Journal

Time may change me

Sometimes my depressive phases are really obvious, but sometimes they creep up on me slowly and I don’t realise I’m in them until I assess the state of my room. I really like having things neat and organised, so it starts to become painfully clear to me that something is actually wrong when everything is a mess.

When my purses are piling up on the couch, along with press kits and other stuff that’s been sent to me; when there’s no space for my laptop on my desk because it’s covered in old receipts, junk mail, and all manner of things that really don’t belong there (six tubes of lipstick and five pairs of sunglasses, really?); when my makeup brushes haven’t been washed in weeks and my dresser looks like I tried to channel my inner Pollock with makeup products. Something is wrong.

But I’m at that point in my life with clinical depression where I mostly know how to handle it, and know how to pull myself back into regular function — a skill I’m grateful to have learned. And for me, part of that is cleaning up my space. I feel like the space surrounding you is reflective of what’s going on inside you. I need to clean in order to decompress and declutter my own mind and emotions. And I find it is much easier to motivate myself when I’m in an organised space. So I clean.

It’s something I also like to do close to the end of the year; a clean slate to herald a fresh start. I know New Year is no different from any other day ending and another one beginning, but these rituals are more for the mind than they are for anything else. There is so much power in symbolism.

My room was a mess, and the year is ending, so this go round, I hit two birds with one stone.


I always find things I forgot about in the process of cleaning, and one of the things I came across this time was my Traveller’s Notebook — my bullet journal. I’ve been trying to keep one since late 2016, but I never quite manage to make it through an entire year despite my best efforts. I think that’s probably because I’m a freelance writer working from home. I don’t really do much that necessitates writing things down, even if it is only in list form. And for the longest time, I wasn’t even writing, so I was just sad, funemployed, and living in pyjamas; the last thing I needed at the time was a reminder of how utterly useless I was as a human being, in the form of a very empty agenda notebook.

I think I might try again this year. Things feel different. In a good way.

The Midori Traveller’s Notebook is beloved for how customisable it is. You fill the empty leather cover with the inserts you feel are relevant to your needs. Mine has a grid notebook insert that I use for bullet journalling (three months per insert, then I switch to a new one), a plastic zip pocket in which I keep my writing tools, a cardboard folder for inserting papers that I feel like I need to keep, a ruled notebook insert for evergreen things like important lists and recipes, and a plain notebook insert for notes, meeting minutes, and scratch.

On the very first page of the ruled notebook, I found this list I actually forgot about, that I wrote at the end of 2017:

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Essays, Journal

Time and space

It’s been a while, I know.

Staring at my screen now, with my fingertips on the keys for the first time in almost a year, I realize that it’s because this — the written word, this space — has always been where I am most vulnerable, and I have not wanted to be vulnerable. Vulnerability is an exhausting, terrifying quality to possess in a world like the one we live in now.

The last thing I wanted was to make myself vulnerable again.

Experience has taught me that it never ends well.


It is a year to the day since I learned I’d been cheated on. Mayon Volcano erupted this morning, something I took as a sign that it was finally the right time to write again.

I want so badly to be able to write this without referencing my heartbreak of 2017, but that makes no sense. How do you write about recovering from something without mentioning that something, that someone? You can’t. I can’t.

I want so badly to free him from my narrative, because he hasn’t been in my life for nearly a year now, but that’s impossible, because he will always be part of my narrative, and the loss of him, his absence, the emptiness he left in his wake, and all the hurt, figured so significantly in the year that was my year.

That is the nature of life, I suppose. It is the nature of stories, of interpersonal relations and their endings. It is the nature of writing, and one of the perils of dating a chronic oversharer who has made words her living from the age of seventeen.

“You own everything that happened to you,” says Anne Lamott in her Instructions on Writing and Life. “Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” I’ve lived by those words since the day I read them. I’ve been living by them since before that, really.

You’re always going to be a character in my story now.

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Essays, Journal

Windswept

I am looking at the clock as I type these words. I have a little over thirty minutes to go. Thirty more minutes to mourn. Thirty more minutes to indulge myself in the agony of my heartbreak. Thirty more minutes to allow myself this anger, this bitterness. Thirty more minutes to hate him. Thirty more minutes to love him.

And when the clock strikes midnight on March 1st, I will take a deep, deep breath, close my eyes, release the last of the tempest from within me, and take the first, unsteady steps forward into the next chapter of my life.

I have thought a lot about love over the last two weeks, over the month since he broke my heart. I have thought about a great number of things aside from love, actually. True to my self-doubting nature, I held a figurative mirror up to my face and asked myself over and over again if maybe I was the one who was wrong. For some reason, I have always found it infinitely easier to hate myself than to hate the ones I love. It’s something I’m trying to grow out of, my tendency to absorb the blame for the cruelties of others. Did I overreact? Did I ask for too much? But I asked for none of this. I didn’t ask for love. I didn’t ask to be loved. I didn’t ask for commitment. I didn’t ask for promises.

He made me want things that I had grown afraid to want, because I’d been hurt by them already before. And then he hurt me with them again.

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