
Life is a series of experiences. Some of them are memorable. And some best left forgotten. But these are experiences that shape who we are. And the most important thing is – we have to learn from these experiences. 

Hence I don’t like using the word ‘mistakes’. The word ‘mistakes’ has a negative connotation. It also implies stupidity and irresponsibility. However every experience that you’ve entered into usually involves some active decision on your part. And a lot of times you don’t control the outcomes. So stop blaming yourself for the not-so-ideal experiences and stop beating yourself up over it.

A lot of times, we  might also find ourselves in similar situations. It’s because we tend to gravitate towards the familiar. Again these are not mistakes – they are experiences. I believe that people come into our lives for a reason and that stuff happens to us for a reason. It is up to us to figure out what the reasons are. 

When my marriage was ending, I was very close to thinking that the marriage was a mistake. I made the mistake of marrying a man who was not good enough for me. I made the mistake of losing myself in my marriage to please my husband. I made the mistake of not spotting the red flags. 

After my marriage ended, I got involved in an exclusive and monogamous ‘arrangement’ with this guy. When we were together, we pretended like we were in a relationship. But we also intentionally kept ourselves emotionally distanced from each other. And in the end, I did get hurt when we started to drift apart even though I went into the arrangement fully knowing that it wouldn’t lead to anything.

But were those relationships mistakes? A year and a half out of my marriage, I’m starting to see that my marriage had a reason. My marriage and its ending taught me that a) I must never settle for anything less. If a person doesn’t treat me well enough, I need to face my fears of being alone and walk away from the bad situation; b) I must never again lose myself in a relationship. 

The guy that was involved with always told me that I’m not ready for a relationship yet. At that time, I couldn’t really comprehend what he meant. But now I did. The arrangement I had with him was to help me get over the breakup with my husband and my eventual divorce. It was to provide me companionship and to distract me from the heartache. But I wasn’t ready for a real relationship- I needed to work on my own issues when that arrangement ended – and that is to find myself and be comfortable being alone.

Don’t think of your bad situations as mistakes. But owe it to yourself to decipher the reason behind your experiences… and learn from them.

Be Kind To Yourself

The road to recovery is not an easy one. There will be bumps on the road. Sometimes you might fall into a sinkhole and feel like you may never climb out of it. But you must keep the faith. You will climb out of it. The only tool you need to climb out of that sinkhole is yourself. 

Here’s what I want you to do – I want you to be kind to yourself.

You’ve been through a lot lately. You’re probably traumatized. You need to go easy on yourself and stop blaming yourself. You need to do you.

Don’t stress that you are not doing enough to make the pain go away. Don’t stress that you are not recovering according to someone else’s schedule. Everyone recovers at their own pace. What’s important that you constantly remind yourself of the end goal – a better life. 

Do something that makes you feel good about yourself. Don’t do anything for a day if that’s what you feel like. Go to a spa. Spend time with friends. Get lost in a walk. 

I like taking long walks and listening to music. I find that therapeutic. I walk an hour to and from work everyday. It’s the time that I get to myself where I get lost in the music and just feel stronger as I walk. 

Sometimes you may need to do something to get it out of your system. For me, I had to validate myself with other guys. But I also knew that that is not a long term solution. So after about a year, I stopped. You need to give yourself a time period to do whatever you need to do to take care of your issues. But always remember that it is not a long term solution and that you need to get back on track to the bigger goal of a better life after. 

So be good to yourself. Do you. And recover.