It’s been over three months since my last post. After writing Dear Michelle, I became a marathon enthusiast of Netflix, in addition to taking long naps and consuming plenty of fast food which contributed to my weight gain (I’m usually toggling between five to seven pounds). Each time I sat with my laptop and placed my fingers on my keyboard, all I could do was type jibberish (ndkwldmfkthslsiekdkdeldk).
All of my attempts to focus on the present failed. I Returned to Gratitude and yet felt depressed, ungrateful and angry with myself. I sought closure and rekindled a beautiful friendship with my former model scout Gus Castañeda. We met for lunch, talked for hours; I went on and on about my kids (the way moms do with pictures and all). Gus complimented my writing and reminded me that, “Everything happens for a reason,” Yes, yes. I know. I know. All things happen for a reason, still, as I gawked at the pictures of his muses that he transformed from girl to goddess; I felt suffocated from the smoke caused by the burning of my charred dreams. Seeing the photograph of his mastermind grace the cover of magazines like Vogue, had me shaking my head. I kept thinking, That would have been me. As I turned each page of his portfolio, I was struck with the whip of lamentation. Drving home, I nursed my lacerations by focussing on my children who would have never been born if I had taken another path. I thought of my sweetheart and the love we share between us. Yet, when I looked at my own reflection, I felt uninspired. I kept chastising myself for staring at my past.
Eventually, I gave up. I surrendered to my feelings, and allowed myself to do exactly just that…feel. I felt sad, angry, resentful, entitled. I examined various events and had to admit that although my modeling career may have been deterred by my mother, I had other opportunities that I completely flaked on. Yes flaked (which is worse than failed). But WHY?!? Oscar Wile wrote: “Each man kills the thing he loves.” Time and time again, I practiced the art of self-sabotage. I wouldn’t return phone calls. I would cancel appointments. I wrestled with depression and succumed to despair. My constant refuge was my children and my writing (which I buried in my notebooks). As time went by, I became more erratic, increasingly unstable and addicted to repeating the patterns of my past. Although my soul searching quest began in 2004 where I immersed myself into reading self-improvement books, there was a gap between acquired knowledge and practice. The disharmony between my mind and spirit began to show up as inflammation in my body espoused by acute pain. And even now, the mobility in my right arm has decreased due to my muscles spasms tendonitis. Oh, What in Me Created You?
Paulo Coelho writes in the introduction of The Alchemist, “I know a lot of people who, when their personal calling was within their grasp, went on to commit a series of stupid mistakes and never reached their goal–when it was only a step away.” Earlier I asked, Why? This is the Why. Self-Sabotage birthed by guilt and championed by the Martyr in me silently renounced fulfillment, success, beauty, health, abundance, and sheer happiness. When a current of luck came my way (and it did many times), I swam to the nearest wreckage and hooked an anchor of despair to my heels. As I drowned in salty waters (caused by my tears) I wondered why my life was plagued by misfortune.
But it wasn’t. Neither then, nor now. My conflict arose from not living (as Coelho writes) my Personal Legend (“It is what you have always wanted to accomplish.”). Coelho’s enchanting story continues, “In alchemy, it’s called the Soul of the World. When you want something with all your heart, that’s when you are closest to the Soul of the World.”
My Personal Legend is writing. For years I felt that I first had to make money in order to write because I had already decided that I could not count on earning a steady income as a writer. I felt guilty committing myself to live by the creed of my Personal Legend. I felt regret for the years past that I didn’t practice a daily discipline and completely ignored how far I have come.
To remind me, I went back and looked at pictures of me and my children when they were babies. I began to cry when I saw a polaroid of my youngest daughter Priscilla as a newborn. I’m sitting in a wheelchair in a green dress with a flower print, being wheeled out of the hospital. I was twenty-five. When you first glance at this picture, you may see a smiling young mother, but if you look closely, you will notice that my right eye is swollen and smaller than my left eye. This is not due to a deformity but rather the remnants of a gruesome black eye that I concealed behind a patch for weeks. I was dreading returning to the house where so much violence lived. But months after this picture, I would garner the courage to take my babies (ages four, two and eight months) and raise them on my own.
For the past three months, I felt upset with myself for the time I wasted and completely ignored all that I have accomplished. I return to Coelho’s words, “We forget about all the obstacles we overcame, all the suffering we endured, all the things we had to give up in order to get this far.” You could be forty-eight, fifty-eight or twenty-eight… it doesn’t matter. You can embody, as I have, the words the Englishman says in The Alchemist, “I’m beginning what I could have started ten years ago. But I’m happy at least that I didn’t wait twenty years.”
As 2016 comes to an end, approach 2017 not by making mental or physical notes of what you haven’t done, but rather celebrating all that you have accomplished. As Coelho says, “…If you believe yourself worthy of the thing you fought so hard to get, then you become an instrument of God, you help the Soul of the World, and you understand why you are here.”
Why are we here? Have you discovered your Personal Legend and yet blame others for not realizing your highest potential? Have you, like me, practiced the art of self-sabotage when the window of opportunity was one step away? And after realizing your defeat, do you numb the pain with past time sedatives (friends, alcohol, Netflix) in order to hide from the reality that you have conjured? Together we can allow ourselves to feel what we are going to feel. Accept responsibility (without blame) for our choices. Understand that our past conditioning has in great part lead the way. Recognize, how far we’ve come (seriously…write it down). And by God, live the life that we were born to live.