Posts Tagged ‘moving on’


The situation can go two ways when the universe decides to hurl a spanner your way. One, you immediately pick yourself up from the ground, shake off the throbbing pain, and move on. Or, second, you stay where you are and ride the waves of pain. Number one is the ideal way to deal with the pain in life – pain, after all, is the flip side of joy. One should never let, as author Kurt Vonnegut said once and I am paraphrasing him, let the world make you hard and bitter. But self-healing is easier said than done. Admittedly, there are people who are quick to recover from life’s cruel jokes, flicking off acrimoniousness as if flicking off lint from a jacket. Who doesn’t want to be such a person who cruises through life? 
Conversely, there are those who are overwhelmed with the pain. For some the pain is a slow mind- and heart-numbing experience while it is instantaneous numbing for others. Unfortunately, I belong to the first group of people who take a little longer to repossess a vim for life. As if to add insult to injury, the spanners thrown at me are laced with sardonic jabs. A life-altering experience turned me jaded, turning me skeptical of men and relationships having been duped by one. It took several years before my heart thawed to the possibility of opening up to another human being. Riding the pain was the sole therapy I did until time healed the wound and before I knew I took the risk again.

A risk is a risk. Like a spanner situation, the gamble can go south or not. I don’t regret taking the risk; I just mourn the less-than-amicable turn it took. This time I rode the wave of pain briefly and embarked on a journey of healing quickly by heeding the words of wise women including my inner voice.

1. Follow your heart.

      This advice is from my gal-pal, Theresia, who, without judging him – I still consider him my wonderful man despite everything – said I should follow my heart. There is no denying that I still feel for him, but at this point my heart is telling me to let him go for now.

2. Be strong.

       I got this advice from a buddy of mine, Vissy, who also has been through tumultuous times. I practice this by steeling myself emotionally and refocusing my energies on something else like myself and work. There is, I tell myself repeatedly, no point in wallowing in self-pity. 

3. It is time that you are happy.

     This is the other advice I got from Vissy who was a witness to the cataclysmal period in my life several years ago. I recite it like a mantra when I feel the icy presence of sadness.

4. Cry all you and then stop.

      This one is from my mother who sat me down aeons ago after a break up I had. There really is no point in crying over spilt milk albeit one good cry session does wonders, but more than one is bad for one’s physical and mental health. I have done my crying – literally and figuratively.

5. Every heartbreak is different. You will come out of it fine.

     This one came from my long-time friend, Patricia, who has been a constant witness to my heartbreaks. I must have burnt ears countless of times with the phone calls I made through the decades of my friendship. I take comfort in her words because it pushes me to shift my mindset and see the positive slant to everything. 

6. Keep the door open.

     My gal-pal Nina wrote this in one of our Hangout chats. I have shut the door on my wonderful man, but I haven’t locked it and throw away the key. He just needs to knock if he wants to enter my life again.

7. Have faith and believe that everything will fall into place.

      This is not an advice that was given to me. It is a lesson I took from working with my boss, Ibu Luh Gede Puspini Rini, through the years at Global Prestasi School. She is a formidable tower of patience and a deep well of hope and faith that never fails to astound me. When the chips are down she never throws in the towel and soldiers on to get the people or project on the right path. I am slowly rebuilding my well of hope and faith that got depleted through the years of disappointments and heartaches. The same goes for patience.

8. Acknowledge your feelings.

    This came from a commencement speech delivered by Filipino ballerina Lisa Macuja-Elizalde two years ago at the Ateneo de Manila University. She shared the eight things that led her to her current position, which is a successful woman despite not having a university degree, and one of the eight was addressing one’s feelings. It made sense because healing won’t begin if one doesn’t sort out the roiling emotions, identify them, and weed out the ones that are noxious. Emotions are powerful and can dictate the course of action which is why getting a grip on them is vital. It is important to feel and go through the emotions, but it is equally important to not let them control one completely. 

      I am angry because he believed something of me that is not true and, to make it worse, didn’t want to listen to me. Worst even, he shut me out of his life completely. These thoughts still leave me feeling as I have been sucker punched but I have learnt to divest my mind of such thoughts after admitting them briefly.

9. Go to your happy place.

     Lastly, this one is from my inner voice. I have a few happy places to run to: Helios, the gym I go to at Bekasi Cyber Park; a quiet corner to read; my blog (writing is cathartic for me); and Starbucks when it just opened in the morning – the smell of coffee and the sound of jazz wafting through the cafe are invigorating plus the place isn’t packed with coffee lovers yet.

