Some things I tell myself before going to sleep

I have always told myself that happiness is and will always be a personal choice. I have this as my WhatsApp status. I have tweeted several versions of this line on separate occasions. Of course, this also found itself as a much-liked status on my Facebook page. “What’s on your mind?”

I also tell myself how words are so powerful. I believe words become your realities. And so recently, I have been feeling down. My patience for the last few weeks as thin as my favorite loose T-shirt worn way past its glory. And then I realize how I have been constantly thinking out loud, saying out loud, that I have no patience for this and that. I have no patience for people who cannot seem to remember instructions told ten times over. No patience for people’s bullshit and fake smiles and plastic countenance. No patience for slow Internet connection. I mean, these are all valid reasons to lose your patience, right? But as I keep telling myself and other people about how impatient I am, I also become impatient with other unintended things…like myself. How stupid I have been not to pursue other job offers last year because I was banking on my promotion (which was given, yes, but short-changed). How until now, even only after a few months of inconsistently playing the guitar, I am not yet a pro. How I stopped reading books, and I used to devour books!

I am so unkind to myself.

This afternoon, a colleague of mine bid me “goodbye I’m leaving see you tomorrow” and I just grunted a noncommittal “mm”, didn’t even look at him to greet him back. And at back of my head, I was calling myself such a bitch for doing that. Why? Another colleague of mine, a close friend too, came back from great vacation and for some reason I dreaded seeing her. I did not know how to show happiness for her. I did not know if I could muster a big smile and just be honestly delighted for her. I mean, why? And then I told myself how I’m such a bad friend.

See what I mean? I am most unkind to myself and my thoughts. And thinking like this about myself makes it even worse. I become less of a good friend, more of a grumpy bitch. (At this point, I am typing on my keyboard so forcefully that I am afraid I might break my laptop).

Sometimes, I pretend that I am in a group of people. We gather once or twice a month and we share thoughts about a particular topic that we draw from a fishbowl. While I was washing dishes this evening, an hour before midnight, the slip of paper that came from my imaginary fishbowl had HAPPINESS written on it. So my imaginary circle of like-minded friends started talking about this topic. And then suddenly, an imaginary word fight begins. I stop the quarreling with a “Hey guys!” and a “Calm down!” So everyone sort of sits back down on our imaginary sofa with their arms crossed protectively across their chests, angry pouts pointing at me. Then I begin to remind them of why we gathered there in the first place. My imaginary inspiring speech goes like this:

“Guys, we must remember why we gathered here in the first place. We are here because we want to learn from each other. We are curious about what other people think about a certain topic. And we are not afraid to voice out our opinions because this is not a place of judgment. This is a place where we throw ideas and we will definitely disagree with each other at one point or another. That is bound to happen. We cannot escape that. But at the end of the day, we are not here to prove that we are better than everyone or anyone else. We are here to prove that we are better, can be better, than ourselves yesterday. We strive to be better versions of ourselves. (insert meaningful pause) That’s why we are here.”

At this point, I was rinsing the pan with a self-satisfied smirk on my face. And when I came back inside my room, washed dishes in tow, arms still cold and slightly wet, I realized I will not be able to sleep until I had all this written down. Otherwise I would just say all these things again to myself and end up not sleeping at all.

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23:59:57

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It was a few minutes before midnight. You can see smoke rising up and some crackle of light coming from a small store here, a two-storey house there. The excitement is so heavy in the air. So heavy that I can feel it weighing down on my cranium. Outside, all lights are lit in anticipation of the final countdown. The old year is almost walking past behind everyone, forgotten and maybe forgiven for all its troubles, maybe thanked with joyful hearts or pursed lips.

I used to love the New Year. But not that evening. Not when the fireworks feel like they are all simultaneously bursting in my head, I can see them like electricity behind my eyelids. Not when the heat of so many busy calderos and stoves are inside my body cooking me up to a weak, sweaty mush of a human being. It physically broke my heart to know my family is a 3-hr flight and drive away while I was there hating every passing second as I hear the neighbors counting down to the New Year. I tried to count myself down to sleep amidst the all-too-familiar noise and confusion outside.

In the darkness, behind closed doors, I promised myself that never will I feel so alone as I did that night.

3…2…1. HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!


In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Cut Off.”