The decision to let my wonderful man go was fraught with difficulty and heartache. I struggle through each day not to think about the beautiful time we had together and not harden my heart against the world because of the hurtful words he said. But my self- healing wouldn’t have started if I didn’t. I am walking away because there isn’t anyone to walk towards to. 



I started writing this blogpost eons ago, but stopped not because I was choking with memories. Life got in the way, primarily work; there were voluminous essays and other papers to mark. Now, it is a few days before the end of another year, and it is high time to close the narrative that started more than a decade ago. It is the narrative of C. 

C is Charles who used to make my tummy do flip-flops and leave me breathless every time we’d meet. But that is all in the distant past now. I have blocked him from my mind and unfriended him. The late epiphany that our lives shouldn’t have, in the first place, intertwined finally hit me like an anvil dropping to the ground. But he “sauntered” again into my life close at the heels of the memories of my paternal grandparents who left all too soon. His visitation, however, was met with a lot less felicity. He broke my heart. No, let me rephrase that, he blew it to smithereens, and putting it back together took longer than I expected.

How do I describe Charles? As a younger me looking at the world with rose-colored spectacles? Or a maturer me sans the filters? I first met Charles when he was 18. Tall and a bit on the lanky side, he was pulchritudinous with his Chinese-Indian features that had heads turning and hearts throbbing. My head turned and throbbed for more than a decade. He was a young man finding his place under the sun while combatting prejudiced notions about his mixed lineage and life-altering family issues. But he seemed to have handled everything with aplomb or so my younger self thought so.

“Damaged Heart on Old paper” image courtesy of fotographic1980 at

He was certainly above timidity when he sat down at my table in Starbucks and, in a nonchalant manner, asked how I was. I loved the confidence that exuded cockiness, which others completely abhorred earning him the label of blowhard. His face taunted me, silently telling goading me, “So, what are you going to do about it?” Picking up the gauntlet thrown at my table, I offered to buy him a drink, but he declined cocking his head to the left – in the direction of his group of friends – saying that he’s already got a drink. Idle banter ensued. The drink offered did not go unclaimed. It was followed by more coffee dates at Starbucks or Coffeebean, dinners, and movie outings. Younger me loved his company and I thought he did mine too. I was tickled pink when he actually sat through two shows, fighting the urge to walk out and just wait for me at the lobby. The first was a Scooby Doo movie, which seemed tenable for him judging from how he looked – a tiny smirk and mien that said he’d get through the film without keeling over. Naturally, it was payback time when I had to sit through this Hong Kong film starring Stephen Chow that he raved about. He was having a whale of a time and, like him at the Scooby Doo outing, I sat through the flick and survived it. The second show was a ballet, which I am truly into and he wasn’t.

These were some of the happier memories. Some are the heart-breaking ones that make you question yourself, your sanity. Becoming a couple should be a happy memory but it isn’t. Our relationship was short lived and certainly not to be bandied about. I ended it because it was lopsided and my inner voice was telling me he wasn’t into it. We lost touch – why bother to communicate? But the universe has a warped sense of humor making him land in my world again via a text message. He asked me how I was doing. I didn’t give it much thought when I cursorily read it, distracted by the members of Singapore’s water polo team practicing at the pool area, as I waited for my yoga class to begin. Looking at the message again a few minutes later, I felt that tug in my heart. I had deleted his number from my phone but I still knew it by heart. I answered and, as they say, all is history. I found myself on the nerve-wracking roller coaster ride again which I vowed never again to be on. Foolish me, stupid me, vacuous me.

I went through this rigmarole a couple of more times until I entered into a new relationship and had to cut ties with Charles. To his credit, he did pull through a couple of times when I needed a shoulder to cry on and when I needed to rebuild my life after the relationship collapsed. He seemed to have matured or so I thought. I was determined to prove to people – to society even – that people can be friends with their ex, so I rallied on being the best ever best friend. I deluded myself into thinking he saw me as a best friend too.

The warning signs were there but I berated myself for being negative and not giving him a chance despite the fact that it was getting difficult reading the signs. And the statements he would drop during our phone conversations were mind boggling. He actually would call me from overseas – I had relocated to Indonesia from Singapore by then. Statements like “It would be good to feel loved again”, “It would be good to see you” and the like had my mind roiling. I wouldn’t dare drop such statements knowing our past but I brushed them aside, telling myself everything is platonic now. I should have walked away yet I didn’t although I nearly did. It was when he openly blurted out our past to his friend that I had just met when I went to Singapore to visit him then later on blamed me for it. He said I set him up. I was dumbstruck at the accusation, but foolish me, stupid me, vacuous me decided to sweep the incident under the rug. 
Two more incidents had to happen in order for me to decisively put an end to the song and dance. The first one had to do with a request I made to all my friends to send me a birthday card to mark the start of a new decade age wise. He had forgotten: he couldn’t look me in the eye when I jokingly asked him about my birthday card. So much for being my best friend yet I remained hopeful and let it go at that. The second one was the straw that broke the camel’s back. He was scheduled to visit me which I was excited about; we talked endlessly about it over the phone. Then he cancelled it saying he had to report to a training seminar as a new recruit of his country’s national air carrier. I was disappointed and proud at the same time. I certainly didn’t want to be a hindrance to his new career, so I said we could always reschedule. He agreed. All was copacetic until the universe revealed the lie via Facebook. Call it providential, I was able to read an exchange of replies on a Facebook upload that detailed the opposite of what he told me. His training seminar wasn’t on the week I expected him in Indonesia- it was after. He was enjoying his video game that time he was to have caught a plane to Indonesia. Right then and there I closed the chapter on the narrative of C. I finally opened my eyes to the truth that he wasn’t to be counted on, lover or bestie. 

Image courtesy of Geerati at

It is truly cathartic – that I am able to write about him after all those years tells me that this is the closure I have been wanting for in a chapter of my life. I drew courage and inspiration from two women who had taken to writing about their tumultuous relationships. They are author Elizabeth Gilbert who outlined her struggles in her best seller book “Eat, Pray and Love”, and Taylor Swift who turns her experiences into hit songs. It is not meant to be recriminatory although others might think so. I see it as getting something off my chest so I can breathe easier and, pardon the triteness, as a way of finally letting him go. It is also for me to turn a new page in my life. After all, to move on is imperative for a happier life.



“Changing Dislike Into Like By Magnifying Glass” by Tanatat courtesy of

Just when you swore it off, it comes – pardon the cliche – like a thief in the night. It sneaks up on you with a huge, annoying ear-to-ear smile plastered on its face and – the nerve – greets you like a long-lost friend after that fiasco six years ago. It – you preferred not to personify – never looked a day older. How infuriating! And here you are battling several strands of grey hair that greet you in the mornings. One time you had a medical scare: you woke up with your left eye unable to read anything! Thoughts of a detached retina or going blind filled your mind, making you nervous and agitated. It was looking youthful, fit, and lithe. The universe wasn’t being fair.
Actually, you had a strong inkling of its presence but you opted to wallow in denial. Its mephitic vapors were wafting through the air, meandering through your office, but you quickly dismissed it as a dead rat somewhere in the ceiling. Dismissing was easier because acknowledging it would mean you were ready, you had moved on, and that both C and Z were shadows – ghosts even – of that depressing past you chose to forget. Admittedly, you had noticed its presence, mephitic odor aside. Didn’t you start noticing some of the gym goers whose perfectly cut muscles were the very vision of your definition of macho pulchritude? How about the fact that you were starting to admire people in general? Weren’t you listening to Tom Hiddleston read George Durrell’s letter repeatedly and imagining he was reading it to you? Moreover, some people have remarked cavalierly of how less jaded you had become recently. There was less of the eyebrow going up whenever you were displeased, which was quite often back then. You were – to your horror – beginning to be described as genial and approachable.

There was only it to blame. You hadn’t seen each other in years after that gut-wrenching showdown that left you incapacitated in every sense of the word and filled with so much hatred for the world. Talk about deja vu. The initial meeting was cordial and brimming with hope, as your head swum with visions of togetherness and the proverbial white picket fence surrounding the house. The meeting, this time, is awkward, but somehow your thoughts are gravitating towards a relationship transcending differences, location, and personal pain, of one reminiscent of Adam and Eve in the film “Only Lovers Left Alive”.

You concede to a certain degree: the mephitis was slowly starting to take on a more fragrant aroma.



For a time

I was a canvas of pallidness;

eyes dark abysses of nothingness

when they used to dance, glitter like stars above.

Lips curled down,

the blissful sentiments eclipsed by

pitch-black, morbid thoughts;

breathing raked though the chest

where pain sat comfortably.

My heart?

I wondered if I still had one – could I have?

It stopped beating the day

your well-kept secret of eternal love given previously 

walked into my rose-color reality,

shattering it into smithereens.
People cast me friendly smiles,

unsure of what to say,

wary of probing but ultimately 

annoyed at the dark cloud in their midst.

For a time

the world revolved around you – 

you with your grin that catapulted me to the stars

you with your saunter that sent shivers up my spine

you with your endearing awkwardness 

you with your stubbornness that piqued me

you with your own obsessions that niggled me and

you with your cockiness that put me on edge.
Blind to your cavalier ways,

You emptied me – you cast my heart into a void and frayed my soul into nothingness.

Prayers to heaven to open your heart were

met with silence while copious tears were shed

in my room.

I sat in a corner for a time, a mere shadow

of my former self, not daring to stir.

For a time

I grieved when you vanish for no rhyme or reason and

wallowed in self-doubt.

Absentmindedly, I caressed the silky texture of pain reposing on my empty shell;

I hurled recriminations at my ghost, cursing and shouting until I was hoarse.

I was a wreck and alone with my withered self.

I viewed Time with enmity – it was my foe.

Or was it? Was my judgment clouded?

Had I dwelled in sorrow for far too long that

I couldn’t see right from wrong, good from bad,

positive from negative?

Like a magician with another trick up its sleeve,

Time dealt me another blow,

revealing its impartiality in Eros’ petulant games –

He is his mother’s son after all.

Bad as a cliché might be,

Time did heal all wounds- gone were the dark clouds,

tears, recriminations, and searing pain.

Your ghosts still traipse through my thoughts,

beguiling me, 

taunting me

but now, unlike before, I watch with stoic detachment,

at the two hazy figures in my past.

This time is different, as Time is on my side,

a steady guide and mentor in Venus’s senescent 

game of hearts.

Shall I fail? Shall I succeed? 

Que sera sera.

I will let Time steer the course – for this time.


 “Inhale, exhale


Simplify and breathe…then let go


Holding onto something can be trying especially when you’re holding onto a love that will never be. It’s difficult to let go because there’s hope in your heart that that special someone will one day come back. I’ve learned to let go not of the love, but the hope that he will come back. It’s that hope that leaves me reeling in pain; it’s that glimmer of hope, which lifts me up to cloud nine only to let go of me in mid air. I let hope go slowly by putting it in a box, piece by piece, in my mind, telling myself that it’s all part of the process of letting go and moving on. I look forward to eventually filling up the box, sealing it and forever locking it up in this huge box.

What helps me in making this process of letting go easy is when I lock myself in a sanctuary swathed in lush greenery. It’s a place that’s away from the din of the big city; it’s a place that’s comfortable and pleasantly quiet; and it’s a place I can read, let my thoughts roam, look without seeing and just savor the moment of that moment. This hard-to-come-by refuge is where the past is kept at bay; the present gently drifts by like a leaf rocked by the wind and the future bids its time in making its grand entrance. There’s no rush, no hurry, no deadlines, no worry.

Throw in a cup of piping hot ginger tea and I’m set to disappear momentarily from the chaos of the world and my heart.

Photography by Alvin Tismo


From four, it ascends to five
Of the Five Cups, the rest scattered pell-mell on the ground
Yet hope remains with the two cups left standing
Do you see them?
Guarding its precious contents
Peel your gaze away from the fallen cups
To see what’s behind you
Let grief, sadness, disappointment
Wash away with the spilled cups
What’s done is done
 The past is the past
Let your gaze walk anew
New love
New dreams
New life


There’s something about the rain that makes the mind wander over unfinished business, picking through the corpses of the past scattered pell-mell across the mind’s landscape. And that’s one reason why I am not particularly fond of the rain. Parrying the onslaught of the painful past and the deluge of unanswered questions that swirl like the eye of a hurricane, I engage in tedious mental wrestling over and over again with my unfinished business.

The weekend brought intermittent rain. Amidst marking papers, my mind would slip into the not-so-distant past wondering if I should have asked this question and not that question, made the closure myself or asked for release, and then, just like that, they disappeared for a minute to be replaced with what do I have for lunch – couscous with veggies or fish and couscous. Then the enervating thoughts were back again – my unresolved business with him.

One thing I learned through the years of soliloquies, dialogues with my parents and sisters, and continuous reading is unfinished business can be finished within seconds. I knew that all the while, but owning up to something that I’ve been denying for so long wasn’t easy. Sadly, I admitted to myself that a part of me wasn’t ready to be done with my unfinished business – not yet.  A part of me is holding on to a sliver of hope that the universe would make our paths meet someday somehow.

At the moment, I am taking my time and letting myself slip in and out of the past while taking baby steps in my present and to my future. My unfinished business will end in good time, I know. For now, I’ve decided to stop my mental wrestling and just let the interdigitated memories of the past and the present flow and ebb.